Resentment & the New Dad

Pregnancy is stressful for Mom and Dad both. Mom gets most of the attention though, which can wear down an expectant father.

The first step in keeping your spirits up under stress is to communicate with your partner, family, friends, and health-care professionals. Let them know what you need, what you're thinking, and what you're feeling. (Yes, even what you're feeling!)

Open communication unlocks the psychological pressure valves and makes it easier to tune into the good, exciting, and energizing things happening in your pregnancy. And those regular doses of exhilaration will give you energy and adrenaline to carry you through the stresses of expecting—and even labor and delivery!

When it comes to your partner's emotional health, remember the value of an occasional and strategic white lie. No, you shouldn't pretend that green is blue (I never pretend; I'm colorblind and can't tell the difference!), nor should you stifle important thoughts and feelings.

But there are occasions when you help your cause—and ease your partner's stress—by delivering a "Yes, dear" or a "No, you look fabulous," even if that's not your genuine sentiment at the moment. The keyword is strategic. This is one time when less is more in a loving relationship. You don't want to get yourself into jams requiring a white lie so often that you develop bad habits. However, an occasional, considerate "fib" can make both of you feel better.

Finally, to help you both have a less-stressful experience, throw resentment out of your expectant dad's toolbox and don't let it back in. For example, you may be tempted to feel resentful when she gets all the attention and you seem to be ignored. But choosing resentment as a tool to respond is bound to jam your gears.

Resentment never delivers on its “I’ll show you!” promise. Author Elizabeth Gilbert compares resemt,ent to smoking: ”Even one puff is bad for you.”

Resentment eats away at the resentor long before it has much impact (if any) on the resentee. When you resent something that's happening, the first person you undermine is yourself. Plus, resentment never changes the problem. Change comes from action and constructive attitudes.

Instead of resentment, try showing kindness to someone—even the person you’re struggling with. Do something that regenerates your energy and spirit. And, the most effective antidote for resentment is gratitude. Think of something you’re grateful for (e.g., you going to have a baby!) Make a short gratitude list every night before you go to sleep: five things you appreciate in your life. Do it for a few nights and you’ll feel the difference.

Bottom line? If an expectant dad is resentful, then he can expect nothing but trouble. So do yourself a favor, and don't go there.

Adapted from Idiot's Guides: Pregnancy for Dads by Joe Kelly, copyright 2014 Alpha Books and used by permission.

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