How Couples Fare After Miscarriage

Losing a child puts a relationship to the test. A miscarriage can make or break a relationship.

By Colin Allen, published on October 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

A miscarriage can make or break a relationship, finds a study from
the University of Washington. A year after miscarrying, one out of three
women said they felt more distant from their partner, while another third
felt their relationship had improved.

"When miscarriage affects couples it may stimulate growth, or
unearth the inability to support each other through troubled times,"
notes author Kristen Swanson, a professor of family and child

For the study, Swanson identified 185 women who had miscarried and
interviewed them four times over the course of a year. It was published
in the October issue of
Psychosomatic Medicine.

The remaining third of the women in the group believed their
relationship had stayed the same. These women were more likely to have
already had a child, or to have lost the baby early in gestation.

The women who said their relationships had changed for the worse
were at greater risk for anxiety, depression, confusion and anger. Many
saw their miscarriage as a devastating and isolating event. They felt
unable to share the loss, and claimed that their partner did not show

The couples that communicated well about the loss improved their
relationship and felt better about themselves. They were more likely to
say the troubled times had brought them closer together, both
interpersonally and sexually.

Swanson notes many couples struggle with this difficult issue,
since one-sixth of pregnancies end in miscarriage.