Babyproofing Your Marriage

Babyproofing Your Marriage

3.7 24
by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, Julia Stone, Rosario Camacho-Koppel

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Warning! New parents are likely to experience:

Scorekeeping—An exceedingly complex, often relentless, tit-for-tat war waged by husbands and wives over the division of parenting responsibilities and domestic chores.

The Ten O'Clock Shoulder Tap—Considered by many men to be a form of foreplay. A paw on a wife's shoulder is how some men

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Warning! New parents are likely to experience:

Scorekeeping—An exceedingly complex, often relentless, tit-for-tat war waged by husbands and wives over the division of parenting responsibilities and domestic chores.

The Ten O'Clock Shoulder Tap—Considered by many men to be a form of foreplay. A paw on a wife's shoulder is how some men indicate their desire for sex. The Tap is rarely accompanied by a term of endearment or any other verbal form of communication and is seldom well received by the often-sleeping/almost-always-exhausted wife. The frustrated husband, meanwhile, wonders if his wife has pulled a Bait and Switch in the bedroom.

Clash of the Grannies—A high stakes "who will have the greatest influence on the grandkids" tournament played by each set of grandparents. Competitive categories include: the Title Championship (who gets to be called "Grandma"), the Battle for Floor and Wall Space, the Battle for Face Time, and Gratuitous Grandparental Gift-Giving.

The Babyproofers are three women who wouldn't trade their roles as mothers for anything, and they love their husbands deeply. But after living through it and hearing the stories of hundreds of other couples, they know that with young children in the house, you need to block the stairs with baby gates, put plastic covers over the outlets, AND take the necessary steps to safeguard your marriage.

Babyproofing Your Marriage is the warts-and-all truth about how having children can affect your relationship. The authors explore the transition to parenthood in light of their own experiences, with input from their husbands and commentary from men and women across the country. Their evenhanded approach to both sides of the marital equation allows spouses to understand each other in a whole new way.

With loads of humor and practical advice, the Babyproofers will guide first-time parents and veterans alike around the rocky shores of the early parenting years. Don't fall prey to common relationship pitfalls: Babyproof Your Marriage!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this feisty treatise, three mothers with seven kids between them team up to do their own research on the state of marriage after children. Though their admittedly "pseudo-scientific" research seems to have come mainly from interviewing friends, family and people on the street, they arrive at some reasonable solutions to how couples can keep their marriages fresh and stimulating amid armloads of dirty diapers and screeching babies. While they explore the division of labor, parental exhaustion and how to juggle the grandparents, the focal chapter is on sex; the three authors attempt to address the problem of how to keep men satisfied when, at the end of the day, their wives want nothing to do with them ("coitus non-existus"). Moms' lack of interest isn't surprising, the authors maintain, given that women do the lion's share of managing the house and kids, often in addition to working outside the home. Though the authors claim to be fair and balanced, they frequently give clueless fathers a tongue-lashing with some great one-liners (e.g., "pitch in if you want her to put out"). The bottom line is that the more child care and domestic chores the guys do, the better their sex lives and the marriage in general. Instead of score keeping, the authors steer couples toward ways to appreciate one another. And if all else fails to solve a marital issue, as they point out in this frank and funny book, there's always rock, paper scissors. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
That two-thirds of couples with young children are very unhappy with their marriages makes these advice books timely and useful. In Babyproofing, the lighter of the two, young wives, mothers, and friends Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone share their experiences and collective wisdom. Their work reads like Vicki Iovine's popular "Girlfriends' Guide" series-chatty, engaging, and full of firsthand advice. Chapters cover common issues, e.g., divvying up tasks, handling changes in sexual activity, and dealing with grandparents while also offering "Solutions," usually divided into "For Both," "For Women," and "For Men"; most chapters have "How Women Feel" and "How Men Feel" sections. For those who prefer scientific research and solutions, And Baby Makes Three offers a more clinical approach to fortifying a marriage once a baby enters the picture. Psychologists John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman (coauthors, Ten Lessons To Transform Your Marriage) wrote this volume based on their studies of parents and the results of a "Bringing Baby Home" program they have developed for new and expecting parents. Beyond just citing research studies and statistics, the Gottmans provide readers with self-tests and detailed exercises for examining and resolving particular issues within their own marriages. The psychological terminology may make the text daunting for some readers, but the applications are wonderfully practical and specific. Furthermore, the book offers more detail than does Babyproofing, e.g., the analysis of conflict is broken down into nine brief chapters. Ultimately, the Gottmans' work is so practical that it will apply to all married readers, whether or not they are raising children. Larger public libraries, especially those with dedicated parenting sections, should purchase both books; smaller libraries should purchase only the Gottmans' work.-Erica L. Foley, Flint P.L., MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

Babyproofing Your Marriage

How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows
By Stacie Cockrell

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Stacie Cockrell
All right reserved.

Chapter One

How Did We Get Here?

Parenthood Changes Everything

"I expected to add diaper, pacifier, formula to my new motherhood vocabulary--I didn't think f*!k and s#*t would feature so prominently!"
--Lisa, married 5 years, 1 kid

"What I get from other women is what I need, and that is help. I don't even have to ask other women for help, they just volunteer. What do I get from my husband? I get a sink full of dirty plates, a pile of dirty clothes on the stairs, and a child dressed for church in a football jersey."
--Katherine, married 8 years, 2 kids

"My wife doesn't understand how important sex is to me. Everywhere I go, sex is screaming at me. There are hot women in advertisements on billboards, and before I know it I find myself imagining Gina down in Accounts Payable wearing a nurse's outfit."
--Thomas, married 11 years, 1 kid

We are three women who love our children. We love our husbands, and they love us. Why on earth did we find ourselves so often at odds after the babies came home? Our pre-baby marriages were really good, maybe even great. So why weren't we talking the way we used to? Why were we bickering? Why were we so infuriated at our husbands' inability to find the sippy cups?Why were our husbands distraught that our enthusiasm for sex had dwindled to "folding the laundry" levels? Were we normal? Or was something seriously wrong?

Turns out we were totally, utterly (even slightly boringly) normal.

We figured this out because we started talking; first to each other, then to a handful of friends, and then, well, things got out of hand and we started writing a book about it. At that point, no one was safe. We accosted total strangers in checkout lines and captive fellow passengers on airplanes. We talked to legions of women who, just like us, dreaded their husbands' Ten O'Clock Shoulder Tap. They wondered what had happened to That Whole 50:50 Thing and why the lion's share of the domestic crap was falling on their plates. We talked to countless men and learned that, like our husbands, they despaired that their wives had pulled a Bait and Switch in the bedroom. They complained that no matter what they did to help with the kids, the house, and the bank balance, It Was Never Enough.

Through all the talking, it became clear that most couples, no matter how happy and secure their marriage may be, find the early parenting years a challenge (on a good day) or even seriously relationship-threatening (on a bad day).

In fact, if you read the latest studies, you'd think we have a national epidemic of miserable parents on our hands. A well-publicized 1994 Penn State study said that, "two-thirds of married couples report a decline in their marital relationship upon the birth of their children."1 Ten years later, things hadn't improved at all. An August 2005 report from the University of Washington found the same thing.2 Most recently, a December 2005 study of 13,000 people published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior said parents reported being more miserable ("sad, distracted or depressed") than non-parents.3

How did so many of us wind up here? And, more importantly, can we do anything to avoid spending the next fifty years of our lives here? Parenthood changes us, and our lives, so profoundly. It changes how we view ourselves and each other; what we need from and are able to put into our marriages. This book is about understanding these changes and how we react to them. At its heart, it's about keeping marriages on an even keel after the baby bomb arrives. It's about the simple things we can do to stay connected as a couple after we have kids.

So, What Is Going On?

During our intrepid journey of marital discovery we learned--much to our relief--that many of the bumps couples might encounter along the way just can't be helped. The emotional, psychological, and lifestyle upheavals that accompany parenthood are unavoidable. They're nobody's fault. We're not necessarily doing anything wrong.

Topping the list of things we just can't help is our DNA, or as we three aspiring evolutionary biologists like to call it, Hardwiring. It took having kids for us to realize that men and women are completely different animals and, as a result, we respond to parenthood in drastically different ways. Our genetically-programmed instincts are at the root of many of our modern-day frustrations. They affect our post-baby sex lives, how we parent, and our relationships with our families, often in ways we're not conscious of. Secondly, there's the inconvenient matter of planetary rotation. Our sixteen waking hours are not enough to do everything we have to do, much less anything we want to do. And finally, it doesn't help that most of us are Deer in the Headlights. We're basically clueless about how parenthood will make us feel. An iron curtain of secrecy hides the reality. No one, not even our own parents, will tell it like it is. (Remember those cryptic comments you heard before you had kids: "Don't have a baby until you're ready to give up your life"? To which you responded, "Huh?") This Global Conspiracy of Silence means that most of us are ill-equipped to deal with the sea of change that a baby brings. No one prepares us for the Parenthood Ass-Kicking Party.

To some extent, we new parents are at the mercy of millions of years of evolutionary biology, the twenty-four-hour day and pure ignorance. These three factors set the stage for the various post-baby disconnects we'll describe in this book. Add in the facts that (a) we aren't very nice when we're tired and (b) we think we can get our lives back to the way they were before kids, and we can find ourselves facing some serious marital struggles. No matter how . . .


Excerpted from Babyproofing Your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell Copyright © 2007 by Stacie Cockrell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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