For most couples, the relationship begins long before the pregnancy. While this is not always the case, there seems to be great virtue in developing a connection with a partner before sharing the responsibility of a child with him or her. That said, there is no law on the books that prohibits the conception of a child before a marriage. Indeed, some of the healthiest relationships on the books – child included – may exist without the formality of marriage certificate. But here is the reality of the situation. Partners will experience difficult during the pregnancy. It is inevitable. Pregnant and having relationship problems is a refrain sung by many sharing a marital bond. There is help of course. Counselors, medical doctors, ministers and the like stand ready to help the troubled couple through the difficult spaces.
It begins with a blue stick
In order to broach the subject of marriage problems during pregnancy, it is important to acknowledge that joy typically proceeds the trouble. Most couples are quite excited when the moment arrives that the pregnancy test indicates that junior is on the way. For couples that have been “trying for a pregnancy,” the knowledge that copulation has been successful triggers feelings of both euphoria and terror. The news of pregnancy may bring excitement to the union. There may be thousands of questions to ponder. A trillion people to tell about the good news. But then reality hits. Many pregnant women become “sick as dogs” amid the first trimester of the pregnancy. Sickness may include intense nausea, fatigue, tearful spells, aches, pains, and moodiness.While the partners may be walking on emotional high ground, there may be a heap of eggshells beneath their feet.
With the arrival of the second trimester, the couple may realize, “this is for real.” While the sickness may be gone and the flood of hormones may have stabilized, the euphoria of the good news may have subsided, too. The second trimester tends to be “fertile ground” for the rise of marital problems.
Significant marriage issues during pregnancy
The range of marriage problems during a pregnancy can be quite expansive. These relational problems can range from the ‘significantly easy to resolve issues’ to ones that prove to be quite damaging to the long-term health of the union. Examples of common problems include:
- Pre-natal depression: Communication can become quite strained between partners when one or more partners is wrestling with depression. While the underlying causes of depression can be quite sweeping, understanding why wife or husband is dealing with depressive tendencies is an important avenue that could benefit the couple over the long run.
- Intimacy: As the child continues to develop within the expectant mother, so does the abdomen of the woman carrying the child. Sadly, when many pregnant women gaze at their figure in the mirror, the fat, stretch marks, and blotchy skin they despair. This may in turn stoke feelings of undesirability. Beyond concerns about being too undesirable for intimacy, some women may not want to be touched at all. Interestingly, many fathers carry the fear that sexual intimacy will end up harming the baby in some way. In turn, the mama may feel even more unattractive to her mate, and the despair may deepen in some way.
- The lime-light effect: The reality is this: A pregnant woman garners a whole lot of attention through the course of the pregnancy. A father, especially one with a fragile ego, may be forced to play second fiddle while his wife continues down the road of pregnancy. It seems kind of petty, but some men can become quite jealous and resentful of the lack of constant attention. Inevitably the strain of the Lime-light effect sullies the quality of the entire relationship.
- Decline in communication and understanding: In the busyness connected with the upkeep of household responsibilities, work demands, and the ebb and flow of prenatal care, many couples often just do not communicate effectively during. Statements are misinterpreted. Passive-aggressiveness may flare. It can be very rough.
- Financial burdens: More mouths at the table. A bigger house needed for a growing family. College savings, sports team, etc. The increased financial pressures that arrive with a child can be quite burdensome. Healthy couples have to find a way to push through the issues.
Resolving the ugly stuff
Only you and your partner know the complexities of the issues you face during pregnancy. Without a doubt, caring for a child is an enormous responsibility. There will be significant adjustments to family life when the child arrives. There will be substantial costs associated with the arrival of the child and subsequent children. Bottles, clothes, dirty diapers, vomit, and the like can test the resolve of even the most strident of heart. That is why it remains so important for partners to find avenues of self and relational care throughout the course of the pregnancy and beyond. Possible avenues for care include hearty counseling, a normalized exercise regime, connection with a support group, and couples retreats. Although all the aches and pains of marriage do not have to be resolved before the birth of a child, a good trajectory is so very important.
Final thoughts about your precious gift
If you desire a strong relationship during pregnancy and beyond it, look at everyday as a precious gift. Challenge yourself to see your partner, your family, and the new day as opportunities to grow in wisdom, patience and hope. Find opportunities to express your joys and concerns with your partner in a pattern that is open and expressive without hurting the other.
If you find yourself at an emotional impasse, do not hesitate to call others for support, advice, emotional safety, and space. For mothers reading this piece, do not neglect your self-care and the care of the child you are carrying. Stress, anxiety, and depression will impact your unborn child. Take steps now to ensure that your body, mind, and soul are at their best so that your bundle of joy can arrive healthy and whole.