Most of my pregnant patients tell me that they have conflicts with their partner at some point in their pregnancy and my response is to say that I would be shocked if they didn’t!
Pregnancy seems like the perfect set-up for misunderstandings, resentments, and miscommunication. There are many reasons why, which include the fact that you are pregnant and he/she isn’t, you are likely experiencing mood swings due to hormone fluctuations and he or she isn’t, you may well be experiencing unpleasant symptoms such as nausea/vomiting or fatigue and he or she isn’t, and you may feel out of control of your body and he or she isn’t.
Any time members of a couple have different experiences, it can lead to disagreements. Which is why pregnancy is a set-up for conflict. Here are some things you need to keep in mind in an effort to keep the peace.
Keeping the peace during pregnancy
1. Pregnancy is real for you, but not your partner. Your body feels different but your partner’s body remains the same. You are reminded constantly that you are expecting, but your partner isn’t. So in effect, your pregnancy is a concrete real phenomenon for you, but it is totally abstract for your partner, at least until you start showing and the baby’s kicks can be felt from the outside.
2. Woman and men may have different concerns about the pregnancy. You may well be more focused on how you feel and the health of the baby, while your partner may worry more about the financial impact of a new baby.
3. Your partner might actually be feeling jealous. You are getting a lot of attention during your pregnancy and the baby will be your main focus once it is born. Your partner might well be worrying about his or her role in your life.
4. You might be experiencing resentment toward your partner. You have likely had to alter your health habits while pregnant, and he or she hasn’t. Although many partners initially promise to follow the same habits that you have to, many times those promises don’t last. It can be really frustrating to watch your partner order that cup of coffee you are craving, or down a couple of beers when hanging with friends.
Read more: Why pregnancy sex is so important
The solution to these challenges is to aim for effective communication. This is a great time for the two of you to learn how to talk when one or both of you are feeling upset or angry. The key is not to place blame on the other, but to feel safe in expressing why you are upset. So here is an example:
Situation: you are exhausted from working all day and there is no way you feel able to make dinner.
What not to say: I am tired, you aren’t, and so you have to make dinner for us both.
Suggested response: I am exhausted and know that you might be feeling tired as well, but would you mind making dinner for us tonight? If not, can we order a pizza or something easy?
You both want to focus on empathy, which means in effect trying to understand where your partner is coming from, how he or she is feeling, and why. Stay away from blame and should/have to statements.