Maintaining your relationship during fertility treatment is tough... really tough.. and has been known to break bonds that people thought were the toughest of them all. Problems often arise due to blame... you blame yourself, you blame them, you think they blame you, they think you're blaming them and around and around it spirals....
For some people, fertility treatment only serves to strengthen their bond and I've been asking around a bit for some tips and tricks to keep it together during treatment - here's the first 5!
Physical touch releases a hormone called oxytocin that is basically the love hormone. It is only found in mammals and is very powerful!! It gives us that warm, loved feeling. There are studies that have shown that a twenty second hug reduces the harmful, physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate.
Physical touch without the expectation of sex shows appreciation, respect and helps you both to feel honoured, valued and loved.
Hug often, and for more than just a perfunctory squeeze. Hug with intention, with love and with consideration for each other. 1000 words can be spoken through a hug so go on - hug your partner now!
Talk to each other - really communicate - not just about what's for dinner or what to watch on netflix next. Talk about your hopes and dreams - like you used to before all this started! Talk about what your life might look like - dare to dream about a time when you have babies... but also, don't be afraid to explore what life might look like without them too... its a tough one to consider but I think it's really important to have balance. Talk about other stuff too - not just babies and families. Try to remember why you fell in love in the first place. Looking through old photos can help trigger conversations!
3. TIME FOR YOURSELF
Have time for yourselves - away from each other so you have something else to talk about when you ARE together. It might be going to the movies with friends, perhaps a walk on the beach with an interesting podcast (that's not related to fertility!), catching up with an old friend/your sister/brother/parents
Together and separately. Anyone who knows me knows I don't mean F45 or anything crazy like that 😂 but go for a walk, perhaps dust off the bikes, explore somewhere you haven't been before. Exercise for most people releases endorphins which make us feel good. I've never actually experienced this, but I do love the feeling of smugness after I have done something physical!! means I have earned the block of chocolate on the sofa after dinner!!
*disclaimer - I do not promote a block of chocolate on the sofa after dinner**
Share the fertility treatment journey - your partner may not bring it up... but he should be included - don't carry this burden completely on your own.
Guys often talk about feeling left out or feeling unsure how to fully support their partners, our society views men traditionally as the ones who do the 'heavy lifting' as far as support is concerned.. but perhaps he needs your support too.... be strong for each other
Many men report feeling excluded during this process, or helpless and unsure how to support you. They say that they feel like they have to be the strong one all the time and some men I have spoken to have talked to me at great length about not really understanding what's going on but feeling too silly to ask...
My very first client was a man, trying to support his wife through fertility treatment. I didn't even meet her until their twins were well on the way. He often said to me 'but I just don't get it?? why is she so upset?? How can I support her when I don't even understand why she's crying all the time'
If you think this sounds like your man - send him my way!!
Just because your partner doesn't talk about it himself.. doesn't mean he too doesn't have hopes and fears and dreams and expectations.
So there you go - my top 5 tips for keeping your relationship together during fertility treatment.
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