Several years ago, my wife was pregnant with our fifth child, and our oldest was eight. She was a full-time college student and a full-time mother, and she was stressed. I realized I had been clueless to her plight for a long time, and I started jotting down simple notes to remind myself of things I could do to make her life easier. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help both of you make it to the end with a stronger marriage than before you started. Some of these may be terribly obvious, but hey, sometimes we’re a little slow and need it spelled out, so don’t get upset if we should be doing these things already.
Don’t ask her why she always seems so tired. Her body is creating a whole other body. That’s a lot of work, not to mention that the further along the pregnancy gets, the heavier mom gets, thus causing her to become more tired. And hormone shifts make her tired, too. Now you know, so now you don’t have to ask.
Do gas up the car for her. Don’t tell her you did. You don’t need a pat on the back. Just do it. See, this is an easy one.
Don’t say, “Man, I wish I could just get comfortable.” Because once your wife hits about the fifth month she is never comfortable, so she will not feel badly for you. No need to complain.
Do go to the doctor with your wife as much as possible to share in this whole experience. Be sure you are always there for good news, but especially be sure you are there just in case there is bad news. Also, go with her when she pre-registers at the hospital. Becoming familiar with the layout of the hospital will make things easier on the day the baby is delivered—even if it’s just finding a parking place.
Don’t call her on something she forgot to do. She’s sick and tired and her hormones are doing strange and annoying things to her. Instead, ask her, “Did you, by chance—but it is absolutely okay if you didn’t get around to it—do _______?” Then add, “If not, oh sweetest person on earth, I will do it.” Use your own words and don’t sound goofy or insincere.
Do arrange a ladies night out for your wife. She needs some time to hang out with friends to be able to take a break and commiserate with other women who have been where she is now. You can try to be understanding, but they really do understand.
Don’t say, “Do you feel as miserable as you look?” I’ve heard this one too…unbelievably. Time to turn that filter on high!
Do ask your wife what she wants you to make for dinner—and actually make dinner. (And don’t ever cook anything that might smell nauseating or contain mercury.) Get in the habit of continually asking her what she needs your help with—and follow through.
Don’t say, “Oh, shoot, I had ______ for lunch” if she makes that for dinner. Wives don’t like that. This is far worse than telling a joke you’re pretty sure nobody has heard before, just to have someone say, “Dude, that’s been around for a while.” This falls perfectly under the category of “What were you thinking?”
Do clean the bathrooms. Yes, the toilets and showers and everything. Your pregnant wife doesn’t need to be bending over trying to scrub the floor behind the toilet, and she doesn’t need to be inhaling those chemicals and fumes. Chances are you’ve used the bathroom, so chances are you’ve helped dirty it. Chances are you should help clean it. While she is pregnant, however, don’t just help clean it—clean it regularly so she doesn’t have to. (And don’t ever come home and exclaim, “Wow, this house is a mess!”)
Don’t ask, “So have you noticed if you’re getting any stretch marks lately?” If she does, definitely don’t ask, “Are they always going to be there, or will they go away?” Listen, she knows she has them, and she’s hoping you don’t.
Do give her a phone call (or instant message or text) now and then just to check on her. She’ll appreciate this sign of your love and concern for her.
Don’t ask her how long it will take her to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. If you ask her about this, you may give her the impression that you will be less attracted to her until she weighs what she did before she became pregnant. She may never get back to that weight. Does it really, truly matter to you? If she really, truly matters to you then the answer is a clear, NO.
Do say, “Wow, honey, you are glowing today!” (And mean it.) This needs to turn into your saying something positive to her every day. She is going to have days when she feels sick, discouraged, overwhelmed, or ugly, and it’s your job to help her feel better.
Don’t get annoyed that your wife made you read this list, or that you’re going to have so much more on your to-do list now. If you ever find yourself thinking, “I can’t do all of that,” stop and ask yourself how your wife has been able to do it all—while pregnant. The responsibilities of running a household should be just as much yours as hers, and while she’s pregnant, they should be even more yours.