Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Tell My Boyfriend I Had a Miscarriage?”

I just had a miscarriage and I am devastated. I can’t tell my friends because they’ll judge me for getting pregnant, despite the fact I have been using birth control, and I don’t think I could bring myself to tell my mom because I don’t live at home anymore and she might feel too far away to help, and I think that her being far away will just make me feel more broken. My boyfriend and I are in a long-term relationship and we talk about our future life and one day having children; I don’t want to ruin our future by telling him this. I know he’ll support me and help with my grief, but I don’t want for him to have the underlying fear of there being issues when we are trying to have a child looming over his head as well. I am also afraid of the grief it would bring him for him to know he lost his potential child and don’t want to put that on him. Should I tell him, or would that just be me selfishly using him to help me cope with my own guilt and grief? — Grieving My Miscarriage

I’m sorry for your loss. Please know that the miscarriage was not your fault, that it is an incredibly common – albeit painful – experience, and that millions of women go on to have successful pregnancies following miscarriages (myself included). Having a miscarriage does NOT mean you will have trouble conceiving or carrying a baby to term when you’re ready to become a mother. In fact, if you’ve had a miscarriage, then you know you are able to conceive – even with the use of birth control, in your case! – and that can be of some comfort to you if you hope to eventually have biological children.

I absolutely do think you should tell your boyfriend, whom you hope and plan to have a future with, about your miscarriage. This is not a burden of grief you should carry alone when you have a partner who wants to support you and to share in your joys and your struggles (and if he doesn’t, then he’s certainly not someone you should be planning a future with). Trying to spare him grief when you are struggling so much with it is destined to backfire. He’ll notice that you are troubled and it will frustrate him to not know why and to not have any idea how to comfort you. He may wonder if he’s done something to upset you.

If you’re genuinely feeling nervous about your boyfriend’s reaction to the news of your miscarriage, then use this as an opportunity to do some soul-searching about your relationship. You need to feel comfortable sharing things with a long-term partner, especially when they directly relate to him or her. If you’re serious enough that you’re discussing a future together and having children together one day, then you should be able to tell him when you’re pregnant and when you’ve had a miscarriage. It’s these kinds of shared experiences that help show you how – and whether – you two can work together to overcome challenges. These opportunities to lean on each other, and to grieve together and problem-solve together, give you a better sense of what a life together might look like — how you two succeed as a couple and where there’s still room to be better partners to each other. By keeping secrets like your miscarriage from your boyfriend, you are denying him the opportunity to show you his strengths as a partner. Conversely, he may show you weaknesses as a partner you would be better off knowing NOW rather than years down the road.

I had a baby with a married man. We’ve been in a relationship for over two years and have also lived together the whole time. When we first met, he told me he was planning to get a divorce, which never happened! Now our child is here, we’re still living together, and the child has his last name since he signed the birth certificate, but every time I bring up his getting divorced, he gets mad and we argue.

Is there anything I can do to have my child’s last name changed? I fooled myself into thinking he’d get a divorce, and now I’ve come to realize that although he and his wife have been separated since 2017, he’s still choosing to stay married. I need some advice. — Baby Re-Naming

 
Yes, people legally change names all the time. You would have to reach out to a lawyer about how and whether you can change your baby’s last name. I would imagine it would take the father’s agreement, and maybe he would be happy to give you that to be left alone, I don’t know. What I can tell you though is that a name change isn’t going to change the situation here. You had a baby with a married man thinking the baby would coax your boyfriend into getting a divorce and it didn’t and it won’t. It’s time to shift gears from trying to make this relationship work in the romantic sense to figuring out how to best co-parent together. Your baby did not ask to be born into this situation. Your child should not be a pawn in three’s company drama. Your baby deserves to have all the love and nurturing and attention every child needs to thrive.

You should be strategizing on how best to meet your child’s needs, not sticking it to the baby’s daddy for not getting the divorce that should have happened before you ever moved in and had a baby with him. Is he a good dad? Does he show up for his kid? Does he emotionally and financially support his baby? If so, why rock that boat by initiating a name change? If he’s not a good dad, then you certainly have bigger issues with the guy than his not divorcing his wife, and you should be glad you never had the opportunity to marry the dead-beat.

And now, an old one from the vault you may have missed:

I’m getting married in August and have been planning the wedding for over a year, so the date has been set for a while now. My brother — my only sibling — got engaged last weekend. I love him and his fiancée, but I was very upset when I found out today that they are planning to get married a mere six weeks before I do. Why couldn’t they get married in May or November, so that there is more turn-around time? What if all of my out-of-state family comes to his wedding and then can’t make it to mine? I invited them first! My mom is on the sickly side and is already stressed about one child getting married, so now I’m worried about her having to deal with two weddings back-to-back.

I’m worried that if I confront my brother and fiancée, it will turn into a sibling grudge match with lots of old dynamics rearing their ugly heads. I already asked my parents to mention how stressful it will be for them. Is that fair? Should I just suck it up and silently resent them so that twenty years from now when we are fighting over who gets mom’s heirlooms, I end up screaming, “I get them since you practically ruined my wedding!” — Trying not to be a Bridezilla

 
Read my advice here.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

4 comments… add one
  • avatar

    FYI May 1, 2020, 2:22 pm

    LW1, notice how you are talking yourself out of every possible source of comfort? “I can’t talk to that person because reasons. I can’t talk to this person because reasons. I can’t …” It’s all right to get comforted. You’re allowed.

    The reasons your head is making up aren’t necessarily correct. You’re allowed to receive help.

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    • avatar

      Hx2 May 4, 2020, 8:50 am

      Yes – there’s a pattern here! This pattern is affecting all 3 relationships/avenues of support. I think this woman would benefit from a good therapist very much – I know because I’ve been there. My wild guess is her father (or maybe mother too, but they seem somewhat close) was somehow neglectful or abusive or narcissistic. Whatever it is, somehow somewhere along the way, she’s gotten the message to worry about other people’s feelings more than her own. And while Wendy’s response was lovely and on point in the general sense, if LW1 doesn’t even know how to receive love and support and care, then it’s only partially effective to divulge this secret.

      LW1, try to find and go to a good therapist. And get ready to game things up and deal with some loss as you grow as a person – you may loose some people in your life as you learn how to ask more of them (when appropriate), or set boundaries you’ve never set before (when appropriate), but you may also find some relationships deepen, and you are able to connect to some people better. I bet vulnerability is something you may have a hard time with – and again, knowing when it’s appropriate. I specify appropriateness here because even if we know these skills, we may not know when or how to apply them. But these are all things you can LEARN! Read Brené Brown and Mark Manson for starters, then get thee to a therapist. Hugs to you.

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  • avatar

    mellanthe May 1, 2020, 2:42 pm

    LW1: Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry. It must be so hard facing this alone right now.
    This is so common: you are not alone. It’s thought that about 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage – most of them very early on. The majority of those women/couples have no problems conceiving later. The most common cause is simply that the embryo was not developing properly and could not survive. It’s almost never anything you could have done.

    It’s really important to tell your boyfriend. Not only because you deserve support, and that’s what boyfriends are for, but also because when you eventually try again and get pregnant, it’s likely that you’ll be feeling anxious it might happen again. He’ll have no way of knowing or supporting you if you find pregnancy scary in the future because he won’t know the full extent of what you’re feeling. It is absolutely not selfish to share your grief with your partner.

    If you trust him, tell him. Let him support you. He will hurt, but you will both be able to share this experience together, rather than you suffering alone.
    If something happened to his health – say, he had a health scare, wouldn’t you want to know? Wouldn’t you wish to support him? Wouldn’t you feel a bit hurt if you found out like 20 years later or by accident? You might feel like he didn’t trust you enough for the truth. What I’m saying is that trying to save people from hurt is laudable – it’s a sign you love him. But sometimes loving people means sharing the struggles you are facing – because that gives them the opportunity to help you and be there for you.

    If he’s an asshat about something like this, as Wendy said it’s better to know now.

    LW2: I don’t think you should change the baby’s name. That’s now the baby’s identity: it’s not a pawn in your arguments with your boyfriend. The real issue here is your relationship: are you willing to stay with this man? Do you love him? Are you happy in the relationship? Is his not getting a divorce a deal breaker (in which case, why did you stay with him for years and have his baby if he didn’t do what you needed?)

    You can change the name, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is the baby’s dad, and he should pay child support and continue to be a part of this child’s life if you separate. I’m worried that this entire thing is really about you taking the kid away (or trying to upset your man) to punish him for not divorcing. Mature people don’t punish, they calmly separate and don’t use their kids as pawns.

    LW3: a family acquaintaince of mine is doing just this. It actually doesn’t matter. I’m sure there are loads of reasons that go into when people pick wedding dates – venue availability, vendors, the timetables of the bride and groom and most important guests, etc. They probably just found a date everything fit which wasn’t particularly close to your wedding (it’s a month and a half) . Maybe they just don’t want a long engagement. Maybe she’s pregnant. Who knows.

    Now, if you and your brother turn everthing into a competition, or you don’t like SIL, then that’s a you-problem and not a wedding-problem. You’re both grown ups getting married, time to let kiddy rivalries slide. As long as you’re marrying the person you love, it’s going to be fabulous, and I’m sure family and friends will enjoy both weddings.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ May 1, 2020, 6:11 pm

    LW1, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I’m also sorry you don’t feel like you can lean on your friends, family or boyfriend. You shouldn’t feel guilty – nothing you did caused this. And you shouldn’t worry a miscarriage will impact your future fertility. Likely, it won’t at all. I hope you take everyone’s advice and talk to your boyfriend. And, your mom. People who love you will want to support you. If they don’t, then they’re not worth the effort. On that same note, if you truly feel like your friends would judge you in a time of hardship instead of being supportive, please get new friends

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