Samantha Reynolds is a Dr. Gottman certified educator as well as a Dr. Shefali certified Conscious Parenting Coach. She works virtually with couples, individuals and families.
Experiencing a miscarriage is an emotionally challenging rollercoaster for both partners. Feelings of helplessness, anger and deep sadness and worries about how to be there for your partner and when to broach the subject of trying again are common and expected.
What can make this journey towards healing even more of a challenge is that each partner will grieve differently and will go through the grieving stages at different times.
Putting your partner’s needs ahead of yours, listening, empathizing and allowing each of you the space to be vulnerable with each other, are the early steps to moving forward.
Here are some of the ways you can support your partner after a miscarriage
Look Beyond Your Needs:
Your partner will need you more at this time than you may realise, especially as expressing it won’t be the top of her priority list. While you will be grieving now also, if you can do more for her and around the home, it will take away one burden she doesn’t need at this time.
For example: when you come home from work, take a look around and do what needs to get done without being asked. Start making dinner, unload the dishwasher, do laundry, or run her a bath. I would also encourage both of you to do a morning check in by asking each other how you are feeling. Staying connected is vital to your recovery as a couple.
Listening and empathizing is crucial
I encourage couples to carve out 20 minutes a day, minimum, to talk about anything outside of the relationship. Dr. Gottman calls this The Stress-Reducing Conversation. Each partner receives 10 minutes to talk about whatever is on their minds. The job of the other is to simply listen.
Listening to a partner who is crying, angry and frustrated can be difficult. For many of us, who grew up with parents who did not role model how to handle big emotions, this can be a huge hurdle. If you fall into this category, first notice this discomfort in you, then focus on your breathing. Remember these emotions have nothing to do with you. Next, focus on what is going on for your partner and then try repeating back to her the last phrase she said.
“So, I am understanding, you mean you felt hurt that…”
“Yes, I hear that you are so sad. I am too.”
“Is this what you mean: you don’t feel comfortable going to…?”
Repeating the words back to your partner has two positive effects: it tells your partner that you are engaged and it allows you to show your partner that you care and are a team player. Both are important in keeping and building the trust you have between the two of you.
As a man, please refrain from trying to “fix” and problem-solve. Even though it’s inherent in you. Based on Dr. Gottman’s four decades of research, men want to move past emotional and troublesome problems quickly. Wait for your partner to ask for advice. She may only want to vent and express herself.
Recognise your own grief
Not only do women need to grieve, so do you!
Just because you did not carry the baby, does not mean you do not feel loss. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner. Tell her how you are feeling and let her show up for you. By showing her how you are processing this loss and allowing her to be your ally will help both of your healing processes and will make you feel even more connected as a couple and as best friends.
Grieving a loss of a baby takes time and there is no set timeline; the journey is remarkably personal. Do not rush it. Recognizing that each partner appreciates being heard, listened to and cared for will, hopefully, make this shared event one in which the two of you can experience even greater closeness and love.