Hysterical Husbands & Partners
Q. My husband and I are having a baby that we planned for. At first, everything seemed great. Now it seems my husband’s temper is out of line and we are fighting more and more. I know my hormones are raging but it's like HE is the one with too many hormones. He has always had an anger issue, but it has gotten worse. I think that he is a controlling person who can't control the fact that I am pregnant and things are going to change. I love him dearly and I know he loves me. He keeps apologizing and then explodes all over again. I argue too (It is like my defense mechanism to fight back). Now I've told him I am through fighting because I don't want anything to happen to our child (I am 3 months pregnant). I got him a book to read on pregnancy but he only reads it when he is in the bathroom. I have asked him to go to the doctor with me to hear the heartbeat - I hope this will help him realize the reality of my pregnancy and maybe he will calm down some. I don't know how to handle it. MEN!!!!
A. Yes- Men! They are so different from us. Their brains just don't function the same way. I cannot tell you how many times I've argued with my husband to try to get him to see my logical point of view. Then I have to remind myself, "Oh yes, he is a man and does not think like me."
It sounds like your husband is going through the common new-father-to-be panic mode. He's probably playing through his mind again and again all of the changes and stresses this new baby will bring to his life. (See the other panicked father question on this page for more details.)
Don't worry; most men usually do come around later in the pregnancy. When your husband starts to see your rounding form he may realize that little bun in the oven is actually his baby—a baby he'll be able to play with, teach and have hopes and dreams for in the future.
If your husband was similarly panicked before your wedding and was then surprised at how content he was with married life, I don't think you have anything to worry about. He is now just repeating his pattern—a common male pattern—and should improve his behavior soon enough.
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Q. I am three months pregnant with my husband's first child and he doesn't seem to want to accept my pelvic pain or my needing to be massaged by him. Every time he is home he goes into his private room and acts as if he is the one who is tired or in pain from working. He calls me spoiled and tells me that I am smart enough not to fall into the hormones of pregnancy. It feels as if he wants to steal my spotlight. He wants all the attention and takes away my right to be pampered as the mother of his child. Is this normal?
-Anonymous, New York
A. The "expecting" state can be an exciting and joyful time for couples, but it can also be a very stressful time as you both realize the impact this new baby will have on your lifestyle. You and your husband will be solely responsible for the life of this child, you may have to rework your current budget and plans for the future, and the dynamic of your relationship will certainly change.
Your husband may be reacting to these stresses, plus he may feel threatened by the new baby who will require your love and attention, and may take some love and attention away from your husband.
I know it seems illogical for your husband to react this way, but it is pretty common. Men just don't think and function the way we do--but that's a whole other book! When expectant fathers throw temper tantrums and spit out hurtful remarks, it's usually because they are having a hard time dealing with their feelings and don't know how to properly express themselves.
I completely agree with you that now is your time to have the spotlight-- use that "pregnancy card" as much as possible! But, until your husband becomes really excited about this baby too, the pregnancy card won't do you much good. See if you can find the time to sit down together and really talk about your feelings and needs. Agree beforehand to try to keep your tempers in check and to withhold any purposely hurtful remarks.
Once you clear the air, you will hopefully be able to share some of the excitement and wonder of your pregnancy together. See if you can get your husband to come to a doctor's appointment and hear the baby's heartbeat. Tell him how it feels to have the baby growing inside you. Discuss your hopes and dreams for this new, precious life that was only made possible by the two of you, together.
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Q. I'm seven and a half months pregnant with my first child. My husband recently told me sex for the last couple weeks was hurting his penis, like he was running into a wall. I've never heard anything like this – have you?
A. I suppose it is possible that your vaginal canal may seem shallower, especially if you are in the upright position, with the weight of your uterus pushing downward. In truth, though, your vaginal canal is actually expanding and becoming more elastic to eventually allow for the passage of the baby.
I suspect your husband's complaints are more psychological than physical. Many men have thoughts of bumping the baby with the heads of their penises during intercourse. This fear is bound to be distracting during the act, which could, in turn, make a man feel physically uncomfortable. Of course sex, even rough sex, will in no way harm or disturb the baby during a normal pregnancy. Talking about this with your husband may help. If he continues to complain of a hurt penis, you might try different positions, such as elevating your hips to pull the uterus away from his penis, or manual or oral sex.
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Q. Any advice on how to handle a stressful pregnant wife? My wife and I are expecting our first child, and she is now in her seventh month. The problem is that I seem to make her constantly irritated, and she often blames me for only wanting to hurt her. I try to stay calm when we argue, however at a certain point I just have enough. My wife can be quite demanding and nasty when she gets angry. Perhaps we just have a communication problem, but it is quite difficult for me to understand why she reacts so strongly to my "bad behavior." I know stress is not good for the baby, so I am looking for ways to calm her down, rather than putting "more wood on the fire." Any books I could benefit from reading?
A. I think the best way to handle a stressful pregnant wife is to really understand her. You need to know what's going on inside her body and mind. Actually being pregnant is the best way to relate, but since that's not possible for you, I'll try to give you an idea of what your wife may be feeling.
First, it's the horror-mones of pregnancy, which can make her mood swings so erratic and her temper extremely short. Believe me, you're not the only one subjected to her hostile behavior. I can remember in my last trimester of pregnancy feeling as if my nerves were constantly on the brink of the boiling point. Once, while standing in line to return a broken clock, an impatient woman tried to elbow her way past me to reach the counter first. I turned an evil eye at her and spat, "Don't you fucking dare!" She silently recoiled and took her place back in line. I can't imagine having the gall to do that under normal circumstances, but I must admit, at the time it felt damn good!
Second, your wife is experiencing a multitude of new and uncomfortable, if not painful, pregnancy symptoms on a regular basis. Pain and illness can make people bitter. It does take a toll on your tolerance and outward kindness towards others. I remember thinking: If you are not experiencing back pain, Braxton Hicks contractions, heartburn, faintness, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, swollen legs, a sore pelvis and throbbing feet, then you had better not give me any shit.
Third, you are the one that got her pregnant. I know this seems irrational, but if it weren't for you, she wouldn't be going through all of the discomfort and stress of pregnancy and childbirth. Is it really fair that the husband gets to drink wine with dinner, eat sushi, sleep through the night without heartburn, leg cramps and Braxton Hicks and still gets to become a parent to a sweet, tiny baby at the end of pregnancy?
Fourth, you are there. After time, anything and everyone becomes annoying during pregnancy. If your wife only lived with a dog for the duration of the pregnancy, the poor animal would spend many nights in the dog house, so don't take it personally.
The good news is that your old wife is still in there somewhere and she will come back. You may even catch a glimpse of the old her every now and then after a bowl of chocolate ice cream or a really good orgasm. In the meantime, you may want to remember these few key phrases to get you through the rest of the pregnancy: Yes, honey. Right, honey. Anything you say, honey.
p.s. A few books that may interest you are: The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be by Armin A. Brott, My Boys Can Swim: The Official Guy's Guide to Pregnancy by Ian Davis and my forthcoming book, Frankly Pregnant: The Reality Journal of Pregnancy.
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Q. My fiancé thinks it's a turn-off to make love to a pregnant woman! He says he won't be able to look past the big belly and the baby inside me. Do you think he will change? It is such a huge surprise because he is so very sweet to me. I thought making love to his pregnant wife would be a pleasure. Do you know of any other men feeling this way? Am I really looking at several months of no sex? I don't know how I'll survive. I know that his lack of desire will make me feel ugly. What can I do?
A. You'd be surprised how many men think this way. Some of them cannot get over the "Madonna complex" and view their pregnant wife as a mother, similar to their mother, which usually isn't a turn-on. Other men believe that sex with a pregnant woman may hurt the baby and they don't want to put the baby at risk. (Of course this is ridiculous. See the other sex and pregnancy questions for more details.) And, there are some men who are just not attracted to the physical aspects of a pregnant woman, such as the big belly, swollen vagina and ballooning breasts. On the other end of the spectrum, there are also men who are even more turned on by the body of a pregnant woman.
Men's views on pregnancy sex can stem from past relations with their mothers, what they've been taught as a child, or may be based on one pivotal incident. Whatever the cause, I'm sorry to say there's nothing you can do to change your man's feelings. The only way he will change is if he thinks he should investigate and possibly work on his feelings. You might try suggesting this, but I don't advise forcing the issue.
In the meantime, if he doesn't come around, there's always your trusty vibrator! And, don't worry, you will have your old body (maybe a little worse for the wear) back someday.