Q My wife is due in about three months. I’ve read that expectant dads go through a lot of emotional changes but I haven’t had any time to pay attention to what’s going on with me at all. Is this going to change?

A: You’ve had a lot to think about lately and chances are, a lot of what you’ve been thinking about has to do with taking care of other people and things. But at some point this will probably change a little and you’ll find yourself thinking about how this whole pregnancy and impending fatherhood thing is affecting you and on what your needs are.

What kind of a dad are you going to be? Just like your own dad? Just the opposite? Are you going to be able to spend as much time with your baby as you’d like to? What’s going to happen to your social life – not to mention your sex life – after the baby comes? These and other thoughts may preoccupy you.

This sort of “turning inward” is normal. The problem is that changing your focus to all the things that are going on inside your head tends to come at a time when your wife is starting to focus on you, too. As the pregnancy progresses, she may start feeling insecure and will need you to reassure her that you’re always going to be there for her. She’ll probably also be feeling emotionally needy and crave confirmation that you love her and that you’re going to love the baby.

When this happens, pay close attention to her subtle (or not so subtle) hints and make sure she gets the attention she needs. If she doesn’t, she may think you don’t care and her anxieties and fears and worries could get worse.

At the same time, though, don’t forget about your own needs. The combination of your internal monologue and the external pressures coming from your wife can sometimes seem like too much to handle. You may be tempted to try to run away from the external pressures by distancing yourself from your wife. If you can, tell her what’s on your mind; it’ll probably make you feel a lot better. But do it in a non-confrontational sort of way. If she doesn’t react well, reassure her that even though you might be a little preoccupied, you still love her and you’re not going anywhere.

Armin Brott’s most recent books are “The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year, Second Edition” and “Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change.”

You can reach him through his Web site at www.mrdad.com.


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