October 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm , by Lauren Piro
Big families can be loads of fun—you always a have a group to take to dinner, you could host a mini-Olympics in your backyard if you felt like it, and you get that warm-fuzzy feeling watching siblings bond and grow up together. But lots of children also means, well, lots of work. And pressure. And laundry. Gaby, 34, and Greg, 35, were married 13 years ago and started having kids right away. But when Gaby got pregnant with their fourth child, the couple’s marriage took a huge hit. Read the full story here.
Gaby’s turn: Gaby was a little surprised with she got pregnant for the fourth time, but warmed to the idea quickly since she’s one of five kids. Greg, on the other hand, flew off the handle. He immediately blamed Gaby for being careless with her birth control, and would openly chastise her about it in front of their friends.. When the baby arrived, things only got worse. Greg’s parenting style invoked mostly screaming whenever a few Legos were left lying around, or when their oldest son, Zach, wasn’t the football star dad wanted him to be. Gaby knows that Greg’s job at brokerage firm had become a lot more stressful over the years, but she can’t believe he’s taking out all of his anger on her and the kids. She feels demeaned and ashamed, and the only reason she’s attending counseling is to prepare for an amicable divorce.
Greg’s turn: He knows been a jerk, but didn’t think it had gotten as bad as Gaby says. He loves Gaby and their kids (even if she doesn’t believe it), but still feels they started their family way too young. With kids came less time and energy for dinner with friends, date nights, and, yes, sex. Greg’s company had just laid off hundreds of people when he found out he and Gaby were pregnant again, and he couldn’t help but express how bummed he was about everything. But when he blamed Gaby for accidentally getting pregnant in front of his friends, he thought she knew he was joking. Greg knows he’s a tough disciplinarian (like his own dad was), but feels like Gaby has pitted the kids against him and always disagrees with how he handles things. They barely even talk anymore, but Greg hopes that if he can find a way to calm down, Gaby will give him another chance.
The counselor’s turn: Right off the bat, the counselor made it clear that she believed in saving marriages, and that the couple needed take divorce off the table for six months to give their relationship another real chance. First they needed to understand that Greg’s outbursts were truly damaging verbal abuse. They’d had a lot working against them from the beginning of their marriage (young parenthood, Gaby’s traditional upbringing in which it was taboo for wives to argue, the high standard Greg’s father placed on him during his own childhood), but they needed to open up the lines of communication ASAP. Gaby told Greg that she wasn’t going to tolerate being taunted or belittled anymore; her plan was to calmly leave the room or restaurant if things got out of hand. And if Greg didn’t treat their children better, she’d divorce him. Gaby’s new found self-assuredness was a wake-up call for Greg. He met with a psychologist to manage his stress at work, apologized to the kids for his behavior, and now works side-by-side with Gaby on parenting. He makes sure to show Gaby he loves her everyday, and their intimacy has sky-rocketed. Now, Gaby can’t believe how happy marriage makes her.
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