Motherly Collective

If you are experiencing infertility, like 1 in 6 couples globally, you may be dealing with a  huge emotional, physical and financial burden that often carries over into your relationship. It’s hard not to let this happen: Suddenly, your most important relationship becomes bogged down in ovulation tracking, doctor appointments, scheduled sex and lots of stress. It can all start to feel so… clinical. 

As someone who has experienced pregnancy loss, secondary infertility, and ultimately, achieved motherhood through surrogacy, I’d love to share some ways to strengthen your relationship with your partner during a time of your life when outside pressures may start to take an outsize toll. 

How to strengthen your relationship amidst fertility challenges

1. Aim for open communication always

It’s common to turn inward when experiencing infertility. It can be an incredibly isolating and difficult time in your life. It’s important to feel as though your partner is someone you can talk to and truly express all of these feelings; the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

You may not cope with stress and grief the same way as your partner, which is sometimes why there can be a strain in a relationship when having difficulty conceiving. Feeling like you can’t share these feelings with your partner creates a wedge in even the strongest relationships. Taking the time to understand how you both communicate (even understanding their love language) and what type of support you both need is a game changer for your relationship. 

2. Schedule regular date nights 

Many couples facing infertility express that fertility challenges can make the relationship feel less sexy. Instead of being intimate when the mood strikes, some plan sex after ovulation kits and monitoring appointments at the fertility clinic (I’m looking at you, timed intercourse and IUI patients). Add to that: All the IVF hormones may have you feeling like a castmate of Real Housewives, and well, you just are in a mood, not in the mood. 

To keep the romance alive, set up regular date nights (and let them try to fall organically on the calendar, not surrounding ovulation). These types of nights are also such a great distraction from what’s going on and a fun way to reconnect as a couple. This helps keep the spark alive during what can be a mentally draining time. 

3. Seek out support groups 

Attending infertility support groups, either individually or as a couple, can help you work through the challenges you may be facing as a couple. Depending on your location, you can connect with others either in person or virtually. Some examples of places that offer support groups may be your fertility clinic (if you are in the midst of treatment) and Resolve.

Not only is it beneficial to hear your partner describe aloud to others how infertility is impacting them, but hearing from other members of the support group creates a feeling of solidarity and camaraderie. 

4. Avoid the blame game 

While struggling with infertility, many women take on a huge emotional burden and often may blame themselves during this time. After my pregnancy loss that resulted in secondary infertility, I often experienced guilt; it was taking so long to build our family, and I felt responsible for the fact that my husband wasn’t yet a dad. 

Through our grief counselor, I learned how to process those feelings. Most importantly, my husband never said anything to make me feel that way; it was a pressure I put on myself. Even something as simple as saying to your partner that you don’t blame them and you are on the same team can be so impactful. 

5. Set aside time to not discuss pregnancy 

IYKYK: Infertility monopolizes most conversations with your partner, and when you aren’t talking about it, you are thinking about it. 

Even though I share the importance of being open with your partner, it’s equally important to set aside one night per week (or maybe even an hour a day), where you and your partner focus on not talking about infertility, upcoming doctor appointments, the inundating pregnancy announcements surrounding you, and any other triggers. This allows you both to be present with one another and talk about the other things going on in your lives. Something as simple as this can do a lot to strengthen your connection. 

6. Find ways to channel your frustration 

Bonus points if it’s a couples’ activity! 

Often, when we are having a bad day, who is the person we let it out to? It’s typically our partner, as they are our “safe space.” When experiencing infertility, it may not just be a bad day, it can be a tough few years. It’s important to find something that provides an outlet for this frustration. 

Whether it’s a solo activity or an activity together, finding something that allows you to decompress from this challenging time and not take it out on the person you love the most is important. Some activities as a couple could be a workout class, daily walks, rock climbing, dancing, painting or hiking. 

A note on embarking on this journey together

While my husband and I faced many challenges during our journey to parenthood, I feel incredibly lucky that we were able to stick by one another and strengthen our relationship. His support is what propelled me to not give up on having our daughters. Now that our two daughters are here, I launched my surrogacy consulting firm to help guide others on their surrogacy journeys. 

I hope you recognize how tough the journey to parenthood can be and give yourself grace when things feel challenging. You aren’t alone—and leaning on your partner for support will only strengthen your relationship.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.