July 25th is World IVF day
When sex in a relationship changes from a way of expressing connection, intimacy, closeness and pleasure with your partner, to a scheduled step in the conception process - it can be a challenge to keep the spark between you and your partner ignited.
Trying to conceive (TTC), and/or having to do fertility treatments has the unfortunate ability to remove the spontaneous attractions between couples. Tracking hormones, testing levels, and planning out the perfect window in the month to have sex, can be tiring. Although there are proven times in a woman's cycle with increased rates of fertility, it’s important to remember that intimacy in a relationship should happen naturally, and without the solitary intention of getting pregnant.
If sex is used for only the purpose of conception, the risk of intimacy feeling like a chore is much greater.
To avoid this, here are a few things to keep in mind & try:
Communicate with your partner
Communication is the ultimate tool. Healthy relationships are built on solid foundations and honest & open communication. Although communicating your feelings to your partner is not always the easiest, it's important to keep the lines open. Humans are not mind readers (although we tend to give our partners a lot of credit in that department!) and it’s important to express your feelings, concerns, and struggles to your better half. Bottled up emotions can be explosive, a quote I love is: "Good communication is like glue. It plays a large part keeping relationships intact and holding strong. On the other hand, poor communication leads to conflict, often acting as a solvent to cause relationships to separate or dissolve."
Plan date nights
It’s easy to de-prioritize solo time with your partner. However, making small steps to ensure you are spending designated time together, doing an activity that you both enjoy, seeing that movie, checking-out that new restaurant on the corner, or cooking your famous bolognese sauce over a bottle of wine. The date is yours to choose, but make it a priority, and allow it to be something you both look forward to doing. If you are looking for some date-night ideas, check out this blog post for some inspiration.
Foster intimacy beyond sex
There are many activities that feel intimate and special, beyond the bedroom. I’m sure you can think of moments, or things you have done with your partner that make you feel close and connected. Remember to incorporate these intimacy-triggering activities into your life, and add them into the mix when it comes to keeping the spark alive.
Remember the reasons you fell in love
What was the first kiss with your partner like? Who said ‘I love you’ first? When did you realize this was your person? Consciously think about the moments that brought you and your partner together, your journey, and why this person is important to you and your life. This can be a great conversation to have with your partner as well, you may be surprised by the things that the other person remembers about the same moments you’ve shared.
Whether it be work, phones, computers, technology, TV, family, or anything else, there are times when we all need to unplug. This doesn't have to be a week-long vacation, a social media cleanse, or a large chunk of time; it can be as small as no-phones at the dinner table, or 15-minute check-ins at the end of each day. Work with your partner to see if there’s a period that works for you both to disconnect together.
Speak/act on your partners ‘Love Language’
Love languages are simply the way in which we communicate our sense of love, affection and attachment style. There are five primary love languages: Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch. Learning your own primary language, as well as your partners, can help to build and strengthen the bond between partners in difficult (and happy!) times.
Trying to conceive, as well as fertility treatments (like IVF) can be a very physically and emotionally demanding process for couples. Remember to be kind to yourself & your partner, and lean on your partner for support, not push them away. There are many helpful resources, groups, and tools out there for individuals and couples going through this journey . I’ve created a resource page here if you would like to learn more as well.