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Why infertility can be the best test of how strong a relationship really is

By Nina Steele 

Two married women I know with fertility issues have told me of the impact this has had on their self-esteem and how they cannot help but blame themselves for the lack of children in their respective lives. One of them has found some peace by being actively involved in her Goddaughter’s life, while the other is still struggling to come to terms with her situation even though it was well over a decade ago when she had her last IVF treatment. What struck me most about both stories is the strength of the relationships both women are in. Even so, the woman who is still finding it difficult to move on, fears losing her husband. She is worried that one day he will wake up and decide that he has had enough of her emotional shortcomings. In any case, both husbands have been supportive and understanding and both marriages have survived as a result.

To say that infertility can be a challenge for any relationship would be an understatement. Indeed for every couple that survives, there are many others who are not that fortunate. In my experience, one of the main reasons why couples break up is when one person within the relationship wants children more than the other. In a situation like that, resentment quickly sets in, with each side blaming the other. If these issues are left to fester then couples reach a point of no return and split up. My husband has always been happy with our life as it is and having children was never a priority for him. He went along for my sake. However, I could see his mood changing as the lengthy and costly process started to take its toll. As fate would have it, I had a complete change of heart and put an abrupt end to it myself. He could not hide his relief. The other reason that often pushes couples over the edge is guilt. The person who is infertile feels guilty about the whole situation and this can get worse if they do not get the support of their partner. The worse that can happen in this case, is for the partner with no fertility issues to blame the other for being the source of their troubles. That is a definite no no and can cause irreversible damage.

All in all, infertility can make or break a relationship depending on how strong that relationship was in the first place and what matters most to each person within it. If having children is all that matters to one half of the relationship then the strain of trying can cause the relationship to collapse. If however, a couple values their relationship more, then they can successfully put the whole experience behind them and move on. Whatever the outcome, there is no denying the fact that infertility can test a relationship to the limit.

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