It is possible, given the type of patients I have, that I see this conundrum all too often. A loving couple present themselves to my rooms, caught up in the aspiration of parenthood but clearly worn out, tired and lacking the spark of intimacy typically espoused to devoted unions.
Baby making is hard work. Constantly timing intimate connections with your significant other based on hormonal cues, temperature fluctuations, cervical secretions and appointment timed prediction – nothing that conjures up the aphrodisiac notions of ecstasy.
Yet another couple presented to me recently, similarly discouraged. They had been trying to conceive for some time, the pressure building like waves slowly eroding the surface of their union. Many couples split at this point. The pressure is too great. The lust is gone. The ecstasy and heart openness are lost somewhere in the abyss of temperature charts and calendar reminders. The most heartbreaking is when it happens to couples who clearly love each other but the repeated loss and failure closes their openness month after month. Worse still are those whose loss is attributed to medical interventions (IVF or similar) or miscarriage or stillbirth.
It is at this point that I remind couples to break away from the fertility train and take a breather. If couples can no longer feel the thread of nourishment from their union, then, ultimately, the sacredness of their connection is buried too deep underneath the setbacks and disappointments. It is at this point then we converse around the difference between baby making and love making.
Love making is felt when one is open, intimate and united; however, sometimes that is not what is experienced. Love making is nourishing, uplifting, transformative and personal. It deepens the connection and enriches each party, regardless of outcome. Making a baby is the bonus, not the goal.
For couples that have swayed too far from this, I will often encourage practices including OM (orgasmic meditation – see Slow Sex below), tantra or similar to break the patterns of intimacy and create something separate that provides them with a platform from which to build. You can’t expect to shift dulled repetition without challenging the norms. Practices such as OM provide something at a completely different pace and perspective.
My reading list for couples include (please click on the links to buy online):
David Schnarch – Passionate Marriage
David Schnarch – Intimacy and Desire
David Schnarch – Resurrecting Sex
Nicole Daedone – Slow Sex: The art and craft of the female orgasm
Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson – In search of the mythical mate
Robin Skynner and John Cleese – Families and how to survive them
John Gottman – The Science of Trust
John Gottman – The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
In addition, I remind couples to go back to dating, romance, tenderness, kindness and respect. Making babies is a soul challenging process that rocks us at our very core. It challenges us to embody greater humility and integrity, and the openness we share with our partners can be the cornerstone to making us braver for the real world.
Above all, I remind couples that they are trying to create a baby as an expression of their love to create a family together. It is a creation of something that expands their love for one another and deepens their connection. Pregnancy, when achieved, is another emotional roller coaster. Laying the foundations of trust during the conception phase is a powerful process to support each party for what lies ahead.