Study Shows Infertility’s Toll on Marriage
A new study says that having a baby after fertility issues improves couples' chances of staying together. What if you don't? It may be a different story.
When my husband and I had trouble conceiving before having our first child, I remember the fertility specialist we saw practically forcing us into meeting with a marriage counselor who worked with infertile couples. He was so strangely adamant about us receiving counseling that I thought he had to be getting some kind of kickback for making the referral.
We met with the therapist and I quickly realized why our fertility doctor had made the recommendation. There was no kickback. There was, however, some really raw emotion that was suddenly bubbling to the surface for both of us. What we discovered by working with the therapist was that underneath all the blood tests and ultrasounds and hormone injections, there were things going on in our relationship that were really hard and difficult and deep.
We stayed in counseling for the next six months. And then we got pregnant, and we both breathed a sigh of relief as all the dark feelings of failure and regret we had struggled with quietly slipped back into the shadows.
Sometimes, I think about what I like to call the “Big What If:” What if it hadn’t happened for us? Would we still be together, or would the stress of infertility have ultimately just been too much for us to handle?
I was reminded again about the” Big What If” the other day when I was reading about a new study from Denmark that looked at the toll infertility can take on married couples. Researchers there tracked more than 47,500 women evaluated for infertility at some point between 1990 and 2006. They found that women who didn’t get pregnant were up to three times more likely to get divorced (or end their relationship) compared to women who ultimately did go on to have a baby.
“Our findings suggest that not having a child after fertility treatment may adversely affect the duration of a relationship for couples with fertility issues,” said study lead author Trille Kristina Kjaer, of the survivorship unit at the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen.
No, I don’t live in Denmark, but if I did, I can’t help but wonder, which statistic would I be if that plus-sign had never appeared?
I honestly don’t know the answer.
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