Infertility and miscarriage can be devastating experiences.
Society is getting better at supporting women who go through these fertility challenges. However, we still need more understanding, support, and resources.
Moreover, the same support is often lacking for the partner in the relationship. While the woman gets help, the partner grieves alone.
This imbalance, combined with the emotional difficulty of the experience, can eat away at the relationship.
However, partners can work together to get through this experience. It can even strengthen the relationship. That said, couples often need help to work through the loss.
The Effects of Miscarriage or Infertility on Marriage
Infertility and miscarriage are different experiences, although they often go hand-in-hand. Couples struggling with infertility may experience one or more miscarriages. That said, each situation has unique challenges.
Effects of Infertility on Marriage
Infertility is a long process. It involves several stages of coming to terms with the challenges of getting pregnant. It also requires couples to make many decisions around medical care, finances, and methods of becoming parents. The stress can put a huge strain on the relationship. Therefore, some common effects of infertility on marriage include:
- Arguing over finances
- Disagreements about how to proceed
- Sex becomes a chore instead of a way to connect
- Blaming one another for being “the problem”
- Feeling guilty for being “the problem”
- Underlying feelings of tension that eat away at the relationship
Effects of Miscarriage on Marriage
Whereas infertility is characterized by a long process of decision-making and stress, miscarriage is characterized primarily by the loss. Both parents had hope that the baby was on the way. Each will have to process the feeling of losing that baby. The experience can be very different for each person.
Oftentimes, the woman receives a lot of support from her extended network. The partner is also active in supporting her. However, he often feels unsupported in dealing with his grief. He may set it aside to take care of his partner. As a result, he buries his feelings, and this can lead to resentment.
This resentment can lead the couple to become distant from one another. Even when this is not the case, miscarriage can cause distance because:
- Each partner grieves differently.
- One person may want to start “trying again” sooner than the other.
- Being intimate feels frightening because it is associated with pregnancy loss.
- Anger about loss turns into anger at one another.
- There are misplaced feelings of guilt, fear, and shame.
- Partners walk on eggshells instead of dealing with the issue.
How to Support one Another through Loss
Although the experience is challenging, going through infertility or miscarriage does not have to mean that you fight. You can support each other through these challenging times. Here are some tips:
- Talk honestly about your feelings without blame.
- Listen actively and empathetically to your partner.
- Make an effort to remember that it is okay for you to each cope differently.
- Make sure you both get support outside of the relationship.
- Create time for shared activities that aren’t related to pregnancy.
- Remind one another that you’re in this together, not against each other.
Signs that You Should Seek Counseling
Infertility and miscarriage can be challenging for couples. Often it takes counseling to get through this tough time. Some signs that you should seek counseling include:
- You keep fighting about the same things.
- One or both of you is avoiding talking about the issue.
- You are no longer physically affectionate.
- You are considering (or have had) an affair.
- One or both of you has brought up divorce.
- Either of you has signs of depression or anxiety.
Learn more about my couples counseling services here.