These nine months come with ups and downs, but all of it can be an opportunity to fall more in love.
1Share with each other what you're learning and how you're feeling.
Good communication is the foundation of great marriages, and becoming a mother and father is a transition so life-changing that it will need both of your best efforts to stay on the same page. When you’re pregnant, so many decisions seem to be only up to the mother, from birth classes to nursery decor, which can leave fathers feeling uninvolved. Keep him in the loop about the decision-making and planning so you’re a united team from the start.
Tell him about what you’re reading and learning. Talk through together the pros and cons of different birth classes or delivering at different hospitals. Make a March Madness-style bracket to decide on a baby name. If he’d like to do his own self-education to prepare for the birth, The Birth Partner is a great place to start.
Don’t forget that listening goes both ways. Even if he’s overjoyed to become a father, he also may be struggling with worry or fear about taking on such an enormous role and how it will affect your relationship. It’s only natural to be anxious about a big change, no matter how much you want it to happen. As much as possible, try to acknowledge and affirm each other’s feelings. Even just saying the words, “I’m so excited about this baby but I’m having a hard time with all these changes. Do you ever feel this way?” can help enormously, as you give each other permission to share all of your feelings, both positive and negative, forging a closer and more authentic bond.
Another reason to keep open channels of communication at all times is that he can’t help you if he doesn’t know what you’re going through. Whether it’s asking him to help pull off the compression stockings on your swollen legs or to push on your back during labor contractions, there are countless occasions in pregnancy when his help will be invaluable. Communicating clearly about how he can help is an act of kindness to both of you, as most men have a desire to fix problems for those they love.
2Be aware of each other's unspoken expectations.
Unspoken expectations are a little-known but common obstacle for new parents, as you each bring ideas and assumptions based on the way your own parents did things. You might have different expectations about who and when to first tell about the pregnancy, who will be the godparents, who will handle different aspects of baby care, your husband’s role in the birth, and many other things.
Unspoken expectations only set people up for disappointment, so head them off at the pass. Chat about your expectations for the pregnancy and birth, but more importantly, give each other the freedom to respond to this time on your own terms. It might not look exactly as you initially imagined, but chances are the reality will be even better.
Don’t forget to focus together on the joy and excitement of this time. You might ask each other things like, “What are you most excited about for becoming a parent? What do you imagine a great family weekend will look like a year from now?” Speaking aloud these dreams and expectations helps you know where your spouse is coming from as you move forward.
3Take time to connect, flirt, and have fun with each other.
Talking about, thinking about, and preparing for baby might be taking up a lot of your waking hours. Give yourselves a break from talking about the baby and connect as a couple in love, enjoying each other, and making the most of your time alone together before baby arrives. Playful, unhurried time together refreshes your relationship and yourselves.
Of course, no one feels very flirty when you’re nauseated all day or your third-trimester belly feels cumbersome. But the challenges of pregnancy are an opportunity to connect on a deeper level. Letting your husband know how much his help means to you strengthens your relationship, and encourages him as he loves you in a self-sacrificial and Christ-like way. This kind of intimacy is as important as lighthearted connection, and prepares your hearts for the sacrifices of being parents.
Pregnancy includes good times and bad times, like marriage and life itself. Loving each other and listening to each other during these months will bring you closer together than ever, so you’re prepared to face the new adventure of parenting side by side.
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