How do you deal in your marriage, with the death of a child that you never had the opportunity to hold in your arms? And yet you held them, and always will, in your heart. How does any human being emotionally deal with such a grievous loss of a miscarriage?
Tragically, so many couples deal with this horrible situation every day. They lose their baby sometime during the pregnancy. It is commonly called a “miscarriage.” Even the word “miscarriage” brings with it the thought that the parent will “miss” being able to “carry” their baby physically, this side of heaven. For those of you who are grieving through this loss, the emotional effects upon your marriage and upon each of you as individuals, can vary greatly.
“Sometimes a husband may blame his wife, or the wife may even blame her husband. Confusion and hurt can develop and cause great tension in a marriage if they are not handled properly.” (Elizabeth Honeycutt, who developed Babygrief.com)
Giving Grace After Miscarriage
That is why it is extremely important to give each other the grace that is needed so the grieving process doesn’t push you apart as a married couple. You need to work together as partners through tragedies that you encounter. There’s something that Christi Bear wrote, that you might consider about all of this. It comes from the article “Understanding Miscarriage”:
“It’s common to experience extreme sadness, anger, guilt and anxiety about future pregnancies. There is no ‘typical’ time-frame for emotional recovery. Every woman experiences the grieving process in her own way. She travels the road to healing at her own pace. While it’s important to allow time and personal ‘space’ for grieving, if the grief becomes too overwhelming —leading to a more serious episode of depression and despondency —it may be necessary to get professional help.
“Fathers, too, are profoundly affected by the loss of a child. Unfortunately, a common misconception regarding miscarriage and stillbirth is that only the mother is affected. Women often feel more freedom to cry and express their grief. But men tend to feel pressure to ‘remain strong.’ Often they busy themselves with work or other activities in an effort to deal with their grief. Because men and women typically express their emotions and process their grief differently, it’s important for both parents to communicate their feelings to one another. This helps to avoid the added pain of misunderstandings.”
Miscarriage: When the Cradle Is Empty
John and Sylvia Van Regenmorter wrote something about this in their book, When the Cradle is Empty. It’s something that could help to explain the pain and tension that a miscarriage can bring into the marriage:
“The following reactions are common among women. They wonder: ‘Does my husband feel as badly as I do about our baby? Does he know that since our baby died, I hate having sex? Why do I feel so unattractive? Why is becoming pregnant again such an obsession for me, but not for him?’
“Conversely, it’s not uncommon for the husband to think, ‘I have to be strong for my wife’s sake. She’ll only grieve more if I show my emotions, so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself. Why has she withdrawn sex? Is she blaming me? I know she wants to become pregnant again, but I’m afraid of what losing another baby would do to her. It seems like she’s crying all the time, and it’s really getting to me. I wish we could be happy again, like we were before the baby died.'”
John and Sylvia go on to give suggestions for walking through the loss of a baby. It’s important to personalize your baby, and not rush through to “move on” before you are ready. It’s also important to bring “your turmoil to God.” But they also suggest that you “grieve in your own way.”
“Greg Bodin, director of pastoral care at North Medical Center in Minnesota, has worked with hundreds of families who’ve experienced miscarriage, still-birth, or early infant death. He and his wife have also suffered the loss of two children through miscarriage and stillbirth. Among the things he’s learned are:
• Loss is uniquely personal. There is no typical response or ‘right’ reaction to a pregnancy loss or death of a newborn.
• Feel the freedom to grieve in your own way. Don’t let anyone prescribe how you should feel. And don’t try to adapt your feelings to the expectations of others.
• Remember that the length of pregnancy doesn’t correlate to the grief felt. Some parents experience a great sense of loss even though the pregnancy was short-term.”
“Many couples feel the grief over miscarriage or stillbirth years after the loss,” Elizabeth Honeycutt from Babygrief.com says. “Others close up their feelings and try their best to move forward. For those who have felt the personal pain of losing a baby, the emotions, questions and grief need to be felt, answered, and worked through.”
A Few Things to Help After a Miscarriage
To help those of you who are living through the pain and confusion this experience brings into your life, we have found a few articles posted on different web sites, written by those who have experienced miscarriage, firsthand. We pray they will minister to your hearts and your marriage relationship.
The following is a linked article is written by Laura Mills. Please read:
You will find below a linked Focus on the Family article, written by Lisa Brock. It is one of a 4-part series on the subject of miscarriage that we recommend you read (each one). We believe you will gain further insight into your situation as you read:
Below are a few things that Marlo Schalesky learned through the ordeal of her and her husband experiencing 6 miscarriages. (She wrote about them in a Today’s Christian Woman article titled, “Surviving Miscarriage” that you could find insightful to read.)
In this article Marlo talks about the different ways of dealing with grief. That’s a big part of the problem she and her husband were having, concerning the miscarriages.
She wrote that she and her husband Bryan were having marital problems after her miscarriages (which is quite common). They kept arguing to the point that she didn’t feel like he cared about the losses like she did. But she eventually saw that the problem she was having was that he wasn’t “reacting” like she thought he should. She couldn’t understand the way he was acting and reacting.
“I wanted him to be more emotional. And he wanted me to be less. Only later would we realize that each of us faces hard times in life in different ways. I get mad. He gets stony quiet. And that’s okay. To partner with each other through grief didn’t mean we had to be mirrors of each other. Instead, it meant we had to stand alongside each other, supporting each other as we allowed the other to process miscarriage in our own individual ways. We had to stop judging, stop expecting, and stop secretly demanding.”
She went on to write:
“When we started to allow each other to process the grief of miscarriage differently, without judging or accusing, we found that partnering with each other through the process drew us together and strengthened our marriage. The lessons we learned about each other could then be applied to other areas of stress in our lives. When Bryan came home cold and stony from work, I knew he’d had a bad day. I also knew that it didn’t have anything to do with me or his love for me. When I blew my top over something small, he learned not to take it personally. Instead he would ask me how my day went because he knew something hard must have happened to set me off.
“Once we lifted the burden of expectation, we found we could appreciate, support, and allow each other the grace to be partners in the process instead of copies of each other.”
You can read about Marlo’s experiences by googling the title and author on the Internet.
Don’t and Do Tell Me
And then here’s something I’d like to share with you that is written by someone unknown. And yet the advice given may be important for others to know about:
Don’t tell me, “You can have another baby.” How do you know? Besides, I want this baby.
Don’t tell me, “at least it happened before it was born. It’s not like you knew the baby.” I did know my baby. For the short time s/he was with me, I loved my baby with all my heart. I had hopes and dreams for this baby. And I had names picked out, plus a theme for the nursery. I knew my baby was going to be a very special person.
Don’t tell me, “It’s just one of those things.” It was not just “one of those things” from my viewpoint. Miscarriage has had a devastating effect on my life, and making it sound as though it was an unimportant event does not lessen the impact.
Don’t tell me, “It’s common,” or “It happens to a lot of women.” This happened to me, and all I want is to have my baby back.
Don’t tell me, “It was just a blob of tissue.” In my heart and in God’s eyes, I know I was carrying a living being inside me from the moment s/he was conceived. Please don’t trivialize my beliefs or that precious life.
Don’t tell me, “You should be over it by now.” Even though the physical effects may have subsided, I am still hurting emotionally. My child has died, and it takes much longer than a week or two to recover from that pain.
Don’t tell me, “You’ll get over it.” The miscarriage was the death of my child. I will never “get over it.” The pain and grief will eventually lessen, but I will always wonder what my child would have been like. Every should-have-been birthday, and every anniversary of the miscarriage will be a reminder.
Don’t tell me, “You should get pregnant again as soon as possible. That’ll help.” Help what? I need time to grieve the baby I have lost. I can’t even begin to think about getting pregnant again at this time.
Don’t tell me, “It won’t happen again. The next time will be fine.” Again, how do you know? My second pregnancy ended in miscarriage also, even after doctors said there was no reason it wouldn’t be successful the second time around.
Do listen to me when I want, or need, to talk about what I am going through.
Do be sensitive to the fact that I probably won’t want to hear about your pregnant friend, neighbor, cousin, or daughter. I won’t want to hear about your new grandchildren or nieces and nephews for a while.
Do give me time to grieve. Some days I may need your shoulder to cry on after everyone else thinks I should be “okay” by now.
Do understand that there are “milestone days,” such as the expected due date of the time I should have felt the first kick, when I will be feeling the loss as deeply as when the miscarriage occurred. I will need your support then.
Lastly, Concerning Miscarriage:
The following is an article that is written by Francesca Di Meglio. In it Francesca covers “how to get through a miscarriage and perhaps come out with a stronger marriage.” She also covers, in his article, the issues of “telling others” and “meeting basic needs.” And then lastly this article deals with “whether to try again.” To learn more read:
• HOW TO DEAL WITH A MISCARRIAGE IN YOUR MARRIAGE
As you deal with miscarriage in your marriage:
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)
“May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage
50 responses to “Dealing with Miscarriage in Your Marriage”
In 2009 I gave birth to a baby girl who is now 6 years old. I’m grateful to God for giving me a chance to be a mother. From 2013 onwards I had 3 miscarriages, all in 1st trimester. I didn’t grieve much nor showed any emotions to anyone, even to my hubby. In 2015 Dec I was 5 months pregnant and needed to terminate my baby girl due to my water bag breaking. The Doc couldn’t save my baby. I was induced and I gave birth to her alive. And again, I didn’t show any emotions to anyone. Whoever come in to visit me, I gave them my best smile and was comforting them.
When I got discharged from the hospital and went home, again I held onto my emotions until my hubby asked me how come I was not crying. I told him I don’t like to cry in front of people. And since then he never asked me anything. Sometimes my hubby and me will discuss the baby girl and then will discuss what to do in the future. But there’s no hugs or encouraging words from him.
A week later I started crying all by myself in the toilet. I was in my own world. I am not spending much time with my 6 yr old girl. I am playing games more than spending time with her. Sometimes I have sucidal thoughts but will brush them aside when I think of my 6 yr old. I am no more joking with my hubby. And he too is not jovial, nor asking what’s wrong with me. Whenever he talks or answers back… I get irritated. Even when he jokes with me I take it seriously.
I sometimes I feel like telling him don’t talk to me or I don’t feel like looking at your face but I am holding back my tongue. I don’t know for how long. I just don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know to whom to talk to. Nobody asks me if I am emotionally fine, only asks about me physically. With a brave face I will tell them don’t worry, I am always fine. But inside me I am torn and confused. Even my hubby is not asking me anything. It’s just 23 days since my baby left me. But he expects me to come back to normal to do housework and cook. It’s okay I will do it. But who is there to talk to me emotionally? I feel lonely although there is a family and a hubby.
Bless your heart… I am so very sorry for your loss. This is HUGE –bigger than you may ever have expected. Bravery seems like a good way to go, but you just lost a child, and your body went through so much trauma, even if it seems like all is well. You have hormones raging and biochemicals off kilter. And again, and mostly… you lost a child. Of course your heart is confused over all of this. You WANT to do good, so you project that you are good. But our minds and hearts can’t be fooled. We can TRY to say we’re fine, but until we’re able to properly grieve, all we’re doing is delaying the grief. It will come out in some way or form whether you like it or plan for it to or not. And if we don’t let it come out in healthy ways… truly dealing with the grief, then it will come out in unhealthy ways.
PLEASE talk to someone over this. Your husband is not to blame for not asking more or expecting more from you than you think he should. He is going by the outer appearance that you have been portraying. You said you don’t like to openly grieve in front of others, so he’s trying to honor that by not pressing you on this issue. You tell him you are fine, so he is trusting that you know your body more than he does. He probably thinks you are amazingly brave. He is trusting what you have told him. He doesn’t know what to do with all of this either. He’s probably pretty confused and doesn’t know what to do with this himself. But he doesn’t want to approach you because that would make him look weak.
There’s a lot more to this that a grief counselor would be able to explain to you. I highly encourage you to find a grief counselor. Bravery here will only lead to more problems. If you don’t know of a good grief counselor, PLEASE contact the ministry of Focus on the Family. You can find their web site at their Singapore offices at https://www.family.org.sg. If they can’t help you I have no doubt that they would know who you can contact who can help you. Please, please do. For the sake of your marriage, your child, your husband, and yourself… this is really, really important. I hope you will and pray God helps you and ministers to you in extra special ways as you do. Again, my sympathies and my heart goes out to you. Please reach out for the help you need emotionally. It’s so very important.
I am dealing with secondary infertility. I have children from a previous marriage, my current husband has no children and desperately wants a child. I had a tubal ligation many years ago, and when my new husband and I decided we wanted a child, I had a reversal procedure, that left me with one working tube. We have been trying to conceive for almost 2 years. In the beginning of June I found out I was pregnant; we were so excited! At the end of June I ended up in the hospital due to horrible pain and found out the pregnancy was ectopic. I had surgery to remove the baby and the good tube. My husband is so angry…he blames me. He thinks it is horrible that anyone would get a tubal ligation in the first place. I don’t know if we will survive this. He is in so much pain and just wants to give up, even though I want to try IVF. I don’t know how to help him, he won’t forgive me. I am hurting too, but he is taking all his pain out on me. I love him so much and want to have a family with him more than anything.
Had a abortion at 15 with my girlfriend and at 24 was happy to hear I had a second chance to be a father but she miscarried within 3 months and I as torn apart but hid it as best as I could. Now, about a year later our sex life is gone and emotionally we’re further apart than we ever have been. It’s consistent anger and anger from both of us yelling and fighting over every little thing; we cannot communicate anymore and the days we try to go on dates or drives it ends up going south every single time.
I’m 25 now and have seen more negative aspects of life than I believe I should have for my age. I understand it’s the cards I was dealt and am not complaining nor asking for sympathy but I just want you to understand I’m only attempting to vent where I can. I’ve held my emotions in for years and now it’s built up and I’m at a loss for words on what to do. I love her and know she has a piece of my heart but I don’t know if we’re in love anymore? And I guess that’s where I get lost….knowing what to do now and where to go from here. Lots of love and God bless.
Mike, I believe what’s happening is that you never properly grieved the death of your aborted child. You are experiencing post abortion trauma. It will be nearly impossible for you to have a healthy relationship until you deal with your past. I Googled your city and “Post Abortion Counseling” and there is a center nearby that can help you. Your wife probably needs some counseling, too, from the miscarriage. Both of you are grieving the loss of your children and you need help in how to do this properly. I can almost promise by doing this you will see some significant, positive changes in your relationship. Blessings!
My girlfriend and I just lost our baby. I feel so guilty that it must have been my undoing arguing with her before it happened. I really feel worn out with the experience. I just don’t know what to do.
Joshua, I am so sorry for the loss of your baby. I can’t tell you for sure if your arguing with your girlfriend had anything to do with the loss of your baby. But I can say it is highly unlikely. If you were physically violent with her, then that could have been a contributing factor. If you simply “argued,” then no. I don’t know if it’s possible to speak with the attending doctor to ask what he thinks was the reason the baby died so you know.
But lets talk about the guilt you are feeling. There is only one thing I know to do with that – confess it to God and ask His forgiveness. If you are not sure how to do that then find a pastor in your community to talk to about this. If that is not possible then you can go to this web site: http://needhim.org/knowing-jesus/. They have a very clear explanation about what it means to experience forgiveness for any…and all…sins.
You have a tender heart, Joshua. God will help you with this if you let Him. Your girlfriend needs you to be a source of comfort as she will be dealing with a lot of guilt and blame, too. If possible she needs to find someone to talk to about her feelings and the pain she is feeling. Be very patient with her as this will take a long time for her to be able to move beyond. She will never completely get over it, but she can move past it.
My wife and I have just experienced a miscarriage and I am struggling to deal with the whole situation. To make it worse I shut down as I found it too difficult to be anything but sad. This unfortunately meant that I didn’t ask how she was coping nor did I provide her with any support. She was trying to be strong for me initially but then couldn’t do it anymore. This is when I first realised how much my mood was effecting her. I tried to explain where I was coming from in terms of why I was feeling the way I was. This was a bad mistake as it was still about me and not about her.
As a result, she decided to shut me out and go through the process alone. This being one of the most lonelinest experiences she has ever had has now led to her saying that she doesn’t think that she could ever forgive me. What do I do? I love her more than any words can describe and it’s tearing me apart. We have 2 kids to look after and the youngest doesn’t understand why mum isn’t eating dinner with us or talking to me.
Brendan, I grieve with you and your wife. How tremendously sad you both must be. How I wish I could be there personally to comfort you. Brendan, I’m so glad that you are waking up to see how you are each grieving differently. What you describe is a very common reaction to this type of death. It has hit you both so very hard, and yet you are trying to cope in your own different ways. Our type of grieving is what we go back to when we are hit with this type of catastrophic loss. But somehow, you both need to come together in giving each other the grace that is needed and the support… even if it is quiet support.
Please don’t let the reactions of your wife shut you down from trying to partner with her in this grieving process. Read all you can (you may even want to re-read this article and the linked ones to try to glean the info you need). Those who have been through a miscarriage understand all too well how situations like this can pull us apart in so many ways. Also, please take advantage of the additional help you can obtain through some of the linked web site listed on this page: https://marriagemissions.com/about-us-2/childrens-effect-on-marriage-links-and-resource-descriptions/. Several of these web sites deal with the issues that arise when you suffer from miscarrying your baby. In your grieving, you will have to make extra effort to pull yourselves together, rather than letting it split you apart. You need to do this for each other –you are marriage partners, not just individuals. And you need to do this for the memory of this child, plus your other children. They need to see mom and dad work through difficult issues in partnership.
Don’t give up… find a way. Find a way to build relationship bridges back to each other. Work to build a grace-based marriage that when difficult things come your way (which they will throughout life) you will work with each other to get through it. I hope you will. I pray for you both and for your children.