How Seeking Fertility Affects Couple's Relationships

The declining fertility relationship usually looks something like this: The couple begins their lives together in a state of love, hope and abundance. They decide to expand upon this process and create another. In most cases, the woman has the intense desire to start a family. The man may be ambivalent, or may have some fears about increasing obligations, but usually agrees. The couple begins trying to conceive, adopting timed intercourse, which already disrupts the spontaneity of the relationship. Now lovemaking becomes purpose oriented, and the couple begins to lose each other, as the goal of their practice seems further out of reach. The woman starts to become worried, fearful, and frustrated. As she shares these concerns with her partner, he begins to feel less capable of supporting her because he doesn't have the answer. He can't fix it. She becomes more withdrawn, he can't help, and the basis of the relationship switches to one of deprivation. Often the man, frustrated by his inability to provide a solution, will pull back from the relationship. He holds his own feelings inside, and may feel as if he’s walking around on eggshells as he doesn’t want to add stress to his wife’s already palpable pain. She may then feel like he doesn’t care. The harder they try to have a baby, the more the relationship suffers. She just wants a baby. He just wants his wife back.

So, how do we begin to put a life back together during or after the fertility struggle? A relationship is like a three-legged stool composed of the self, the other, and the partnership. Through the process of effort based conception attempts, it is as if this three-legged support has lost a leg; each partner is standing alone, and the stool is in constant risk of toppling over. “Infertility” is one of the leading causes of divorce – even if a child is conceived.

Many people find that fertility struggles move the relationship from one of positivity into one of negativity. This process has become one of the leading causes of stress for a couple who is afflicted by it. Now the relationship has moved from a place of love and support to one where the relationship is actually defined by the problem.

If you are in an intimate partnership, the dynamic of the relationship can impact your ability, or inability, to accept a new life into your environment. According to Eastern philosophy, the coupling of the mother's yin with the father's yang is precisely what ignites the call to the soul of the unborn child. If there is discord in the partnership this will impact the energies that will or will not come together to create life. Couples are drawn to each other for many reasons – because of their desires, past experiences, childhood caretakers, present needs and future goals. Together, these composite aspects combine and subconsciously project onto the partner all that goes into our relationships.

Each partner contributes these unconscious fragments into the relationship, which then form the container, or ‘vessel' that will eventually house the child. When the container becomes filled with toxic debris after years of suffering through fertility struggles, the relationship is no longer a place for loving support, but one where we tend to resent the accumulated rubble, and the ‘other' who is responsible for putting it there.