Stop making decisions for your man. Ask him what he wants

A sad pregnant woman. Before getting pregnant, ask your man where he stands. PHOTO| FOTOSEARCH

What you need to know:

  • With regard to matters of the heart, go with the facts.
  • The first step out of getting unpleasant surprises is asking questions.

A few weekends ago, I stumbled into a baby shower. The woman of the day was expecting twins. While this would be a joyous occasion for most women, she was the saddest thing I had seen in a long time. You see, she is already a mother of two and before this pregnancy, her husband and she had agreed that they would not have any more children. Then she got broody and her friends advised her to just fall pregnant, that he would come around. Well, eight months in, he hadn’t. In fact, he hadn’t spoken to her for weeks.

What struck me about this whole scenario was how we are quick to admonish men who are dead beat dads but how we look away when a woman decides to go off birth control without giving a man a choice on whether or not he wants to be a father. These men are expected to simply come round to the idea.

This is how I see it: If we were planning to have a child but my partner went off and had a vasectomy, I do not think that I would simply come round to this new idea. I would feel deceived. So why are we surprised when men fail to come round to an idea?

This “he will come around” is a big lie. It’s the lie that a woman who knows well that her relationship is not progressive or that the man she is with doesn’t want to have a child with her yet or ever but she goes ahead and gets pregnant by him anyway, tells herself. It’s what a woman who is in a relationship with a man who has expressly told her that he isn’t ready for marriage, tells herself as she is slowly moving her things into his house. She thinks that if he wakes up with me for a couple of years, if I am a good marriage material, if I make this apartment a home, a place away from the hectic world for him to come and relax, if I am his calm place, if I give him that baby girl whom he will name after his mother, he will surely want to marry me. Once I show him what it is like, he will want what I want. He will come around. It is a phrase full of hope and positivity.

The downside is that it is false hope. The truth is that it is impossible to predict how another person will react to a situation, especially one that involves deception. There is no guarantee that a man will come round to an idea just because a certain amount of time has lapsed. He may or may not. The truth is that you only have power over your own thoughts and feelings. Do not assume that you know what the other person is thinking or how they will react.

He may live with you for a decade and still not marry you. He may never come round to the idea of having a child with you, think about all the absentee fathers out there. A warm, cuddly, chubby baby may not change his mind on fatherhood. That moment may never come. And don’t even think about having a baby to fix a troubled relationship because the added pressure of looking after a child will definitely do more harm than good.

He can’t trust you. He will be thinking: If we agreed on this thing and she went on and did another, what else can’t I trust her with? Making decisions that affect you both alone and expecting that your significant other will come around is being selfish. It communicates that you do not think his feelings, opinions or even fears are valid. That the only feelings, opinions or fears you take seriously are yours.

Listen to Him

With regard to matters of the heart, go with the facts. The first step out of getting unpleasant surprises is asking questions. Before getting pregnant, ask him where he stands. Before moving in with him and assuming that marriage will eventually happen, clarify his stand. When he gives his answer, hear him. Really listen to what is on his mind as well as his heart. Do not hear what you want him to say, hear what he is actually saying. If he tells you he doesn’t want to have children or that marriage is not for him, listen.

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