Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Offer ideas to prevent problems spouse fears in having child No. 2
Wanting One More: My husband and I have a 2-year-old. I am ready to have a second child, but he is not sure. I'm really heartbroken about the possibility of not having another child.
He claims I was difficult during the pregnancy; yes, I was stressed out, but everything was new, and I had a full-time job. I'm a stay-at-home mom now, with an idea of what to expect. Plus, he doesn't think he can handle the exhaustion of the six months after the birth. I understand the exhaustion, but I also realize we have a pretty fantastic child now, the exhaustion is short-lived and the sacrifice early on is worth it. How can I help him to see things my way?
Carolyn: Actually, I would suggest trying to see things his way. Then apply some creative thinking to show that you respect his objections and have ideas for preventing the problems you had the first time around.
For example, maybe you won't be stressed out this time, given that you won't be working a full-time job, but you will have a 3-year-old — a challenge that, if we use the same scale as for rapids, might turn out to be a Class 5 where your job was a comparatively breezy Class 2.
Since you can't anticipate how crabby you'll be pregnant or how tired you'll be nursing (this time, while juggling a toddler), you'll have to stick to things you can promise him, like incorporating help/nutrition/yoga to keep your workload manageable, your naps regular and your moods level.
He's more likely to be receptive to your ideas — whatever stress-prevention tactics you settle on — if you simply acknowledge and respect his concerns, vs. picking them off one by one with no-that-won't-happen counterarguments based on factors you can't foresee.
Changing relationship difficult for mother and daughter
D.C.: My mother and I have always been really close. In recent years, I've been growing and changing a lot, and my mother doesn't necessarily support all of these changes. That's fine, but the way she expresses this isn't, often coming off really negative and dismissive. It hurts my feelings, especially because we've been so close. One of my changes is to not people-please so much, which I've managed to do with others, but feels so much harder with my mother. Any suggestions?
Carolyn: Please acknowledge — both to yourself, and to her — that it's hard for someone in her position to feel her bedrock start to shift.
Of course, this doesn't justify her negativity. Your people-pleasing habit likely originated with her firm expectations of you — or, more precisely, with her subtle emotional punishment when you didn't measure up. Now that you're acting less like the daughter she envisioned and evolving more into your own person, that punishment has resumed.
Staying close through this transition requires both of you to suck it up. For your part, you'll need integrity to stick to the path you think is right for you, and compassion to stay patient and inclusive as your mom struggles to change (or refuses to).
Her part is to get over herself and accept you — and she might not do it. In that case, consider your integrity/patience/compassion mandate to be an indefinite one.