*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Finding out you will be a parent is usually a unique moment you will remember for years to come, but sometimes it's not a happy time, and the way your spouse reacts can make you feel sad or confused. What can you do when your spouse is overcome by emotions on learning about the baby and then leaves the house the next day?
Should you wait for them to think things through, or is it an indication they're giving up on you and the family you're about to have together?
My friend Carrie has been married to her husband, Jack, for three years. They worked hard during the first two years of their marriage so they could afford to buy their own home in Phoenix, Arizona.
"It was very important to us. To stop living on rent and have our own place. I didn't want to have kids in a rented apartment, and my husband felt the same way," Carrie said.
Once they could afford mortgage payments, they moved into their new home, and Carrie started thinking about a family. She told her husband it would be nice to be parents soon, but he kept giving her reasons to wait.
"I thought he was just being cautious because we had to keep up with monthly payments, but we could easily do that from his salary only if we had kids. So, I saw no reason to postpone it any longer," Carrie said.
Her husband didn't say anything against having kids, and they discussed the issue before getting married. At the time, he told her he would like to wait at least eight years before having kids and that it would matter to him to get the chance to be in love, not just to parent together.
"I understood that, but having kids didn't mean we would stop being a couple. I was sure he'd see that once we had babies. I intended to make time to be a wife and a mom, too," Carrie said.
Even if she was sure having kids wouldn't affect her marriage, Carrie agreed to wait to be a mom a while longer. However, things didn't go the way the couple expected, and she found out she was pregnant just before their third anniversary.
"It was a surprise, but I still felt thankful and happy. I cooked a nice dinner and got ready to tell my husband, too, so we could share the joy. I asked him to come home a bit earlier from work, and he got curious once I said we needed to talk about something important," Carrie recalls.
As soon as he got back home, Jack wanted to know what had happened. He didn't wait for Carrie to serve dinner or dessert. She had planned to tell him about the baby while they were enjoying their dessert, but she had to tell him right when they sat down to eat because he wasn't patient at all. And once he found out he would be a dad, the situation only got worse.
"All his impatience turned to worries and stress. He told me how much harder it would be for us to live while looking after a baby, that we would never get any rest and kept at it for 20 minutes. After that, he said he felt there was no hope and started crying. I didn't know what to do. Why did I have to pat his back and convince him it wasn't as bad as it seemed? It was a happy thing, and he was upset about it," Carrie said.
Her husband kept crying for at least an hour after that, and nothing Carrie said could make him more positive. He just didn't see the good side of being a parent and reacted like his life would change completely without him agreeing to it.
And when she pointed out it was their baby and not her fault only, he refused to talk to her. Carrie still heard him crying in their spare bedroom all night.
And the next day, she got another surprise. Jack had packed his things and left her a note saying he was moving out.
"He cried when he heard we're having a baby; then he packed and moved out. His note said the baby wasn't something he wanted and that we'd agreed to wait eight years. He didn't want anything to do with the baby or me, and I felt overwhelmed. How could that happen on a day that should have been filled with happiness?" Carrie said.
She called her mom and dad and asked them to stay over for a few days until she figured out what she would do. In the meantime, her in-laws let her know Jack was staying with a friend in another state and didn't want her to call or text him at all.
'Why was I being treated like I had done something wrong? Even my mother-in-law told me she didn't approve of what her son was doing, but there was nothing she could do about it," Carrie said.
What do you think about this situation? Was it fair for Jack to just pack and go without talking to Carrie and trying to find a solution for their family? Is it likely he will come back and want to help her raise the baby, or does this mean they will have to get a divorce?
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