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Help! I've been duped by my wife's pregnancy

Angry, frustrated dad with grown children doesn't know what to do. Dr. Gail Saltz says the first thing he has to do is confront her.
/ Source: TODAY

Q. My wife and I have been married for 22 years. We married young and raised two sons who are now 22 and 18. More than two years ago, I noticed my wife was gaining weight. When I questioned her about whether she was pregnant, she avoided the issue and went about her business.

I told her for years that I never wanted more children. I felt like I wasn't a very good father and the world would be better off without any more children, at least not from me. After months of denial, it finally came out that she was pregnant and we were having a girl. Needless to say, I was furious and not happy at all.

Now my life is upside down. We met financial problems with her being home with a baby and no job. I have to spend my weekends babysitting instead of taking it easy and looking forward to growing old with my wife and boys. My wife blows it off and will not deal with my issues. My wife is 42 and I am 40. The baby is 2. I am angry and hurt at my wife, not at my baby. Can I do anything to resolve this?

A. Maybe. You are in a terribly difficult situation. When it comes to one of life’s major decisions your wife duped you.

She outrageously and underhandedly made this huge decision for you without allowing you any say at all. Understandably, this is a difficult betrayal to forgive.

Resolving the issue if spouses don’t agree on having children is never easy. But it is not a good solution for a wife to unilaterally decide to get pregnant and inflict parenthood on her husband if he doesn’t desire it.

I respect your wish not to punish the baby. None of this is the child’s fault. Your wife, however, has done a real disservice to you. For you to resolve it, she needs to own up to it in some way, which would give you a chance to forgive her.

If she won’t listen to you, you must confront her and make sure she knows that she has put you in a state of perpetual anger and hurt, and has eroded your trust and love for  her — and you don’t know whether you can stay in the marriage unless she is willing to acknowledge that.

Certainly it is optimal for a child to grow up with two married parents, but not if one is chronically angry at the other, and the tension and resentment is palpable.

Your wife doesn’t seem to have a grasp on your feelings about this. Or maybe she doesn’t want to. Maybe she wanted the baby so badly she was willing to risk alienating you. This might be why you have not approached this topic firmly with her — you don’t want to face her response.

If she refuses to own up to what she did and to negotiate your future, nobody but you can decide whether this is worth leaving the marriage over.

It sounds as though, before this baby, you thought you were happy with your marriage. I wonder whether this is the case. Did you know your wife so badly wanted a child? Did you yourself refuse to discuss it, or give her reason to feel she couldn’t talk about it with you? I wonder if you are revealing the full story, even to yourself. That doesn’t excuse your wife, but it might help explain what transpired.

It also sounds as though you don’t know each other very well, and have work to do to remedy this.

Dr. Gail’s Bottom Line: Whether to have children, and how many, is a major life decision. If a couple doesn’t agree, this should be negotiated before the children arrive.