Pregnancy is a weird time for a marriage. It might start with ecstatic joy (or it might not) and it will almost certainly involve months of stress, anticipation, eagerness, trepidation, weird hormones, moods, and “body stuff” that neither partner wants to deal with or think about. Still, it’s a time that can bring a couple closer together than they’ve ever been and introduce them to a love they never thought possible…if they can get through all that stress and still be able to stand the sight of each other.
In the spirit of promoting all that lovey-dovey goodness and minimizing the relationship-testing awfulness, here are my guidelines to dealing with a pregnant spouse, from my own experience as a twice-over pregnant lady and the many, many unsolicited tales of woe I’ve heard from my knocked up peers.
- We’re Sexy, Not Cute
Save your baby talk and coos for the sight of your newborn child, not the sight of your wife’s growing midsection. I know it’s something of a cliche to believe that men always want sex and women (especially mothers) are not interested, but more often than not on the pregnancy forums I frequent it’s the pregnant ladies feeling like their needs are being neglected by an overly-baby-conscious spouse. When your partner is riding a second trimester hormone high and can’t stop hitting on you, “your bump is so cute!” is the last thing she wants to hear. Try not to look at her as a baby incubator and focus on her as a person. A sexy, particularly curvy person who is probably way more into you now than she will be once that baby is out in the open and making everyone sleep-deprived and cranky. Make the most of it.
- We worry all the time
I’m not saying the person carrying the baby is the only one that worries (or over-worries), but I do believe that partners rarely experience it to the degree that mothers do. When I text my husband after every midwife appointment to say that baby is still growing and its heart is still beating, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realize that I had myself at least half convinced that I would be getting bad news rather than the same old reassurances I typically get at every appointment. You should know that for every worry spoken out loud, there are likely ten bouncing around in her head that she doesn’t even want to acknowledge. So don’t belittle or dismiss out of hand the ones that are shared with you. Just understand, support, and make sure she knows that if anything does go wrong, you’re there for her and your child.
- Comments about size are not welcome
We all know a few jokester husbands who will gladly tease and rib on their pregnant wives about their rapid bodily expansion. Yet I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who enjoyed being compared to a house, whale, cow, or manatee. Maybe you’re just playing around, or maybe you even enjoy that your wife has transformed into a majestic sea cow. But these are inside thoughts. They do not belong in her ear, and they certainly don’t belong on her Facebook page.
- Tears are not a manipulation tactic
We’ve all been there: you’re having a serious talk with somebody, maybe there’s a bit of conflict or disagreement, and then suddenly they’re in tears and everything is blown out of proportion and the whole conversation is off the rails. Frustrating, right? Unfortunately conversations like this are all the more common when one of you is on the hormonal, frequently sleep-deprived roller coaster ride of pregnancy. Try not to take it personally or get angry. Have you ever tried to cry on command? Unless your wife is literally Meryl Streep, it’s pretty unlikely that she’s summoned the waterworks just for dramatic flair. Feelings need to be respected even when they’re unreasonable. Just give her a hug, let her calm down, and talk later. Or maybe text later. It’s easier to cry and text than to cry and talk.
- Just ignore the farts
For everyone’s sake, can’t we just blame the dog?