If you’ve found yourself on this page then unfortunately you’re probably struggling with infertility. Let me start by saying I am so, so sorry this is your path. A hard, arduous road – one you likely never saw coming – lies ahead. While the fact that you’re facing this difficulty is outside your control, how you face it certainly isn’t. And that, my dear, is where I come in. You see, I am no fertility expert. I cannot get you pregnant any more than you can. What I can offer, is an alternative perspective and an intentional approach to help you fight the battle of infertility with your partner. To get you started in the right direction, today we’ll explore five ways to prepare your marriage for the journey of infertility.
It’s all about choices
Here’s a little known fact. The outcome of your baby making journey is directly impacted by your approach to the problem. And I’m not talking about whether you choose IVF, adoption, fostering, a surrogate, etc. I’m talking about the way you approach the issue cognitively. It’s not uncommon to be completely blindsided by the diagnosis of infertility. You’ve followed the prescribed path…first comes love…then marriage…now you’re working on filling that baby carriage and my, has it taken longer than you expected. Maybe you thought it was stress or diet or timing. Maybe you read a blog, tried different positions, stood on your head for five minutes after doing the deed. But after all the old wives tales you sought professional help. Maybe you expected the doctor to say no need to worry – this happens all the time. But instead you were slapped in the face with a word that makes no sense in the life you’ve been planning up till now. In the shock and devastation that follow, placing your relationship on autopilot is almost a natural reaction. But is it the right one? Remember, it’s all about the choices.
Choosing a perspective
The perspective you’re likely to get on autopilot is what we call baby brain. Oftentimes bordering on obsession, the focus is solely on procreation. When you’re ovulating, what time to get it on, how many days you have to wait before taking another pregnancy test, how you’re paying for the next round of shots. Not a terrible focus, that’s for sure. But also not the best choice. It’s easy to get caught up in the longing for a family. But don’t forget that the two of you do make a family. In fact, you make such a great family you’ve decided it’s a good idea to add more people to your clan. Wonderful! But make sure not to neglect what you already have at home. Choosing to focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t have will serve you well. Which brings me to my next point. Who to choose.
Choosing each other
The secret to building a healthy, happy family, is cultivating a thriving marriage. When the focus is on the relationship, and breathing new life into each other and the marriage, whatever family members come along down the road will naturally reap the reward. Children are sponges. They soak up the emotions, words, and behaviors of their parents. Choosing to focus on the relationship best ensures both spouses will have their needs met, creating a more vibrant home life. This also models healthy behavior you’d want your children to expect out of marriage. Choosing an “us” perspective unites the two of you and allows you to face the battle of infertility together rather than allowing the heartbreak to tear you apart.
Just as choosing each other and staying committed to the relationship regardless of the status of your carriage, it’s also important to choose champions to surround yourself with through the course of infertility. This means having family, close friends, prayer warriors, and professionals champion your marriage and your goal all the way to the finish line…whatever that may look like. Consider joining a group; because there’s nothing like walking the path with other couples who get exactly what you’re going through. Particularly when friends all around you start popping up with a bun in the oven. Yes, you’ll be thrilled for them. But the jealousy is equally understandable. Surround yourself with people who will listen to you vent but hold you to the standard of a heart of contentment. You’ll thank them for it later when your marriage is still intact.
Thank God there are a lot of resources and tools out there nowadays for couples struggling with infertility. Take full advantage of that. Look into your options. Meet with various professional who specialize in different aspects of infertility. Clearly I’m biased, but marriage therapy is an immensely invaluable and often underutilized tool to help you navigate your way through the treacherous path safely. Think about all the problems encountered by a typical relationship – then throw in the possibility of never attaining one of the most important goals of your life – and tell me how it is that one would not need a marriage therapist at some point during the process. Gaining new communication and conflict management strategies can mean the difference between feeling heard and validated throughout the journey or feeling alone and disconnected from the one person who is right there on the road with you. I’m telling you, do not underestimate infertility’s ability to wreak havoc on your marriage.
More than anything, I want you to choose intentionally. You’re going to make a million and one decisions throughout the course of your family planning experience. Be intentional with them. Each one builds upon the next. You have the opportunity to strengthen your relationship, or leave it vulnerable to the destruction of pain. Choose to strengthen it. Choose to be intentional and show your partner day after day that you choose them – regardless of whether or not you ever conceive – because that unconditional love will get you farther than you could ever imagine. And one last thing, be consistent in your intentionality. I’ve said this before, but anyone can be spouse of the year for a day. Being consistent in your efforts shows your better half they really do mean the world to you – this will surely be priceless as you face the highs and lows of family planning as a unified front.
Okay. That’s all for today. Though I feel that’s just the tip of the iceberg on this topic, we must end somewhere so let’s put a pause there. I hope this encourages you to consider these and other ways you can equip and empower your marriage for the very tough journey that is infertility. Best of luck in finding your happily ever after and never hesitate to reach out for a little help along the way. Take good care.