[I wrote this article for Nick McDonald's old blog, a site geared principally for young men growing in their faith. His new blog, Scribblepreach, explores theology, faith, the church and what it means to serve God.]
Advice for Those Married to Pregnant People
Ever been married to a pregnant person? I have. Still am, as a matter of fact. Married to her, that is, not that she’s still pregnant. I remember some of the pregnant life vividly, and one moment always stands out when I think back to those times a couple decades ago. But first let me tell you about an article I just read.
What Not to Say to a Pregnant Person
I found this enlightening article about the things pregnant women hear from friends, family and complete strangers. Here are some excerpts:
Size –”Did you swallow a watermelon,” ”You can’t birth a toddler,” “You sure it isn’t twins?” and “Wow! You’re HUGE! Have you got a litter in there??”
Age (looking young) – “I had an old woman in Kroger ask me ‘Do your parents know you are pregnant?’ Totally serious. My fingers were too swollen to wear my wedding bands, so she just assumed I was an unwed teenage mother in need of a pre-birth intervention.”
Age (looking old) – “I was 37 yrs. old and dressed in what I thought was a pretty cute maternity outfit. When I went to the register to pay for my items, the clerk asked me if I was purchasing the items for my grandson. Ugh!”
Family – “My grandmother: ‘I carried my babies like a basketball all in front, I didn’t get big all over like you.’”
Free Medical Advice – “I had a teenage girl at Wendy’s refuse to sell me a Diet Coke, and then proceed to lecture me on the dangers of diet soda and pregnancy.”
Paid Medical Advice – “The worst was when a nurse in my Dr.’s office told me that I had to be lying about exclusively breastfeeding my daughter because there was no way I could be pregnant again if I had.”
Pretty bad, right? I’ve got all of them beat.
What Not to Say to the Pregnant Person You’re Married To
Our son was born 22 years ago, and our daughter 2 years after that. I remember when my wife went into labor that first time as if it were yesterday. She woke me at 1:00 in the morning and told me her water broke. Having paid attention during our birthing classes, I knew to ask how far apart the contractions were. She said they were far apart, so I confidently, although sleepily, told her “I’ll be a lot more use to you if I get some more rest. Wake me when they are closer together.” I proceeded then to go back to sleep.
And she let me.
You might be thinking, “Tim, you should be thankful you’re still married, let alone that you went on to have another kid.” I agree, although I don’t think it’s really a matter of Liz overlooking that extremely poor sleep-addled decision I made that night. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a true blessing in my life, as are both our kids. But my thankfulness for her and them is that, despite the fact that all four of us have made our share of poor decisions over the years, God has blessed us into being one of the best families I know. I think I know how he did it too, at least in part.
It’s What You Say after the Pregnancy
Except for falling asleep on her as she went into labor that first time, I found it pretty easy to do the supportive things for Liz when she was pregnant with both our kids. Whatever she needed, I was on it. And, as you might have guessed, by the time she was nearing the end of her pregnancy with Jenna I had also learned not to go back to sleep when delivery was imminent.
But it’s after the kids were born that the real support began. A baby in the womb is fed and carried and grows. Once outside, it takes more effort to nurture them: feeding, changing, bathing, cuddling, dressing. All these things and more take a ton more effort.
So what is it you say to them after the child is born?
You say “Yes.”
That’s what you say: Yes.
Yes, I’ll change the diaper.
Yes, I’ll cook dinner.
Yes, I’ll run to the store.
Yes, I’ll come home early from work today.
Yes, I’ll _____________.
Because the Bible says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” and “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” (Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19.)
Is “No” ever an acceptable response? Sure, at times, but if you ever say “No” in a situation where “Yes” is called for, if you ever say “No” harshly, if you ever say “No” in order to keep yourself for yourself instead of giving yourself up for your wife, then – as soon as possible – change it to “Yes”.
That’s what you say.