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In vitro fertilization has been a blessing for couples experiencing infertility, but it can also be stressful, taking a physical and emotional toll. Trying to conceive a family when infertility is present is frustrating and upsetting for both partners, and it can be easy to feel rejected, resentful, or distant because of the anxiety, misdirected emotion and feelings of failure.

During IVF, it’s more important than ever to be supportive of and supported by your partner. To prevent distance in your relationship or to begin rebuilding broken barriers with your partner, here are a few tips on ways to connect or reconnect.

Make Time for Each Other: It’s easy during fertility treatments, doctor visits, and planned intercourse to lose track of the reasons you fell in love and wanted to start a family with your partner in the first place. Making time for each other outside of a fertility-related schedule is important to maintain intimacy. This can be as little as planning a weekly date night to get out of the house, or as much as having a monthly weekend getaway where you forget all about IVF and infertility and focus on your relationship.

Making time for each other doesn’t need to cost money or take you out of your home to be meaningful. Sitting together in the evenings over dinner and having a heart to heart talk, cuddling up on the couch in your pajamas to watch a movie, or taking a walk together after work, are all great ways to keep the romance alive.

Be Intimate for the Sake of Being Intimate: During IVF and fertility treatments, sex can become a chore. Not only can this damage the way you view your partner physically and emotionally, but if can turn sex into a negative and frustrating experience for you both. Don’t burn out trying to conceive and turn sex into something bad. Remember to enjoy it and find time to be intimate for the sake of being together, not just for creating your family.

Use Words of Affirmation with Your Partner: With all the frustration, anxiety, and hormones running wild, you and your partner could both wind up feeling defeated and alone. Reinforce your bond by reminding your partner than no matter what, you’ve got their back. Offer words of kindness for no other reason than to remind him or her that you love them. You can leave little notes in places he or she will find them at home or at work to brighten your partner’s day, or you can speak your words whenever you feel motivated to do so. Hearing, “you look great today”, “thanks for doing the dishes”, or “I love you” can go a long way.

Touch Regularly: Couple up your words of affirmation with intimate touches to let your partner know how important he or she is to you. Hugs, kisses, even a light touch on the arm or shoulder with your positive words can help create a moment that brings your partner back from that negative space in their mind.

For couples going through IVF and fertility treatments, it can get to the point where the only touching is during scheduled love making for procreation purposes. Human beings crave touch, and it feels nice to touch and be touched when it’s done in a positive way. Holding hands, offering a back rub, or even just squeezing your partner’s shoulder when he or she does something you appreciate, will help you reconnect and strengthen your bond.

Through it all, remember that before you tried to be a family, you were a couple, and your partner needs to know that he or she comes first from time to time. This should be reciprocated, so if you feel that you aren’t getting enough positive words, touching, or time with your partner, be open and honest about it. Communication is key.

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