When my husband and I decided that we were ready to have a child, it was a poignant time in our life. While it was incredibly exciting, it also carried with it a heavy weight of responsibility. For better or worse, trying to conceive had a lasting impact on our marriage.
The thought-consumption. Once we decided we were trying to conceive, I could think of little else. I spent my time scrutinizing my fertility chart, daydreaming about our baby-to-be, commiserating with other would-be moms in forums, and analyzing any pregnancy signs I might be exhibiting. This left little room for thoughts of anything else, which depleted the quality of conversation with my husband.
The disappointment. We, like many other couples, didn’t conceive the first cycle it was possible. This led to a few too many disappointing encounters with pregnancy tests – to the point at which I truly believed that the tests just weren’t working properly. My husband then had to spend a lot of his time consoling a dejected wife who dwelled incessantly over what was wrong with her fertility. (It turns out there was something mildly wrong, but that’s another story.)
The uncertainty. I’m a planner. I like to have at least a general idea of what I will be doing at any point in the foreseeable future. While trying to conceive, any sense of certainty and consistency went out the window. As a result, I dragged my husband into a plethora of “what if” conversations, and it became draining to live in the hypothetical rather than the moment.
But I’m happy to report that trying to conceive did not have only negative effects on my marriage. There were lots of positive effects, as well.
The important conversations. We learned a lot about one another’s parenting philosophies and visions of our future that we might not have delved into so deeply if we weren’t trying to conceive. As we uncovered our areas of disagreement and created plans upon which we both agreed, we grew closer as a couple.
The appreciation of time as a couple. Trying to conceive placed a kind of ticking clock on the time we had left as a couple – just the two of us. We began to appreciate the possible “last times,” and we reveled in the freedom of choosing for ourselves what we did and when we did it.
The anatomical understanding. Trying to conceive means that both parties should have a pretty in-depth understanding of the woman’s body. My husband knew how to tell when I was getting ready to ovulate (or when I should be but wasn’t), which helped him have a greater appreciation for my anatomy as a woman and understand how my changing hormones might be impacting me in other ways.
The sense of shared responsibility. I’m not sure it’s possible to describe what it feels like to purposely partner with someone to bring a new life into the world. It is awe-inspiring and a profound illustration of true love. And when we finally laid our eyes on that positive pregnancy test, the beauty of what we had done bonded us together in a way that nothing else could.
I think the impact on a couple of trying to conceive is only exceeded by the experience of actually parenting together. Both have the unfortunate potential to draw a couple apart, but with patience, perspective, and perseverance they can bring a husband and wife closer together than they ever thought possible.