The 20 Minute Rule

Infertility doesn’t just happen to one person in a relationship.  It happens to both.  But, as we all know, everyone processes conflicts and hardship differently, which means that sometimes you can feel like your partner is on a totally different wavelength when you’re dealing with infertility.

But the stress of creating new life doesn’t have to come between you and your partner.  In fact, experiencing infertility together may even bring you closer together.  We asked Dr. Linda Applegarth, Director of Psychological Services at the Cornell’s Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, to give a few words of wisdom to help you and your partner stay on the same wavelength when trying to conceive.

Dr. Applegarth’s advice

Even the most stable and supportive of couples can encounter issues that bubble to the top when they are trying to get pregnant.  Perhaps one member wants to talk about it a lot–she may feel that talking about it can change things.  And the other may want to check out because he feels helpless to change the situation.  Talking calms her anxiety, but he gets frustrated that they are talking in circles.

My simple rule:  limit the time you are allowed to talk about it.  Set a timer for 20 minutes.  That way, the opportunity to communicate for the partner who wants to vent is balanced by an end time for the partner who would rather not talk about their feelings.

Also, give yourself permission to seek help when you go through this, both individually and/or as a couple.  This is often the first crisis you experience in your marriage or as a couple, and you may be ill-equipped to handle it alone.  Therapy doesn’t have to be a long-term solution–seeking professional help can help you get through this difficult stage and build communication tools for the future.