That quote may not be what you need to hear if you are struggling with infertility, but it’s my hope that this difficulty in your life can help you grow stronger together, especially if you’re feeling miles apart right now.
Stress on any system will cause it to break down or reorganize itself in a more sophisticated way.
There are few, if any, things that are more stressful on a relationship than infertility.
I have seen relationships grow even stronger in the aftermath of infertility, and others have been wounded. Some have been shattered.
While I cannot claim to be an infertility expert, I do have some words of advice:
Go easy on yourself.
Go easy on each other.
For the purposes of this post, I am not going into the extraordinary toll that going through treatment for infertility can take on your body, your bank account, your sex life or your morale.
I’m going to tell you the foundation of how to handle it as a couple.
No matter what, remember: You are on the same team.
I know for me, if there are minor frustrations or stresses that I’m feeling, if I’m not careful, I can turn into a grumpy bitch and take it out on the people closest to me (read: my husband). ESPECIALLY when he’s doing something that irks me, even if he can’t perceivably control it. I’m sure the same is true the other way around.
We must handle our emotions as they arise lest they turn us into raging beasts for no good reason.
I am saying this because I can’t even imagine how easy it must be to take a huge bag of negative emotions out on your partner especially as you are going through something as difficult as infertility together.
While I have not personally experienced infertility and cannot possibly begin to understand what you’re going through, I will share some general advice to help you with any distress you might go through as a couple.
The advice is always the same:
Get in touch with your emotional experience, recognize it, allow it, stay open to it.
In other words: SLOW DOWN.
Because so many of us operate quickly by short circuiting through our emotional experiences without stopping to recognize them, we open up a huge space up where all kinds of misperceptions, miscommunications and misguided messages start to fly between partners.
See, as humans, at this point in evolution (and I believe we can change this collectively as a species), negative information weighs more than positive information. This is simply because it helps us survive (we are alert to danger).
Sadly, so much of the negative stuff that exists does so only in our minds.
In times of distress, such as infertility, we are more susceptible to floods of negativity. So we need to pay extra close attention and make sure we are not operating in reaction to the worst case scenarios we have automatically painted in our minds.
It’s a self protective thing that often becomes a self prophecy, which is dangerous.
And while you might easily connect the dots around how you do this as an individual in terms of worst case scenarios, I want to point out the magnifying effects that this kind of negative inclination has when you’re being influenced by it as a couple.
See, emotions are contagious, and a dangerous negative feedback loop built on LIES and misperceptions may start to form if you aren’t careful.
You may believe the story you are subtly telling yourself about how your partner is feeling awful about you.
I encourage you to stop that and slow down, and ask yourself:
How do you feel about you?
That’s a question that is easier for some people to answer than others.
When you can get clear on that (which is an accomplishment right there), you can start to sort out what’s yours and what you think might be your partner’s. Then you can ASK your partner what’s going on for them, knowing what’s yours.
In the words of Byron Katie, “Reality is always kinder than your thinking.”
You might have the worst case scenario playing out in your head.
In the words of Ice Cube, “You better check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.”
Whatever shakes out, you can handle the truth. And so can your partner. Even if it feels like you can’t.
When it comes to both of you, what you can’t handle is the self-protection, because that ultimately will keep you far away from each other, when you need to be close, supporting and comforting each other as you walk this difficult road together.
A little third party help can go a long way if you are experiencing difficulty with this.
Emotionally Focused Therapists are the best for couples.
Find one close to home here: http://iceeft.com.
Relationships can be difficult on their own, but when you throw the infertility card into the mix, that’s a whole lot more challenge.
I hope you know: You are stronger than you realize.
Speaking of strength…
I was inspired to write this post because my friend and colleague Lindsay Fischer, a human as strong as they get, recently wrote a book about her own journey dealing with this monster.
You may remember Lindsay from my interview with her last year before she re-released her powerful memoir about domestic violence under her real name.
I haven’t read her new book yet (it hits the shelves August 1), but after having read The House On Sunset, I am confident that it will help couples everywhere who are dealing with infertility.
If you’ve struggled with infertility, share your comments below about what has helped you weather the storm together.
Cheers to thriving in business & love,