We all know the old adage that “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.” But if you’re expecting a baby, you may feel like you and your partner are not just on different planets, but in different galaxies! While you’ve become preoccupied with all things baby, his mind may be in a completely different place. In the effort to help prepare men to make the transition into fatherhood, we must first work to break down barriers.
• Remember that he is NOT Superman! Let’s face it ladies, there are many of us who secretly want a knight in shining armor to carry us over the threshold, but real life is not a fairy tale. The pressure to be strong and unwavering emotionally is very real for many men. And while it was a positive change when fathers began to be present at birth in the 1970’s, this change also added more pressure to men in our society. Many expectant fathers feel extremely ill-equipped to enter the realm of childbirth, a space that was solely occupied by women up until recently. The expectant mother often doesn’t realize that maybe she, too, is subtly putting pressure on her partner to be the perfect husband/father/childbirth coach.
If you’re pregnant, I would encourage you to step back and take some time to examine the expectations you have of her partner, specifically when it comes to your pregnancy and birth. A continuous feeling of disappointment towards him is often a telltale sign that you may have unrealistic expectations of him. And if you’re feeling especially brave, consider asking him, “Do you feel like I have unrealistic expectations of you right now?” This kind of honesty has the potential to facilitate wonderful growth in a relationship.
• Meet him where he’s at. A surefire way to send your husband running for the hills is to hand him a tall stack of pregnancy books! Maybe there are a few dads-to-be out there who eagerly pursue reading every birth book they can get their hands on, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. Instead of overloading him with information, I suggest you gently open up the door to dialogue with your partner. Find a time when you’re both relaxed and ask him how he currently feels about the pregnancy and upcoming birth. Regardless of what he’s feeling, affirm that there are no “wrong” emotions and offer him your love and encouragement as you’re preparing for this big transition in your life and relationship.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this series next month!
By Expert Mommy, Sarah Baker