When You’re Having Trouble Starting a Family

WebMD Blog:

When You’re Having Trouble Starting a Family

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD


You’ve been dreaming of sharing the big news, “We’re pregnant!” – but getting pregnant hasn’t happened as quickly as you had thought it would. As the months pass, maybe you  notice feelings of failure creeping in, and perhaps a fear that it won’t ever happen – maybe you won’t be able to get pregnant. Then you begin to question: Do you just keep trying naturally? Should you try fertility treatment? Or, maybe you should consider adoption? There are so many feelings and so many choices that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all – and easy to let it affect your relationship. So, it’s important to be especially open and honest with yourself and your partner as you move forward.

First, set aside some time to register your feelings and thoughts without pressuring yourself to make a decision about next steps – and encourage your partner to do the same. You may be struggling with feelings of disappointment, failure, sadness, or anger. As you give yourself the space to acknowledge all of your thoughts and feelings, you are also giving yourself a chance to fully digest them so that you can then more clearly think through your next course of action.

After you and your partner have both had the chance to clarify your own thoughts and feelings, sit down together and share them. Be sure to listen openly – not trying to convince one another of anything. Allow your minds and hearts to be open to differences between you and even contradictions within yourself. For instance, you may want to do whatever it takes to give birth to a child while also being intrigued with the idea of adoption.

When you feel like you understand yourselves and each other, take some time to gather information about your options and carefully consider how each may affect you individually and as a couple. Experts suggest that couples give themselves a year of trying to get pregnant naturally before considering an alternative (6 months for couples 35 or older). If you’re past this mark and want to consider other options like fertility treatment or adoption, fully research the specific financial, physical, and emotional stresses involved with each. Once you understand the potential challenges, do some honest soul-searching – how do you think you would fare with that kind on strain on your body, emotions, and relationship? Then talk as a couple about how you would negotiate these struggles together.

Because this topic can be so emotional, be sure to talk when you are calm. If your conversation starts becoming heated or tense, agree to table it until another time. Balancing your discussions about having a family with time that you just enjoy each other’s company especially important. Couples can get so lost in the task of creating a family that they lose their bond as a couple.

An especially hard part about your choice for how to build your family is that there is no right decision, only different possible paths. Instead of trying to make the one decision that will make you a happy person and couple, consider the various possibilities of the different paths. Use your “book learning” and experience in watching others to try each one in your imagination. And be sure to do this together, never losing focus on this being a joint endeavor. Then make a decision to take the path that holds the most promise, but also choose to embrace whatever it brings.


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