One in eight couples experience difficulties trying to conceive. Infertility is a major life stressor and treatment cycles can be intensely stressful on partner relationships. Many couples feel like their lives are on hold and struggle with communication challenges and relationship dissatisfaction during fertility challenges. Additionally, one member (or both) may experience anxiety or depression. Other influences on relationship strength include:
Impact of unsuccessful cycles and the passage of time
Feeling left behind or not fitting in with peer group
Financial stressors of fertility treatment
Different coping styles for handling stress (emotional release vs problem solver)
Reduced intimacy and emotional connection
Secrecy - not sharing struggles openly with family or friends
Intrusive questions by friends and family (and society in general).
How to approach the stress of infertility as a team?
Remember you have the same shared goal: to become parents together
Be open with one another and express vulnerable feelings
Ask directly for what you need from your partner
Discuss treatment options, including your physical and financial limits around trying
Understand the impact of infertility on intimacy
Continue to live your lives - find ways to connect and enjoy one another.
If conflict has increased to a high level, it can be helpful to meet with a therapist for communication help and overall relationship support during the added stressor of infertility treatment cycles.