Has infertility begun to weaken your marriage?
First and foremost let me say how much my heart goes out to you and your husband if you’re walking the road of infertility. Today I have a post from Natasha Metzler, an author and blogger who has an amazing testimony about her and her husband’s journey through infertility,
We were going to have three children, run a farm together, and love each other and God for all our days.
At least, that was the plan at our wedding back in 2007.
It didn’t turn out so much that way. Our babies didn’t come and our lives were slashed open by this monster called infertility and our plans just crumbled away.
At one point I felt like a failure at everything. Every. Last. Thing.
Except we still run our farm together and we still love God and we still managed to hold tight to our love for each other through it all.
And slowly, over time, I realized this isn’t always the case. Many marriages fall apart through the stress of infertility, and I know why. It’s hard, y’all. Infertility is like living in a nearly-constant state of mourning. Every month you go through the grieving cycle again and whew, who wouldn’t struggle with that?!
But I’ve got some tips for you. There are five important things we did that made our marriage stronger while traveling through the sorrow of infertility, instead of weaker. And I want to share them with you today.
1. Say the important stuff
I struggled with depression soon after we married, all linked to my inability to conceive. Some was physical depression from unbalanced hormones, but most of it was emotional and spiritual depression from fear and perceived failure.
I remember my husband saying to me, in complete frustration, “I’m sorry marrying me ruined your life.”
It was like something in me snapped. That wasn’t true, at all! Marrying him was the best thing I had ever done. But I wasn’t saying it. I was just depressed and cried all the time, and to him it seemed like his easy-going, happy fiancé regretted the marriage.
From that moment on, we worked hard to say the important things to each other. Things like,
- “I’m thankful for you.”
- “You’re a wonderful husband/wife.”
- “I’m so glad I don’t have to go through this alone. I’m glad you’re beside me.”
- “I love you. Even though I’m struggling right now, I do love you.”
And, of course, our favorite: “This is just hormones, honey. I think you’re the best thing ever.”
2. Talk realistically about your finances
The financial burden of treating infertility is astronomical. Maybe you have an awesome health plan that covers it, or maybe, like us, you don’t. Be realistic.
There was no way, with being self-employed, that we could do all the intensive infertility treatments available out there. So, we could sell the farm and look for different jobs that might have better coverage, or we could limit the infertility treatments to what we could pay out-of-pocket.
We decided, together, to keep the farm.
Maybe you would sell it. Maybe you and your husband are at the place to do-whatever-it-takes. It’s not about what is right to do financially but that whatever it is you talk about it realistically and decide what to do together.
There were moments when I would have happily traded the farm for a baby, but that’s not a realistic view of the options. It wasn’t a baby vs. the farm–it was infertility treatments vs. the farm.
Also: remember this conversation about finances needs to happen regularly. This isn’t a once-for-all decision that needs to be made, but a continuing conversation that your spouse and you need to be having.
3. Pray together.
Honestly, this is probably the most important thing out of this whole list. PRAY TOGETHER.
And yes, there were times when I felt awkward initiating this when we were first married. I would wait until the lights were out at night and then I’d slip my hand over to my husband’s and I pray this broken-crazy prayer that God would give us wisdom, and help us love each other well, and teach me how to be a good wife to my husband even though I was hurting about not having babies.
My husband wasn’t one to pray aloud much, but over time, as I kept going, he started leading in that area and now one of the most wonderful parts of life are when he grabs my hand and starts praying.
In fact, I recently went through another bout of depression when the anniversary of a miscarriage came up and he stopped me, put his hand on my head, and prayed that God would give me relief. I could literally feel the depression lifting off of me. It was amazing.
Praying together has drawn us closer than anything else we’ve ever done.
4. Have sex for fun.
One of the problems with infertility is the focus on the mechanics of sex (and keeping track to tell the doctor…) instead of the pleasure and comfort of it.
Every couple is different, but for us, I try to keep the charting-part of our sex life out of my husband’s way. Oh, there are times that I tell him I’m ovulating and we laugh and try to find a way to get alone together, but for the most part I just keep a notebook with whatever information the doctor wants and if I miss some of it, I try not to worry about it.
Sex can actually be a huge comfort during grief, and God gave it to us to build intimacy. If “scheduling” times to have sex is becoming a burden or a cause of tension— STOP. Turn off the app on your phone for a while, or ignore the charting.
Practice getting back to the joy of having sex with your spouse without worrying about the best position or the best time of day or the best anything. Every sexual encounter with your spouse won’t be the bong-diggity and every sexual encounter won’t produce a baby and that’s okay. The main point of sex in marriage is life-long intimacy, not a moment of ecstasy or even procreation.
5. Talk about your infertility.
To begin with, talk to each other. Share about what you’re struggling with—listen to what your spouse is struggling with.
And then? Find some safe places to talk about it with others.
Infertility often becomes a silent struggle, kept within the bounds of a marriage. And what often happens is eventually the stress causes the marriage to implode.
God created us to be in community. Obviously, that means community within our marriage, but also community within the Body of Christ. If you’re hurting, be brave enough and strong enough to share that with the Believers around you.
I started sharing through blogging, because I’m a writer. Others may stand up in front of church and ask for prayer. Many, many others will just quietly share their struggle with close friends.
There is no one-right-way, but there is a single wrong-way and that is to keep everything inside and pretend like you’re okay when you’re not.
Infertility feels like a personal failure, but it’s not. Getting it out into the open can help you keep a true-perspective. It’s so easy for the enemy to confuse our minds when we are prideful about sharing our struggles. Be humble. Talk about it.
What about you? Have you or someone close to you struggled with infertility? If you have some tips on keeping a marriage strong while facing infertility, share them in the comments. Let’s encourage and uplift each other today.