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How to Deal with a Miscarriage in Your Marriage

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Miscarriages can have a profound influence on your marriage, even those that happen early in a pregnancy. Many people are deeply saddened by the loss and find it hard to move forward. But such a tragedy can pull together a couple and make their marriage stronger. "As sad and painful as pregnancy loss can be, couples can use [it] to deepen their emotional connection to each other and their community," says Helen L. Coons, a clinical health psychologist in Philadelphia. Here's how to get through a miscarriage and perhaps come out with a stronger marriage -

COMMUNICATION

Jessica Cohen, publisher of bucksmontmom.com, had five miscarriages and carried two children, both who had been part of a set of twins in which the other twin was lost. She says the difficulty of the miscarriages brought moments of frustration and tension, but her husband supported her in the way she needed. "I was really down, feeling broken," she writes in an e-mail. "I remember one night turning [to my husband] and apologizing because if he had married anyone else, he would have been a father by then. He was amazing."

Men must be aware that their wives or girlfriends often feel guilty, as if they could have prevented the miscarriage - or worse, as if they are to blame for it. Doctors will tell you that the overwhelming majority of early miscarriages are a result of chromosomal abnormalities and there's nothing anyone could have done, and later losses usually come with a more explicit explanation of what happened.

Still, women often blame themselves. "It makes me sad when there's no explanation," says Coons. "So many women fill in the blank with self-blame." If your wife or girlfriend is feeling guilty, you must reassure and remind her that this was the work of Mother Nature.

Women must remember that their husbands and boyfriends, who were also probably anticipating baby's arrival, are grieving, too. People are naturally more focused on the woman who is undergoing both a physical and emotional trauma. As a result, men often feel obligated to hold back their sadness to serve as a pillar of strength for the woman. But he needs to mourn, too.

"Families focus mostly on the wife and in some cases blame or leave out the husband," writes Eula M. Young, COO of Griot's Roll Film Production & Services, Inc., who has had three miscarriages and has three children. "Talk when you both feel like talking, cry when you feel like crying." She adds that when you come out on the other side, you will both be stronger.

Yet, some men, even if they're supportive, don't seem to understand what their wife is going through. "My husband couldn't really relate to the fact that I was pregnant because it was so early," writes Cathy Vollmer, a talent management consultant from Pittsburgh, who had a miscarriage between having her two children and who adds that her husband was helpful and kind throughout the ordeal, in an e-mail. "Until they can actually see and hold the baby, I think it's difficult for [men] to really comprehend another life actually living inside of you." Husbands and boyfriends have to realize that for many women, this is a baby with whom mom is bonding from the start.

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