Infertility & the Relationship Tug of War

Often times in relationships we take implicit agreements for granted. We make assumptions that the way we view a situation is the way our partners view it as well.

Well, you know what they say about the word assume . . . it makes an ass out of u and me.

One way to avoid the inevitable disagreement that arises when agreement has not been made explicit is to negotiate those aspects of your relationship that are most important as you would agreements in other spheres of your life (e.g., work).

Take the time to sit down with your partner, get clear on what you want versus what you need (a want is a desire, a need is a non-negotiable), and be open to listening to your partner’s wants and needs as well.

Once you understand where the other is coming from, find a middle ground. Do you want him to talk with you about your fertility treatments? Does he want you to resurrect the lingerie he hasn’t seen in years? Find a middle ground. Perhaps he agrees to a 15 minute conversation (meaning both of you talking and both of you listening–be that specific) once a week about the fertility treatments, and you agree to one night of sexy lingerie.

Now here’s the important part.

Don’t stop there, take out your pen and paper and write down your agreements. This act may seem silly, it may seem like it is making your personal relationship too business-like. Yet this one act will save you from future disagreements and all out feuds.

When you have written down, in explicit detail, the agreements you have made together, there is no question, no room for misunderstanding, and no chance that with time the agreements will become fuzzy, be disregarded, or be unintentionally forgotten (which can lead to hurt feelings and stored up resentment).

Finally, do what you say. Follow through with your agreements. Honor your word.

Taking these steps will help build a bridge between you and your partner. Rather than pulling your shared rope in two different directions, you will be pulling together. The momentum of two headed the same direction is far greater than two pulling the rope apart as they use all of their might to provide resistance to the other. When the end goal is simply to “win,” the only possible outcome is a busted rope and a busted relationship.

Negotiate the important aspects of your relationship; put those agreements made together on paper, and then honor them. Taking the time to do this work will reap long-lasting relationship rewards.


  1. This is great, practical advice. Think I will suggest to my husband that we actually try this (though we’ve talked about it a few times). Thanks Shannon.

    1. It can be hard to actually sit down and do because it seems so “official,” yet it’s helped JT and me tremendously. Hope it works for you guys too!

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