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Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less As Your Family Grows

Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less As Your Family Grows

3.7 24
by Stacie Cockrell

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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


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!

Editorial Reviews

Do you suffer from Mommy Brain? According to the authors, this all-too-common condition afflicts women whose craniums are cluttered with schedules, carpooling logistics, a toddler's troubling cough, summer camp options, and so many other kid-related issues that they have no mental room for their husbands. Babyproofing Your Marriage identifies symptoms and cures for M.B. and numerous other mommy maladies. Recommended pregnancy reading.
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.

Meet the Author

Stacie Harris Cockrell graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to receive her MBA from the University of Texas. After graduate school, she was a finance and marketing professional at Dell Inc. and subsequently co-founded a high tech company in Austin, Texas. She currently resides in Austin with her husband, Ross, and their three children.

Cathy O'Neill is from Dublin, Ireland. She moved to the United States, after a five-year transatlantic relationship, to marry her husband, Mike. Cathy is an attorney who now works as a management consultant. She lives in Austin, Texas and has two children.

Julia Stone is a Texas native and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an MBA from the University of Texas. Julia is a former product manager in the educational services field turned full-time mom. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Gordon, and their two sons.

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Babyproofing Your Marriage 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has some great tips and information. It may serve as a reality check for those who are expecting dirty diapers to be the most stressful issue coming with the baby. The first few chapters actually stressed me out because I realized all the emotional and psychological changes our strong marriage was about to weather. I asked my husband to read some of it and he, too, has been more open-eyed about what we need to do to hold on to our identity as a couple in those first few months and beyond. There are things you've never thought of, and this book helps you sort it out before you are in the middle of it with a crying baby in your arms. My only complaint is that the men were often caricatures of the 'typical man' (I guess some of them really think it's okay to leave dirty diapers lying open on the floor in the nursery when mom's away?) and my husband is more logical than that and was a little offended. But overall, this book has probably prepared us for what's coming better than any other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When my husband and I went and read this before our son was born we smiled and said none of "those things" will happen to us... most didn't and we were more able to talk openly about issues before they got out of hand. Having a baby is hard and can cause a lot of stress. This book helps couples keep up with date nights, try to find breather room and have better understanding of each other making married life with a baby amazing and joyous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After having my first child, my marriage was already starting to struggle. We had been married for 4 years and know we couldn't get thru a single day without an argument. Reading this book, gave me a insight into what was my husband thinking, and how having a baby had affected him vs how it had affected me. I recommend this book to any one who has recently given birth to share with their partner to better understand each other.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is definitely a book for moms & dads. I have two little 'darlings' and I can totally relate to the authors. Great work, easy reading & the illustrations are on point.
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McCreamy More than 1 year ago
My husband and I do not have children, but are planning to within the next couple of years. I had read the reviews, and decided to purchase this book before we start our family. I have just finished it, and I have handed it to my husband to read. It brings up a lot of interesting scenes - a lot of them I can picture happening with us. I'm glad that it also gives advise and solutions to potential issues, before they become issues. This was a great one to read before we get there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MimiJones More than 1 year ago
I like this book as the writers seem to write from the heart... all of it. Some of it great and some not so great. But that is marriage. It also stresses that your marriage does change and you need to accept it and move forward (and quickly). I go back and reread chapters and paragraphs often. It does make you laugh which is needed but also offers sound advice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A funny, witty, charming, open book on experience, feelings, hopes, mistakes and was wonderful to bring back to mind how much work having two kids is than one. We had five. Try to write a book on that! I am still organizing all that happened! Hah, Hah! I was very lucky to come across not only one but two copies of this accurate scenario. I gave one to our neighbors with a newborn, # two for her and # 5 for him. I remembered how my head spun when I was in their shoes. The other went to my daughter who has been thinking of having another. I felt I needed to apologize for wanting another grandchild--I had forgotten how much work is involved. I did enjoy the definitions section and the grandparents section was the second chapter I checked out. Felt I and my husband scored pretty well with our envolvement and nonenvolvement with our two married-with-kids offspring. Lovely life, wonderful to learn and share.
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Busy__Mom More than 1 year ago
Do men only want sex? Reading this book, well actually I read the summary from parentsdigest, which I¿m glad I did because it seems rather repetitive¿. I got the idea that the only way to get my husband¿s help and attention with the kids is more sex. Are they right???
ParentsDigest_Pam More than 1 year ago
Babyproofing Your Marriage proved to be very helpful. Once I had the twins a year ago, it felt like there was no time for my marriage anymore. Although this book was praised mainly for its light humor, there were many tips and useful strategies for keeping my marriage above water, while still raising my children the best we could.

No time to read the whole book? Check out the 8 page summary at parentsdigest.com
Guest More than 1 year ago
The ¿Babyproofers¿ Stacie, Cathy, and Julia are a humorous bunch of moms (and wives) that not only give helpful tips, but they also share from their own experiences and experiences of others. Many stories and viewpoints from both the male and female perspective are given. The overall goal of this book is to unite husband and wives through the early childhood years while providing an understanding of what the other spouse needs and wants out of the marriage. The authors go through lengthy descriptions of how children change marriage, and individuals. Examples of men not helping in the house and childrearing yet yearn for more physical contact with their wife predominate the better part of this book. For those that are experiencing this situation (and by the sound of it from this book ¿ the majority of married couples) there are numerous tips to help both parties get what they need out of the other spouse. While reading this book, I realized very early in my reading that my marriage is unique and not at all like the partners described in this book. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband who probably does more than his share around the house and has always helped with the children. Whether it is feeding, changing a diaper, washing clothes, cleaning up bodily excretions, reading a story, or sitting next to a toddler while he makes potty, my loving husband is always there for me and my children. Although this book was not written for my particular situation, it would be extremely helpful for many. This book is well written with plenty of humor along the way. My advice would be to read this book while expecting your baby. Once your baby arrives, there is very little free time to read during the first few months. In addition, this book would be a wonderful shower gift for any expectant couple.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very candid about what happens to a couple after they start having kids. I found myself repeatedly saying, "Oh my gosh, that's exactly how it happens in my house!" Some of the book didn't apply to my marriage, but it was still an entertaining read. I recommend this to my mommy friends now, and actually took it to my holiday party for my moms group gift exchange!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely hated this book. I couldn't believe how much negativity was crammed between the covers! As a pregnant woman, I'm not asking for anything to be sugar coated for me. All I'm asking for is a little optimism! I certainly didn't find it in this book. I truly believe that if a person were to read this book before getting pregnant, they would have serious second thoughts about parenthood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave this CD-book to my daughter-in-law for her birthday. She has not let me know if she has listened to it yet. She just had her first baby in December, 2009. I'd like to listen to it when she gets done with it, even though my 2 "kids" are grown. It sounds very interesting!