Nature has wired living organisms with a deep and natural desire to procreate. As such infertility, although a physiological problem, has a huge impact on a couple’s psychological well-being. Infertility wrongfully creates a cruel sense of failure to fulfill one’s pre-destined goal of having children who are seen as living extensions of themselves.
In many societies, and certainly in the past, a man is often considered to be the provider, and a woman - the homemaker. Therefore, the onus of becoming pregnant and carrying the seed to fruition fell on the woman. Her inability to continue the family lineage could lead to communal ostracization and even divorce. Thus, in contrast to her male counterpart, the female alone had to bear the guilt, shame, and social repercussions of infertility.
But in the modern age of nuclear families, these segregated roles are fading. Whether it is heterosexual couples, same-sex couples or transgender couples, each partner shoulders domestic duties equally. Hence, the consequences, responsibilities, and emotional impact of fertility issues is shouldered by both partners.
As couples deal with infertility and possible treatments, it's not just the financial burden that haunts them. Shadows of guilt, remorse, anger, frustration, and depression very often loom over the relationship. Failed attempts at fertility treatments further intensify grief and anxiety. When faced with tough situations, couples usually attempt to be supportive of one another, and be each other’s source of strength.
But when both the individuals are riddled with similar mental angst at the same time, patience can wear thin. This fragile support system can fall apart, leading to communication breakdown between partners.
So, to re-stabilize the relationship, it is imperative to find positive re-enforcements for the thought process and to balance the mental state of mind.
While infertility can feel like a lonely and isolating experience, couples don’t have to figure out the course of action alone. There is help!
Consult with a therapist experienced in fertility, to prevent the relationship from disintegrating under the psychological pressures of infertility.
As with physical ailments, mental health may at times, require professional intervention.
Therapists can provide couples with coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional turmoil. Relaxation techniques and improved communication skills are just some of the tools with which mental health professionals can equip struggling partners.
Changing one’s state of mind is winning half the battle. So, talk, open up, and connect with a therapist. Learn to tackle the fertility issues as a supportive team, rather than as adversaries. The journey will still be turbulent from time to time, but with professional guidance, couples will have a better handle on dealing with the mental challenges of infertility.
For more details or to book a free 30-minute consultation please contact
Sanjay Govindaraj MSW, RSW, MAES (Registered Social Worker/Psychotherapist)
745 Bridge St. West Unit 6 Waterloo, ON N2V 2G6
About the author: Sanjay Govindaraj has been offering counselling services for over 20 years and has personally experienced challenges with infertility. Sanjay is offering counselling for couples undergoing fertility treatments for a number of clinics in Waterloo Region.