When We’re Still Only Two: Navigating Infertility Grief as a Team
One issue that can blaze the hottest in a marriage is infertility. It is a deep grief that is often difficult to express in words. But with the right perspective, you can adapt together, as one. Here are a few things that can happen when we lean into one another during times of grief.
In this Article:
Forged Together Through Infertility
I recently learned that flames and heat are the only way two metals can combine. Interesting. All marriages have flames. I’m not talking about the sexy bedroom kind, but the painful, searing, this-might-rip-us-apart kind. Today we’ll talk about how those flames can make our steely countenances combine into something beautiful.
One flame that can blaze the hottest in a marriage is infertility. It is a deep grief that is often difficult to express in words. Despite what the world may tell us, research shows that we as humans are actually remarkably good at adapting to tragedy. And with the right perspective, we can adapt together, as one. Infertility can cause division in marriage, of course, but here are a few things that can happen when we lean into one another during times of grief.
- Forge a friendship dependent not only on shared interests but on shared joy/sorrow/prayer/struggle.
- Forge a sex-life not based on feelings (which are fleeting) but commitment, dedication to knowing one another, and passion found in pursuit of a dream.
- Forge a conversational norm where depth and truth are worth more than tip-toeing around tricky topics.
- Forge convictions about what you will and will not sacrifice when it comes to time together as a family.
- Forge the desire to support each others’ dreams with abandon because life is short and health, wellness, and opportunities are not guaranteed.
- Forge newfound commitments to supporting each others’ well-being because self-care is crucial.
- Forge, surprisingly, a lower level of anxiety and less frequent arguments about things that just do not matter. Perspective can be incredibly freeing.
- Forge a relationship where every topic is on the table. Fears, hopes, purity, eternal doubt…nothing is taboo and everything is worthy of the putting down the phone and listening intently.
Leaning Into One Another
This is what your infertility can do. So how do we “lean into” one another? In my time working with couples and in our own infertility journey, I’ve learned 4 keys to leaning in:
- Accept that you will grieve differently. Maybe you grieve with tears, maybe your spouse grieves with anger, maybe they need a day in nature. Everyone’s soul is built just a little built differently than the next so allowing space for our differences can be life-giving.
- Find a couple who supports your marriage. Having another couple in the trenches with you can feel vulnerable but it is also essential. Undoing “aloneness” is a key part of mental health. As a couple, you probably feel isolated and alone in your battle at times. Having friends/mentors/pastors/a therapist who cheer on you, your marriage and your journey can be a lifesaver.
- Realize that all emotions are created by God. All emotions function like indicators on a dash board . They lead us to areas of our hearts need attention. Of course we can sin in our emotion but we see even in the Bible that Jesus is angry and sad at times. Don’t shame yourself for these emotions, instead share them with your spouse, therapist and ultimately, bring them to the Lord.
- Date nights are essential. I cannot stress this enough. Date nights where a portion of it is “fertility talk free”. We must give our brains space to connect, our hearts time to rest, and our bellies good laughs.
Spoiler alert: you will not be perfect. You will miss date night at times. You will still argue about stupid stuff. You will still struggle to make sex fun. But, by and large, the flames you’ve struggled through, instead of engulfing your marriage and destroying it, will actually make it stronger.
Beauty From Brokenness
That’s the thing with flames in marriage. In the moment they feel sweltering. It is sometimes not until time has passed that you notice something else. Maybe the flames have died down, maybe not. Somehow, though, you are able to see through the smoke a bit and, to your amazement, all that melting and pouring out and pain created something beautiful. Something eternal. Something like a wedding ring.
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