Dear Dr. Irene,
My husband and I recently went through a miscarriage, and things just don’t seem to be getting back to normal. He told me that after what my body just went through he doesn’t think he could ever touch me again. He doesn’t want to try for …
Dear Dr. Irene,
My husband and I recently went through a miscarriage, and things just don’t seem to be getting back to normal. He told me that after what my body just went through he doesn’t think he could ever touch me again. He doesn’t want to try for any more kids, etc. We do have two children already, but we have always talked about having another.
Our marriage just doesn’t seem to going well since the miscarriage and it happened over a month ago. We haven’t been intimate with each other since then. Is this normal? When I try talking about it with him, he won’t discuss it. He doesn’t want to mention it or ever even bring it up. Any advice would be great.
A Modern Mom Reader
Thank you for this meaningful question. It brings to mind the fact that this is a problem and passage that happens to many people and should be given more positive support.
First of all, I want to point out that you speak of your miscarriage as a situation that happened to you and your husband – “WE lost a baby.” Yes, you AND your husband lost the baby. This is something that is often not understood and appreciated – that a miscarriage affects the two people involved, not just the mother-to-be.
Many times, people don’t acknowledge that a man experiences many emotions when his partner suffers a miscarriage. Indeed, this situation can be as powerfully traumatic to a man as it is to a woman.
You mention that this happened around a month ago. A month isn’t a very long time for mourning, so he is probably still working through this. And if you were far along in your pregnancy, perhaps you and your husband would need more time to cope with the loss of your baby. Generally, the more developed the pregnancy, the longer you need to grieve.
What’s more, if you spent a long time planning to have a baby, or you went through elaborate fertility treatments to get pregnant, this would also affect grieving time.
When it comes to getting over a trauma like this, some women might think, “Well, it happened to my body and I got over it. Why can’t he?” Some men experience this loss at a different level of intensity. Do keep in mind that just because the miscarriage didn’t happen to his body, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t experiencing the same deeply sad feelings as you.
Your husband is clearly feeling a great sense of loss. He is also very sensitive to the pain, both emotional and physical, that the miscarriage has caused you. One reason he may not want to be intimate is because, on some level, he doesn’t want you to go through this loss again. Thus, he fears getting you pregnant and possibly having another miscarriage.
So how do we go about working on this relationship and getting past the mourning?
One of the things that should help: Touching and connecting with your partner. I’m not talking about having sexual intercourse. I’m talking about holding each other, sharing your feelings and experiencing each other’s pain and mourning. In a sweet and empathetic way, try to get the dialogue going again. Be gentle with your partner. Work towards reconnecting.
Try to open up the talk about children, and the possibility of having more. Maybe your husband is concerned about the financial strain adding to the family would create. Perhaps he’s anxious about the logistics of expanding your brood, especially if you were planning to quit your job and stay home. Maybe now that your path towards adding to the family has been interrupted, questions are arising in his mind. Does he really want to have another child or does he feel another family member will bring on more stress? Give your husband the opportunity to discuss all this. Try to talk about what the two of you really want – is it the same thing?
Now is a time when you could become angry and upset with each other, or you could examine your future together, reconnect and really grow closer. Talking, touching and empathizing should help.
Modern Mom’s new family therapy expert Dr. Irene Goldenberg is a family psychologist and the author of several textbooks on family therapy, including Family Therapy: An Overview, and Counseling Today’s Families. Dr. Irene is also a UCLA professor emeritus of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences. To check out Dr. Irene’s books, go to Amazon.com. Got a question for Dr. Irene? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org