Have you ever watched a two-hour movie that should have been ten minutes? I love a good Hallmark movie, so you know I have.
Usually, the plot goes like this:
The main character makes an assumption.
That assumption turns out to be wrong.
The next 90 minutes consist of our two main characters taking detours around their feelings until one of them comes to their senses and realizes that the key to ending this movie is engaging in the most simple, basic communication with their co-star.
I’m talking, “Hey, would you like to go on a date?” or “Hey, should we confront our parents who clearly separated us at birth and ask why in the world they thought taking only one of their identical twins was acceptable?”
When I became a dad, I read books explaining how to best support my pregnant partner. Like, 200-page books that boiled down everything into one thought; don’t be an idiot.
Please forgive my generalization, and if this doesn’t apply to you then good on you, but I know men have a tendency to say, “I’ve got this,” when supporting our pregnant partners.
We may have the best intentions in the world, but the reality is most times we don’t got this. We’ve never been through it. We never will. And even if we’ve read all the books, we don’t have the first-hand experience to consider ourselves experts.
Every pregnancy is different. What worked well for pregnancy one may not for pregnancy two, so we need to adjust our expectations according to the moment in front of us.
If your job is to support your partner, I have four questions to help you excel in your role. When you get home tonight, start with the first question, and let the conversation flow.
How are you feeling?
Don’t assume they’re tired, happy, sad, or frustrated. Things like “you look tired” are fighting words, and I’d recommend avoiding them at all costs at all times during pregnancy or life in general. You’ll likely find the real answer by asking how they feel.
The key is to ask authentically, ideally during a neutral moment. As tears flow down their face, asking this question may put you in the group chat under “most oblivious man on earth.” Asking this question while the two of you fold laundry may set the scene for a beautiful conversation, crowning you Group Chat King for a full day. One full day.
What can I do to make this pregnancy easier for you?
Sometimes we go around the house fixing things or solving problems that we think will make life easier. All along, our partner has been overwhelmed with deciding the best route to the hospital when the contractions start, and they need you to do some research.
Maybe the projects you’re working on will be helpful soon, even as soon as tomorrow. But at this moment, your skills are needed elsewhere. Ask and not only will you be surprised by what you hear, but you’re simultaneously caring for your partner and baby.
Is there anything you’re worried about that you’d like to discuss?
Growing a human isn’t easy. I’ve never done it, but I’ve watched my wife do it twice. My goodness, there are a lot of hurdles on the way to parenthood. It’s laughable that some men think they have any business policing a woman’s body.
No matter big or small, there is always something to be worried about when carrying a baby, and most of those concerns go unspoken. Whether it’s because they seem too silly to say out loud or another five problems popped into their head as they contemplated an earlier one, give your partner the ability to voice their concerns without fear or judgment. More importantly, prove that you care by engaging with their thoughts without immediately jumping into Mr. Fix-it mode.
How can I best support you right now?
I took this advice from somebody else and will share it for the rest of my life. After weeks of assumptions on my end, I asked my wife this question while watching a show one night. She responded with, “I could really use a foot massage.” Not anything I would have ever guessed, but that’s exactly what she needed at that moment.
The keywords are “right now.” At this moment, what is something you need? It may be as easy as a glass of water, or maybe it requires you to leave the house (and take the kids). But simply asking this question will unlock a level of trust that will help you when it matters the most.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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