Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Review: Babyproofing Your Marriage

Once you have a baby, everything changes. But we know that, right? As a first time mom, I concerned myself in picking the perfect shade of paint for the nursery, making sure I had all the "got to have's," and washed everything in Dreft. Twice. What I didn't prepare for was how it would change me, my husband, and our marriage.

Babyproofing Your Marriage covers the common problems that can plague a marriage after kids: keeping score, the nonexistent sex life, the inlaws and the outlaws, and how more kids changes things even more - to name a few.

I didn't want to like it. I pretty much thought I knew all I needed to. We've made it ten years and have three kids. I was a little smug, in fact.

And then I started reading.

The three authors, all women, have a 'take no prisoners' attitude. They thoughtfully look at an issue from both sides and then provide possible solutions. It is clear they've talked to hundreds of people, gathering information, and providing it in a concise, easy to read format. They even provide a Glossary that is a good read all on its own. If there's something specific plaguing your marriage, say keeping score, the book is written such that you could go to just that chapter and figure out what the underlying problem may be.

One thing I wish I'd known about six years ago: "The Training Weekend." When our first was born, I'll be the first to admit that I liked things a certain way. I liked doing them a certain way. In that, I thought my husband just couldn't do it right. No matter what it was. I'd find myself at the end of my rope (my own doing, I know) battling a baby and work and house. I didn't feel like my husband 'got it' - he didn't know everything I was trying to get done. The authors' solution? A training weekend. Mom packs up and leaves for 48 hours. No sitters, in-laws, or other forms of 'help.' This accomplishes two things. 1. Proves that Dad can do it too. Sure, it may feel like putting the JV player in for the championship game, but it's sink or swim. Dad understands how demanding it is, but also gets a chance to bond: the kind of bond that doesn't necessarily happen when Mom's around - available to swoop in and take over at the slightest sign of struggle. 2. Gives Mom a break. Everyone benefits when Mom is rested and recharged.

If you have one child thinking about another, the chapter on "Ramping Up and Giving In" could be a real downer. Maybe I've already chilled out enough, but as a mom of three kids born in four and a half years, it really isn't that bad. Sure, there are days... But in the long run, I'll look back on these as "the good old days." It is, right now, just a stage. At some point the babies and toddlers will turn into fully functioning adults, and you're on your own. Which leads me to the part that hit me the most:

"Married With Kids Journey"

Based on figures from the US Census, they assumed a few things and came up with the conclusion that a person could spend 4 years before kids, 22 years raising kids, and 24 years with an 'empty nest.' Meaning yes, this is really a phase. The kids will keep growing up, it will get easier. With teenagers it will get harder again, and then they'll leave the house.

And that will leave you and your spouse.

Babyproofing Your Marriage takes a thoughtful look at how to get through the minefield years of early parenthood through compassion and communication. We do need to look at things from our spouse's point of view every once in a while, and they, ours.

Parent Bloggers Network


Jen said...

Good review....Haven't read the book but agree with the training weekend...I did that to the third child (and with two babies no less) - that which does not kill us only makes us stronger!!!!

Butrfly4404 said...

Hi! Happened upon your site...not sure how, now, but I did. (Cheeky Lotus, maybe?)

I loved your review!

Lotta said...

You are the second person to talk about this book. I am intrigued!

Long Island Dad said...

Great Review... I'll have to check it out... always looking for well informed resources! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gretchen,

This is Stacie Cockrell, co-author of BYYM. Thank you for your great review! I noticed that you have 3 kids 6 and under. I'm right behind you with 3 kids 5 and under. Every once in a while, I see a little flicker of light at the end of the tunnel!

I also love the Training Weekend. My husband's 'Training Weekend' represents the turning point in our married-with-kids relationship. One day, he didn't 'get it.' Two days later, he got it in spades! I highly recommend it!

Thanks again for your kind words and for spreading our message: 'You are not alone.' Stacie