As the rest of the world was celebrating Valentine’s two days ago, couples who have recently experienced baby loss were trying to keep it together. It is a well-known fact that the loss of a baby brings so many issues into a relationship or marriage that the couple often has to fight to stay together. Some draw closer to each other while others find themselves unable to regain what they had before.
There are five issues that couples need to watch out for after baby loss. These issues have the power to pull apart two emotionally vulnerable people. Being aware of them will help the couple to be attentive when they come up, and thus allow them to deal with them more constructively.
- Destructive coping mechanisms
After experiencing a tragedy like baby loss, many people struggle to cope. This sometimes results in destructive habits that the grieving parent develops as he or she tries to make sense of life after loss. Substance abuse, often leading to addiction, is one of the issues that couples need to watch out for after baby loss. One or both partners sometimes turns to alcohol or other drugs to try and ease their pain. In some cases, due to mental health issues such as anxiety, insomnia or PTSD which arise from the trauma of baby loss, one partner may get addicted to various prescription drugs. It goes without saying that addictions of this kind will only bring more frustration and tension to the relationship.
- Financial issues
Another one of the issues that couples need to watch out for after baby loss is strain due to financial problems. Financial issues may arise from hospital bills, especially in cases such as premature birth. They could also come about as a result of funeral expenses. Whatever the case, when a couple finds themselves struggling financially after the loss of a baby they need to be careful when handling the matter so as not to cause further hurt to each other.
- Blame and guilt
These two emotions can cause destruction that is very difficult to recover from. Often in cases of baby loss, one or both partners may feel responsible for the death of their child. Similarly, one or both can blame the other parent for the loss and thus react to them with hostility. Both of these emotions cause the parents to alienate themselves from each other and soon enough cracks in the relationship begin to show up.
- Different ways of grieving
We already know that men and women grieve differently. Beyond gender, different people also have different ways of expressing pain based on their personalities. When your partner grieves differently from you it may be difficult for you to see their ways of doing it as valid. One partner may want to talk about the loss while the other may not be ready to. One partner may cry openly while the other hardly sheds a tear. One partner may seek closeness with the other by seeking sexual intimacy while the other cannot even stand the thought of it. This is one of the issues that couples need to watch out for after baby loss because if they do not actively try to understand how the other is expressing their grief, they may begin to feel alone in their pain, angry at each other and end up isolating themselves from each other.
- Moving on
Closely related to different ways of grieving is different ways of healing and moving on. Again, gender differences come into play quite strongly. Men usually grieve and begin their healing process by ‘getting on with it’. They often go back to work sooner and may be ready to interact with family and friends sooner. Women normally take longer and sometimes feel angry with their partners for ‘moving on’ so soon. The fathers may also resent their partners for wanting to stay home and being unable to rebuild their life. All this does is cause strain in the relationship. The trouble with this resenting how your partner heals is that it ignores the simple truth that after baby loss the parents never really ‘move on’. They do not forget their child or stop missing them. Therefore, what we call moving on is simply our different ways of coping with the loss and adjusting to the new life afterwards. This is why this is one of the issues that couples need to watch out for after baby loss. Allow your partner to do what he or she needs to do to make sense of life after the trauma you have been through.
Baby loss does indeed deeply affect the relationship between the bereaved parents. However, this does not mean that after baby loss the relationship is doomed to fall apart. If the couple is intentional about nurturing their relationship through the pain, then they might end up being even closer than they were before.