Stress is probably at an all-time high in your home right now if you recently found out you will be a first time dad. You probably didn’t think you could feel so many different emotions all at once. I was scared and excited, anxious and happy all at the same time. If you are feeling all these different emotions, imagine the emotions your spouse is going through. She is already more in tune with her emotional side than you are, and now with the increased hormonal chaos, those emotions are about to roller coaster all over the place. So how do you handle this time of your life when you and your spouse are awash with emotions?
There are three important concepts that I think every first time dad should understand about this time, and they will be discussed below.
#1 – Slow Your Reaction
With stress and anxiety at all-time highs, patience will be at an all-time low. You and your spouse are experiencing something completely new, which is exciting and scary at the same time. Train yourself to slow your reaction to what confronts you. I am not talking about delaying your defensive driving reaction or evasive maneuver reaction. By slowing your reaction, I mean slowing how you respond to things your wife says or does. It is natural to jump to the defense of yourself or your actions/words. But in this heightened state of emotions, slow that reaction and think about your responses and actions carefully.
For example, here is a typical scenario from my wife’s third trimester. It was hot outside, she was craving random food that we didn’t have in our pantry, I was tired from a long and particularly stressful day at work, and we were dealing with financial stresses involving getting ready for a baby and finding a tenant for a rental property that we can’t afford to pay for if it is vacant. An argument could have erupted from just about anywhere, about anything. Topics like the temperature of our house, the comfort (or lack thereof) of our bed, our pantry’s food supply, and my lack of support were frequent topics of contention.
The key is to remember to diffuse the situation. It’s all about being humble. Think to yourself that your spouse is always right, and more often than not she is anyway. Slow the reaction to be defensive. Think about your response carefully. Think about the raging hormones coursing through your spouse’s veins. Say to yourself ‘she isn’t behaving normally, and arguing with this aberration of her isn’t worth it.’ She probably knows she is being overly sensitive, overbearing, and impatient, so going along and giving in will win you some serious points, and really show that even when she behaves like a succubus, you still love her for who you know her to be.
#2 – Support With Praise
We all know that women love to hear how great/skinny/sexy/smart/funny they are on a regular basis. Even if they protest your praise, they secretly love to hear it. Fellas, this is the time to really lay it on thick. Some may argue that there is a point that it becomes too much, or even creepy. But I disagree. I tend to be in the camp that women are never satisfied with verbal praise.
Tell her regularly how she has a different ‘pregnant glow’ about her. I don’t know what it is about this ‘pregnant glow’ thing they talk about, but it is a big deal. So even if you don’t really see a ‘glow,’ tell her she has it.
Refrain from commenting on her stretch marks, cankles, or anything else that has to do with gaining weight. I mentioned above that she will be in a heightened state of sensitivity, so just don’t mention anything in this category. Even if you think it is a positive thing to mention, like the fact that her boobs keep getting bigger, just keep it to yourself. Keep everything positive, even if she bombards you with questions like ‘do I have cankles?’ or ‘are my stretch marks bad?’ Lie if you have to. She knows you’re lying, but she will appreciate your attempt to keep things positive.
#3 – Support With Action
We all hate people who say things, but don’t do things. Back up your words of support with actions that support her. Remember that this is probably the most uncomfortable time in her life. It is hard for her to be comfortable anywhere besides a swimming pool, it is probably always too hot (even in the winter), and she is always hungry for food you don’t have on hand. Early on, she might be suffering with morning sickness, so nothing sounds good to eat, and any food you cook or eat might send her heaving to the toilet.
This is an important time to step up your game gentlemen. By stepping up your game, I mean doing things for your spouse. Choose to act. Here are some great things that you can do for her during this particularly rugged time:
- Fix meals
- Clean the house
- Wash the dishes
- Go grocery shopping
- Back rubs, foot rubs, and massages
Basically, this list comprises of all the household chores that she might be doing all of, or you might be already helping out with. Just do all of the chores. Don’t wait for her to ask you or for messes to pile up or for the fridge to be empty. She will notice these acts of service and will greatly appreciate your efforts to help out.
Keep in mind that your spouse got the short end of the stick when it comes to bringing a new baby into this world. She gets stuck with carrying the baby for 9 months, dealing with the cravings, hormones, pains, and discomforts associated with carrying it, birthing the baby, and taking care of roughly 95% of its needs once it is born for at least a year. We really have nothing to contribute, which is why it is our job to support her as much as possible. Remember to slow your reaction, support her with praise and support her with actions through those trying 9 months and beyond. She will see you as a real man, which you will be if you step up and support her the best that you can. Good luck-