It’s not easy going through infertility and pregnancy loss at any time. But going through one or both during a pandemic can feel impossible.
Everything around you is overwhelming, scary, and unpredictable. You might feel anxious about the consequences of your smallest actions or about the state of things much larger than yourself.
And to make matters worse, you may find yourself distancing from your partner. You may be fighting more often or feeling like you just don’t understand each other.
Infertility may bring up any of these emotions for you individually or as a couple:
- Deep sadness
- hopeful anticipation
- shame and embarrassment
- guilt and self-blame
- feeling stigmatized
- isolation and loneliness
- tension or distancing in your relationship
Life during a pandemic amplifies these common experiences of infertility and pregnancy loss, leaving you feeling like you’re trapped on a roller coaster of chaotic and painful emotions.
You may worry that you won’t be able to continue your fertility treatment during the pandemic. Or scared that you’ll never have a baby.
For many, infertility and pregnancy loss can be an isolating and scary experience that may lead to withdrawing into your own world. You might feel unable to ask for the support you need.
And social distancing doesn’t help.
At a time when you’re already feeling isolated, the pandemic may make you feel even more shut out from the rest of the world.
What you need to know is that you’re not alone, and that your partner has your back during these scary times.
Staying Strong Together – Connected Couples Weather Crisis Better
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and your struggles with infertility and pregnancy loss do too, you need the support of your partner more than ever.
Studies show that couples who maintain secure connection in their relationships also deal better with stress (Greenman & Johnson, 2012). With the support of your loved one and a calm mind, you’re better able to regulate negative emotions that come up.
Secure connection also helps couples avoid conflict.
When you feel safe and supported by your partner, you fight less. And when you do fight, you’ll feel safer to communicate whatever unmet needs brought up the conflict in the first place.
Of course, communicating your needs means getting in tune with your emotions. When you can name your emotions, you can express them. And your partner needs you to express them so they can understand and support you (Lieberman et al, 2007).
Strengthening the connection with your partner does involve work both individually and together—but it’s worth it.
3 Things Couples Can Do to Help Each Other through Infertility & Pregnancy Loss
Infertility and pregnancy loss are painful. The pandemic is scary. How are you supposed to help your partner in the middle of these crazy, stressful, and difficult times?
Your best course of action is connection. When you see your partner in pain and afraid, you need to be emotionally responsive and secure the connection between you.
What exactly does being emotionally responsive mean?
Let’s break it down.
1. Be Accessible
Can your partner find you when she needs you? Can your partner access your attention, presence, and support when he’s feeling scared or alone?
Be available and open to your partner. Give them your full attention and listen when they talk about what’s going on in their hearts and minds. Put down your phone and close your laptop.
2. Be Responsive
When your partner is distressed, can you respond in a sensitive and compassionate way?
Can you reach out a tender hand, stroke his hair, hold her close?
Give a hug or a hand to hold when they need courage. When they reach out, question you, call for you, respond.
3. Be Engaged
Can you listen to your partner’s feelings, even experience the feelings with them? Show them that you are touched with their pain and that their feelings matter to you. Will they be able to see your teary eye or sad face?
These three simple things will make your partner feel heard and seen. They will act as a balm to counteract the feelings of isolation and the pain of disappointment and fear.
Couples Counseling Can Help
If you’re experiencing any of these difficult emotions of infertility and pregnancy loss during this pandemic, couples counseling can help.
Strengthening your relationship increases your personal well-being as well as your relationship satisfaction (Coan, 2006 & Johnson, 2013). It makes you feel safer in a world that seems to be going crazy all around you.
Remember that the best and most effective way to cope with infertility and pregnancy loss is your strong relationship.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Research shows that couples that received Emotionally Focused Couples therapy (EFT) are better at weathering the turmoil of infertility (Soltani, 2014 & Najafi, 2015). Couples who strengthen their connection through EFT are:
- more affectionate with each other
- happier in their relationship and sex life
- better at communicating and supporting each other
- less anxious and depressed (EFT can be more effective than antidepressants [Soltani, 2014])
- more motivated to continue with infertility treatment
About Dr. Irena
As a psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with couples going through infertility and pregnancy loss, I can help you reconnect with your partner so that you can approach your struggles and next steps as a team. I am a certified Emotionally Focused (EFT)Couples therapist, and I have helped hundreds of couples reconnect and find emotional responsiveness in their relationships.
You are not the only one who’s been caught in a vicious cycle of infertility and pregnancy loss that you just don’t know how to navigate.
Many couples go through the same experience and with the help of couples counseling, they’re able to turn to each other and find a way out of these challenging times together.
They even grow closer and their relationships are stronger.
Benefits of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples
Here are some benefits you may experience after successful couples EFT counseling for infertility and pregnancy loss:
- Closer and more intimate connection
- Safer and more trusting relationship (where you can express your deepest fears)
- Sense of being a team (and no longer feeling alone)
- Better physical intimacy
- Sense of hope that you will find a way to have a family
Many couples going through infertility and pregnancy loss have benefited from EFT. Don’t let the stress of a pandemic stop you from achieving your dream of having a child.
Do you need relationship help?
Dr. Irena offers online therapy for women and couples in Texas and New York City. She is certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and can help you navigate the struggles of infertility and pregnancy loss.
With the help of her compassionate expertise, many highly distressed couples have found a closer and more intimate connection.
Email Dr. Irena for a free 10-minute video consultation: [email protected] or call (281)-267-1742.
Coan, J.A., Schaefer, H.S., & Davidson, R.J. (2006). Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat. Psychological Science, 17(12), 1032-1039
Johnson, S. (2008). Hold Me Tight. New York, NY: Little, Brown Spark.
Johnson, S. (2013). Love Sense. New York, NY: Little, Brown Spark.
Lieberman, M. D., Eisenberger, N. I., Crockett, M. J., Tom, S. M., Pfeifer, J. H., & Way, B. M. (2007). Putting Feelings Into Words. Psychological Science, 18(5), 421–428. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01916.x
Najafi, M., Soleimani, A.A., Ahmadi, Kh., Javidi, N., & Hoseini Kamkar, E. (2015). The effectiveness of emotionally focused therapy on enhancing marital adjustment and quality of life among infertile couples with marital conflicts. International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, 9(2), 238-246.
Soltani, M., Shairi, M.R., Roshan, R., & Rahimi, C. (2014). The impact of emotionally focused therapy on emotional distress in infertile couples. International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, 7(4), 337–344.