When Starting Your Family Becomes a Battle

When my wife, Cheri, and I were first married, we made a lot of plans.

We made plans for our career and finances.

We made plans to travel and purchase a home.

And we had plans to start and raise a family.

Those are of course, very typical plans. But life has a way of dealing difficulties of one kind of another to every couple. Some of us will particularly struggle with our careers. Others will struggle financially.

And one in eight of us will struggle to start our families.

We had no idea that was the case until we found ourselves in that exact situation. If you are trying to conceive, you might not even know that you are struggling yet.

But, as we found out as the years went on, we knew many couples who were secretly struggling. None of us were prepared for what lay ahead of us.

Are You Struggling?

It’s commonplace now for couples to forego having children until later and later in life, and so when we do eventually decide that “we are going to have children now,” it can come as a surprise that things take longer than we were led to believe in sex education class.

If you have been trying to conceive for one year (six months if you are over thirty-five), then you are officially counted infertile by most doctors. Now, don’t let that word scare you. There are many degrees of infertility. Some of us will have very simple treatments and be able to conceive. But what you need to do first is realize that you might have a problem and then go to a specialist to confirm it. A general practitioner or even your regular gynecologist is probably not going to do the job of diagnosis and treatment.

Have Another “The Talk”

You’ve already had a momentous talk with your spouse about how you want to have children. Every month has felt like a delicious gamble as you wait and see if the little stick will say “plus” or “minus.” But if you now realize that things are not going as planned, you probably need to have another big, momentous talk.

You need to get on the same page.

You need to express your love for each other anew. Depending on your situation, you need to discuss how far you are willing to go with treatment. You need to do this now, because in three years, when you find yourselves desperate and broke, you are much more likely to do anything, even if it compromises your beliefs.

You may be about to embark on a very long quest to have the children you desire. You need to strengthen your marriage before you head into troubled waters.

Remember Each Other

You know how you can tell your friends have kids?

Because their houses are littered with plastic toys.

Their schedules are all wrapped around their kids’ activities.

Because when we ask them how they are doing, they might just answer with an anecdote about their children.

It is easy to get wrapped up in our kids. It’s easy for spouses to forget each other while they are busy with children. (There is a reason that spouses consistently rate their levels of marital dissatisfaction as “high” when their children are between ages 0 and 3.)

But it is just as easy for spouses to forget each other while they are just trying to have children. Infertility takes everything a couple has. We postpone vacations and travel plans. We deplete our savings accounts. We schedule intimacy according to doctor’s orders. It is easy for everything to get swallowed up by the pursuit. What is going to happen if the child actually shows up?

The Good News

The good news is that if you do these things, whether you have children or not, you will come to be glad for the journey infertility has taken you on. You will come to not be able to imagine your marriage without it. It will become a blessing rather than a curse.

Every marriage is eventually invaded by some problem. It might be sickness, financial, career, or even infertility. But the good news is that our marriages can not only thrive but become better through any challenge that life brings.


Matt Appling is a teacher, pastor and writer with Moody Publishers. He and his wife, Cheri, live in Kansas City and are the authors of 'Plus or Minus: Keeping Your Life, Faith and Love Together Through Infertility.' Find Matt at MattAppling.com or the book at PlusorMinusBook.com.

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