Pregnant Again? He Splits
Q: I was with this guy for 6 years. I have a three-year-old son and another one on the way by him. When he found out I was pregnant again, he left. He has a new girl now, but he tells everyone he doesn't want to be with her. I really love this man. Should I wait and see if he's going to come back or try to move on? -- Lindsay, 22
Dr. Susan: A lot of relationships begin a downhill slide after the birth of a baby, and many of those never make it back to where they were before. It takes maturity and commitment for a couple to get through the challenges of pregnancy and the early months (and years) of childrearing. What often happens is that the woman is suddenly very busy taking care of the baby and the man feels neglected. Sometimes she really is neglecting him, finding the sweet, innocent, and obviously needy infant much more compelling and worthy of her limited energy, but at other times, the man is being selfish and impatient and can't see that this is the time he has to give more than usual in order to cement the bonds of the growing family unit. Perhaps your guy remembers how hard it was for him to get his needs met after your first child was born, and decided to get out before having to go through that again with this new baby. Which certainly doesn't excuse him in the least.
I can't imagine why he'd tell "everyone" that he doesn't want to be with his new partner. He sounds confused. His behavior is certainly flakey. But you love him and are going to have your second child with him, so he's worth fighting for. Don't just sit around waiting for him to come back, and don't rush off into the arms of someone else so quickly. Get hold of him and insist that you have a serious talk, at the very least for the sake of your children. See if you can find out what's actually troubling him and why he disappeared when you actually need him the most. Is it because you need him so much that he started feeling trapped? Can you assure him you're truly committed to making a family with him, a real family where mom and dad love each other and take one another's feelings into consideration even though the kids obviously need a lot of time and care? Let him know that you'd welcome him coming back now, but that if he waits too long, you'll have to move on for your own sake and the sake of the kids. I wouldn't threaten to withhold the kids from him, but I also wouldn't advise you sitting there like a beggar without a plan of her own. If he is open with you about his fears and motivation for leaving, then do give him the benefit of the doubt if he returns to you and try not to harangue him endlessly. If he won't open up to you, or won't come back, figure out what's best for you and the kids in the long run. And see a lawyer to ensure your financial needs aren't neglected.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.