7 Tips for Keeping Your Relationship Strong When Dealing With Infertility
If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant — and not having a lot of quick success — you already have plenty of factors to consider. You’re cooking the right foods to help conceive, you’re overwhelmed with tech options that can supposedly increase the chances of getting pregnant, and you’re tracking cycles and hormones constantly. With all of these factors keeping your head spinning, it’s all too easy for you and your S.O. to lose track of each other, causing your relationship to suffer. You want to be at your very best when you finally do grow your family, so lending extra TLC to your partnership in the process of TTC is extremely important. Dr. Nicole Noyes — Northwell Health‘s chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility — has seen the damage that can be done to relationships when couples are struggling to get pregnant. She offers seven tips to help you better maintain your relationship when you’re in the thick of it.
1. Prioritize communication. It’s hardly breaking news that communication is important in any relationship, but it’s more critical than ever when you and your S.O. are TTC. Dr. Noyes recommends that both partners attend each and every fertility appointment to give you both an opportunity to ask questions and talk openly about what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to be honest about your personal feelings and frustrations. “These trying times can take a toll on your relationship if you let them,” she admits, “but you don’t have to let them. Being vulnerable enough to open up about concerns, fears, disappointments, and even hopes not only makes the process easier to navigate but strengthens the bond between the two of you.”
2. Use the right words. Having been on the front lines of many conversations between partners who are trying to have a baby, Dr. Noyes tells us that she knows all too well what kinds of phrases can be triggering throughout the process. One major example? The word “relax.” Instead of telling your significant other to chill, ask how you can help them do so. Regardless of what you’re trying to communicate, your goal should be to do in such a way that demonstrates that you and your partner are a team.
3. Try not to let it consume you. When your goal is to grow your family, it’s easy to make that your sole focus, but letting it totally overtake you may have negative effects on your relationship. We know this is easier said than done. “Retaining some normalcy in your relationship is essential, especially considering that high amounts of stress can hinder your chances of getting pregnant,” says Dr. Noyes. “Treat yourselves to a date night, or simply spend some time with close friends. Beyond your relationship, it’s also important to prioritize your own mental health.” Tending to your personal self-care will ensure that you can continue to show up as a good partner, no matter the struggles you’re facing.
4. Practice healthy habits together. If your fertility doctor makes recommendations about your lifestyle and wellness routine to help increase your chances of conceiving, commit to following those recommendations as a couple. Just one of you upending their life is a lot of pressure — not to mention, not a lot of fun — so both partners should work together on eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
5. Skip the blame game. “Infertility can be frustrating, but harboring negative feelings toward a partner for abnormalities in their reproductive function outside of their control can be destructive,” Dr. Noyes cautions. Even if you receive confirmation that there are factors on your significant other’s side that are affecting your ability to get pregnant, be mindful about not making them feel like they’re at fault. Compensate by being extra supportive, and try to remember that the current obstacle doesn’t define the worth of your relationship. Your partner is still your partner.
6. Find the right team. As you and your partner navigate the journey of growing your family, your two-person team may be tested. Enlisting the right fertility specialists can play a huge role in maintaining the strength of your relationship. Find an expert who makes you feel comfortable and who can effectively educate both you and your S.O. about your options. Dr. Noyes recommends larger health systems rather than boutique fertility clinics, because they tend to offer a wider range of services, including counseling services, registered dietitians, and more.
7. Maintain an emotional barometer. Ensure that your relationship remains a safe space amid the chaos of TTC by staying open and honest with your partner about your emotional state. “The stress of infertility is a heavy weight, but it’s important to be able to accurately gauge when you’re hitting your breaking point, as well as when your partner may be hitting their own,” Dr. Noyes says. “If you do feel you’re at that point, it’s important to communicate that to your partner instead of lashing out. Keeping a pulse on one another’s well-being is essential.” If you’re struggling to do this on your own, you might consider couple’s counseling, even if just for the short term.
What’s your top relationship tip for couples who are trying to conceive? Tweet us @BritandCo.
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