Preparing for married life is its own journey of knowledge and experience. Preparing for parenthood, a great gift and invitation into the Father’s own creative genius, isn’t so different: there are plans, anticipation, the sense that your life is on the precipice of permanent, formative change.If you and your spouse find yourselves expecting early on in your marriage, how can you support one another?
Here, five suggestions for deepening your relationship and growing in self-gift during the season of pregnancy.
Express your needs clearly.
In these weeks and months of physical and emotional change, any fatigue, sickness, and nesting-induced desires to remain at home more often are normal. As you and your beloved navigate these changes for the first time, communication--just as in so many other dimensions of a healthy relationship--goes a long way in keeping the both of you on the same page. Rather than assuming your spouse knows your current physical and mental states or expecting certain acts of service or help, voice them! A loving spouse will be more than happy to serve you when expectations are communicated clearly.
Know how much--or how little--practical preparation is healthy for you and your beloved.
Some couples devour as much literature on marriage as possible before their wedding day; others prefer more practical wisdom and experience over the written word. Neither approach to preparation is right or wrong, but simply a matter of preference and personality.
In the same way, the world of baby and parenting books is vast. If you find yourselves overwhelmed by information or in disagreement with certain principles you encounter, know you’ll be no less loving or capable parents if you choose to step back from reading and education. As an alternative to intensive reading and research, try simply talking with your spouse about the birth experience, career plans, education possibilities, and family culture each of you envisions.
Develop habits of sacrifice.
The family is built on self-gift and service. Each of our domestic churches is a school of loving sacrifice, and this call is particularly evident in the demands of caring for a newborn. And yet, even before your child is born, you and your spouse can strengthen yourselves in self-giving; willing what is best for another person even when it’s inconvenient and when the feelings aren’t there. During these months of preparation for parenthood, identify concrete ways each of you desire to grow in sacrifice and self-discipline and help one another put these ways into action. Consider practices like fasting, avoiding your snooze button, or limiting screen time.
Seek compromise in all things.
Another milestone, another registry. As you and your spouse choose the items you’ll use to care for your baby, you might find yourselves in varying states of excitement and disagreement, just as you did while creating your wedding gift registry. Strive to see and listen to one another and communicate your priorities.
Compromise in parenting, of course, extends beyond material matters. Know that it’s alright not to be in complete agreement over every matter of sleep, discipline, feeding, and more before your baby’s birth. As you and your spouse enter into your roles more fully after baby arrives, you’ll find greater freedom and flexibility in making decisions best suited to your child’s temperament and to each of your needs. Your child’s life is eternal, allowing you more than enough time to determine your outlook on parenting!
Do decisions about the future stress you out? Read about finding rest in the unknown.
Invite each other in.
Although men and women experience pregnancy in distinctly different ways, there’s no denying the deeper closeness that arises from sharing an intimate, particular love for your child; your love for one another, made embodied and visible. So savor this sacred time, and embrace the gift of being revealed to one another in a new way. Check in frequently on one another’s feelings, meet any fears with hope and sensitivity, and pray together for your child as he or she grows and as you choose a name.
If you and your spouse struggle with infertility, you are seen and aren’t alone. Read past pieces on infertility here.
We love walking beside you in your vocation. Are you currently expecting? Share in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media with your best tips for nurturing your marriage during pregnancy.