Many couples are waiting to have children. Whether they're waiting for conception, the right moment or an adoption, many couples find themselves in that twilight period between being childless and bringing Baby home. For those struggling with infertility or waiting for the adoption call, this time can be filled with stress, confusion, and anxiety. It can also put a tremendous amount of pressure on a relationship, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Some Grow Closer
Karen Szabo from Tulsa, Oklahoma, says that while the fertility treatments were stressful, she and her husband actually grew closer and are now waiting for an adoption from China to go through. "Our struggle was certainly a stressful experience, but the infertility treatments actually made us closer and our marriage stronger," she says. "There's nothing like your husband coming at you with a needle every day to build trust, but despite our best efforts, we simply couldn't control getting pregnant. Despite the pills, the shots, [and] the procedures, this was something we couldn't control, and we realized it was controlling us."
Szabo and her husband took a year off to think things through. "During that time, we both did a lot of soul searching—but not alone," she says. "We talked about our feelings and supported each other. We traveled, dined out, went to countless movies, took walks, and drives and just enjoyed the freedom of being two, and truth be told, it was and is wonderful. We have a wonderful life together, but we realized one day that we just wanted to share that life with someone else."
Communication Is Key
The Szabos were open and honest about their feelings and learned how to prop one another up. When one person was down, the other stepped in. At the end of that year they decided to go ahead with adoption proceedings. "Truly, communication was the key to surviving that time—that and a deep respect for each other," she says. "We never stopped loving each other or took each other for granted."
Dr. Nate Cottle, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Texas with expertise in dating and marital relationships, believes it is imperative for couples who are either struggling to have children or putting off having children for some reason, to communicate their feelings with one another in an honest and open way.
"Sometimes one partner will share his/her feelings with their spouse and the spouse may reply with 'me too' or 'ditto' when they actually have feelings to the contrary," Dr. Cottle says. "Not sharing your true feelings is likely only to lead to resentment and other negative emotions."
Dr. Cottle says that when couples are struggling to have children, many individuals have strong negative emotions (e.g., frustration, feelings of inadequacy), and couples should communicate openly and share these feelings with each other. "By sharing these feelings, they can begin to empathize with each other, and often, they may reach a new level of intimacy," he says.