It’s confirmed: your girlfriend is pregnant. She tells you she wants to get married for your baby’s sake—and soon. However, something’s telling you it’s not yet the right time.
“Anxiety is a normal reaction in that very moment,” says Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS, a Cebu-based clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist. It’s actually weird not to have mixed feelings about the pregnancy.
So, how do you break the news to her? Dr. Ong says even if the relationship is strong and the couple is in love with each other, “this does not guarantee that feelings won’t be hurt.” Typically, she may express her disappointment or frustrations when you tell her you are not yet ready to take the relationship to the next level.
“Girls in our culture are taught to view non-readiness from the male as a rejection of their worth as women, that they are not desirable as wives and mothers, which is wrongfully seen as the ideal version of womanhood. Thus, this explodes into a more complicated problem than it has to be,” he adds.
He advises to consider these important variables when breaking the news:
1) The pre-existing relationship (Steady versus stormy relationship, unclear status, stagnated relationship, etc.)
2) Your girlfriend’s attitude (towards you, of course)
3) The social context (Safety and security reasons, especially in conservative cultures, in which it is seen as a cause for vendettas and bloodshed between families due to loss of face or reputation, socioeconomic status if there are major differences in social standing, and ethnic issues such as interracial or cross-cultural relationships prohibited by either party’s families)
If you think there’s completely no issue with these three, then talk it out. It might be difficult to initiate this kind of conversation, but it’s best to know each other’s feelings. After your baby is born, you’ll have less time to focus on each other.
Explain to her that marriage would not make it all better. As what Cathy O’Neil, co-author of the book Babyproofing Your Marriage, says: “Having a baby is quite possibly the biggest life change one can go through, and adding a wedding to the mix could create more pressure than it’s worth.”
You can deliver the news by using the sandwich procedure. “Start with a positive, insert the negative, and end with another positive,” Dr. Ong suggests.
For example: “I understand you are concerned and I also share your worries. I will never leave you. (Positive) But I don’t think marriage would help enlighten the situation. (Negative) I want our wedding to be special for the both of us; not a rush just because you are pregnant. What if we focus on the baby for now?”
Bottom line: Take time to think, make the decision that feels right for you, let her know about it, and most importantly, be a responsible father when the baby arrives.
Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS is a clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist. For consultation, you can visit his clinic at 317 Medalle Bldg. Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City.