Today’s guest post is by Ashley Wells, a reader of this blog, and someone who knows what happens when infertility and marriage mix. I felt she had something important to say, and since I have never walked this journey myself, I invited her to join us!
I have been on a journey of infertility for over five years. When my husband and I got married shortly after I graduated from high school, we knew it would be difficult conceiving. I had previous medical issues that resulted in learning that it would be nearly impossible to conceive or sustain life inside my body.
However, we were still hopeful, at least in the beginning. After three years of trying to conceive, at the age of 22, I found out that it would be impossible, without the direct miraculous intervention of God, for me to conceive and sustain life. I immediately felt broken. Those six months I struggled greatly. Some days, I couldn’t get out of bed.
During this time, I allowed my struggles to separate me from God, my husband, and others close to me. I felt alone and isolated on my journey.
Infertility made me push my marriage away.
However, my husband, Michael, was in active pursuit of me! He tried so hard to understand how I was feeling, and he wanted me to know that I was not in the trenches of infertility alone. God used Michael in magnificent ways to encourage me and strengthen our marriage, even though we were experiencing infertility.
Infertility adds a lot of stress to your marriage.
You may feel angry, sad, insecure, depressed, and/or guilty. It can be a very emotional season of your life. Even more so, you and your husband are probably experiencing this trial differently.
Infertility can also add a lot of stress to your marriage bed.
When you are having trouble conceiving, after a while, having sex can become stressful. You try to make sure you are having sex around the right time of the month. You may be trying different positions that are supposed to improve chances of conception. You may be avoiding sex for fear of “failure” to conceive. It can become less an act of love and more a rehearsed interaction.
From my personal experience, I want you to know that there is hope! Not only is it possible to strengthen your marriage through infertility, it is even more possible to have a stronger marriage, because you stuck together and journeyed through this valley hand in hand.
Here are some practical tips if infertility hits your marriage:
Don’t hide your feelings from your spouse.
Have regular, open, and honest conversations about how you are really doing. Share your fears. Many times, your spouse can help you to see truth from your blurred image of hurt and despair. I had deep feelings of guilt because of “causing” our infertility, I would often say that my husband deserved a wife that wasn’t “broken.”He quickly corrected me, telling me that God made me and I am wonderful. He showed me truth, when I couldn’t see it.
Give grace and exercise patience.
There is not a five-step plan to overcome the emotional pain that you experience when suffering from infertility. It touches the depths of your heart and the sting does not go away quick! Give grace to understand that each person experiences and copes with the pain differently. Exercise patience if your spouse is taking a longer time than you expected to learn how to cope with this pain in a healthy way.
Have regular dates with your husband.
Set some ground rules about these dates (for example, no talking about infertility or doctors appointments). Just be together and have fun! If you don’t know what to do, try new things. We often went to a park, so we would find a new park or a new hiking trail to try. Something else we enjoyed doing was trying a new restaurant together, especially if it was a local mom-and-pop type of restaurant!
Go away together.
Feeling a lot of stress about an upcoming appointment or repeated months with no conception? Plan a weekend away somewhere. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. We often drove about 45 minutes away to a creek and rented a room at the hotel for one night. We took walks along the edge of the lake and went hiking. It was great time outside of our house and normal life, where we could just spend quality time together cultivating our relationship.
Make sex fun again.
I know this one is difficult to do, because it is so closely intertwined with your infertility experience. However, there are ways! Have sex when you know that you aren’t “trying” to get pregnant. Without being too technical…you could try new places (this could be good to do if you go away somewhere, like I mentioned above), make it an experience (engage the five senses!). Try giving each other massages beforehand. Give “love” coupons.
These are just some practical tips. Above all, you just need to show your spouse that you love them, in spite of this current state of suffering. It isn’t easy, but it is possible and necessary if you are committed to your marriage!
When I felt broken, God found me and made me feel whole again. Then, He used Michael to encourage me. I pray that God will use this experience to draw you and your spouse closer together. Do not lose heart! Do not give up!
If you would like to hear more about my personal journey through infertility, I have written an ebook called, How My Soul Yearns.
Ashley is a 20-something year old seminary wife who lives in Louisville, KY with her husband, Michael. God willing, they are hoping to expand their family through way of adoption later this year. Ashley is passionate about encouraging women to live for the Lord in all aspects of their lives and blogs about it regularly at Putting God First Place. Ashley has recently published her first book, How My Soul Yearns, her story of how God brought her through infertility and beyond.