As a client advocate in a pregnancy center, I have heard many women tell me that their partners will “support them whatever they decide.” Although this initially sounds like the most helpful thing someone can say, it leaves many feeling confused or alone in their decision-making. Let’s explore what this phrase means and how it can both harm and help in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy.
Avenue Women’s Center is a limited medical clinic that has been providing services geared towards women facing unplanned pregnancy since 1981. No matter what level of support a woman has received from her partner, we are here to help. We provide a listening ear, a non-judgmental environment, and a safe place to process a pregnancy decision. Couples or individuals are invited to visit one of our six DuPage County locations for a free pregnancy consultation. Contact us today!
If you’re reading this article, you have probably heard “I’ll support you whatever you decide” personally, or experienced it through a friend. You may have even uttered the words yourself. Support during an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is a tricky thing and knowing what to say or how to accurately convey a level of support can be difficult.
What is helpful about “I’ll support you whatever you decide?”
Navigating a pregnancy decision creates its own mixture of emotions. For women, they are not only experiencing the stress of the situation but the pregnancy hormones as well. If you throw in a relationship component, another layer of dynamics has to be considered.
Men are experiencing various emotions as well. An unplanned pregnancy can throw anyone for a loop and call into questions hopes and plans for the future.
Saying, “I’ll support you whatever you decide,” could be helpful depending on your relationship. Was it a casual encounter and there’s not much history? Perhaps this is a way of saying that there isn’t much investment and it’s truly up to the woman to decide. Was it a long-term relationship? Then, maybe it’s a way of trying to express support and affirming the woman’s decision.
BUT either way, if this is the intention, the phrase needs a bit of clarification. Here’s why. “I’ll support you whatever you decide” does not allow the man to express anything regarding his individual thoughts or feelings.
What makes “I’ll support you whatever you decide” harmful?
Many women we’ve met with have wanted to know where their partner is at in the midst of the decision-making process. What is he feeling? What is going on inside his head?
Sometimes saying “I’ll support you whatever you decide” comes across as a way to place all responsibility on the woman for the decision. It could also seem like a way to avoid sharing true thoughts, feelings and opinions in regards to the situation. This could be especially difficult if each partner’s decision differs from the other.
Also, our culture has made it seem like this is the correct way to handle the situation as men. The world around us has told men that this is the most helpful and appropriate thing to say. Saying this phrase has become the “magic password” for handling a pregnancy decision.
Unfortunately, that leaves everyone at a disadvantage. Men are unable to express their decision. And women feel the absence of their involvement in the decision-making process. Is it possible to compromise so that each person’s perspective is validated?
Moving forward in communication and compromise
Each person can express themselves in a way that receives validation. Men, you can share what you are thinking and feeling without it being conveyed as the final decision. Couples can talk about what might look best for them, with both partners participating. Women, you can exert a level of independence without taking away from your partner’s responses. Perhaps there’s more there that he’s not sharing with you out of concern for how you might respond. Don’t wait until after the decision to find out that he had questions or was feeling a certain way.
Communication is key in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy. The situation must be talked about and worked through. Openness, honesty, and vulnerability are helpful in moving forward. Being able to say, “I’ll support you whatever you decide, but here’s what I am feeling,” may be a good first step.
When support is vital, Avenue Women’s Center is also here to help. We have come alongside couples and individuals as they have made their pregnancy decisions for the past four decades. Our caring client advocates are able to provide information, support, and a unique perspective. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our six DuPage County locations.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.