Carolyn Hax: Married father unsure of what to do with his doubts


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn, When I first started dating my wife, “Maryann”, I was 27 with no plans to settle down. But right away, my family loved Maryann. She’s great: She’s fun to be with, smart, pretty and a really nice person, and she has a great job. My parents and my brothers kept saying, “You should lock it.”

And I did. Now we’re expecting our first child, and I’m dreading it a bit and wondering if this was something I ever wanted. I feel a little trapped.

I can’t tell Maryann that. She is so happy. Is this normal for a man facing fatherhood? There is no one I can talk to about this without feeling like a jerk. What do I do now?

Too much too soon: Grow up fast.

It can mean different things on the stay/walk/speak up/shut up/fake it/do it continuum, but it all falls under “owning it”. You are in this because you listened to external voices like an obedient child instead of listening to your own needs, desires and nature. I think we all make this mistake at one point or another, launching marriages and careers and purchases we can stack to the moon, but I also don’t think that errors in thought process necessarily mean the choices made are wrong.

Anyway, now you have to listen to yourself. And you need to live, breathe, talk, act, love and make choices as a married adult facing parenthood. What does you think it means? What is doing your authentic best?

Feeling like a jerk is part of the process, which we all figure out eventually. But to speak freely, enter a therapeutic setting. State. For the innocent child, if no one else.

I know it’s hard to find someone available, affordable, and compatible, and to admit that you need help with something that everyone else seems to be able to do without help. (Pro tip: few do.) But if you carefully edit your words to make yourself look and feel better, it won’t be the truth, and you won’t get the help you need.

Re: Too much too soon: What you are feeling is normal. Your life has changed, and it’s going to change even more. This is a crazy time, and you’re not a bad person or “immature” (the buzzword for everything women dislike) for feeling overwhelmed. Your wife is no doubt doubting every decision she has ever made right now. The difference is that she gets support for it instead of abuse.

I suspect this will get better for you and you will be fine. In the meantime, I suggest you ask men how they have been during their wives’ first pregnancies.

Anonymous: If you want to write something more sexist, I can update the file ([email protected]).

Other readers’ thoughts:

· Fatherhood (or parenthood) will take everything you have and 100 percent more. It’s best to go into it very conscious of how you take care of yourself. Ask yourself: What do you love to do? What feeds your soul? What fills you up? What stimulates your creativity? What makes you love being alive? Answering these questions will help you not feel “isolated” in a decision you have already made.

· What were your alternative plans when you were 27? I’m not crazy, I swear! It’s just that you don’t mention anything you did or wanted to do that replaced marriage and fatherhood. And now you are unhappy, but you seem to have taken a backseat to the design of your own life.

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