Pregnancy is one of the most wondrous times in a couple’s relationship. Paradoxically, it can be a time riddled with challenges and unique conflicts.
My husband and I know from our experience and from what other couples have shared with us that there are some topics that almost inevitably cause some degree of conflict during pregnancy.
It doesn’t take long after a positive pregnancy test for you to realize that having a baby is expensive! In addition to healthcare expenses and baby supplies, most couples are faced with questions about making it on one income or affording daycare. The single biggest challenge my husband and I have faced so far is reworking our budget so we’ll be able to make ends meet on his income alone.
Tips for working through financial concerns
- Remember that babies don’t need much. The companies that manufacture baby supplies try to convince you otherwise, but babies only need the basics: a car seat, something to eat (breast milk is free!), somewhere to sleep, diapers, etc.
- Make a list of what you need and determine which items you can get on sale, at thrift stores, and on craigslist.
- If you’ll be switching to one income or spending money each month on supplies like diapers, adjust your spending now so you can get used to the changes.
- Read these tips on talking about money with your spouse and affording maternity clothes.
Changes in physical intimacy
To be perfectly honest, it’s hard to feel attractive when you feel like a beached whale. A growing tummy and other physical changes, including round ligament pain and fatigue, can decrease a wife’s interest in sex. Both husbands and wives can feel anxiety about sex because of fears the baby could be harmed.
Tips for handling changes in physical intimacy
- Discuss concerns about the baby’s safety with your doctor or midwife.
- Discuss your feelings about your changing intimacy.
- Plan ahead so you can have sex at a time when fatigue or other symptoms (e.g., round ligament pain, nausea) may be less of an issue.
- Engage in intimate activities other than intercourse (massage, cuddling, etc.).
The husband’s limited role
Because the wife carries the baby, sometimes it seems like the husband isn’t doing much. My husband didn’t suffer from morning sickness, he doesn’t have to wake in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and he hasn’t outgrown all of his clothes! The husband’s limited role can make the wife feel burdened and the husband feel left out.
Tips for expanding the husband’s limited role
- Try to schedule OB or midwife visits at times when the expectant father can attend.
- If friends or family members are hosting a baby shower, consider requesting a coed shower so the expectant father can participate.
- The expectant father can begin bonding with the baby by reading books to the baby, painting the nursery, shopping for the baby, etc.
Choosing a name
When you begin discussing what to name the baby, all sorts of issues can come up: family history, religious beliefs, past experiences, culture, etc. Trivial disagreements about a name can create a lot of tension.
Tips for peacefully choosing a baby name
- Remember that parenthood is a shared duty and privilege. Learning to compromise on a name is good practice for other debates, such as discipline, that may require compromise in the future.
- Discuss your goals for naming the baby. Are you concerned with the meaning of the name? Is the sound of the name most important? Does it matter if the name is popular or not? Getting to the bottom of your motivations can help you understand why your spouse likes particular names.
- Work together to compile a list of names that you absolutely aren’t willing to name your child. Be respectful of your spouse’s preferences (i.e., you may like a name that your spouse isn’t willing to use—be tolerant of this). Then move on to names you’d like to use.
It has helped us to remember that having a strong marriage is one of the best things we can do for our child. Setting aside time to pray together and to do some fun, relaxing activities has been critical in helping us maintain our relationship in the face of these challenges.
What conflicts have you and your spouse faced during pregnancy? How did you overcome these?