Perhaps your marriage has been troubled for some time and you may have tried all sorts of things to get back on track with your spouse. Nothing seems to be working, so you think to yourself, “maybe if I got pregnant, that would change things between us... surely if only we can have a baby it will draw us closer together...”
These thoughts and questions are understandable and they deserve a comprehensive answer before you take the life-changing decision to pursue pregnancy. Below are five points for you to ponder on this topic as follows:
Let’s just start with the pregnancy. Even the smoothest, textbook pregnancy can involve some definite challenges such as morning (sometimes all day) sickness, nausea, leg cramps and indigestion to name a few. Then there are the regular doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds and checkups.
As your delivery day approaches there’s the agony of waiting and waiting and not knowing when exactly it’s going to happen. And in the meantime, you need to get the nursery ready at home and get everything prepared for the new arrival.
All of this is hard enough when you have a loving, understanding and supportive spouse. But if there is tension between the two of you, pregnancy can certainly be a very lonely time. And don’t forget, once baby finally arrives your life will never be the same again... waking up throughout the night for feeding, or just to check if baby is still breathing, changing diapers, and on it goes from there as your child grows and grows.
According to the American Psychological Association, a study has shown that marital satisfaction nose dives after the birth of a child. Having a baby adds a lot of stress on a marriage – even a marriage that is good. Babies make demands and take up time and energy so that you have even less to give to each other.
“Surprise!” you call out gleefully as you wave the positive home pregnancy test in front of your husband’s eyes, thinking that any minute now he will sweep you into his arms, smother you with kisses and murmur, “Thank you so much, I always wanted a baby!” No, this is not very likely to happen...
If you are thinking of quietly stopping your contraceptive and just letting it happen so that you can give your husband a “nice little surprise”, please be advised that surprises like this can often backfire.
Instead of rekindling the romance in your married life, you may find yourself with an irate man who is demanding that you get an abortion, or put the child up for adoption. Or it may just turn the atmosphere even more bitter as your husband feels trapped, betrayed or somehow tricked into something he didn’t bargain for.
As the title of this article suggests “Baby to the rescue” – if you are expecting your baby to save your marriage it is a very big ask to put on his or her little shoulders.
Even though a baby starts out physically with a small and helpless little body, their soul and spirit is fully intact and well aware of what is happening. Studies and experience have shown that in the womb a baby can hear his mother’s voice and can pick up her emotions. Your baby will know whether or not there is tension in the atmosphere. Even without a word being spoken, your baby will be able to feel that enormous pressure and expectation that you are placing on him to save your marriage.
The best foundation for bringing a child into the world is when the mother and father are united in a loving relationship, and then the baby has somewhere firm and stable to grow. But when that foundation is cracked, and both mother and father are looking to the baby to be the glue to fix the cracks, it is a recipe for disaster.
There may indeed be some cases where the birth of a child has helped to restore a struggling marriage. However, this would most likely happen in conjunction with several other vital factors.
First of all, the news of the pregnancy would need to serve as a serious wake-up call to the couple in terms of working on their relationship. They both need to realize the enormous responsibility of starting a family and giving new life to a child, and that they will need each other’s help to make it work well.
Secondly, they would both be willing to get help and put in the effort required to repair the breaches that have occurred in their marriage. If they are both willing to admit their faults and weaknesses, and to learn new ways of relating and communicating with each other, then there is hope that the birth of their child could bring them joy and fulfilment along with the demands and challenges.
You need to count the cost and ask yourself whether this is a risk worth taking. And cost should be measured not only financially. We all know the rising cost of living these days when you take into account food, clothing, housing, and education to name but a few. There would also be a cost emotionally and mentally as you find your time and attention absorbed to a very large extent with the baby.
And think about the long view; once you have a child it is a lifelong commitment. At first the baby years may seem like the biggest deal, especially if it is your first one. But after a few years of parenting you may come to realize that actually babyhood was the easiest part. Once they start walking and talking, and then riding and driving, the challenges seem to grow along with the child. Of course there are blessings too, but this discussion is in the context of a strained and troubled marriage.
All in all the answer seems clear – having a baby is not likely to save your struggling marriage and it may in fact make things a whole lot worse between you and your spouse. So if your marriage is troubled in any way, please seek the professional help that you need and get back on a firm footing before you decide to bring another little person into your marriage relationship.
Author: Malini Bhatia, founder of Marriage.com