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Yes your male partner is ready to be a dad, and no, he will not act like it (and that is ok!).

I first want to state that this post is speaking specifically about the experience of hetero cis gender couples. This is where I see this dynamic most come into play and where most of my experience lies therefore I feel comfortable speaking on the topic.

Many of my female clients will, at some point, along our support journey mention that they are concerned that their male partner is not taking this whole thing seriously. It comes up during the time a couple is trying to conceive all the way through until a baby is 1 years old or so. There is a panicked feeling from the woman that maybe they have misjudged their partner? Somehow they have ended up in a relationship with someone who does't want to have children or isn't behaving in a way that feels responsible enough to be a good dad and partner.

Most women are already in the mindset of parenting pre conception or at least by the time she knows she is pregnant. This often looks like the female partner understanding to her core that she is in a completely different stage of life. She has an intuition for what she needs to do and feels compelled to live life differently than before. She is already a parent and thinks like one. They do not have the same hormonal and physiological changes happening in their body to trigger a different mode of operating. For most, their transformation into being a parent and the partner of a parent, starts when the baby is born.

The male partner on the other hand continues to live life with the same intuitive drives and desires as before the idea of a baby came into his life. Many men do not fully embrace and understand being a parent until their first child is maybe one year old and for some it isn’t until their second child is born.

This relational pattern in pregnancy often looks like the man going out more, buying more gadgets/toys, and being more assertive about "fun" while mom is running full speed into taking care of her body, sorting out her values, and reading all the birth and parenting books.

When I work with couples in this dynamic, we will have a talk session where we go into inquiry to where everyone is feeling. Men often express something like “just because we are starting a family, it doesn’t mean our lives are over” (or that we are old etc). They feel this urge to do things to assert their identity as an autonomous adult. Women often express that those statements and behavior make them feel less secure that they have a responsible and supportive partner.

Once both partners have expressed how they feel, we talk through parameters for helping each partner feel their needs are being met and validate that all needs are worthy of attention. This often opens up an opportunity for even more feelings to be shared that were previously suppressed. The root of what both people are experiencing is in fear. One is focused on security and the other is focused on identity. When everyone knows exactly what each partner is feeling, they tend to have more empathy and flexibility in their expectations of what their lives will look like.

A good couples therapist (or perinatal support person like myself) can walk you through this. Be warned, your male partner may freak out a bit if you suggest seeing someone, it feels like pressure to them! Try to assure them that the goal of support is to help everyone feel great about their new chapter.


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