The A-Z of connecting with your partner (Part 3: Gratitude & building relationships)
When we are connected, we live longer and healthier lives. Here are some more tips on how to achieve that connection at home and build high quality relationships.
It’s hard to feel grateful or positive when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stress and struggles of trying to conceive. Research, however, shows us that by integrating gratitude into your daily routine, it can result in some positive, life changing benefits. Some of these positives include stronger relationships, less isolation and a deeper appreciation for what you do have in your life, as opposed to what you don’t.
Practising gratitude is a way to experience joy even amid suffering. Appreciating what you do have won’t remove the pain and grief of what you don’t, but it will help you feel more joyful. And since emotions can affect our health, trying to focus your feelings into a more positive direction can be beneficial to your overall wellness including your mental health on your fertility journey.
- There is no one way to express gratitude. Some ideas to get you started include:
- Start a gratitude diary – write a couple of things you are grateful for every day.
- Practice mindful meditation (Jon Kabat Zinn is a good online resource).
- Practice acts of kindness to others (make a pot of soup for an elderly neighbor who lives alone).
- If you are religious, your faith can provide great comfort.
H. Healthy Relationships
Good relationships protect our health and minds. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has taught us: a) That when we are connected, we live longer and healthier lives; and b) that the quality of our relationships matter – being in a high conflict relationship is bad for our health.
What is the secret to a long and happy relationship? Recognising your own habits rather than always focusing on your partner’s is an important part of maintaining healthy relationships. Especially under “lockdown” and spending so much time together, you may find yourselves squabbling more. Some habits may provide comfort, others annoyance. You can check in with your partner about this: “Is there anything you would like me to change?” You will need to ask yourself if change is possible and whether you are prepared to shift. Changing habits requires practise on your part but even small shifts can make a big difference in the relationship. For your partner, just being heard may feel like an important step in the relationship. However, following through is important. You may struggle to change your partner’s habits, but you can try to better manage your expectations and attitudes. After all, we all have annoying habits!
Try and establish healthy daily habits, for example try to connect with your partner with simple words of encouragement and support. Know when to apologise and mean it, and lastly try to build some fun into your week, like a date night at home. Get creative!
When fertility treatment was placed ‘on hold’ for a while because of COVID-19, many couples despaired about when/if they would ever become parents. Some of you may have already done several cycles, whereas others of you may have been about to start treatment for the first time.
For older patients, the fear of losing out may be magnified by any delay.
We need to all try to stay grounded in the present. Use this time to stay connected as a couple, so when you start treatment, you are feeling stronger, both physically and emotionally.
J.K.L. Joy, Kindness and Love
What better way to revitalize how you and your partner are managing, than by an infusion of joy, kindness and love. How do you find joy and peace in the waiting to have a baby? Instead of the constant negative thinking that tells you will only be happy when you have a baby, try to turn to the practise of gratitude I wrote about earlier. Think about what you and you and your partner can do to bring more kindness and love into your relationship. Perhaps you can plan a date night at home but make it special even if it is a picnic on the living room floor. There are so many ways to express love and kindness – relaxing together quietly and learning to be together or giving your partner some space when needed. Humour, showing affection, non-baby making sex and sometimes even a good fight helps to connect couples. Some days will understandably be tough, particularly when a friend announces she is pregnant – for the third time!
Maybe you need to show your partner he/she is enough for now.
Steve and Sharon Biddulph in “The Making of Love” state “Love isn’t a hole you fall in, love arises when the circumstances are right”. Your role is to try to create a space for such feelings to arise.
Join us in the fourth and final part of this series next time - The A-Z of connecting with your partner during isolation - as we discuss the new normal.
Our counselling team is available to our patients via email, phone or Skype. Please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org, or Genea Hollywood at email@example.com and Genea Oxford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Genea's Fertility Collective to find more advice, useful tips and tools plus the latest updates on COVID-19 and the impact on fertility treatment.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is a Genea Group blog and as such information may not be relevant for all clinics. We advise that you consult clinics directly for further information.