Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is pregnant. She already has two children from two different dads, but this will be my first child. She seems to have feelings of regret about the whole thing even though we planned this pregnancy for a long time. How can I reassure her that we’re going to be fine and that she is the most important thing in my life right now?
A: In the first year after the birth of a baby, 90 percent of couples have a huge drop off in the quantity and quality of their communication. Half the time it’s permanent. That sad little statistic goes a long way toward explaining why the divorce rate among couples with small children is among the highest of all. Given that your wife has had two children with different fathers, it’s clear to her that having a baby isn’t enough to keep two people together. In fact, in her mind, having a baby may actually be the first step toward the end of a relationship.
Telling your wife that she’s the most important thing in your life is a good first step, but you can’t just say it once or twice and let it go. With the baggage it sounds like your wife may be dragging around, she’s going to need to hear those words on a regular basis. You also need to banish the phrase “right now”—as in “she is the most important thing in my life right now” from your vocabulary. Someone who’s as worried as your wife is will be asking herself, “Sure, I’m important to him now, but what about later?”
If you’ve ever taken a writing workshop you know about the importance of showing over telling. So get ready to start proving that you’re in it for the long haul. How? Well, it seems kind of trite, but some of the most basic approaches are the most successful. For example, calling her a few times a day just to tell her you love her, sending her flirty texts (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, sexts), leaving love notes in her purse or some other place where she’ll find them, bringing home flowers, and planning some getaways. You don’t actually have to go very far or for very long. If you Google “babymoon,” you’ll find a ton of resorts and hotels that have romantic, massage-filled, packages ranging from a long afternoon to a full weekend or longer, and from pretty reasonably priced to insanely expensive.
Okay, that takes care of showing your wife that you love her. But there’s still the issue of demonstrating that having a baby isn’t going to kill your marriage. This is another case of show it don’t tell it. And there are all sorts of ways to make your point. Start by doing some reading. My book, “The Expectant Father,” is a good place to start. If you’ve got friends or relatives with little kids, visit them often and try to get in some baby-holding time. The object is to show your wife that you’re interested in learning everything you can about what it takes be an involved dad. Next, get out your calendar and have her tell you when all her prenatal OB visits are. Then, try to make it to as many of them as you can. Just showing up will be a credibility booster. Bringing along a few questions for the doctor will boost your stock even more. Oh, and while you have your calendar out, schedule a childbirth prep class.