The Commercial Appeal

Does she have to tell her husband she miscarried?


Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared March 1, 2009.

Dear Carolyn: Do I have to tell my husband I had a miscarriag­e? I’m too emotionall­y exhausted to cause more pain to us both, and I’d rather not have this painful episode as part of our history. I’d rather just try to conceive again and have us both excited about the future. (He never knew I was pregnant.) Virginia

Virginia: I can see how tempting it is, just to push your sadness aside to make room for happier feelings. But when does handling things privately become (or reflect) a habit? And at what point do husband and wife wake up feeling like roommates?

I’m getting ahead of myself somewhat. This isn’t a slippery-slope argument, where I conjure one possible future just to blame you for it in advance. This is about what you are and aren’t doing right now.

What you aren’t doing is causing “pain to us both” by telling your husband. The miscarriag­e did that. You are only the messenger.

What you aren’t doing is eliminatin­g “this painful episode as part of our history.” It happened, it’s there, it’s not going away. You are merely excluding your husband from this history, and therefore from his chance to grieve with you, grow with you. Cocktails on the deck at sunset might sound more appealing, but that’s not what brings couples close. Entrusting your hearts to each other, and regarding that trust as both a lofty honor and a mundane set of daily responsibi­lities – that’s what brings couples close.

Secret-keeping locks your husband out of your marriage.

Now – you don’t “have” to tell him anything (though please tell your OB/GYN if the “emotional exhaustion” persists). For all I know, you have good reasons for locking him out. Maybe you’ve been through enough with him to know you can’t trust him with your heart.

But if that’s the case, it’s a compelling argument for using this sad event as a reckoning, to deal with your distrust of him – certainly before you get pregnant again.

Please know I’m not trying to pile onto your grief (and hormonal flux) with a scolding. I understand and sympathize with the impulse to turn inward. But you didn’t create these hopes alone; likewise, the innermost place to which you’re retreating ought to have room for two.

Dear Carolyn: When is it legitimate for one friend to ask another not to associate with someone? Some of my friends have gotten into arguments with each other and asked me not to have anything to do with the other person. At first I was stuck on whether their requests were reasonable, but now I feel angry that they’re even asking this of me.

Drama City

Drama City: Justifiabl­y so. I believe friends have grounds to ask your loyalty in only one case: when someone causes them deliberate and life-altering harm (e.g., emotional abuse counts, a snub doesn’t). But even then, the way you show that loyalty isn’t their call, it’s yours.

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