Infertilty is hard on a marriage

I’ve read a great many infertility blogs featuring incredibly strong women, tremendous loss, great joy, and kind, supportive husbands who operate in the peripheral.  These optimistic husbands go to and from work, keep a sense of humor about the chlomid rages and eagerly hold their wives’ hands through embryo transfers.

What I don’t hear much about is the husbands who aren’t sure, afraid, or are maybe being pushed or drowned out by the deafening tick of their wives’ biological clocks.  I don’t hear about spouses disagreeing over fertility treatments, the arguments about money and deciding when to stop even if there are still options.

Maybe I’m an anomaly, because women with Type-A husbands like Ryan are too Type-B to be blogging about it.  But I’m going to.

My husband can be selfish.  He also can be a ton of fun, an animal lover, and deeply compassionate for the needy.  He will make an incredible father.  However, he is selfish.  (For the record, I’m no picnic, either.)

To be happy, Ryan dreams of some pretty attainable things:  A dog.  A good football game on a big screen tv.  A top-of-the-line leather recliner and an expensive mountain bike in the garage. Clean sheets on the bed, cheese-its in the cabinet.  A wife in a pleasant mood.

My list of things to make me happy aren’t quite so easy to come by: Sell our house and buy a newer, bigger one.  Have babies and grow our family.  Get my husband to go to church with me regularly.  Pay off our debts.  Create a safe, happy, haven of a home.

I am not daunted by the money and effort required to get some of the things I want in life.  It would be nice if Ryan were a cheerleader, or better yet, a workhorse along side me, but I can handle reality.  The catch is when I try to check some things off my list, I interfere with Ryan’s vision of long days in the recliner watching sports and eating snacks. And like I said, Ryan can be selfish.  He doesn’t yield easily when it comes to surrendering his Happy.

In our last discussion about having babies Ryan said he’s not so sure he wants to “spend $15,000 on a problem.” In his defense, he said this tongue-in-cheek, not fully thinking of a baby as a “problem,” but also very wise in acknowledging that babies complicate lives and can turn a marriage upside down.

Anyone?  Anyone else hear this?  I say most likely he’ll look back one day and think that was the best $15,000 ever spent.  But today he sees IVF as taking money out his pocket, disrupting the football game and inserting a tyrannical wife and screaming child in his house.  I get it.

In my 3 years experience I’ve found marriage to be delicate and scary.  As a Christians we don’t believe in divorce, so there is no fear of anyone leaving, but there are land mines everyday leading to arguments, unhappiness, misery.  I wonder if married life would change for the worse if we have a child.  If so, and Ryan holds me responsible for the decision to do IVF, this could decimate our relationship. But joining the ranks of those who miscarry or remain childless certainly puts strain on a marriage, too.  Truly, God knew what He was doing when he created pregnancy as a byproduct of the most insatiable physical urge.  If everyone had to pay $15K to add a baby to married life, women everywhere would be begging and pleading and men would be freaking out.  No, the only way a marriage can survive IVF is if each of us gets on board of our own volition.

However, I can’t let it go.  I can’t at this point say “ok Ryan, I understand your fear and want you to be happy, so we don’t have to do this.”  We do that with all kinds of things in marriage, but giving up children and a family is a whole different caliber of compromise.

Years ago when Ryan’s seasoned, 25-year-old, new girlfriend asked “Do you want to get married one day?  Do you want to have kids one day?” he gave two enthusiastic YES’s! I never thought to ask him “what if we are infertile?”

No doubt he’s been caught off guard watching me sink to new levels of desperation. The crafty, roll-with-the-punches, I-don’t-need-a-man-to-define-me girl he met is now unnaturally preoccupied with babies, motherhood and breastfeeding.  Especially for $15,000? So not me.  When people change- that’s another thing that’s hard on a marriage.  It’s all just hard.


2 thoughts on “Infertilty is hard on a marriage

  1. Thanks for sharing 🙂 I really identify with your post – and marriage is so hard…especially with adding infertility problems to the mix! So many things in life that we can’t plan for! My hubby said to me he is happy with this round of IVF (as my wonderful parents have paid for it) but if this round fails he “isn’t sure” if we’ll be able to afford another. Although he has a brand new Harley Davidson motorbike… Got to smile sometimes!


    1. Sometimes I feel like the only infertile out there who is also dragging her reluctant spouse along. Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one on this earth with these problems! Just think how much stronger and what better communicators we are becoming…

      Liked by 1 person

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