Soap operas have nothing on the family drama we’ve seen being discussed lately on Reddit, where real people have taken to describing some truly awful interpersonal relations. It’s especially hard to read about the hurtful things parents can do to each other, like one story from a dad whose wife has lied to him about her unplanned pregnancy with their son two years ago. What makes us really worried, however, is that the slash-and-burn attitude of Reddit readers may encourage people to make rash decisions they’ll regret later.
“My wife and I started dating in 2015 and dated for 3 years,” throwRA-lifeisalie began his story in the relationship_advice subreddit. “In early 2018, I started feeling like we were drifting apart and that the relationship was reaching its natural conclusion, and I ended the relationship.”
A month later, the woman told him she was pregnant, so they reunited. They’ve been raising their son together and got married last year. He says he is more “hands-on” with their son, but he has never doubted her love for him. When he started to pressure her about having a second child recently, however, she dropped a bombshell on him.
“[T]onight my wife admitted that she actually planned her pregnancy with our son but that she didn’t really want the baby at all, she just wanted to keep me around/knew that if she was pregnant I wouldn’t break up with her/knew that I would get back together with her, but she planned it just so I would stay with her and she doesn’t actually enjoy having him, she just wanted to be with me,” throwRA-lifeisalie in one tragic run-on sentence.
He is understandably hurt by this revelation, and also worried about what it means about her relationship with their son.
If you’ve read Reddit relationship threads, you might be able to guess what the majority of responses suggest this dad do: Go straight to divorce, do not try therapy, and eventually get a new mom for the boy.
“That’s heartbreaking, I’m really sorry,” Tinytania84 wrote. “The way in which you have handled things is truly amazing. Personally, I’d take my child and be gone and I would focus all my love and attention on them so they know they have at least one person who loves them unconditionally. I’m disgusted by your wife’s behavior.”
The act of purposely getting pregnant without the consent of a partner is seriously wrong. It’s manipulative at best, abusive at worst. It is usually called out as abuse and labeled reproductive coercion when male partners do this to women or girls by messing with their birth control, sabotaging condoms, or not pulling out as promised. And though ThrowRA did want a child and his sexual relations with his partner were consensual, what she did was also reproductive coercion.
We’re going to throw in a “but” here, and not everyone’s going to like it. Even though it was totally wrong of her to do, we don’t know enough from this post to agree that there’s no hope for this family. For one thing, lots of people start off not wanting children but wind up still being great, loving parents. For another, show me a parent of a toddler who would call every moment of raising their children “enjoyable.” I love my son more than anything in the world, but a few years ago, you definitely could have caught me on a bad day saying that I did not enjoy being a mother. ThrowRA says that before this conversation, “I’ve never had any reason to doubt that my wife loves our son.”
So, no, we don’t think this is grounds for cutting her out of their lives forever. We don’t even know anything about what she was feeling in the midst of telling her husband this. Was he putting undue pressure on her to have another baby, when she feels adamantly one and done? Was telling him this the only way to get him to stop? Did she drop this bombshell because she wants to have a more honest relationship going forward?
The Redditors could be right. She may a “monster” and a “psychopath” as many have called her. Bu some of them also seem to be working out some of the damage done to them by exes and cruel parents as they write their advice.
We’d like to suggest that Reddit should not get the final word about what happens next to this family. We’d also like to suggest that no one EVER, EVER do this to a partner. Children deserve to be raised by parents who love them, not parents who think they’re a means to an end.
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