ProConnect

How Infertility Can Wreck Your Marriage If You're Not Careful

By

How Infertility Can Wreck Your Marriage If You're Not Careful
The pain of infertility can shake even the strongest marriage.
Infertility is more than just a physiological challenge; the emotional impact can lead to divorce.

One of the things many couples talk about when they are talking about their future is if they want children and, if so, how many. They rarely talk about what would happen if they wanted children but were unable to have them. It was a discussion my husband and I were pressed into having after a miscarriage and the realization that my age and irregular cycle might be a problem. We decided that we would make some effort to conceive but wouldn't go to extremes to become parents. That decision was never tested as we were able to have a family on our own.

Unfortunately, not every couple is as lucky as we were and the price of infertility can be high. A recent Danish study reported in Business Standard determined that couples who ultimately were unable to have a child were more likely to break up than couples who achieved their dream of being parents. Relationships often don't survive the death of a child and the death of the dream of a child is no easier to handle.

More from YourTango: What It Takes To Have A Happy Marriage

Infertility issues can create multiple types of havoc in a marriage. The first is differing levels of desire to be a parent and being able to accept all the costs that entails. Infertility can bring disruption to your finances, the spontaneity of your intimacy, and to how each of you feels as a man or a woman. One of you may reach a point where the effort becomes too much and wants to stop, while the other is not yet willing or able to give up. The hurt and resentment this disagreement creates, no matter who ultimately prevails, can be difficult to overcome.

Another challenge to your relationship is the intentionality of sex that fertility issues require. Physical intimacy is one of the greatest ways couples can connect and show their love for each other. But there is little that is romantic about sex on a schedule. Having to perform on demand, regardless of what else is happening in your life, adds stress to an already stresssful situation. Even if you are successful in your parenting quest, your intimate experiences may not always have been as pleasant as those when procreation wasn't your goal. Those experiences will continue to be part of your memories and your associations with sex. This can make it tough for your intimacy to return to a more loving and spontaneous pattern, resulting in a less satisfactory relationship.

The greatest challenge for a couple dealing with intimacy is the impact of the grief that is inherent with this condition. First, a couple has to deal with the grief that they are not "normal"; they won't be able to get pregnant the way most of their friends and family do. This can involve grieving for how you view yourself as a man or a woman. If your view of yourself is of a virile man, infertility can be a blow to your ego. If you believe that you aren't a "real" woman until you give birth, you are going to have a strong emotional challenge to accepting the diagnosis of infertility. Grieving these images you've probably believed for years is just the beginning

The second type of grief a couple faces concerns the highs and lows of the monthly watch. Each month that passes with a negative pregnancy test creates another round of grief. You would have to be almost robotic not to get caught up in the monthly roller coaster of hope and disappointment. But each failure is its own little death that must be grieved by both of you. There is no way that this does not take a toll on you individually and on the overall health of the relationship. The longer this lasts, the greater the damage.

At some point, the ultimate result must be faced. Infertility has won and there will be no baby. How you each handle the grief associated with this final result will be the determining factor in whether your relationship can survive. If there isn't equal acknowledgment that the end has come, one of you may begin the final grief process while the other is still hoping against hope. The different grief paths you are on, and the individual way you each handle that grief, is what creates the chasm that brings down many marriages.

Being with someone who is a constant reminder of this life impacting failure becomes too painful and all the positives of the relationship can be overwhelmed. The couples who survive are the ones who find a way through and create a new meaning for their lives and relationship. Couples can survive infertility, but it is a hard road that leaves casualties. And that's just one more way it is supremely unfair.

To learn about more challenges to marriage, go to www.afearlessmarriage.com

More from YourTango: Does Marriage Mean A Lifetime Of Bad Sex?

More marriage therapist advice on YourTango:

Share this with someone you love (or even like a lot)!

Let's make it
FB official
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Lesli Doares

Relationship Coach

Lesli Doares, MFT

Lesli writes about issues related to marriage and relationships at afearlessmarriage.com.  She is the author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage:  How to Create Your Happily Ever After with More Intention, Less Work, a manual for couples on how to have a long and successful marriage.  Lesli also speaks passionately on many relationship-related topics.

Location: Cary, NC
Credentials: LMFT
Other Articles/News by Lesli Doares:

How To Control Anger: A 3 Step Approach

By

One of the most common things I hear from the couples who come to me for help is that they want to  communicate better. When I explore a little deeper, I'm told what they really want is to stop fighting. At the heart of this problem is that one, or both, of the partners gets emotionally upset. This upset often is expressed as anger. So what I'm ... Read more

Don't Go Viral: What You Must Know Before You Send A Sexy Selfie

By

To send a sexy selfie or not to send one? Lingerie shot? Topless? The Full Monty? After all, it's only going to your boyfriend and he's promised not share it. He swears he loves you and would never do anything to hurt you. You think using Snapchat will protect you, forgetting that taking a screenshot of the picture before it disappears is possible. ... Read more

What It Takes To Have A Happy Marriage

By

Couples today are delaying marriage or opting out of it entirely. After all, it's a commonly accepted fact that one in two marriages fail. And does anyone really know how happy the "successful" ones really are? But what if that commonly held belief was wrong and it really is possible to be married and live happily ever after? Well, not only ... Read more

See More

Recent Expert Posts
Staying Dry

10 Signs Your Guy is Smitten

Does that new hunky guy you've been dating see you in his future? Here are 10 ways he'll show you.

Girl Decorates Easter Eggs

Rebirth Renew Happy Easter!

Five ways to get going on your best life today!

Texting Your Way To Love

How To Have Cyber Sex: 5 Keys To Unlock Your Lady's Passion

Cyber sex partners disappearing right when things are heating up? Make them crave you instead!

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

Resources
How to find the right pro for you
10 Reasons Mental Health Pros Should Join YourTango Experts

10 Reasons Mental Health Pros Should Join YourTango Experts

YourTango Experts can help your business go from good to great.

10 Steps To Improve Your Coaching Business

Take your coaching business from mediocre to great in no timeā€¦

Frequently Asked Questions About YourTango Experts

Thinking of joining? Here's all the facts you need to know to make the most of your membership.

Getting Your Guy To Join You In A Therapy Or Coaching Session

So how can your get your strong, self-reliant, superman to talk to an Expert with you?

Therapist/Counselors: Who We Are & What We Do

What exactly does a therapist/counselor do and can they really help?

See more resources>
HOT STUFF!
FROM OUR PARTNERS