When I first became pregnant with my son, I had a very clear picture of how things were going to be. This experience had all the makings of success: planned pregnancy, happy marriage, financial stability. Not only was I going to glow and gain weight with grace, but everything about this pregnancy was going to go perfectly. I had a vision of my husband and I gazing at each other across the dinner table as we marveled in wonder over the life we had created.
Ah, reality. Slaps you in the face every time. I neither glowed nor gained weight with grace—an article for another time—and my husband and I certainly weren’t gazing at each other. Glaring, perhaps, but that’s not exactly the kind of eye contact I had hoped for.
Suddenly our “happy” marriage was full of stress and arguments. We were both miserable a good portion of the time. Like many other couples, there were five factors weighing us down. Allow me to introduce you to these common ways pregnancy can wreak havoc on a healthy relationship.
Pregnancy hormones are a real and terrible thing. Expectant moms tend to experience very high highs and very low lows, and dads-to-be are often overwhelmed with stress: not a great combination. This combative pairing alone is enough to cause a fair amount of strife in a relationship, but combine it with a few of these other elements and you have a recipe for disaster.
Some moms-to-be simply aren’t in the mood for lovin’, and some are advised to abstain from sex due to a high risk pregnancy. On the guys’ side, fear of hurting the baby during intercourse is frequently reported. And let’s be honest: Toward the end, it can be downright uncomfortable to get it on due to your increased girth.
Waiting on a baby is a highly stressful time. There’s a lot to do (doctors to visit, nurseries to decorate, registries to create), and there’s also a lot of responsibility on your plate—you’re about to become parents to a tiny little human, after all. When people feel overwhelmed, they tend to argue—and there’s a good chance you’ll both be feeling a bit overwhelmed at one point or another during pregnancy’s nine-month span.
Remember that financial stability I mentioned earlier? A few months in, we found out that having a baby is more expensive than one might initially expect. When those bills started adding up, a little bit of panic set in, and that seems to be a common theme for parents-to-be. Money problems almost always cause strife in a relationship, whether you’re expecting or not, and suddenly having a new person to provide for is no cheap undertaking.
The green-eyed monster
While it can be hard for us gals to understand, men sometimes feel jealous of their partners and their unborn child during pregnancy. Look at it this way: Once upon a time, your guy was probably your one and only. All your love and affection was directed right at him. But that can (and usually does) change when a baby climbs aboard. Suddenly, papa is in the backseat—and he might not like that a whole lot.
If you think your relationship is doomed, don’t panic just yet. Yes, a fair amount of arguing and discontent can be the norm in pregnancy, but most couples come out on the other side feeling stronger than ever. While you have plenty of reasons to argue, you also have one huge reason to come together: your baby.
The first step in salvaging your relationship is simply talking about what’s on your mind. An open line of communication can combat a great deal of trouble. If you’re feeling a certain way, loop in your partner, and let him know that it’s OK for him to share with you too. You need to embrace both the ups and downs of pregnancy together. Set aside time to discuss your feelings and plan for all the adventures ahead. No matter what’s going on, talk about it. A good conversation is good for the soul, and in this case, it’s also good for the parents.
Once you’ve expressed your hopes and fears, it’s important to have them validated. You’re probably both a little scared about the changes taking place in your life, and now is the time to pull together and let your main squeeze know you’re on his side. Your partner’s worries might seem ridiculous to you (or vice versa), but it’s critical to acknowledge that they are a true and real concern for him. Offer steady encouragement and whole-hearted support on all things big and small.
Spending quality time with your partner can be very beneficial to your relationship. If you can manage it, spend 30 minutes together each evening chatting and decompressing over the day’s events. If daily isn’t doable, reserve a “date night” each week, even if it’s just a couple hours at home that allow you to focus solely on each other rather than all the stress and chaos of everyday life. You also have an unparalleled bonding opportunity right now. No one else in the world will love your little one the way you and your partner do. You are a team now more than ever before, and you’re about to conquer the most challenging and rewarding undertaking of coupledom. Pregnancy is a stressful time, but it’s also an amazing, beautiful time. Don’t forget to embrace the wonderment of your every day.
Even with all the tension of expecting a baby, keep in mind that good things are on the horizon. Learning to communicate and work through your problems now will allow you to more easily overcome any parenting-related snafus that arise in the future. You’re about to embark on an amazing journey together. It’s time to feel the love.