10 Ways to Save Your Marriage During Infertility
Infertility poses a formidable challenge to even the strongest of marriages. First, there is the disappointment of learning that you and your soulmate are not exactly naturals at this procreation thing. Add testing, scheduled sex, and hormone-infused treatment to your relationship along with a period of waiting and hoping and then just a plain old period. Sprinkle in a recurring cycle of grief and a dash of doubt and you are on the fast track to isolation, the number one marriage killer.
Let's be clear. As much as you yearn for a child, your marriage must continue to take priority. No couple wants their long awaited baby to arrive to a mommy and daddy on the brink of divorce. Yet, the arduous task of achieving pregnancy can cause couples to lose sight of their love for each other.
My marriage survived despite a shortage of helpful guidance at the time. I wish my husband and I had had a TTC guru to simply tell us what to do to keep our relationship from resembling an episode of Marriage Boot Camp. So here's me, a 10-year infertility survivor, telling you what to do. Feel free to send chocolate as a token of gratitude.
Remember how much fun you and your husband had when you first met? You probably had a romantic playlist, a favorite restaurant, and even a secret language. Marriages undergoing chronic infertility need a weekly dose of fun, whether frugal or frivolous. Check out Twenty-five Inexpensive Ideas for Great Dates to get your creative juices flowing and make a plan for a weekly rendezvous.
2. Make love (not babies)
We infertiles know all about baby-making sex. The sex that is scheduled with painstaking accuracy and ends with hips propped on pillows. For those who are TTC, baby making often overshadows love making, but it doesn't have to be so. Break out the candles, cue up the Barry White, and pour the wine. Leave the ratty t-shirt and elastic-waist jammie pants in the drawer and slip on something pretty. Need some inspiration? Read Song of Songs, the raciest book in the Bible, and remember: God inspired Solomon to pen these steamy verses!
3. Get away
When a Pottery Barn store full of candles isn't enough to light the fire in a bedroom filled with regret, it's time to get away. Be it bed and breakfast or Holiday Inn Express, the investment in your marriage is worth the cash you're able to sink into it. Sometimes simply placing yourselves in a new environment with new possibilities hits the reset button and allows for fresh perspective (read: romance).
4. Take up a new hobby
Have you ever tried rock climbing? Glamping? How about molding clay on a potter's wheel or Renaissance reenactment? Now is the time to summon your inner adventurer. Trying out a new skill or hobby will allow you to take a break from infertility and focus on a vital aspect of bonding...fun.
5. Send love notes
Writing - or even texting - a note to your husband shows that you think about him even when you're not together. Be specific. Tell him what you appreciate about him and why you still choose him now, even in the midst of your infertility struggle.
6. Limit infertility talk
You know the neighbor lady who blathers on about her bunions? The coworker who complains daily about the newest directive from your boss? You are not likely to invite these Debbie Downers into your kitchen for a cup of tea, yes? Constant talk of infertility treatment and grief puts the same damper on a marital relationship.
While planning and scheduling are a necessary part of TTC, do not allow this discussion to overshadow the blessings found in your life together. The plan? Treat the topic of infertility like an agenda item at a business meeting. Handle necessary discussion for the day, check it off your list, and move on. Then plop down on the couch in front of a favorite sitcom or rom-com and engage in some endorphin-producing belly laughter. Infertility specialists would do well to prescribe an hour daily of lighthearted Netflix viewing.
7. Hold hands
Often infertility causes us to skip past some of the best parts of bonding with our spouse. After all, when the goal is making a baby, what's the point of foreplay? As it turns out, plenty. Taking time to physically connect with your spouse beyond intercourse will bond you emotionally and create an irreplaceable companionship absent in any other relationship. And while you're holding hands, don't miss other points of connection such as eye to eye and voice to voice. Want to know more about the importance of daily bonding? Google it.
8. Kiss deeply
Kissing is another aspect of the marital relationship that often gets left in the dust when chasing after a positive pregnancy test. If you ditched making out somewhere along Infertility Road, pick it up, dust it off, and take it for another spin. Kissing allows couples to communicate deeply without words. The message? I cherish you and you alone.
Infertility causes us to hyperfocus on what we have lost. Worship redirects our attention to what cannot be taken away, namely a God we can trust who works out every detail of our story for our good. Attending church together will help you and your spouse reaffirm your commitment to God and to each other at a time when life often feels like its falling apart.
10. Connect with other infertile couples
Do you ever get tired of the clueless world shoving their pregnancy progress and baby photos in your face? Enter people who've been there. Hanging with another infertile couple is like being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of comfort and mutual understanding. Befriend at least one couple that's on your wavelength and prepare to let down your guard. In this season of waiting, you need friends who get you, no explanation needed.
What if, as you pursue adding a child to your family, you continued to pursue your spouse, as well? Doing so honors your first commitment and prepares you and your husband not only for a child, but for a lifetime of loving each other well. Taking small steps each day will ensure that your marriage stays on track during infertility. Making these ten marriage-builders a habit will prepare you and your spouse to face infertility - and parenting - together.