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Pregnancy and an Unsupportive Partner

Man and woman in thought over unplanned pregnancy

If you recently discovered that you are pregnant, especially if this was not planned, your partner may still be in shock over the unexpected news. He may need time to process what is going on and what will be expected of him during the pregnancy and once the baby arrives. There are several reasons why he may be acting distant or unsupportive during this time in your relationship.

  • Fear of Responsibility – Having a baby is a big responsibility for both partners. He may be fearful that he won’t be able to provide enough financially for a baby, or he may be wondering how this change will affect his lifestyle.
  • He’s Not Ready to Share – Your new baby will take up a lot of your time. Your partner may not be ready to share your time, as a couple, with someone else. He may feel like this baby will take your focus away from him. If he is very social or enjoys time to himself, he may wonder how to fit a child’s need for quality-time into this equation.
  • Changes in Your Physical Relationship – If you are struggling with common early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and bloating, you may not feel like being intimate with your partner as much as before the pregnancy. He may be concerned that this will continue throughout the pregnancy or after the baby arrives.
  • A Difficult Childhood – If your partner suffered abuse, neglect, or any significant family challenge as a child, he may be having a hard time processing these memories as he faces parenthood himself.
  • Lack of Role Models – Your partner may be the first in his group of friends to become a father. It is possible that he is concerned that he will not know “how to be a dad”. He may be thinking he is not good enough to be a father to this child.
  • He Doesn’t Know What to Expect – If this is his first baby, he may be feeling overwhelmed or confused by all of the information on pregnancy and parenting. He may be acting unsupportive because he doesn’t know what he should be doing or how he should be helping.

If you feel like any of these reasons may be contributing to the way your partner is acting, try these suggestions before you give up!

  • Give Him Time – If you just recently discovered the pregnancy, he may still be trying to figure out how to navigate supporting this child and the future of your relationship and family. His attitude may change more quickly than you thought.
  • Tell Him Your Feelings – If he is acting distant, he may not know that you need his care and attentiveness even more than usual right now. Speak up and tell him how you feel and what you need. He may surprise you by opening up about his thoughts and feelings as well.
  • Go to Classes Together – The HOPE Center offers a free program called Earn While You Learn. You can come together and participate in individualized lessons on pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. You will be rewarded for your participation with free diapers, wipes, and baby food, and even have the opportunity to earn a free crib or car seat for your baby. If he’d rather learn on his own, there are lots of books available that are geared towards Dad’s role in the pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting process.
  • Bring Him to Your Ultrasound Appointment – Sometimes, seeing his baby through an ultrasound can help your partner feel more connected to him or her. It can also help bring him to terms with the reality of the pregnancy. This is especially helpful during early pregnancy when you may be “feeling pregnant”, but you don’t “look pregnant” yet.
  • Go to Counseling – Counseling is a great way to work through challenges as a couple and make your relationship stronger. The HOPE Center offers free relationship counseling to those facing pregnancy and relationship issues.
  • Encourage Him to Find a Mentor – Encourage him to talk to the men in his life that he looks up to as fathers or husbands. If he doesn’t know anyone like this or feels uncomfortable talking to them, The HOPE Center provides male mentoring through our Men of Hope program. Your partner can meet with one of our male volunteers who has been through fatherhood and difficult life circumstances.  Our volunteers can provide wisdom and help your partner through the challenges he is facing becoming a dad. They are even available to meet at a location where your partner feels comfortable, such as a restaurant or coffee shop.

If your partner is pressuring you to make a decision about the pregnancy that you do not feel comfortable with, or if he is acting in a way that is abusive or threatening, it may be time to end the relationship. Remember that no one can force or coerce you into having an abortion. For more about your rights visit http://thejusticefoundation.org/cafa/.  Additionally, the Cherokee Family Violence Center offers emergency housing and legal help to those who need to escape an abusive relationship or dangerous partner. Call their emergency hotline at 770-479-1703 or visit their website at cfvc.org. If you are not near Cherokee County, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.