So, your lady is pregnant, and suddenly you feel like you're in a relationship with Mussolini — or at least an unpredictable, shouty, farty, weepy, complainy hosebeast dictator. Regardless of exactly what circle of hell you're sure she has respawned from, there is an outrageously simple solution to dealing with it.
Yes, for the record, some pregnant women are totally together and just lean into the whole making-new-life-with-your-actual-body thing. (And some men are fantastic partners during pregnancy, and seem to know instinctively how to help care for their partners and pick up the slack at home). These super pregos are dewy, beautiful and serene gestating machines, emotionally measured, hydrated and nourished, never gain too much weight, meditate daily, and manage to convey a joyous inner strength and wisdom. They exist! I've seen them at Whole Foods. The rest of us turn into Susie Greene.
And it's the Susie Greenes that tend to get written about to advice columnists. Such was the case when an advice-seeker reached out to Mariella Frostrup at The Guardian with the issue, "It's hard to cope with my pregnant wife being so irritable." The hot prob:
I have a fiery and super-short-tempered wife, who loses her cool the moment something doesn't work the way she wanted. Sometimes she blurts out really nasty things which I fear is beginning to push me away. Sometimes she unleashes her anger at our two-year-old son. But I love her very much and I want to provide and give her a happy life because, when calm, she is an amazing person to be around and we are excited to be expecting a daughter this month. I really don't know how to approach or calm her down without aggravating her, so I just find myself distancing away from her to give her space, which does work sometimes, but even that at times annoys her because she thinks I am sulking when I stay away and say nothing to her. She is a good person at heart, but I really want to be able to remove the ridiculously short-tempered side of her.
This is what you call burying the lede. Had the advice-seeker simply made it clear up front that his wife was 8 freaking months pregnant, every woman in the universe would've read all the rest of it and been like:
This call is coming from inside the house, dig?
Frostrup, to her credit, answers the question like someone who isn't in the final stages of birthing a human. She asks him patiently if he's read the baby books and alerts him to the descent into madness that consumes many women as their bodies and brains become fully assimilated by the alien that will usurp the throne in due time.
Then she gets to it:
In your case if you look up months eight to nine, you may well find not only cause but cure for your wife's short fuse, along with a "to do" list for yourself. That's the simple answer. She is eight months pregnant, with a two-year-old toddler to care for and a few short weeks until Christmas. What's not to love about that list?
What's not to love about the complicated answer, too, while we're at it?
Frostrup offers a few advice numbers to call in the UK if he's concerned about abusive behavior and family guidance before seguing into a rather polite, awe-inspiring smackdown:
Yours is not the first letter I've received from a partner with an easily infuriated wife bemoaning their lot. Judging by my mail and real-life encounters, there's an epidemic of anger raging across the land, infecting mainly women. It's almost funny to witness your bewilderment in the face of this onslaught of irritability, particularly when you, like so many other men, are entirely blind to the causes. Not that I can scientifically diagnose it either, but there are plenty of clues to suggest that we have backed ourselves into a corner. I appreciate that readers of this fine organ are an emancipated lot, sharing domestic duties, embracing paternity leave and begging their wives to go back to work so they can stay home with the babies. Among the majority of the population, it's simply not true. Women have inherited an impossible world where they've added full-time work to their already full-time role running the domestic environment and parenting.
There's not a working woman I know who's not at her wits' end in this "season to be jolly", so I'm sure it's no coincidence that you've written to me during the canter towards Christmas. I've yet to hear a man say Christmas makes him stressed, but the number of my female friends who don't dread the doubling of duties in celebration of a religious festival few of us believe in I can count on two hands.
Your wife also has the drudgery of toddler care and the exhaustion of pregnancy to cope with. My advice is, don't skulk in the corner keeping clear of your wife's outbursts but roll up your sleeves, halve the chores and witness how true equality miraculously turns us into the fairer, sweeter sex all over again.
Oh pretty please Santa, can we etch it in stone and hand-deliver it to every man in the universe? Or would that only mean more work for us?
A bit of advice, men: Never complain about your pregnant wife. Ever. Unless she's out pillaging and murdering, the only sympathy you're going to get is a few lumps of coal in the old stocking.
Obviously, read the baby books. If you don't, you deserve every curveball headed your way, and look out — they're gassy.
Don't Hold Her Responsible
I'm not saying a pregnant woman shouldn't be held responsible for her actions, but I can good goddamn well tell you she can't do much about her feelings eight months in. I was a blubbering, irritated, sad, wildly happy yet totally afraid wildebeest because why? Because shit got real. Rilly rill. Like, I'll just be over here in the dark, crying real. It wasn't like that every minute — I held it together to perform a job — but that was all I had, and when it got overwhelming, look the fuck out. Had someone told me I was being an asshole, well, that would've just been like telling someone with a broken leg they were wailing too loud.
Get Pissed With Her, Not At Her!
She's pregnant, she needs your empathy and compassion, not your judgment and derision. Whatever is making her batty should make you batty too — and if it's you, STOP DOING IT.
Repeat This Mantra: I Don't Know What It's Like
I don't care how many books you DID read, or how many detailed PowerPoints she has presented to you regarding the exact wickedness of the heartburn that will kick off what may be years of sleeplessness, you don't know really, you don't really know, you don't actually know, you can't actually know. OK?
Do All the Things
Clean the house like your life depended on it, watch the other kid, run the errands, cook the food. Become one gleaming motherfucker of domestic servitude so that she can simply be pregnant and comfortable as much as possible. She's probably also working too. That's double the jobs. You do the rest. All of it. Every last bit of it. And this part is most key: Do not wait to be asked, and do not gripe.
Acknowledge Her Efforts
Tell her every day what she is doing is amazing and awe-inspiring, because it is. Rinse. Repeat.
Never Take Her Anywhere Without Chairs
You would not believe how many places out there don't have chairs. It's as many as the number of places that don't have changing tables. If there are no chairs, BECOME A CHAIR.
Encourage or Aid in Her Self-Care
Give her the gift of relaxation at home or elsewhere. Buy her comfy pajamas. If she hates them and bursts into tears, take them back. Never, ever, under any circumstances, complain that the bra she needs to buy that will only last for one month costs $45 or that the tube of the stuff she puts on her boobs so they don't explode costs $19.
Finally, if there is one message men should receive loud and clear when their lady gets pregnant to bear their child it is this: Now is the time you do your last bit of growing up. For some men, it might be all the growing up. For others, it's the finishing touches on something that already resembles adulthood. That is fine. But either way, the growing up must happen. Do not be another baby for your lady to care for. Be an equal, be a helper, and for this period in your lady's life, be absolutely the best version of yourself that ever existed. Rise to occasion! This one time, kick it.
I realize it is hard to marvel at Godzilla's fireballs when they are being hurled right at your own, but you should still be putting the majority of your effort into ushering your child into the world with the understanding that the vessel through which it arrives is having one helluva nutty time facilitating it. Of the two of you, one is ostensibly less hormonal. What's your excuse?
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