Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is 11 weeks pregnant and driving me nuts. She’s worried constantly about our financial situation, her time off work, child care, you name it. She’s mad at me one minute, sad the next, and happy the one after that. Frankly, I’m not really buying the whole “emotional roller coaster” thing. Is she using her pregnancy as an excuse to act this way?
A: Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad is that the pregnancy roller coaster does exist and your wife’s hormones really are responsible for most of her erratic behavior. The good news is that the ride typically ends early in the second trimester, which you’re just about to start. Until then, try to be as understanding as can be—she’s probably not any happier with her behavior than you are and is finding the whole thing confusing and frightening.
Next, start paying attention to how the pregnancy is affecting you. You’re in deep provider/ protector mode and are focusing your attention on your wife—and that’s perfectly appropriate. However, if you can take a few steps back, you’ll find that you’re just as worried as she is about finances, child care, family leave, and a lot more. Talk with her about this. A lot of expectant dads don’t want to bother their wife with their own issues. But she’s likely to find it very reassuring to hear that she’s not the only one feeling the way she does.
Finally, take advantage of the fact that you’re not pregnant and you’re not being bombarded by hormones and give yourself an occasional break. Find a friend to commiserate with, get some exercise, or just take a nap. But resist the urge to spend a lot of extra time at work as a way of avoiding conflict with your wife.