Today, I am SO excited to share a collaboration post with Amberly from A Prioritized Marriage! I met Amberly in January of 2018 and she quickly became one of my good friends and someone I looked up to in so many ways. On her blog, A Prioritized Marriage, Amberly shares ways to strengthen your marriage in every stage of life, date night ideas & tips + tricks for prioritizing your marriage. I have learned so much from her blog and am so excited that we were able to work together to bring you this post.
10 Tips for Strengthening Your Marriage During Your Infertility Journey
At the beginning of our journey, Parker and I struggled to pray together. (I’ll admit, this was my fault. I really struggled talking with God. I was pretty mad at Him…) But Parker was so good about making an effort to pray together— even when he had to say the bulk of the prayers for a while there. Every time we say a prayer together, we hold hands or make sure we are touching in some way. This has helped us strengthen the connection and bond between us and really helped us to feel close to one another and to God.
Go to doctor appointments together & do something fun afterwards
Parker and I try to go to as many doctor appointments together as we can. Of course, sometimes his work schedule doesn’t permit that he come to every single one, but when he can, we make sure that he is there. It dawned on us one day that “regular” couples (read: fertile couples) don’t have the opportunity to go to as many doctor appointments. So we decided that we would make that time special because it is special. So after each appointment that we go to together, we take a minute to do something fun. For us, we always get breakfast afterwards (it’s usually just Chick-Fil-A or McDonald’s— something quick with a DriveThru because Parker has to get back to work) but you could go on a walk, grab lunch, or something small like that. We’ve found that this time together after the appointment helps us both to decompress from the appointment and feel connected. It also makes doctor appointments more fun because there is a prize at the end. (Childhood memories, anyone?)
Don’t skip date night!
We have had to work hard to not skip date night. Infertility Treatments are expensive and adding date night into the already stretched out budget can be difficult. BUT DATE NIGHT IS SO IMPORTANT. We’ve had to get creative and a lot of our date nights are Spontaneous Date Nights but we make them work and always try to spend some screen free, secluded time together. (for example, last night we went to sonic on a whim and got corndogs & mozzarella sticks because who doesn’t love that?) I’ve also been scanning through Amberly’s Date Night Ebook (with over 300 date ideas!!) and marking the ones we’d like to try out! I’m way excited to check some of the date night ideas she shares in her Ebook off our date night bucket list.
Be intimate on days that don’t “matter”
Ya’ll. This one is so important. I’m not gonna get weird and talk a bunch about intimacy. But infertility can make intimacy a chore. Let’s be real. So instead of letting it become a chore and a burden, be intimate on days that don’t matter to your cycle too. Be spontaneous and fun. Splurge on something fun that makes you feel pretty! My favorite place to shop for lacy items is Mentionables. (Amberly is a big fan too, you can read her post Why You Should Continue to Purchase Lingerie In Every Stage of Marriage AND you can get 10% off your purchase with Amberly’s affiliate code APM10) Make intimacy a priority and have fun.
Try to enjoy your time together before you have kids
I know that this advice can be so annoying, but truly, try to enjoy your time together when it is just the two of you. Once you have babies, it will never be this way again. So go on fun trips, splurge on date nights, go to the late night movie, go on walks (we love taking mozzie on walks!). Do the things you did when you were dating. Find things that you enjoy doing together and not just in the same room. Infertility is hard, but it doesn’t have to take over your entire life’s happiness. Do things together to take your mind off of infertility. You won’t regret it.
Grieve together + strengthen each other
I don’t talk about this much, but one important way to strengthen your marriage is to grieve together. This is hard for BOTH of you. So cry together. Cuddle together and allow yourselves to feel. Strengthen one another through the process. There will be times that are harder for you than for your spouse and vice versa. Take those opportunities to strengthen one another. This experience isn’t forever, but it can truly help shape and mold your marriage and life together. Work through the difficult experiences together and let infertility bring you together rather than apart. Make decisions together. Talk openly. Feel feelings freely. And most of all, love each other fiercely.
In the Good Grief Journal, there are prompts to help you grieve together and help open communication, which has really helped us in this aspect as well.
Amberly isn’t infertile, but she and Joe (her husband) have shared many difficult experiences together such as miscarriage, having a baby in the NICU for a period of time and of course, the unexpected things that life throws at you. I’m so excited for you to read Amberly’s 4 tips!
Laugh together often
When I look back on one of the most challenging times we've experienced as a couple, I remember all of the laughter we shared. Even when times were hard and we were constantly focused on our family's well-being and dealing with the next crisis, we still found time to laugh together. When people are going through a trial, I often hear others wonder how they can laugh and have fun during that time. I can tell you from personal experience that being able to have fun and enjoy each other's company is an important part of coping with grief. If you're having trouble finding humor in your life currently, plan a date to see a comedy show either from a touring celebrity or a local comedy club. You can also find funny videos online or watch a movie that you know will make you laugh. After all, don't they say that "laughter is the best medicine?"
Plan something you can look forward to
We spent a few weeks in the NICU with a premature baby, and had a toddler at home to take care of as well. Our focus each day was taking care of our little ones and keeping ourselves fed and rested so that we could take care of our family's needs. We didn't know how long we'd be maintaining our daily routine of shuttling back and forth between our two kids, but it was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. Despite our challenge and our hectic schedules, we planned a date night activity that we could enjoy together once a week. One week we drove a few blocks away to eat dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and another week we ordered pizza delivery and had a picnic in our room while we watched Psych. Our dates were short and took place between our baby's cares and the time we needed to go pick up our toddler and take him home to bed. We weren't able to plan anything too far in the future, because our timeline was so unknown from day to day, but being able to plan something lifted our spirits and gave us something fun to look forward to.
RELATED: Growing Together Instead of Apart
Create a connecting ritual
In any stage of life, it can be easy to get caught up in solving daily problems and taking care of the business side of your marriage and your life together. It's important to find something simple you can do together that centers around your relationship with each other and nothing else. Some of our favorite connecting rituals, throughout different seasons of our life have been long walks late at night, sitting outside watching the sunset while we hold hands, or drinking a cup of hot chocolate in the quiet of our house after the kids are in bed. These rituals are simple and don't have to take a lot of time, but they are powerful because they allow us to set aside all of the struggles that are troubling us and build our relationship with each other.
Love each other
Through it all, the good and the bad, don't forget to love your spouse! The two of you vowed to do life together, and you are a partnership. Going through hard times together can bring up a lot of emotions. Couples often fight more when they are going through something challenging. Stop, step back, take a breath and remember that you are on the same team, you both have the same end goal. Each time that our basement has flooded, my husband and I have ended up at odds with each other, having arguments about silly things. But really, we both want the same thing, to get the mess cleaned up and our house put back together so we can go back to our regularly scheduled program. If you remember that, and focus on loving your spouse and working together, the tough times will be easier to get through and you'll come out a stronger couple on the other side.
We hope that as you endure this difficult time in your life that you’ll make your marriage a priority and that as you do so, you’ll be able to strengthen your marriage. Your marriage matters. Your spouse’s happiness matters. Your happiness matters. So this week, we encourage you to make your marriage a priority and try out one of these ten tips for strengthening your marriage.
Have you done any of these things? How have they helped your marriage?
Don’t forget to follow Amberly’s blog: A Prioritized Marriage for more in-depth tips for making your marriage a priority and follow her on Instagram at @APrioritizedMarriage for daily tips and tricks!