I awoke this morning to news that Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow are getting divorced. Sad news for them and their children but I hope that it will bring them happiness in the long run. What surprised me is how many articles which I read mentioned Gwyneth’s miscarriage as a catalyst for their divorce. It seems to me that they’ve had a whole catalogue of pressures on their relationship. Could it really be the miscarriage which pushed things too far? And for myself it leaves me wondering if my desire to keep trying for a baby is ultimately going to lead to the end of my marriage?
The statistics don’t look great. Apparently statistics show that more than 40 percent of first marriages and nearly 70 percent of first live-in relationships fail to reach the 15-year mark. Adding the trauma of recurrent miscarriage can make staying together even harder. I currently feel like our miscarriage experiences have brought my husband and I closer together. We’re going through something which others ( unless they’ve been through it too) can’t really understand so we feel a bit ‘us against the world’. But what if we end up suffering a fourth/fifth/tenth miscarriage? What if one of us decides it’s time to stop trying when the other isn’t prepared to give up? What if my husband realises that I’m the problem and that he can have the family he desires easily with another woman?
The statistics aren’t on our side. Compared with couples who’ve had successful pregnancies, those who’ve had a miscarriage are 22 percent more likely to break up, and those who’ve experienced a stillbirth were 40 percent more likely to do so, according to a recent study. The reasons for this are varied but one of the most widely cited reasons for splitting is an apparent disconnect between the way men and women grieve. If I man hides his emotions this can be perceived by his traumatised wife as being uncaring or that he is ‘over it’ already when she can’t imagine ever feeling ‘normal’ again. On top of that, there can be a tremendous amount of guilt with both parties alternating from blaming themselves to blaming the other. These feelings can lead to anger, sadness and ultimately withdrawal and the relationship may be unable to survive.
We’ve already experienced three traumatic miscarriages in less than two years of marriage and I’ve already experienced many of the emotions I’ve described above. In a bid to keep our marriage strong I’ve tried to find tips for staying together during this trying time and I’ve set out below some of the things I’ve learnt:
1) Keep talking – Too often, people hide their feelings from each other. I’ve found myself holding back for fear of bringing my husband down with my sadness and immediately after our last miscarriage I refused to talk about it simply assuming that my husband knew how I felt. This lead to a huge row with lots of tears when he ultimately failed to guess exactly when I wanted him to say and do. My advice is to talk each other and talk to other people who know what you’re going through (either in person or like me via a blog). Just don’t expect anyone to know what’s inside if you don’t share.
2) Take your time – Grieving takes time, and there are no deadlines, despite what you may hear or the pressure you may feel. I initially felt proud of myself for ‘getting over’ my miscarriages and each time retuning to work within a couple of days (or within 24 hours after my second miscarriage). But ultimately this was not healthy and more than a year later I still have moments where I re-live the horror of my first 12 week scan when we discovered our longed for baby had died. Just remember that there will be good days and bad days, and there is nothing wrong with having a bad day even after you thought you were ‘over it’.
3) Care for each other (and show it) – My husband and I have very different grieving styles but I know that he is hurting and as his wife I want to be there for him to help him through this. It has made a huge difference for me to realise there is no ‘right way’ to get through this. Ultimately my husband is the most important person in my life and I regularly remind myself that whilst losing our babies is really though, losing my husband would be unbearable. Whilst we can’t control whether our next pregnancy fails, we can do everything in our power to ensure our relationship survives.