Marriage is the on going adventure of getting to know someone. No matter how much you think you know, there's always something new to learn. And although job changes, financial issues, or family dynamics provide great lessons, a couple's greatest growing opportunity often comes delivered by the stork.
Anticipation and preparation usually help provide a smooth adjustment into parenthood. But for some couples, becoming Mom and Dad is unexpected, and even traumatic. How can spouses reinforce their "oneness" when surprised by a situation that redefines who they are?
MP interviewed three couples in three different stages of married life: newlywed, married with young children, and married with teenagers. We asked them to share the secrets of how they dealt with unexpected pregnancy.
Jamie and Eric met as freshman in college and were married after their sophomore year. Working full-time and planning to complete their degrees, their lives were full, and they enjoyed their togetherness. The only thing they hadn't planned for was a baby.
How did you feel when you learned you were pregnant?
Jamie: We had been married only four months when I found out I was pregnant. I was really excited, but anxious at the same time. I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell Eric right away, but I couldn't keep it from him. When I told him, his first words to me were, "You're not joking, are you?" He sounded very serious, but then he said, "That's great!" Then we went to celebrate over fries and shakes. It meant so much to me that Eric responded positively.
Eric: Although I was surprised, I knew that Jamie would remember whatever I said. Before we got married, we had talked about the importance of being supportive at a time like this, since it would be an emotional time for both of us. I promised myself that when it came, no matter what mood I was in, I was going to say something nice.
You mentioned that you were excited, but anxious too. What were some of the anxieties that you had?
Jamie: There were many lifestyle changes that we knew were coming. I had just started going to a gym and running five miles each day. The changes that would come from growing bigger weren't very appealing. I was also about to go back to school and finish up my degree. I knew that there were many things I'd be giving up now that I was pregnant.
Eric: Since we hadn't thought about this kind of situation beforehand, there was a lot of financial anxiety. As newlyweds, it was just the two of us, working full-time jobs. We had plenty of money. Suddenly, all our fixed costs went up, and the extra money was spent on necessities. It was tough enough to figure out our finances after we got married, and we knew it would only be harder with a child.