Dealing with infertility as a couple
Infertility can bring many changes to your relationship as a couple. It may bond you closer together, as mutual support and understanding leads to greater sharing and intimacy. But it can also bring forth feelings of guilt and resentment, particularly if no resolution is in sight. As a couple, you may have a lot of feelings in common when dealing with infertility, such as feeling out of control of your lives and your emotions.
Loss of control
You and your partner have probably planned your lives to begin a family at the most favourable time. You may have practiced birth control for years and waited until your careers were established before trying to conceive. A diagnosis of infertility can remove the feeling of control over your life together.
Expressing feelings—the differences
You and your partner are also affected by infertility in different ways, related to how men and women have been socialised to think, feel and act.
As a woman, you may feel responsible for much of the burden of infertility in a way that your husband may not. As a result, you can experience negative feelings, such as pain, anger, and fear, which can lead to anxiety and depression. These feelings are very common, and often the resulting friction can cause problems in your relationship.
Men, however, often feel more threatened expressing themselves since they’ve often been taught to repress their emotions. They are trained to take charge, to make decisions, and to think without being emotional. They tend to focus their energy on their work, a place where they feel they can have more control. Some men also confess feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of their partner’s emotions, making it hard for them to offer support.
You may both feel that no one else understands what you are going through, and may isolate yourselves from potential sources of support such as friends and other family members.
A stronger relationship
Infertility can test your relationship in a variety of ways, but providing mutual emotional support and working together can reduce some of the stress and help to avoid creating distance.
It may even strengthen your relationship, as you both learn to give reassurance and encouragement, and realise that you can really depend on each other.