The experience of a miscarriage can completely floor a couple and have a devastating impact on a marriage.
Following the excitement and joy of a pregnancy announcement, the stark realisation that a much longed for baby has actually died, whether early or late into pregnancy, can be utterly heartbreaking and place massive stress on a relationship.
The death of any child, at whatever stage of their development is tragic and has a significant impact on a relationship.
Lost dreams and love can be deeply painful, incredibly upsetting and leave you feeling lost, numb and isolated.
Whether you’ve been married only a few months or spent many years together, the truth is that following a miscarriage is when you need each other’s support more than ever.
The stress and emotions of what you’ve been through can cause you to take it out on your partner.
And this reaction is a defence mechanism that can make things worse because your spouse is the one who you feel understands you the most and who you look to for protection and love no matter what.
But they are also the one who has experienced the loss with you and who are equally devastated.
The result can be a marriage under enormous strain as you both try to make sense of what has happened and struggle to cope with the loss and grief that inevitably unfolds.
When you feel this way, there are things you can do to begin to cope with what has happened, as well as support one another and your marriage.
Consider these seven essential steps to protect your marriage after miscarriage:
It may seem odd at first to suggest that being alone is essential in order to be together.
But giving each other space and time is so important, not least because you will grieve at your own pace.
Many times couples who have experienced a miscarriage say that their partner expected them to ‘get over it’ quicker than they were ready to.
Remember to preserve ‘me time’ if you need time alone to grieve as this is one of the best things you can do to protect your relationship.
Just as spending time alone is necessary for some, making time together, away from the distractions of everyday life, is equally important.
Take time off work, cancel social engagements and ‘go to ground’ as a couple.
As much as throwing yourself into work may seem like the easiest option to keep your mind occupied, you will only be delaying the inevitable.
Grief is a process and the grief of miscarriage is no different.
Recognise the power of being together by taking some time to sit down as a twosome.
Turn the TV and phones off and just talk.
Expressing your feelings to your partner and listening to how they actually feel can work wonders in preserving a relationship.
Just as recognising the power of togetherness is essential, communication is vital.
When you sit to talk about it, whether it’s a planned or spontaneous discussion, it’s important that you realise you are not the same.
You will therefore not grieve in the same way nor will you have experienced the miscarriage in the same way – this does not mean that either one of you holds more importance over the other.
The truth is that you must learn to listen to how each other feels and recognise and accept that – even if you do not feel the same way.
One of you may be angry, one of you may be defensive, one of you may be swallowed in sadness and one of you may want to move on and the other may not.
All of these thoughts and emotions are OK – what is important is that you realise this about yourselves as a couple.
When under enormous stress, the easiest thing to do is to lash out at one another and often we do so without even realising, until it’s too late.
Shouting, screaming and trying to place blame may make you feel better in the moment but they will do nothing for your marriage.
The truth is that a miscarriage is no-one’s fault.
It is not something that could be stopped or could be caused.
It is a tragedy and it hurts.
Remember your spouse is hurting too.
Staying away from other people at this time is OK.
If you have social gatherings organised or just want some peace, feel free to excuse yourself.
Sometimes being around others, especially those who may mean well but have little tact, can be very difficult as you deal with comments or questions.
You may also not feel ready or indeed want to talk about your loss.
If you feel it is better to be private whilst you come to terms with things, do so.
What matters right now is you and your partner.
Sometimes we hear from couples where one complains that their partner wanted to try for another baby very soon after a miscarriage as a way to ‘fix’ the loss.
One or both of you may come to a decision to try for another child quickly but this in no way negates the loss you have suffered or replaces that child.
Nor does it mean that the pain of miscarriage should not be felt anymore.
The truth is that trying to ‘fix’ a problem, however well-meaning the intentions, can cause extra strain on your relationship.
Give yourself permission to grieve at your own pace, there is no set time for which you must be ready to try again, if you so choose to.
If you feel that your marriage is suffering, and especially if it is related to your loss, do not be afraid to seek help.
You can approach marriage mediation services to take stock of and track your relationship and I would highly recommend that you contact us and speak to our specialist staff who are experienced in grief recovery.
If speaking to or meeting with someone is too much, consider an online support group – these can be a wonderful way to reach out to others who have experienced a similar thing, even if you do so anonymously.
You can do this together or alone – the important thing is that you track your relationship by seeking help in order to cope with the devastation and, in doing so, support yourself and your partner too.
We are always available for support and information or simply as an ear to listen and shoulder to lean on.
We hope and pray that all who have suffered loss, find the ability to carry on, each day at a time.