I am sure you have seen the statistic that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in a loss. Though the number is so high, you probably never expected to be part of this large group of people who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy or infant loss. After such a loss, you are going through so many different emotions and learning how to cope with your grief. If your partner does not grieve the same as you, you may feel that you are not in synch or more tense with each other. The loss of a child can either tear a couple apart or it can bring them closer together. This post provides 7 ways to reconnect with your partner after a pregnancy loss.
If you are wanting to read more information on the various emotions you may experience after a loss, read A to Z Emotions of Pregnancy Loss: Understanding the Grief Process.
Table of Contents
Open and Honest Communication
One of the best ways of connecting with your partner is through open and honest communication. Many men feel they have to be strong or avoid talking about the loss because they do not want to upset their partner. They may worry that asking about their partner’s feelings or pushing them to talk will make it worse for the woman. Let them know that it is okay to talk for them to discuss their feelings with you and that you would appreciate hearing their thoughts.
If your partner does not seem to be upset or show much emotion, this may feel like they are disregarding what you are going through. It might even make you angry with them because it feels like they should be more empathetic. Understand that they may be in shock or denial about what has happened and still processing the loss. Even if they are not showing emotion, know that they are hurting too and are just expressing it differently.
If you are not getting the support you need or want from your partner, it is best to talk with them and let them know exactly what you are needing. Make sure you are direct and specific with the type of support you need. For instance, if you just need someone to listen to you, let them know that you need to talk and would appreciate them just being there and listening. At the same time, you should also ask them what kind of support they are needing. This way, both partners know what kind of support is needed and can adjust accordingly. We often expect our partners to be mind-readers or to just know what we need. Even if you have been together a long time, our partners do not always just know what we need without us telling them. Once you are open about your needs, you are more likely to be able to grieve together instead of letting the grief drive a wedge between you.
Everyone Grieves Differently
It is important to remember that each partner may grieve differently. Not only are the emotions different, but people also cope with it in their own ways. For example, many women are more likely to talk about what happened or have a support system of friends and family through this time. The focus after a loss is largely on the women and the men sometimes get forgotten about. Men can tend to withdraw from others and try to cope through physical activities such as working out, playing sports or other types of exertion.
It may feel like your partner is not grieving the loss with you if they are doing things differently. They are simply grieving their own way. Instead of getting angry with them about it, try to understand that some of the things they are doing are out of grief. For example, if your partner gets angry whenever you talk about the loss or tries to avoid talking with you about it, this is a sign of grief. If they lash out at others and seem irritable, these are also signs of avoiding their feelings instead of dealing with them in an appropriate way.
Grieving differently can be difficult sometimes, especially if you are in a situation where you need to discuss the loss and your partner does not want to discuss it at all. If this is the case, you may need to seek out someone else for support or talk with a professional. You can always try again in a few weeks and see if they are willing to talk about it at that time. Just because your partner is grieving differently does not mean their love for you has changed or decreased in any way. Talking through things to figure out how you each need to grieve can help develop a better understanding of your partner and your relationship.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to a Professional
Sometimes, we need to seek out help from a professional. This can be for any number of reasons such as you and your partner are not connecting the way you would like at or that one or both partners still feel stuck in their grief process. You can choose to see the professional individually or together as a couple. There are many experienced counselors that can help guide you and your partner in the healing process after a pregnancy loss.
Talking with a neutral third party could be very useful in helping you and your partner learn to work through the grief together. It is best to find one that is specifically trained in grief and loss. You can easily find a counselor by checking on your insurance website or by doing a quick internet search. Psychology Today has a great search feature to help you find a counselor.
Support groups specifically for parents of pregnancy loss and infant loss are another great option. Many loss organizations offer support groups that are both online and offline. Here are some organizations that offer pregnancy loss support groups:
Lashing Out Vs Mistreatment
Grief can make people say or do some hurtful things at times. You may feel more on edge and say or do things you do not mean. This can happen from time to time and as long as you apologize to your partner and your partner apologizes to you, then you can both likely move on from these small infractions. However, if your partner is constantly doing or saying hurtful things to you, then you need to speak up and let them know this is not okay.
You have no obligation to be mistreated by your partner. If they are making hurtful comments or trying to control you, this is a sign of their grief process getting in the way of them being able to cope with the pregnancy loss. Most people know it may not be acceptable behavior but may put it up with it because they know their partner is grieving too. If they are saying or doing things that make you uncomfortable, tell them this is not okay and if it continues then seek out a counselor together as a couple so you can both learn how to cope better in the future.
Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. By continuing to allow the behavior to happen, you will likely become angry and resentful. You might even let the anger build up until you explode and unleash it in a way you did not intend. This is why it can be best to speak up early and let your partner know that you are aware they are grieving, but that the behavior cannot continue. It may be hard on both of you at first but it will get easier with time as long as everyone remains open about how they are feeling.
Do An Activity Together
Doing an activity together that you both enjoy can help bring you closer together. This could be something that you had previously enjoyed doing together or a new activity you decide to try. The idea behind this suggestion is it will give the two of you a chance to connect and not think about the loss for a little bit.
This can be any type of activity, like trying a painting or cooking class, hiking or biking, learning a foreign language, playing a sport, or even playing a video game together. The important thing is that it is something you both want to do or try together. Do not force your partner into doing something they do not want to do or else it can just create more tension.
If you are going to suggest an activity, try and find one that is open ended. This means it has no winners or losers because this can create tension as well if someone wins and the other loses. You want your partner to feel like they are at the same level as you. If you want to do a competitive activity, make sure the losing person is okay with it and does not get too emotionally invested in winning. You want to choose an activity that will create a sense of togetherness.
The Importance of Alone Time
This may sound counterintuitive, but both partners need time alone to process their grief and emotions. You can sometimes get frustrated if you are spending every moment with you partner without having your own space. For some, this may mean taking a short trip on your own to visit family or friends. For others, this could just be going to another room in the house to be alone for a bit or going out for a coffee on your own. Do whatever it is you need to do to have some time just to yourself without your partner.
You must also be willing to give your partner time alone and space when they need it. Your partner wanting some time alone does not mean they do not want to spend time with you or that they are pushing you away. Sometimes, they simply need to be alone to work through their thoughts and feelings so they can come back feeling refreshed and ready to talk.
Being alone with your thoughts can allow you time to work through some of your feelings that you may have trouble processing with your partner. After you have time to think things through, you can then come back together and more clearly talk things through.
Remember Important Dates Together
After a loss, the due dates, birthdates, or other important dates during the pregnancy can be even more full of grief than other days throughout the year. Doing something special on or around these particular days can help bring you together as a couple as it helps you grieve together.
For instance, every year you could make a cake or cupcakes on your child’s birthday. Baking the cake together is a nice way to spend some time with each other while also doing something in memory of your child. You could also go to the local bakery and offer to pay for the cake of a child born on the same day as yours as a way of paying it forward and remembering your baby.
When the due date comes around, do something you both enjoy. This could be going out to a nice dinner at a restaurant or even just staying in watching a movie together. All that matters is that you are spending time together remembering your child.
Dealing with a pregnancy loss can be a difficult time for both partners. It is important to remember there is no one size fits all for grief. You are already going through so many different emotional struggles and you do not want to add fighting with your partner as one of them. Work through your feelings together and do not let them build up inside. Make sure you are open and honest about your feelings and the type of support you are needing. Listen to your partner and respond with what they are needing. I hope these 7 ways to reconnect with your partner after a pregnancy loss or infant loss have been helpful to you. Are there any other ways or things you have done to reconnect with your partner after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy or infant loss?
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