How child loss affects your marriage

How child loss affects your marriage and what to do

Losing a baby is one of the most devastating experiences you can go through in your adult life. It breaks you in ways you cannot begin to explain. It shakes everything in your world. Your relationships suffer and your marriage is rocked in many ways. You see, throughout marriage we are constantly changing. But this change is usually gradual and manageable. But nothing changes you as fast as death. Loss changes your entire life, it reshapes your beliefs and the way you see things. I have met people who used to be loud and bubbly and then they lost a baby. And the world lost its color and they are now introverts. Now imagine what that change does to a marriage.

Grief tears us apart
with the reckless abandon
of a tornado.
– Haiku by Diantha Ain

Gender differences, the personal nature of grieving and how the baby died are some factors that make child loss such a big storm to marriages. We shall look at these factors next week. For today we look at the effects of child loss on marriage. Many couples manage to weather the storm, and their marriages get stronger because of what they have gone through together. But for some couples, the loss of a child all too often leads to divorce. I spoke to several couples who have lost babies and they opened up on how it has changed their lives and their marriage. Knowing how loss affects your marriage will enable you to avoid drifting apart and save your relationship. It will also make you realize you are not alone and you can get through this rough patch.

Emotional distance: Grief is a personal journey that causes us to re-evaluate our beliefs and life in general. Because of this we want to deal with it in our own way, individually. During this time even the most loving couples pull away from each other to grieve in private, and to search out new meaning in life. There are times in grieving when you want to be — need to be — selfish. You don’t want to consider somebody else’s feelings, only your own. You want to sulk. You want to be taken care of, and not take care of another human being. This of course means there is emotional distance which can be dangerous if not checked.
What to do: Take your me time but give your partner time too. Let them know in word and action that whenever they are ready to talk you will be there. The good thing is that most times you are not both sad and overwhelmed. So when you are feeling better and your partner is in the dumps, be there for them and cheer them up.

Faith battles: As I have already mentioned, grief is private and calls to question the things we believe. Almost everyone I have met who has lost a child tells me how their belief in God has been tested. You battle with the feeling that God has disappointed you and many times you feel alone. People handle these battles individually and most times one person comes around faster than the other. This can be (and is many times) a source of conflict.
What to do: This is not the time to keep pushing your partner asking them why they are not going to church and why it is taking them so long to find their way back. Give them space. Faith is a personal journey and you cannot coerce anyone into loving God. Pray for them. And then give them time to find their way back at their own pace.

The blame game: Depending on how the baby died, partners can blame each other for the loss of their child. In the case of miscarriages, I have heard women complain that their partners blamed them for not being careful enough during pregnancy. If your child died in accident and your man was driving you may feel anger towards them and blame them. Why? Because, anger is part of the grieving process and sometimes for us to feel better we blame others. We blame the doctors, the drunk driver etc and unfortunately our partner may be caught in the crossfire.
What to do: Realize that nobody would knowingly jeopardize the life of their child, born or unborn. No parent would knowingly put their child in danger. So even if the circumstance points to a bit of negligence on your partner’s part, forgive them. Don’t throw it in their face. Don’t say it as a passing statement. Don’t say it under your breath in the middle of an argument. Chances are your partner is already beating themselves about it. Blaming each other will only widen the gap between you and you have already lost too much.

Sex is not the same: Sex is usually amazing and easy when your relationship is doing well. When you are fighting, (which you do a lot when dealing with loss) your sex life suffers. If you lost your baby through a miscarriage, stillbirth or when they were really young, sex starts being associated with pregnancy and children. And because your heart is broken by the loss of your baby, anything associated with the process makes you sad and uninterested.
What to do: Chances are one of you will be ready to start having sex again faster than the other. If that’s you, be patient with your partner. You won’t die :) Nudge slowly. And if they are not ready, don’t take the rejection personally although it feels very personal. Hang in there, things will go back to the way they used to be.

As you may have noted there are many things to fight about when you are handling the death of a child. The solution is to give each other time to handle things at your own pace. Patience is very important during this phase. And remember, you never leave your partner, especially in a fire.

Author: stillamum

Wanjiru Kihusa is the Founder of Still A Mum. She is also a writer and speaker on child loss and rainbow motherhood.

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stillamum

Wanjiru Kihusa is the Founder of Still A Mum. She is also a writer and speaker on child loss and rainbow motherhood.

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8 Comments

  1. Sheehraw 1 year ago July 4, 2016

    Thank you Wanjiru.
    Insightful.

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  2. Aisha 1 year ago July 13, 2016

    Comments*

    Nice read gone through it. Thank God with a supportive husband.

    There is no bigger pain like the loss of a child.

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  3. Maggie 1 year ago August 1, 2016

    Hi
    its good to have such a platform to share esp about loss of children.
    I have had two miscarriages. the first time 5 years ago, I cried freely….over a year later i overheard a colleague updating a new posted colleague how I aborted . all my scars got scratched and my heart bled, and floods of tears filled my eyes. it shocked me that people thot I had aborted, yet they smiled at me and always were ready to update new entrants.
    Early this year, I realized while going to the gym that I was expecting. I stopped gym. I was hopeful. but one morning at 10 weeks, while preparing to go to church, my lower back hurt badly. I went back to bed… long story short, I lost the baby.
    that night my partner came, I showed him the PT- it was positive. He laughed. then I handed him the scan…. the baby had left. we went out to the local bar…he said he couldn’t sleep with such news. he drank a few beers. I kept him company. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry. I was dazed. he gave me money to go for further medical help…gyn said I had no problem, just needed to keep trying. he put me on folic acid for 3 months. I am hopeful that God will have mercy on me and give me a child. even just one. I pray. merciful Father have mercy on the women who sooo desire children.

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    • stillamum 1 year ago August 5, 2016

      wow that is very heavy thank you so much for sharing!We have support groups both physical and on WhatsApp if you are interested we would love to help.

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    • Smilingbabies 6 months ago March 13, 2017

      God will surely give you a chance at motherhood. Do not despair. Praying for you.

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  4. Mary 6 months ago April 3, 2017

    I need tha support group, how can i join?

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  5. Emmah 3 months ago July 3, 2017

    such a good read.loss of a child is so painful especially miscarriages. most people even husbands usually do not understand how a woman who has miscarriage d feels. they assume because the child was not born, its easy to deal with it . only a the woman knows and understands the pain. its usually so painful because its like going to your child’s burial alone…i wouldn’t wish that even to my worst enemy..

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