Posted on Apr 07, 2010
You might have heard that money problems, affairs, or irreconcilable differences can lead to divorce in Washington State – but what about losing a baby? According to a new study conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School and published in the journal Pediatrics, married couples are significantly more likely to divorce if they have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Specifically, the study found that couples who experienced the death of after the 20-week mark, during labor, or soon after labor were 40 percent more likely to divorce after the incident, while those who suffer a miscarriage are 22 percent more likely to separate. The study followed 7,700 couples over a 15-year span. While a large percentage of couples whose marriage did not survive the loss of a baby separated within three years, it was found that the death of a baby or a pregnancy loss could affect a marriage even ten years down the road.

Researchers say that many of the couples were already experiencing relationship problems and the experience of a pregnancy loss simply pushed them over the edge. Other couples struggle after one partner takes the loss in a different way than the other – or when one can’t understand the way the other has chosen to mourn. While some couples were brought closer together by tragedy, others simply couldn’t continue their relationship.

Those who conducted this study say that simply knowing that the loss of a baby can threaten your marriage could help those going through the process recognize that they may need extra counseling, respect each other’s differences, and ask each other for support.

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Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington