January 17, 2018

Infertility & Miscarriage: Maintaining Healthy Relationships Through Loss

Anxiety & Depression
Identity Development

Relational Impact of Infertility & Miscarriage 

Last week we talked about the effects of infertility and miscarriage on your emotions and mental health. This week we’ll look at how those experiences affect relationships. Going through the pain, loss, and waiting of infertility and miscarriage can lead to strain in relationships with your partner, friends and family. Your relationship with your partner is the most intimate relationship and will likely be the place where you see the most impact. You might find that you and your partner cope with stress, loss, and waiting differently. One partner might withdraw when they feel overwhelmed or stressed. One partner might want to verbally process everything they’re experiencing. This can often create tension and distance in a time when you long to feel close and supported. If you’re experiencing that in your relationship, know that it’s normal.

Each of you processes grief differently and that’s okay. It’s important to spend time listening to and validating one another. See this as an opportunity for you and your partner to understand each other better. This will also be a time when you will need to communicate assertively about what your needs are. Is your partner trying to fix things when you just want them to listen? Let them know. Do you wish they would come to some of the appointments with you? Let them know what it would mean to you and ask if they can come. Your partner cannot read your mind no matter how long you have been together. Communicating your needs clearly will help them support you better. It’s also important to spend time together having fun so you can continue to build positive memories. Plan regular date nights, take a weekend getaway, and get together with other couples.

Relational Impact on Friends and Family 

Experiencing the challenges of infertility and miscarriage can also affect your relationships with family and friends. It can be hard to know how to share about what you’re going through. You might have also been hurt by a comment or question from someone, and you’re not sure how to address what happened. Seeing friends have babies while you’re still waiting and wondering if it will happen for you is hard. Like we talked about last week, due to the silence around these issues, you might also feel like no one will understand what you’re experiencing. This can lead you to isolating yourself, adding to the feeling of loneliness. Loved ones also might not be sure how to support you and, fearful of saying the wrong thing, remain silent.

Be Open With Safe People & Communicate Needs Clearly 

While it can be tempting to withdraw from relationships when you’re going through a difficult time, you need support. That being said, you don’t have to talk about what you’re going through with everyone. Having one or two close family members or friends that you can talk openly with can go a long way. You might find it comforting to talk to a friend or older family member who has experienced what you’re going through. You will also need to use assertive communication in these relationships so that they can support you well. Let them know when you need them to just listen or when you’d like to take a break from talking about your struggle. There might also be opportunities to educate others who are willing to listen. Since there is often silence around these issues, your voice can be powerful in helping others understand more about the experience of infertility and miscarriage. Your openness might also encourage another woman to share about her experience.

Positive social support is an important part of coping well with difficulty and I want that for you. If you or your partner would like some additional support or want help putting some of these suggestions into practice, reach out today! I’d love to talk with you. Also consider joining our support group for women experiencing infertility and miscarriage starting January 23rd.

Written by therapist Ndunge Marquardt

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