Blog by Reggie Madison, Relationship Educator
“Honey, what does this “+” sign mean on this stick?”
“It means you’re gonna be a dad.” Whoa!
I immediately have to make a choice, and it may seem easy, but it’s not. The fact is, I’m NOT excited.
This is going against the carefully thought-out plan we concocted so that our child(ren) could have the best life and be in the best position for success while also allowing me and our family to be successful at the same time.
No, I’m still not excited. On the other hand, my wife is jumping through the roof with excitement.
Hold up, did she let this happen on purpose? Do I fake it and join in with her? Am I honest with her? Am I sensitive? Am I real with myself and her or do I let her have her moment?
Fast forward: 11 years and SIX kids later. Yep, six. (None were planned, although some were more of a surprise than others; for instance, conceiving while changing birth control methods). And guess what? My wife and I worked through it all, together and honestly.
Because of my wife’s understanding when I was honest and transparent about my concerns, not just about how life would change, but about my deep resentment that she wanted a baby right then even though I didn’t, we made it through the fears and the guilt.
There are legitimate, deeply personal reasons for not being excited about a pregnancy.
- Concerns about how it will affect the marriage.
- Not where you want to be in your career.
- Financial considerations.
- Effects of pregnancy and childbirth on a woman’s body.
- Just don’t feel ready to be a parent.
The idea that I was wrong for initially feeling rejection toward the baby is damaging. Marriage is intended to be a place where honesty, transparency and reality can take place without judgment. It’s a place where you can handle an emotion personally, without taking the emotion personally (let that sink in). My wife took it personally that I thought she was being selfish and even divisive by wanting the baby. But she quickly realized that my emotions came from a place of fear, guilt and anxiety.
What got us through? We talked. We disagreed. We expressed the strong emotions we had, but we did it together. When outsiders said hurtful things, we told one another and we cared for each other. We acknowledged where both of us were and decided that it was ok, because it was real. But we never forgot that together, we ultimately had what we needed to take on the privileged position of parenthood.
By the way, guess who was the first person to buy a book to read to the baby in the womb? You got it: Me! Now that I think about it, our process may have made us better parents. I can definitely say that it strengthened our marriage.