To maintain a healthy relationship during your pregnancy, it’s important for both of you to maintain your individuality and routines as well as your identity as a couple. Having a baby shouldn’t mean losing your personal style or sacrificing what makes you happy—and men sometimes need reassurance of this. They need to feel secure that although many things will change when the baby comes, some things will not. You may find it useful to talk explicitly about how the two of you can continue to enjoy private time together as well as your precious “me time” apart.
It’s important to keep in mind that the challenges you face in your relationship won’t disappear because you’re pregnant. On the contrary, the physical, hormonal, and logistical changes you are going through can magnify “hot-button” issues. Starting a family can make a good relationship great, but it can also make a shaky relationship shakier.
Whatever problems you are grappling with as a couple, it is important to address them before the baby arrives—either on your own or with the help of a marriage counselor. How to find the right professional? You may have a friend who can recommend someone, if not, consider contacting either the Association of Black Psychologists or the American Psychological Association. These organizations can provide you with a list of therapists in your area.
Children are like sponges, soak them in your love
Children need to grow up surrounded by adults who treat each other with love and respect and provide a loving environment for them. Please understand—by loving we don’t mean you need to be on top of each other every moment of the day! But it is very important to create a general vibe of mutual attraction, interest, consideration, admiration, and so on. Children are sponges, internalizing the principles of love based on what they experience every day—and you will be the two most important people in your baby’s life. Both of you need to think about the messages your child will glean from watching you. Will he or she grow up understanding how a man is supposed to treat and love a woman, and how a woman is supposed to treat and love a man? These important life lessons will serve as reference points for the rest of your little one’s life. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child’s earliest experiences of love and family.
Obliterate the achievement gap
It’s worth taking a few minutes to think about how fortunate you—and your baby—are to be part of an intact family. Many of us may have been raised by single parents and live well to tell about it. Studies have shown that a disproportionate number of children reared in single-family homes end up on the wrong side of the achievement gap. Specifically, children who grow up without their fathers tend to have the following:
- Less academic success
- Behavior and psychological problems
- Sexual relationships at earlier ages
- Less economic well-being in adulthood
- Less physical and psychological well-being as adults
Again, many of us are great examples of how it doesn’t have to be that way. But armed with this knowledge, you and that man of yours may be inspired to reinforce your commitment to each other as a gift to the new human being you’ve created from love. Pledge that you will both be there for him always because you know his future depends on it. Fortify him with what he needs so that he will grow into a strong, intelligent, loving person capable of creating his own united black family. Let’s obliterate this achievement gap.
An excerpt from Allen-Campbell, Yvette and Greenidge-Hewitt, Suzanne MD: Black, Pregnant & Loving It. Salem, Massachusetts: Page Street Publishers, 2016