Marriage Makeover: Can Our Marriage Survive Infertility?
By Rebecca Davis
Even after years of infertility treatments, Monica and Steve Klein couldn't get pregnant. And while they were busy trying to create a new family, they forgot about the one they already had--with each other. Our relationship expert helps this couple find their way back to the intimacy they once shared.
When Monica and Steve Klein married in the summer of 2003, they immediately started trying to have a baby. But the Deer Park, NY, couple wasn't able to conceive, so their doctor suggested they begin infertility treatments. Two years and four in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles later, Monica still wasn't pregnant, and the roller coaster of hope and disappointment had become too much for the couple to bear. "After so many IVF cycles, I said to Monica that it was enough," says Steve, 40, a water district town worker. Then, two years after they decided to stop treatments, the Kleins' doctor discovered that due to a paperwork mix-up, they had one more frozen embryo left. "We tried to go in levelheaded, but we thought this was the one, so we did it," says Monica, 42, a sixth-grade teacher. "When it didn't work, it opened up all the wounds that had healed over."
Their failed efforts to conceive drove a wedge between Monica and Steve, both emotionally and sexually. "Sex became robotic instead of romantic," says Steve. Flowers and candles were replaced by ovulation calendars. Further, Monica was terrified that the treatments wouldn't work but also hated being a human pincushion. She wanted to share her feelings with her husband, but Steve avoided the subject. Now, in the wake of their final unsuccessful IVF cycle, the couple can't agree on what to do next. "I want to look into adoption, while Steve is satisfied with our life as is," says Monica. But the Kleins agree on one thing: Both want to regain the openness they once shared. The first step to overcoming their no-baby blues, says Iris Waichler, author of Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster, is to face the tough feelings head-on. "Steve and Monica need to admit to each other that this has been one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives and talk about how it has affected them," says Waichler. "Then they can start to rebuild a post-IVF life together."