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Expecting and Expectations: Marriage

by Joanne Baum PhD., LCSW | June 30, 2008 12:00 AM
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When you're pregnant you soon become full of expectations. You dream about what your baby will be like, you dream about how you and your husband will parent. You dream about how you will handle any problems that come up. You dream about being a family and how family life will be. You dream about how you'll juggle real life and motherhood and fatherhood. You know what you want, you know how you will handle it, you know what it will be like. You are getting ready based on your dreams and fantasies. But is your husband on the same page or are you assuming he is?

Ten Steps to Help Expectations Come True:

1. Talk with your spouse and ask him if he would be willing to share his specific dreams and expectations with you and if he would be willing to listen to yours.

2. Ask your husband to tell you his dreams before you tell him all of yours so he is not trying to please you and he feels free to offer his dreams and expectations.

3. Don't be upset if he doesn't have as many as yours.

4. Share your dreams with the idea that you both want to see where your dreams and expectations overlap and where you have a mismatch. Talk to each other about your fears and concerns — share them without feeling like the other person is supposed to fix them. See if you two can "team" together and come up with creative strategies to meet both your needs.

5. Where there are differences, work through them. Don't assume they will go away on their own. Differences usually get bigger with sleep deprivation and reality.

6. To work through them talk about each of your wants and needs. See if you can strategize together how to get needs met, but make sure they are truly needs and not intense wants.

7. Call upon a parenting coach or therapist to help you two resolve your differences if you can't do that together. If you can do this before your baby arrives you will have less stress in those beginning wonderful, exciting, sleep deprived and confusing weeks. If your baby is here and you're having difficulties that are upsetting you, try getting some help before they build over time.

8. Respect each others ways of doing things — there is more than one way to be a healthy and happy family.

9. Continue to make couple time even if it's for fifteen minutes a day where you get to be adults together.

10. Leave room for flexibility, creativity, and spontaneity. Dreams and expectations are based in your head; they are your fantasies. When your baby arrives, you will need to get to know your baby. You will want to see what your unique baby brings to your dreams. Follow your baby's lead and allow your dreams and expectations to be fantasy and not a reality you impose on your baby. Enjoy who your baby is and realize you figured out the best you could before you were handed the gift of reality. Now it's time to re-figure and live with your baby rather than your dreams and expectations. Those were a springboard to prepare you for becoming a parent and not a recipe for family life.

Joanne Baum, PhD., LCSW, has been a therapist, parenting coach, educator, and writer for over thirty years. Her latest book, "Got the Baby, Where's the Manual?!?", won the 2007 IPPY Gold Medal in Parenting.

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