This is my excerpt from a brand new book, Ten Commandments for Couples for Every Aspect of Your Relationship Journey, edited by Jeffrey Zeig, PhD and Tamy Kulbatsky, PsyD. In it you will find 10 commandments from 70 leading relationship experts on topics such as maintaining connection, rekindling passion or dealing with financial or sexual issues.
Here is my contribution.
1. Infertility is demanding. Keep your love for each other, not the technology, central to the quest for a baby!
2. Infertility can be all-consuming. Create an infertility-free zone! Fill it with joy!
3. The infertility struggle is all about waiting: waiting for your period, waiting for test results, waiting to heal physically or emotionally, waiting for a gamete donor or surrogate, waiting for the hCG surge for an insemination, waiting for fertilization in a petri dish, and the big one, the two week wait to find out if you are pregnant. Develop patience with and for each other and the process!
4. Cave man needed to think negatively in order to survive. That DNA has come through the generations into us. Infertility intensifies the difficulty in seeing the positive. Team up and look for the bless in the mess so you're not trapped in negativity!
5. We tend to be most comfortable with sameness even though life is always changing. Some changes flow as part of a natural order. Infertility is not one of them. This unwelcomed change comes out of the blue and feels violent. You can knee-jerk react to the ongoing changes inherent in infertility or you can learn to respond to the frustration and disappointments. Both of you need to take on this challenge as your response-ability!
6. It's common to see our partner's liabilities clearly while remaining sketchy about our own. It's easy for stress to lead to the blame game. Even if one of you is the infertile one, remember that you're in this together!
7. Every menstrual period represents another "death." If you accept the reality, build awareness and seek ways to adapt, you get to grow as a couple. Transform grief and loss into empowerment!
8. Communication is key to a good relationship. Words can be the least effective means, especially if having the last word is your goal. Develop listening as an art form. Allow non-verbal behavior such as hugs to matter. Morph communication into commune-ication!
9. And then there's sex. Medical treatment is intrusive. Your private parts are exposed to the glare of fluorescent lights. Sex on demand or ejaculating into a cup are requirements. With in vitro fertilization sex is unnecessary. These things can trump your heart's involvement in your sexual connection. Find a way to accept lapses in desire and performance!
10. Under duress, disconnects in your style of being a couple will exaggerate. With so much at stake you can learn another way. Don't be afraid to get help and gain from the pain!