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Ask Amy: Guilt for long-ago behavior won’t fade

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Forty years ago, my wife was pregnant for one trimester. I’ve never forgiven myself for how I acted during those few months.

The pregnancy was planned, but instead of being pleased, doubts and fears assailed me. Rather than being supportive and optimistic with my wife, I was bad-tempered and unsympathetic. I felt trapped and resentful.

Then it all ended with a sad miscarriage and a consuming feeling of guilt over the way I’d acted.

Wanting to atone, I was supportive through five years of humiliating infertility treatments before I finally said I couldn’t take it anymore. She agreed. We gave up trying.

Was my behavior during that brief pregnancy as unforgivable as I think it was, or do other people have similar feelings in such situations?

If I found they did, maybe I could forgive myself.

 

– Guilt-ridden Man

Dear Guilt: Yes, anxiety, doubts and fears during pregnancy are common – for pregnant women and their partners.

Do I know of men who have been unsupportive and bad-tempered during their partner’s pregnancy and the early days of parenthood? Of course. And pregnant women can exhibit similar behaviors. (I can’t possibly be the only one.)

Pregnancy can be an extremely stressful experience, and people who don’t take the time and effort to decode their internal feelings and seek ways to behave well tend to behave poorly, lashing out instead of coping with their own vulnerability.

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