Feeling Differently From Your Partner

Question:

“He and I feel so differently about the pregnancy. How do we make a decision?”
“I don’t want to end my pregnancy. I have to. My husband wants me to have the abortion. I don’t. I would keep it. But I have no choice. I want to stay in the marriage. We have two children, 1 and 3 years old. It’s not like I don’t understand how he feels. He had five kids before he met me. Three are in college. He’s a lot older. He’s in his late 50’s. He wants to retire soon. It will be a big strain financially, and it would delay his retirement even more. It’s not like I don’t understand how he feels.”

“We had an abortion a long time ago, when we first met. He was going through his divorce and it wasn’t the right time. But I felt differently then. We were just getting to know each other. When we met, he didn’t want any more children. He was clear about it. We talked about it a lot. I told him how important it was to me to have children and we basically negotiated to have one child. After our first child, I wanted a second, and we talked again. He still didn’t want another child, but he did it for me.”

“Our marriage is very good. He’s a very good father to all of his 7 kids. He’s a very dedicated father. We have a good relationship. This is the first time I’ve really felt our age difference. Otherwise I just don’t think about it. But he’s getting older, he’s tired. I’m not. He’s had seven kids, I’ve had two. I would want more kids. It’s not like I don’t understand how he feels. It would be hard for him financially and he’d have to delay his retirement even more. But now I’m the one who has to go through this. One of us is going to have to do something they don’t want to.”

Response:

Many couples experience conflict going through a decision about ending a pregnancy. Women often feel differently from their partners – she wants to end it, he wants her to keep it; he wants to end it, she would want to keep it if only he were supportive. He feels it’s a straightforward decision, she is in emotional turmoil. He wants to be supportive of her decision, but is afraid to be honest that he doesn’t want a baby. She wants to have a baby, if not now, in the future, but is not sure the relationship is trustworthy and serious.

It’s normal to feel differently than he does. He is not pregnant and doesn’t have to end the pregnancy. He doesn’t have to deal with the day to day reality of being pregnant and continuing a pregnancy. He doesn’t have the same hormones. He doesn’t have the same expectations of being pregnant. Many men feel awkward and at a loss, and don’t know how to respond when you’re feeling so sad. They feel guilty. Let him know that he doesn’t need to feel the same way as you do. Give him direction on how you want him to be around you when you’re feeling so sad. Let him know that you just want him to be there, or to hold you. Let him know you don’t want to be cheered up, or that you do want him to try to cheer you up.

Dealing with an unwanted pregnancy can be an opportunity to get to know each other better. It’s an opportunity to be honest about what you want, where the relationship is at, and what you want to do together. It’s an opportunity to get to know the person you’re in a relationship with. Sometimes learning who the other person is can reinforce your desire to be in a relationship; sometimes their responses can be disappointing. Either way, the situation can help you get closer to the actual person you’re with, rather than idealizing them or the relationship.

Sometimes when we are in the midst of such an important decision, the actual decision seems of utmost importance. It’s important to look at HOW we make decisions. Learning about each other can be a time of growth for you and your relationship. How do the two of us decide things together, as a couple, as a unit? We were a couple when we got into this situation, how do we work as a couple to respond? Are we being honest? Are we listening to each other? Do we really want to get to know the person we are with? Are we doing this together? Can we make decisions together without feeling resentful?

While it is true that ending a pregnancy is your decision to make, we are all highly influenced by how the decision will impact the people we love. As long as the situation is not coercive, it is important to get an honest response from the people you are close to in your life, and to let that influence how you want to proceed. If you make the decision out of love and respect for your relationship, you should not feel resentful about your decision.

 

Other Feelings

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