I am driving him up the wall

Published: Monday | March 9, 2009

Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer

POSITIVE Parenting

The responsibility that a pregnant woman has for her unborn baby can be so intense that it almost makes her feel alone and misunderstood by her husband. At least, this is what I had been going through, without even realising it, until recently.

My day would pass with me being all happy and positive, getting my work done conscientiously and slipping in a little exercise between it all. However, the moment my honey husband (because, really, that is what he is) walked in the door, I'd get in a strop with him. I was aware that my mood would change, but couldn't put my finger on the why. Everything he did annoyed me and it ticked me off that he wasn't experiencing the same things as me. All he was concerned about was getting a baby and I was just the carrier. He didn't care about me or the physical strain my body was in. By summer time he'd have a son, but never mind how that was coming about!

Thinking about my safety

I even remember the evening of the big fire in Jack's Hill, a month ago. I was angry and resentful of him for not packing up the house and driving me as far away from danger as possible. The mere fact that we could see the flames half a mile from our home should have been enough for him to act. I, on the other hand, had a little overnight case ready with passport, my dog leashes, a change of clothes and my cricket tickets! Honestly, the only thing that stopped me from driving out that night was my sense of commitment to the marriage vows we'd made almost one year ago. However, I had an escape plan in my head. There was no way I was going to let my dogs and my unborn child burn to death. If the fire came any closer, I'd be gone in a flash. With or without spouse!

Over the next day or so, I reached the point of complete exasperation. I could not continue living with a man who was so selfish and who clearly did not love me enough. Something stopped me from leaving though. The need to keep my family together forced me to think about what was going wrong and to talk to the man I was still madly in love with. I began to recognise that I had been overreacting and, in the last few months, had been slowly pushing him away with my unreasonable demands and expectations of him. He was as exasperated as I was, but had been silent about it. This, in turn, was frustrating me and lo and behold the breakdown of true communication was driving a wedge between us. How easy it is for a marriage to end, I thought. What a scary prospect.

Coincidentally, I received an email from a Gleaner reader right after that weekend. It said:

"I like your columns very much and as my wife is pregnant I have really enjoyed your present series.

My problem and it is a big one, is that my wife whom I love with all my heart is nagging me to death. It has got so that I dread going home in the evening as I am never sure what she is going to yell at me for. No matter what I do it is never enough, either I do not do it as she thinks it should be done, I am doing too much or else I should be doing something else ... you get the picture? I am at my wits' end, where should I turn for help? Her mother is a gem and she actually sympathises with me in my dilemma. I have thought about suggesting marriage guidance but I am not sure how to bring up the subject. Please help."

My reply went as follows:

"I am so sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. My husband would sympathise with you!! My mother has had to calm me down on more than one occasion, and it really has made me realise that I've been awful at times. I will write an article pertainingto this, as I think it could really help people. It is the hormones, but it's more than this. As a woman who is pregnant, there is tremendous pressure to ensure that the baby is safe from the moment of conception until birth. You dads cannot really do anything, nor can you fully understand what it is like for us. This is NOT your fault, though. What I find that helps me is for my husband just to grab me and give me the tightest hug. Try this with your wife, but while you do, tell her that you realise that you don't understand everything that she is going through, but if she ever wants to talk about it then you will listen. To be honest, it is difficult to put into words how a woman feels when she is carrying a baby - and, as I said, it's more than hormones. I know what you are going through - you are at the point where you are wondering if your marriage will last."

He wrote back:

"You cannot imagine how I felt when I saw your email. I am so glad you replied.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

So, to all you potential fathers out there. We want you to understand us and what we are going through and, if you can't, then please hold us and love us.

The truth is, ladies who are in my state, we have to give our men a break. I know how difficult it is to empathise with their side of the story, but we must stop driving them up the wall. We're going to need them to have their feet on the ground right beside us once our babies are born!