You feel good about your spouse. The two of you have worked through some issues and are in a comfortable place. Conflict is at a minimum and your communication seems to be okay. Then one day your wife comes home and tells you she is pregnant. While you are both excited with the thought of starting a family, you silently worry about the future. Your company is not doing all that well and you are hearing rumors about lay-offs. Your wife is so excited about the baby that she begins to talk about all the plans she has for remodeling the house and buying things for the baby. Somewhere in the third trimester, she comes home and says she really wants to quit her job once the baby is born and stay at home.
And thus, a whole new world of tension and conflict ensues.
You begin to get angry. You don’t understand why your wife does not appreciate the pressures you are having at work and the insecurity of the job. You fight with your wife about every single purchase she makes for the baby and adamantly refuse to consider any remodeling of the house. Instead of seeing your wife as the loving partner she once was, you now start to see another side to her. Someone who wants what she wants no matter how much money is in the bank—a person who is not in touch with reality. A capricious woman who does not appreciate your circumstances. You are torn between wanting to be a good husband and father with the fear that you will be unable to provide what is needed. You secretly resent your wife and the baby for putting you this situation—a place of feeling inadequate and incompetent.
Your wife does not understand your anger. She is so excited about becoming a mother and desperately wants to be home with the baby. She resents your controlling attitude and resistance to what she feels would be the best for the baby. She wishes you would have a “can do” attitude and reassure her that you will do what it takes to financially provide for the family until she feels ready to go back to work. The more you communicate your disapproval and resistance to her ideas, the more she finds a way to make you feel guilty and inadequate.
And thus, the dance of disappointment and resentment begins.
Major changes will test your relationship and marriage. Changes create uncertainty, loss and anxious anticipation. Roles, identities, needs and resources are challenged and a new way of being is required. During major times change it is important to honor the process—everyone will deal with the loss of the old and transitioning to the new in their own way and time. And if a couple has opposing needs and coping strategies, then going through the change together will create even more tension. Don’t be surprised if you discover aspects of your mate (and yourself) that you didn’t see before. With every new challenge that life brings us, so does the opportunity to learn something new about ourselves and the people we love.
Change always includes the opportunity to grow together.
Here are some things to consider as you and your significant other traverse the rocky landscape of change.
- Remember that you are both experiencing some form of loss. The loss of a way of life, an identity, a sense of security, money, a relationship, or a loved one (if the change involves a death). Be kind and gentle with each other and give each other the space to grieve the old way of being (even if the change is positive).
- Don’t get too attached to how you think things should work out. Everyone has a picture or fantasy about how life should look on the other side of change. Trying to “make” this happen is what causes unnecessary turmoil. Be open to allowing the “new” to emerge in its own time and way. Be open to how things will look as you both influence the journey together.
- Give each other a “pass” every now and then. When people are scared or hurting, sometimes they handle it with grace and sometimes not. Instead of getting defensive or striking back, ask more questions so you can learn more about your spouses’ fears rather than insisting they see things your way.
- Keep the communication open. Talk about what is really going on and why you are feeling the way you do. Listen to the same from your spouse. This is a time to be a generous listener and really understand your partner in life. Practice understanding, empathy and acceptance. Practice this again and again.
- Be creative in your problem-solving. With major change comes lots of issues to figure out and problems to solve. Once you both feel heard and understood, the problem-solving happens with more ease. You are more likely to find solutions that work for both of you.
Remember, change will keep coming. You can’t stop it. Take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen your relationship and grow together. Remember you are on the same side. Support each other’s concerns. You will get through it—you simply have no other choice.
If you and your spouse (or significant other) are going through a major life change, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I'm here to help. I provide personalized counseling and coaching. Take advantage of the opportunity to receive the support and guidance you deserve. You don’t need to wait. You can begin the process today.
About me: www.julieorlov.com/about
About The Pathway to Love at-home program: www.julieorlov.com/pathway-to-love
About your relationship: Get your Free Relationship Assessment Quiz at www.julieorlov.com/quiz