I admit I was not too hopeful when Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows arrived. Great, I thought, more truism, insightful quotes, and amusing anecdotes with obvious advice everyone knows and no one follows. The authors even admit, “Some actions we suggest in this book you will have heard before…”
You have to give the book a chance, though. At first, it seemed as if the book was preaching to the choir, so to speak. Written by women in a chatty voice and advocating better communication, it hardly seemed like the type of book a man would read. And, like most relationship solutions, the ideas in the book only work if both partners are trying. I verified my suspicions with Super Dad–he dismissed the book by noting, “The book is written by three women.”
I decided to give the book a try anyway, and boy am I glad I did. I recommend leaving the book out somewhere both partners will pick it up and read it…somewhere there is a captive audience…you know where I am talking about.
As I was reading the book, I kept thinking, “That is so true. That is exactly how I feel!” The book very clearly articulated some of the major shocks of becoming a mother (or the primary caretaker) of a new baby. For example, just because I am the primary caretaker, that does not mean that all things baby should automatically be my sole responsibility 24-7, including the research, the appointments, and the weekend planning. When Dad does baby stuff, he is not “helping” or babysitting–he is just being a parent.
I felt a little better, but the book is useless unless my dearest husband also picked it up…which he would never do, right? Then, all of a sudden, I noticed him trying ideas from the book–attempting to empathize with me, verbalizing specific compliments more often, taking the baby so I could sleep in (without being asked, and without acting as if it is a favor to me).
I asked, “Have you been reading the book?” He replied, “A little.” Which I believe is man for, “Yes, but I don’t want to admit it.”
One section I do take issue with is the one on sex after becoming parents. These women say they enjoyed intimacy prior to becoming mothers and I am sure they would have taken offense at any experts claiming, “Women do not like sex.” So, why do they perpetrate the same injustice towards mothers?
While giving birth absolutely does change a woman’s body, and looking after kids is exhausting, the tone they take is retrograde and very sad. They do follow up these rather depressing bits of advice with a section urging you to “reclaim your sexuality.” However, this section is written less convincingly and still suggests that most mothers will just have to “buck up” because sex is more important to their husbands.
A minor quibble with a book that I am convinced can and will strengthen many marriages. The book is inspiring, in part, because it lets you in on the big secret–you are not alone…you are, in fact, quite normal.
We tend to romanticize the past and, as the kiddos go to school and eventually leave the nest, we become nostalgic. Few people tell new parents about the amount of work a baby requires and the emotional and physical toll it can take on you. We live in a world where a sense of individualism, coupled with geographic mobility, leaves us isolated and unable to ask for help.
This book makes it clear that we are not alone, that it is okay to get assistance, and that sometimes good enough is actually good enough.
At the very least, read the book for some of the hysterical, and at times frightening, real quotes that will have 90% of readers saying to themselves, “At lease I am / my partner is not THAT bad.”
I think the authors should help their husbands write another book–in tone and format more like a technical manual–and sell the two as a package to reach more men. In the meantime, however, this book can be a big help to parents who take the time to read it.
Available at Amazon for $16.47: Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows
And because new parents have no time to read, available as a CD for $19.77: Babyproofing Your Marriage CD: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows