This week, my focus has been on relationships through fertility - specifically the relationship with significant others who you may find yourself embarking on this path with.
I spend quite a lot of time quietly reflecting on my personal journey through fertility, and lately my thought process has been around the things that got me through the darkest of those days - and right at the top of that list is my partner Matt.
Now, this article isn't about me, nor is it a romantic dedication to Matt. But I do want to focus on how certain elements of our deepest connection with our significant other can often feel like a "make or break" when facing a fertility journey together, and how we can instead turn that delicate see-saw into an unbreakable bond based on open dialogue and unfiltered vulnerability.
It is a special moment in time, a relationship milestone if you like, to reach a point with another human-being where you decide to start a family (or equally, to have another baby).
And while it may start out exciting and full of anticipation, when things don't go according to plan, it can be tricky to navigate scenarios, timelines, and decisions that you've never experienced together previously.
Waiting longer for a baby than you ever thought you would is definitely one of those times.
Everything is heightened for both of you, emotions are running high, and there is a lot to process individually, and as a couple.
There may come a point in time where it becomes clear that you both have very different coping strategies when facing a challenging situation - but rest assured, this is 100% normal.
Our coping strategies are installed in us based on what we observed of the people around us while we were young. How our parents managed difficult situations, the way people who we looked up to coped when things got tough - there is a high likelihood that your own personal coping strategy right now is a perfect mash-up of both of these things.
And there is higher likelihood that your coping strategy is vastly different to your partners. And while at times it can feel like your contrasting approaches create distance between you, it can actual be beneficial to have a balance of perspectives.
Transforming silent struggle into heart-to-heart exchange
Something that stood out to me personally about our fertility journey, was just how different Matt's perspective was. His coping strategy was to lean on his trust in the universe's timing and he would often say things like "it will happen when it is meant to happen", in moments of difficulty, disappointment and despair.
I've always been someone who is an over-achiever, so for me, hearing that I had to wait for the universe to deliver was not something I was comfortable with - I was out to find a way to make it happen, or find an explanation as to why it wasn't happening (that wasn't based on the universe's mysterious timing).
I did somewhat suspect at the time that Matt's coping strategy was also partly his way of balancing my overwhelm and tendency to be completely consumed in a moment of despair. And that is where different coping methods can be beneficial - in order to bring both of you back to a calm equilibrium when needed, and to pave the way to work through something united together.
However - it can also be really confusing to try and understand how two people can have such different perspectives on a shared experience, and at times, it can feel like you're pulling in different directions and not on the same page.
This form of confusion often leads to one person in a relationship internalising what they're truly feeling. Staying silent and downplaying what they're thinking and experiencing because they don't want to highlight the differences between themselves and their partner in those moments.
A big focus for me is around ensuring that couples are actively creating a safe space between them in order to cultivate open, honest, and raw conversations. The types of conversations that are 100% unfiltered and vulnerable.
Only through speaking our deepest darkest fears, doubts and concerns, can we resolve them (I talk about this in another blog post: Fearless Conversations - How overcoming fear in fertility will free you), and who better to create that space with than the person who is right beside you through each step of the way.
A really great place to open the conversation, is getting to know, understand and acknowledge one another's coping strategies. Spend time reflecting on this together (Here is a simple one-page resource as a guide), share how each other's strategies has benefits, and equally shortfalls when it comes to support in the moment, and create a plan together to ensure that when in need, you know exactly what your significant other requires from you and vice versa.