Contemplating divorce is difficult at any time — but especially when a woman is pregnant. Pregnancy is meant to be a time of connection for couples as they plan to welcome a child, so an expectant mother may feel a double burden as she watches the marriage dissolve along with so many dreams for the future.
Tim Sanford, a licensed professional counselor, agrees that navigating divorce during pregnancy presents some complex challenges. “A woman in this situation may feel like it’s her job to ‘fix’ or ‘save’ the marriage when it’s not,” he says. “That adds extra stress to what she’s already feeling.”
If you are pregnant and facing divorce, Sanford suggests these three approaches to find a hopeful path forward:
Evaluate your reason for divorce
There are many reasons a couple may be considering divorce, from infidelity to abuse to animosity. And some reasons are more valid than others. Consider this excerpt from Focus on the Family’s position on marriage and divorce:
“We place the highest possible value on the sanctity of marriage. Next to an individual’s relationship with God, we believe that there is nothing in this world more important than the bond between a husband and wife. That’s why we’re dedicated to doing everything we can to … bring healing and restoration to [marriages] that are struggling to survive.”
Sanford says couples should seriously consider whether they are divorcing for a reason allowed by Scripture, such as sexual immorality of an unrepentant spouse, or for reasons that can be addressed through counseling, such as a buildup of resentment or disrespect.
“If you and your spouse are willing to work on your marriage through counseling, do that,” Sanford says. “If the relationship is too far gone, or if the spouse isn’t a safe person to reconcile with, you may need to refocus and find a different way forward.”
Seek godly counsel
If possible, meet with a pastor, a spiritual mentor or a licensed Christian counselor to discuss your situation. If your spouse is willing, invite him to join you. Regardless of your situation and the end result, godly people can help you as you determine next steps. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Find a support system
Surround yourself with people who care about you, such as family members, friends and your church community. You may even consider relocating to be near family. In addition, many communities have Pregnancy Resource Centers that offer services and counseling to pregnant mothers in need of support.
These people will help you as you make big decisions, such as if you will parent alone, include extended family or co-parent with your ex. You don’t have to face pregnancy and divorce by yourself. “Don’t go it alone,” Sanford says. “Find people who can help you. Being healthy, both physically and emotionally, is vital to the healthy development of your child.”
As you navigate this challenging situation, you can still prepare to be an amazing mom. “Do the right thing, move forward and trust God for the outcomes,” Sanford says. “You’re doing it for you and your baby.”