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Unexpected Pregnancy: She Needs You!

The news came out of the blue. She’s pregnant, and you didn’t plan for this. She just told you, and now that the initial shock has dissipated, you may feel conflicting and scary emotions. An unexpected pregnancy can definitely be extremely daunting for both partners, including you. But she needs you to be there for her and to take responsibility. Did you know that many women feel a lack of partner support and as a consequence, decide to have an abortion that they later regret? The thing is, a lack of support when facing an unexpected pregnancy is not necessarily something straightforward. It’s not just direct threats or violence. By your words and behavior, you have the power to show not only support but also love and respect for your partner. 

Scare her unexpected pregnancy

Words And Behaviors That May Scare Her

  • A lack of presence. Sometimes, men vanish into thin after learning about an unexpected pregnancy. Fear creeps in and they feel like they need space to process the information. The downside is that their partners may start to believe that they simply can’t count on them. As a result, it may exacerbate the partner’s own fears. If you are tempted to flee for whatever reason, you may want to ask your partner for a little bit of time to process the information, and she may very well allow you to do so. But remember that this pregnancy is about both of you. 
  • Telling your partner “your body, your choice, you decide”. Letting her choose for herself is not a bad thing in itself, but most women need to know that their partner cares and supports them. By asking her to choose alone, she may believe that you don’t have a preference regarding the pregnancy or that you don’t care enough to think about it too much. 
  • Saying “I’m not sure we will make it if you keep the baby”. An unexpected pregnancy has the potential to call everything into question concerning your life and your relationship. You might face a great deal of doubt, especially if your relationship is shaky. Will you be able to make it? Or will this baby be too much to handle? It’s perfectly normal to not know and to feel scared. However, being clear in your intentions and the way you formulate them may make a great difference in her own reaction. You may not know what the future holds, but you have the ability to decide what you want to fight for. 
  • Guilt-tripping her by saying things like “you must have forgotten to take your birth control pill, so it’s your fault”. She might indeed have forgotten, but in all likelihood, you both decided to have sex. Therefore, you are both responsible for this pregnancy. Saying those types of things, even jokingly, may cause great harm and add unnecessary pressure to the situation.

Unexpected Pregnancy

What She Needs From You When Facing An Unexpected Pregnancy

So how should you react to an unplanned pregnancy? First, understand that your partner probably feels the same strong emotions as you. Take the time to listen to her and show clear support. It’s not wrong to express your vulnerability, but do not say “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure” or “you choose”. Instead, say something such as “I may feel scared right now, but I make the decision to be there for you because I love you. We will do our best to make it together”. 

Additionally, try to put things into perspective and to ask yourself what really scares you. Is it just the pregnancy or something deeper? In the end, you don’t have to have all the answers, and that’s alright. If you want to get support, you can reach out to us. Lifeline has a program called DadLine that is specifically designed for current and expectant dads. You can schedule an appointment right now with one of our fatherhood mentors, and we will be glad to help! You don’t have to face this alone.

Resources:

https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2005/reasons-us-women-have-abortions-quantitative-and-qualitative-perspectives

What If You Are Being Pressured To Have An Abortion?

An unexpected pregnancy always comes with a little bit of shock and confusion. This can be tricky to navigate when you feel pressure (intentional or not) from your partner. In the decision-making process, you first need to be aware of the different types of pressure you may face. 

Recognize The Different Types of Pressure

Types of Pressure

Pressure can come in more or less insidious forms. It can be direct, indirect, or situational. 

  • Direct pressure:

This is when a woman’s partner acts in a straightforward manner by clearly telling her to terminate the pregnancy. He may not give her any choice and might even get violent with her (verbally and physically) if she refuses to have the abortion.

  • Indirect pressure:

This one is more subtle but can be just as persuasive when it comes to making someone opt for abortion. And the sad thing is, the partner may not even be aware of the possible negative consequences his words and actions can have. For instance, he may say things like “I don’t know if our relationship will make it if you keep the baby”, or he may disappear at the announcement of the pregnancy, or constantly change his mind about what he wants. The key point here is that by not being clear about his intentions, he may plant the seed of doubt in his partner’s mind. The latter might think that she should have an abortion in order to make him happy. Or she might convince herself that she changed her mind on her own.

  • Situational pressure:

Lastly, there is situational pressure, that can be quite tricky to pinpoint. This happens when a woman starts imagining her future and becomes scared. She may not have had a dad growing up, therefore, she may not want to inflict the same traumatic experience on her own child, in case her partner leaves her. Or she might be fearful of financial impacts or how she will be able to accomplish the goals she sat for herself while raising a child. 

All types of pressure may create fear. But the pregnancy in itself may not even be the real issue. Instead, the problem and the root cause of pressure are sometimes found deeper, in the person’s emotions, upbringing, or level of information. Above all, there are some strategies you can implement if you think your partner is pressuring you into having an abortion.

What To Do When You Feel Pressured To Have An Abortion

Pressured Abortion

  • Get informed:

Get informed about options from local organizations that can support you, as well as about pregnancy in general. Lifeline, for example, offers pregnancy and parenting education, ultrasounds, material resources, a program for dads, and much more, all at no cost. You can learn more about our services right now.

  • Give your partner some time:

Give him time to process the news of your pregnancy as he may feel overwhelmed too. Talk to him about what you have learned. Offer for him to accompany you to an ultrasound so he can see the developing baby and listen to the baby’s heartbeat (if you are far enough along). This may open his eyes to the fact that you are indeed carrying life inside you.

  • Get support:

In order to make the best decision for yourself, you need to know that you are not alone. Find someone who will listen to you and give you space to process your feelings, not tell you what they think you should do. That could be a friend, a family member, or someone else. At Lifeline, our professional counselor receives both men and women to discuss pregnancy, parenting, and relationships in general. Our sessions are strictly confidential and at no cost

  • Ask yourself questions:

What yourself what you really want for your future. Panic can easily set in at the discovery of an unexpected pregnancy. This is why it’s important to put things into perspective. Ask yourself “What do I really want for my life and not just for this moment in time?”. “How will I feel if I decide to have an abortion because someone forced me?”

  • Know what the law says:

Ultimately, you need to know what your rights are and what your partner can and cannot do, especially if he perseveres in wanting you to abort. What if he becomes violent? How should you react if he threatens you to take your other kids from you if you don’t listen to him?

What The Law Says

Law forced abortion

First, you need to know that forcing someone to have an abortion is never okay. It is considered coercion and coercion is illegal. “Most states have criminal charges for coercion and also allow for civil action by district attorneys or Attorneys General”. 

In addition, coercion is a form of abuse, as defined by Missouri’s Domestic Violence Act. Coercion is the act of “Compelling a person by force or threat of force to engage in conduct from which the person has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage.” So if you are feeling scared and threatened by your partner, whether physically or emotionally, Missouri’s law allows you to request an order of protection. To do that, you will need to fill out a form

  • What about your other children?

Now, what if your partner intimidates you by saying he will take your other children away from you if you do not obey him? Doing so without your consent is illegal and you can request an emergency custody order. As for normal custody, judges make decisions according to the child’s best interest. They review several factors, including “The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved”. Moreover, if you and your partner are not married, you have a higher chance to obtain custody than him, as “in Missouri, custody of a child whose parents are not married is most often granted to the mother.”

Lastly, if you have already made an appointment for an abortion, you are allowed to withhold or withdraw your consentwithout affecting [your] rights to future care or treatment and without the loss of any state or federally funded benefits to which [you] might otherwise be entitled.”

Even if you have initiated a medical abortion by taking the first abortion pill, it may not be too late. Lifeline offers abortion pill reversal at no cost. You can read more about the process by checking this FAQ. For more free services such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and counseling sessions, contact us to make an appointment. We are here to help you!

*Please note this information in no way constitutes legal advice, nor does Lifeline ever offer legal advice. This information is for informational purposes only. Lifeline will help you find legal representation should you need to discuss this matter with a legal professional. 

Resources:

https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/what-is-coercion-law.html#:~:text=State%20Coercion%20Laws&text=The%20statutory%20definition%20of%20coercion,force%20was%20used%20or%20threatened.

https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=69655

https://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=533

https://www.womenslaw.org/laws/mo/parental-kidnapping?open_id=36295

https://cordellcordell.com/resources/missouri/missouri-child-custody-questions/

https://legalbeagle.com/6311941-missouri-custody-rights-unmarried-parents.html

https://health.mo.gov/living/families/womenshealth/pregnancyassistance/pdf/InformedConsentChecklist.pdf

Cohabitation – “The New Marriage”

Times have changed. Fifty years ago living together as romantic partners without being married was fairly uncommon. Only about 0.2% of 25-to 34-year olds shared their home in 1968, but today this number has increased to 15%. In contrast, marriage has decreased from 59% in 1978 to only 30% presently for the same age group (25 to 34 year olds). In what camp are you? Do you believe that cohabitation is necessary in order to “give the relationship a try”? Have you boldly declared that it would be impossible for you to get married without “testing the waters” first? There sure seems to be a lot of popular wisdom behind the reasons given in favor of cohabitation but what does research have to say? How does cohabitation impact your relationships and how does it affect child well-being? If you are unsure about whether you’d rather just live together or tie the knot first, or if you are already cohabiting but are curious to learn more, this post is for you. 

Cohabitation and relationships

The National Marriage Project and The Wheatley Institution released a report in February 2019 assessing the link between cohabitation and relationship stability, commitment and satisfaction. Their findings may sound gloomy, but knowledge is essential when evaluating and making important decisions about your life. At Lifeline we strive to help you have fact-based information to make the best decisions for your life.

  • According to the report, living together without being married puts your relationship at a higher risk of temporary and definitive break-ups. Cohabiting couples are overall 26% less stable than married, and if they decide to marry, they also appear to have an increased likelihood of divorce. Some experts, including researcher Scott Stanley, attribute this fact to what they call “relationship inertia”. Simply put, cohabitation might make you decide to marry someone you would not have chosen if you had simply dated. The culprit? The shared responsibilities and the convenience of the cohabiting situation make it harder to leave. 
  • As for relationship commitment, cohabiting couples are 15% less likely to be committed to each other and therefore are more at risk of experiencing sexual infidelity than married people.
  • Finally, the general satisfaction of cohabiting couples is also lower by 12% than those of married people.  And what about marriage, you might ask? Contrary to popular belief, 70 to 80% of marriages are actually happy.

So does this mean that cohabitation dooms your relationship from the very beginning? Not necessarily, as each relationship is different. In addition, Scott Stanley has made the observation that cohabiting couples can have the same outcomes as married ones if:

  • They have only ever cohabited with the person they marry;
  • They set up a clear and mutual plan to marry before they move in together;
  • They don’t cohabit before the age of 23.

Cohabitation and child well-being

So what about children? Today, about one-quarter of them are born to cohabiting parents, compared to only 6% in the 1980s. It is often argued that the decision to have a baby together creates a comparable, if not stronger and longer-lasting bond than marriage. If you are one of these parents, you might want to know if your children will fare the same as those born to married couples…

The answer is not straightforward, as children’s well-being is also dependent on other factors. For example, adolescents are more resilient than younger children and boys were found to need more stability growing up than girls. Overall though it is widely recognized that the well-being of children living with cohabiting parents is lower than those of married parents.

  • Higher risk of poverty and child abuse: Finally, it is important to note that children whose parents are not married are more likely to live in poverty and experience physical or psychological child-abuse. This may not apply to you at all since this fact seems to depend a lot on the family background prior to moving in together, and not so much on the type of union chosen (marriage or cohabitation). However, it is something that remains true and is important to keep in mind.

Would you like to discuss your own family situation with a counselor? Are you facing an unplanned pregnancy and unsure what to do? At Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic, we provide confidential and no-cost services including counseling, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, education and more. Visit our website for more information. We are here to help.

Resources:

https://lifelinepregnancyhelp.org/good-news-about-marriage/

https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/11/cohabitaiton-is-up-marriage-is-down-for-young-adults.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/sliding-vs-deciding/201407/the-hidden-risk-cohabitation

https://ifstudies.org/blog/for-kids-parental-cohabitation-and-marriage-are-not-interchangeable

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768758/

Marriage: If You Don’t Believe In It (Anymore), Read This!

“Why is marriage such a big deal? Why do people still want to marry when it is statistically proven that half of them will have their dream of a lifelong commitment crushed sooner or later?” Do you recognize yourself in those interrogations? Have you lost all hope when it comes to marriage because of all the bad news you hear and see around you constantly? Maybe you are married yourself and are struggling, especially when you look around and notice couples who seem to have it more together than you do. If this is you right now, keep reading! As a pro-family organization committed to providing you with the right information about relationships and marriage, Lifeline decided to investigate the subject! 

What are the current divorce statistics?

Did you know that most marriages do last a lifetime? This is what the author Shaunti Feldhahn uncovered in her book entitled “Good News About Marriage: Debunking the Myths About Marriage and Divorce”, published in 2014. Along with her assistant Tally Whitehead, they researched the subject of marriage and divorce for eight years. What they found is eye-opening:

  • Contrary to the usual misconception, only about 30% of marriages end in divorce. A survey done by the Census Bureau in 2009 found that 72% of people were still married to their first spouse, and 65% of women to their second spouse.
  • The divorce rate has actually never come close to the 50% number we often hear. 

As you can see, the state of our unions is not as desperate as you may have been led to believe. The mistaken assertion that half of marriages are doomed mostly comes from research misinterpretation, such as: faulty quotes found in the news that then become widespread through social media, or divorce rate projections that never come true and thus, are not facts. The author warns us that entering marriage with these false numbers can make you feel on guard or bring a sense of futility when what is most needed is hope.

Are the majority of marriages happy?

“But does it necessarily mean that these marriages are happy? What would be the point in staying together if I am unhappy?” You are right to ask those questions. Here are some answers:

  • Most marriages are actually happy. Many studies on marital happiness have been carried out, and their results give a 70 to 80% estimate of happily married couples. The book author added her own contribution when she surveyed over 600 couples. She asked them separately whether they were happy, so that neither spouse could hear what the other had to say. 71% of the responders said they were happy, with 34% of them being “very happy”.
  • Most spouses (99%) deeply care about each other. That is what the author found in her book called “The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages”. According to her, that number is only a few points less in troubled marriages.
  • 95% of individuals say they married the right person. A CBS News Poll from 2010 has also shown, for example, that 90 to 93% of married Americans would marry their spouse again.

What about those who are unhappy?

Even if these statistics are reassuring, it doesn’t invalidate the fact that marriage is not always easy, and yes, some couples really do struggle. However, all is not lost. According to the author’s findings, in most so-so or unhappy marriages, 82% of the time, one partner is simply unaware that the other is struggling. This could be due to a lack of communication or the spouses having divergent love languages. Indeed, we all like to express and receive love differently, and we need to be aware of this fact. If you want to learn more about the 5 love languages, click her to read Lifeline’s article about it. The other encouraging fact for couples with issues is the 5 year rule. According to the Institute for American Values, most unhappy married couples will be happy if they stay committed for five years. Of course, this is harder said than done, but as the author reminds us, the majority of marital issues tend to be about the small things rather than big problems.

If you are facing an emotional struggle or a challenge related to your marriage, parenting, or if you find yourself in an unexpected pregnancy, Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic is here for you! Reach out to us to learn more about the many no cost services we provide.

Resources:

https://lifelinepregnancyhelp.org/love-languages/

What is Love?

Modeling true love for your kids.

Love…it’s a word we throw around a ton, but have a hard time defining. We might say we’re “in-love” with someone, but what is that all about? When we use the same word to describe our feelings about pizza or our favorite movie, what does it really mean to love another person, especially in a romantic relationship?

As new or expectant parents, we need to remember that our relationships with adults affect our relationships with our kids. Michael Einev suggests in research published in The Journal of Psychology that the quality of marital relationships between parents influences the expectations their children have about their own future intimate relationships. The ways we show love in every area of our lives become our kids’ working definitions of what love is and how human beings should be treated.

A dictionary definition might not be the best way to figure this out, so let’s talk about what true love looks like and what it doesn’t look like. There are so many ways to show someone you love them, but we’ll discuss some major defining characteristics that set love apart from just a crush or infatuation.

Real love…

  • Respects. You can’t have love without respect. Respect means to hold esteem for a person, to recognize their priceless value and act on that. This includes speaking kindly, honoring each other’s boundaries, and listening well.
  • Is loyal. Love looks like standing up for somebody else, not going behind their back. Loyalty is like respecting another person even when they’re not present. In a romantic relationship, this means staying true to each other and saying no to other romantic interests.
  • Cares about others’ needs. When we love another person, we do what we can to help them be healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, socially, and spiritually. Love means thinking beyond our own desires and preferences to meet another’s needs.
  • Grows with time. Feelings fade, but love lasts. It’s a choice. We can choose to love someone every day, even when we aren’t necessarily happy or feeling out-of-this-world-in-love. As we keep choosing that person, we can get better and better at loving them.
  • Has boundaries. This may sound restrictive, but one of the most loving things we could do for another person is to set ground rules together for the relationship. Boundaries are limits we make for ourselves that tell us what is healthy or unhealthy. For instance, having physical boundaries: what kind of touch is appropriate for this relationship, or what activities should be saved for when this relationship is more committed? Or emotional boundaries: what is appropriate to say to each other? How much time should we be spending together?

This all might sound pretty straight forward, but our culture confuses us with all kinds of unhealthy misconceptions about love. Let’s tackle the characteristics of infatuation, or “fake love.”

Fake love…

  • Obsesses or possesses. It might feel like love if you can’t stop thinking about that person, or hate to see them with someone else, but this is actually toxic. If one or both parties tries to control the other’s schedule, behavior, body, or anything else that belongs to them, this is manipulation, a warning sign of abuse.
  • Revolves around physical attraction. Though being attracted to someone physically can be an important part of a romantic relationship, that should never be the primary focus or reason those two people are together. Physical attraction will come and go. A relationship can’t stand on that alone, there must be a deeper attraction that values the person as a whole, not for their body.
  • Feels unsure or unsafe. If either party is scared or intimidated of the other, that’s another red flag for abuse. Both people should feel safe physically and emotionally. Love never uses power to get what it wants.
  • Moves fast. Fast and furious relationships often end as dramatically as they begin. When a couple can’t keep their hands off each other, or start throwing around plans to get married or move in together early on, they’re selling their relationship short. Real love leaves room for the relationship to grow before getting serious and doesn’t put someone else at physical or emotional risk because of impatience.
  • Wants what feels good. If we act on every impulse we have, we put ourselves and others in danger. Just because something feels pleasurable or exciting, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Love means looking beyond the moment to what is best for the health of both people.

Love is action.

Remember, how we treat others and how we let others treat us speaks volumes to our children. It tells our sons and daughters what they should expect from their own relationships. Let’s all take some time to look for real love in our lives, and expel any fake love. We owe it to our kids, friends, family, partners, and ourselves.

Want to learn more about healthy parenting? Check out Lifeline’s other blog posts to get more info on issues relevant to parents and expectant parents. You can also make an appointment to get in-person education and earn baby supplies at no cost to you: contact us today to learn more.

By Kath Crane

Resources:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00223980.2013.805116#.VDAw1_ldWbM

Love Speaks: What’s Your Love Language?

What we all need.

If you’re a human being (and chances are pretty good that you are), you need to be loved. We all do. The desire to be cared for is innate to who we are. Our lives teem with opportunities to love other people. Throughout our years, we’ll meet amazing individuals who we could form meaningful relationships with. Family members. Friends. Neighbors. Coworkers. A significant other. Just think of all the people around you. How incredible is it that you were put in the same place at the same time as them?

As we figure out how to love our parents, significant others, kids, and friends well, we might get frustrated. Like super frustrated. Maybe you’ve tried so hard to show your son or daughter that you completely adore them, but they totally don’t get it (even if they’re old enough to do so). Or you’ve made all kinds of moves to let your partner know that they’re special to you, but it’s like they speak a different language or something.

Maybe it’s because they do.

Ever heard of the Five Love Languages?

It’s a concept created by Dr. Gary Chapman, and it has transformed relationship after relationship for over twenty years now. It’s built on the idea that everybody expresses and receives love differently. Dr. Thomas proposes that there are five main ways to show love (or love languages): Gifts, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Each individual is usually drawn to one or two of these languages in particular. For instance, you might naturally show your love through gifts. You enjoy carefully picking out the perfect present for your partner, or making a DIY gift just for them. But maybe they don’t get you gifts in return, and that leaves you feeling like they don’t care for you. Likewise, maybe your partner really appreciates quality time with you, and would much rather go on a special night out with you than buy each other gifts. Two people can both think they’re loving the other person really well. But that love gets lost in translation when they don’t understand each other’s love languages.

 

So what are these languages all about?

 

GIFTS

Someone whose love language is gifts feels extra special when someone takes the extra time and effort into buying or creating a present for them. It’s not about the money or being greedy. Giving someone a gift isn’t something you can do on the spot, it requires planning and sacrifice. These gifts don’t need to be expensive or fancy. Even surprising them with their favorite coffee drink or a handmade card can mean a lot.

 

ACTS OF SERVICE

For some people, actions speak way louder than words. Acts of service could be doing the dishes for your mom, mowing the grass for your neighbor, or driving a friend to their doctor’s appointment. It’s putting your heart into action, noticing and doing the little and big tasks that make someone with this love language completely light up because they sense that you care.

 

QUALITY TIME

There’s nothing like a friend who we can just be with. That’s how someone who identifies with love languages feels about all their relationships. It means the most to them when their loved ones set aside a specific time to just hang out, talk, or share favorite activities together and focus their full attention them while they’re together.

 

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

Sometimes we just want to be told “I love you. You’re beautiful. You are special to me.” Folks who resonate with Words of Affirmation need to hear things like this frequently in order to feel loved. Of course, these words must be sincere. There’s nothing quite as frustrating for someone with this love language to hear a nice-sounding phrase that they know isn’t true.  

 

PHYSICAL TOUCH

Human touch is another deep desire that all of us have to some degree. For those with this love language, they feel so cared for when their loved ones share a hug, an affirming touch on the shoulder, or hold their hand. Appropriate physical touch can be a great way to remind your love ones that you are here for them and aren’t going anywhere.

 

These are just basic summaries, but hopefully you get the picture. The way you crave love may be totally different than the way your child or your partner or your parents crave love and tend to show that love. If we want to have thriving relationships, we need to figure out what is meaningful not just for ourselves, but for those we care about. Finding out your own love language helps you understand your own needs and desires and help other people know how they can show their love for you.

Want to find out your own love language? Take a quiz and read more about the Five Love Languages here! Share the results with your family and friends and encourage them to discover their own love languages as well. Dr. Chapman has written multiple books on this topic, including The Five Love Languages of Children and The Five Love Languages Singles Edition. Whatever stage you’re at in your life, there’s probably a Five Love Languages book for it.

Here at Lifeline, we love to supply you with the physical resources you need at no cost, like diapers and wipes and ultrasounds. But we also desire to provide you with the resources you need to have healthy relationships. Maybe you’re looking for a pregnancy test, or maybe you just need someone to listen. Lifeline’s got you covered.

 

Make an Appointment

Resource: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

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