Miscarriage: Makes or Breaks a relationship

Miscarriage: Makes or Breaks a relationship

Every couple dream of having a child and the path it follows is very joyous. Couples eagerly wait for the little member of their family. There is no bound to their joy. Not even couples but family members also wait for the new member. The whole house is in the balloon of merrymaking and enjoyment. Though, there are times when this balloon of joy bursts and leaves behind gloomy atmosphere. Many couples experience the extraordinary sadness brought by miscarriage. In scientific terms, miscarriage is defined as sudden loss of fetus before 20th week or loss of pregnancy. 

Unfortunately, 15%-20% pregnancies ended up in miscarriage. They say that difficult times test the couple’s ability to hold together. An article presented by Jeanie Learche in which she quoted that miscarriage can tear couples apart or bring them together. It all depends upon the way handle it. Research was conducted by Kristin Swanson who is working in University of Washington School nursing in Seattle. Research showed that men and women have different experience. She explains in her research that for men especially first-time father, baby does not become real until they hold the baby in their hand. They experience the loss by seeing their partner in pain as baby was inside her. For women, they go through tension, anger, frustration, depression. They become distant in their relationship and avoid sexual relationship. In counselling sessions, responses of men and women were different. Women replied that they lost a baby while responses of men vary. Some replied that they lost a baby or they lost their future baby. On the other hand, some said “I lost her” or she is just not herself. Swanson also found out lesbian couples who also suffers from grief as well as other stressors. They are at increased risk for emotional disturbances due to pregnancy loss because their experience is consisting of planning, achieving and uncertainty surrounding to pregnancy. For example, lesbian couples may go through lack of support especially from those who disapproved their relationship. Interpersonal relationship of a couple suffers a setback. There is an emotional turmoil which every couple goes through after miscarriage.

Social support is essential post miscarriage. Lack of social support leads to an increase in manifestation of depression in couples. Even after healthy pregnancy, they may experience symptoms of postpartum depression. In context of his findings, Robert Blackmore argued that miscarriage has significant impact on future children. Some couples also go through loss of communication which breaks the thread of their relationship. Women tend to verbalize their loss while men keep suffering internally. There have been cases where couples become emotionally distant from each other. According to a study conducted in the year 2003, 32% women felt more interpersonally disconnected from their husband which in turn damaged the base of the relationship and ultimately led to discord. At times, shock experienced by them is so much that they become devoid of any emotion. In a research, it was identified that younger couples in whom either partner were treated for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression are more likely to feel guilt and isolation over miscarriage than those who do not. Also, younger couples feel more devastated than older couples. A research that has been published in Nursing and Health found that women who lost their child at 11 weeks may be as distraught as the women who has lost her child at 20 weeks. 

Deducing from a study, married and cohabitating couples are most likely to break their relationship in relation to couples who had a healthy baby. In case of stillbirth, the percentage to end their relationship is even higher. They try to cope up with the loss in their own ways. Some keep themselves distracted by engaging themselves in their work while others get stuck in those what if question. Either way is dangerous for their mental health. Sometimes, couple blame each other for the loss. The feeling of grief is so intense that they utter some words like “You don’t know what I am going through” that hurts their partner more. Often these words are spoken unknowingly but still they have a profound impact. Hence, they completely disregard each other’s feelings which hampers their mental health even more. It is found that men often try to mask their feelings and go on with their normal life.

Couple therapist often finds it very challenging to restart the communication between couples’ post miscarriage. Therapist said that the loss of pregnancy causes partners to completely shut out the other partner. The grief of miscarriage overpowers their relationship. They no longer find comfort in each other. Guilt seeps in that which further damages the relationship as well as symptoms of depression and other psychological problems sets in.

Though as stated earlier, miscarriage can cause couples to drift apart or bring them close. Thanks to the good social support through which couples can fight with this never-ending cycle of grief that in turns strengthens their relationship even more.

About the Author

Kajal Gupta
Student.

Ms Kajal Gupta is pursuing B.A honors in Applied Psychology from Amity University, Haryana.

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