She Said, He Said: There’s no mandate to impregnate; have kids when you’re ready, not your parents
She Said, He Said
Dear Jeff and Lori,
My wife and I are in our early 30s and everyone thinks we should be working on getting pregnant except for me. Our parents are constantly bringing up how much they want grandbabies, and starting to scare my wife about “waiting too long.” She has recently said she’s ready to start trying, but as much as I love her, I’m not sure she’s ready to be a mom. She loves her freedom of coming and going, staying out at night and sleeping in late, and hates doing housework. I’m worried if we have a kid, all the responsibility will fall on me. She says she’ll change when we get pregnant, but I’m not so sure. How do I get everyone to slow down?
Not Ready to be a Dad
Jeff: I think the more important question is whether you are ready to have kids. If you are, this might be more of a trust issue with your wife — she says she’ll change but you don’t believe her. Has she let you down by not living up to her word before? Is this a deeper issue between the two of you that needs to be addressed before you take the plunge into parenthood?
If you’re not ready, then stop projecting your resistance and hesitancy onto your wife as a way to drag your feet until you are ready. With a kid, your life will certainly change and you will be saddled with a lot more responsibility, even with the equal participation of your wife. Trusting that she will step up and take on her share of the burden will do wonders for your relationship. Your doubt and ambivalence in her ability to show up could be the start to a cyclone that will erode your marriage from the inside out.
While the question of whether you’re ready to have kids may not be an easy one to answer, especially with all the external pressure, being honest with yourself will give you a much clearer picture of the overall dynamic and help you decide.
Lori: Step one: Breathe. It sounds as though everyone in the family is really good at advocating for their wants, except perhaps you. Don’t let their desires and excitement be seen as anything but that — there’s no mandate for you to impregnate. Step two: Explore what’s really driving her to want a baby now. The reality is that it can be really hard for women in their late 20s and 30s to navigate the social expectations and “ticking clock” associated with becoming a mom. Not only is she feeling pressure from her and your parents, but she likely also has close friends starting families. Many men don’t realize how women’s friendships are affected when babies enter the picture. When women have kids concurrently, there’s immense bonding over the journey of parenting together, but when you’re babe-less in a group of mom friends, it’s easy to feel left behind. Help her explore “Why now?” Step three: Decide what you need to feel confident in starting a family. Create a three-month trial run of a baby-focused routine and see how each of you manage. This isn’t a test she can pass or fail, but rather a way for both of you to know where you excel and where you may need more time or effort to prepare.
Lori and Jeff: You both need to get on the same page about the timing and readiness to have a kid so that you can weather the storm of pressure put on you by your collective want-to-be-grandparents.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.
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