You just found out your partner is infertile. A million worries, emotions, and questions are probably running through your mind about what this means for your partner and for your relationship. You may also be worried about what to say or how to handle the situation…how to cope with infertility is not something everyone just automatically knows how to do!
Fortunately, you are not the first person who has had an infertile partner, and there are many things that can help you (and them!) cope. Here are a few “do’s” and “don’ts” that can get you started.
Pointing fingers and finding fault won’t make anyone feel better about the situation, and it certainly won’t fix the problem. You may experience feelings of blame and/or resentment, and this is perfectly normal. Acknowledge those feelings, but don’t take them out on your partner! He/She didn’t choose to be infertile any more than you chose to break your ankle skiing that one time.
DON’T: analyze the past
Hindsight is 20/20, and you can make yourself crazy with “what if” scenarios…”what if we’d tried to have a baby earlier?” “what if I’d know about this before we got together?” The reality is that infertility is usually caused by factors beyond anyone’s control, and even if you or your partner could have done anything differently, you can’t change the past. All you can do is focus on the present, on possible solutions, and on how you want to handle the situation.
DO: get in touch with your own feelings
Take some time privately to process how you feel about the situation. Journaling can be helpful, as can talking with a trusted friend or family member. Remember, your partner may be feeling or handling the news very differently from you, and that’s ok. Make sure take the time to process your own emotions as well as be considerate of theirs.
DO: ask your partner what he or she needs from you
Don’t just assume you know how the other person feels, and don’t assume you know what he or she needs from you. Different people handle infertility differently, and something that would help you feel supported might have the opposite effect on your partner. Be patient!
This goes hand in hand with the above advice. “Studies show that couples who keep their feelings hidden are much more likely to have problems related to the stress of infertility.” Communicate with your partner—find out how they are feeling and what you can do to help, and clearly express your own feelings and needs to them. Make a plan of action, together!
DO: seek outside help
Talk to family, friends, infertility support groups, or even a professional therapist. This is something that you can do individually to help you cope with your own feelings, and this is something you can also do together. There are all kinds of resources out there!
The bottom line? Infertility can have a negative impact on your relationship…but it doesn’t have to!
Written by: Margaret Durkovic