Ahoy there Captain,
Hope you are doing okay!
Real low stakes question from me today. After too long a time of trying, husband and I are finally pregnant and husband, adorable creature that he is, is doing his all to be supportive. I have never had so many back rubs.
Part of this support is insisting that he do anything physical so I don’t have to. This includes but is not limited to carrying the shopping, pushing the trolley at Ikea, lifting heavy things, standing on the step to reach the high cupboards, fetching my water/vitamins/snacks etc.
I am mostly fine with all this, especially because one of the symptoms has been slight dizziness (I’d rather not risk falling from anywhere). I also know that husband needs to feel involved particularly after feeling helpless during our struggles with infertility.
But, I am an independent woman, and while I know that I am cool with this now and think its kind of cute, I also know that my temper is not all that kind when I am physically uncomfortable and actually I am pretty sure that something will irritate me to the point of emotional explosion when I am in the latter stages of growing a human and actually physically cannot do certain things anymore. Especially if he is heading into over-protective territory now.
I don’t know how to say “back off, I can still carry the groceries” in a way that wont hurt his feelings when he really needs to feel involved and helpful – after all its pretty much up to me and (mostly at this stage) the collection of cells in my uterus as to whether or not it continues growing and turns into a screaming, pooping bundle-of-joy.
Any advice is much appreciated.
Thanks a bunch,
My Eggo is Preggo (she/her)
Congratulations on expecting your first child! And thank you for the chance to answer a Nice People With Good Problems brand of question.
(And things are good here, Mr. Awkward is home from hospital, through his crisis, and we’re getting back into a routine, thanks for asking.)
I have a possibly over-simple suggestion for rethinking the “Let me help you with that!”/”No, I can do it myself!” debate.
There are some things you can still do but he would like to do them to demonstrate helpfulness/as prep for when you can’t.
There are some things you can still do and you would like to do them now.
Since there are definitely things you will need him to do when it will be hard for you to do them, and you do need to take stuff like dizziness seriously, you probably don’t want to set up a dynamic where if he offers help he’ll get yelled at so he stops offering altogether and then you have to ask him about every little thing. You also don’t need to spend the next half a year flinching.
So, make an agreement, now, between you, that it’s okay for him to offer to do something for you – it’s not an implication that you can’t do whatever it is, it’s an indication that he would like to do it for you. And one possible answer to his offer is “Thanks, but I’d like to do that myself (while I still can).”
Be explicit about using a question and answer format about helping stuff, too. He should replace “Let me do that!” or just jumping in to do it with a question – “Can I get that for you?” and wait to give you a chance to answer.
Also agree between you that if you say you’d like to do something, he needs to back off and let you do it. It’s not the start of a negotiation.
I think that tiny shift in language can help you shift the dynamic quite a bit. “I want to help/do that for you” doesn’t mean “Because I think you can’t,” and if you’d say you’d like to carry the groceries, you’re still the boss of you.
Best wishes for a smooth pregnancy and delivery!