Especially for Men
Coping with a Pregnancy Decision
How are you doing?
If your partner or friend is facing a decision about an unexpected pregnancy, you are probably worried about her. You may be thinking about how the decision could affect you. As she considers parenthood, abortion, or adoption, you may be feeling scared, guilty, sad, shut out, or just plain confused. Even though you may be trying to be strong for her, your own feelings may be quite intense. You may be upset at the idea of losing or continuing the pregnancy. Or, you may be worried about losing your relationship with her.
Most women want to know how their partner feels. You may think it’s better to support whatever she wants, or you may not want to influence her too much. But, it’s important to tell her how you feel, knowing that ultimately she has to follow her own feelings. She does want to hear that you are concerned about her and that you care.
“I feel so guilty.” Some men feel guilty that they caused the pregnancy, especially if they were not using a condom. Unless you pressured her into having sex, you are both responsible for the pregnancy. Focus on what you can do now and in the future. Tell her that you are sorry it happened and become involved in preventing future pregnancy until you are both ready. You may feel guilty if she has chosen an abortion. Most people choose abortion only when they think it’s better than the alternatives. If you still think abortion is morally wrong, the solution lies in forgiveness--from yourself, from her, from God.
“I feel bad because I am not a good provider.” Sometimes men feel like a failure because they can’t afford a child--or another child. It may be a goal to become financially stable so that you can have a child someday. Or, you may feel that if you are working all the time, you can’t be with her and your children. More and more families are relying on two, or even three paychecks to get by. Or, you may feel that even though it will be hard, it’s worth having another child. Share your thoughts with her and let her help you.
“Will we break up?” If both of you agree and support each other and talk to each other, the relationship can get even better. Even if you don’t agree, if you show that you care about each other, the relationship can grow. But it is a very difficult time, so be patient and take the time to talk to each other. Even if you have agreed to break up, caring for each other now will make you both cope better with this unexpected situation. You will feel better knowing that you did your best at a difficult time.
“What do I do if she keeps blaming me?” If your partner is blaming you, it may mean that she wants to hear that you are sorry she is hurt and going through all this. Try saying sincerely, “I’m sorry I helped you get into this and I’m sorry you’re hurting.” You don’t have to take all the blame. If she continues to blame you, it may be her way of not taking responsibility.
“I wanted this baby.” It may be especially hard on you if you wanted to have a baby with her or get married and she doesn’t or is not ready. You may feel the loss more than she does. People who suffer a loss need to grieve. It’s important that you find someone who can listen to what you’re going through. That may be a counselor or a friend who can keep a confidence.
Showing Her You Care
- Let her know you’re sorry she’s the one going through all this physically.
- Check in with her often about how she’s feeling.
- Do something special for her such as a card, flowers, a love letter, a back rub.
- Be affectionate, but be prepared for her not to want to be sexual. You may feel rejected, but remember that she connects sex with this difficult situation.
- Be understanding about pregnancy symptoms. Nausea, tiredness, irritability, and moodiness are all pregnancy symptoms. Most will go away within a few days after an abortion. If she continues the pregnancy, some symptoms like nausea may go away after 12 weeks or so.
- If she chooses abortion, you can read over the aftercare instructions she is given. Have pain medications available and maybe a heating pad or hot water bottle. Help her avoid infection by not having intercourse for two weeks. If she is choosing to continue the pregnancy, you can attend prenatal visits and birthing classes with her.
- Help with birth control. Use condoms. Help to pay for other birth control options. Practice safer sex.
Talking to Someone.
She may want to talk professionally if she is not handling this whole thing well. It may help for you to talk to someone too. She may not be the only one having a hard time. Ask your doctor or clinic if there is someone you can speak to. Or, seek out counseling from a mental health clinic, a family planning clinic, or a private therapist. Sometimes talking to a clergyperson is what you may be looking for. Many books and websites in the resource section are especially for men. If you continue to have a hard time with your partner’s decision, get help.
- Excerpted from Pregnant? Need help? Pregnancy Options Workbook, Single copies $3.65 from Ferre Institute, 124 Front Street, Binghamton, NY 13905 or at www.pregnancyoptions.info
- Also from “After Her Abortion” for Parents, Male Partners and Friends, by Anne Baker, Hope Clinic, 21st Street, Granite City, IL 62040 618-451-5722 See also Peace After Abortion, Pimpernel Press, PO Box 33110, San Diego, CA 92163-3110 www.peaceafterabortion.com
- Unspeakable Losses: Healing form Pregnancy, Abortion, and Other Pregnancy Loss by Kim Kluger Bell