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10 Rules for Baby-Proofing Your Marriage

The house is one thing, but your marriage may need baby-proofing, too.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Most new parents know they will eventually have to cover their electrical sockets and take other steps to baby-proof their home, but what they may not know is that it can be equally important to baby-proof their marriage.

In Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows, authors Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone etch out a game plan for couples who want their marriage to stand the biggest, yet smallest, test of all -- a new baby.

"Baby-proofing your marriage is important because a happy marriage makes you happier individuals and that trickles down to how you parent your children, and where there is tension in the marriage or dissatisfaction, it can rub off on the kids," explains Julia Stone, a mother of two boys, aged 5 and 2 1/2, in Kennett Square, Pa.

No doubt about it, bringing home a baby can be stressful, says Scott Haltzman, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, R.I. and the author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever. "Predictability goes out the window, and it challenges the couple to make new rituals and new routines, but none can be written in stone because baby will dictate and even that will change every few weeks," he tells WebMD.

But following these 10 simple baby-proofing rules can help you keep your marriage solid while raising children.

10 Rules for Baby-proofing Your Marriage

No. 1: Realize you are not alone. "Everyone goes through an adjustment when they have a baby," Stone says. "A lot of people think they are the only ones having issues, when the problems are universal." It's a global conspiracy of silence, she says. "No one really talks about the degree of work involved in being a parent, and it comes as a surprise."

No. 2: Saying "good job" won't kill you. "Validation is a big thing that most people need, so instead of saying 'you put the baby's dress on backward,' say, 'You are a great dad,'" she suggests. "It's the simple things that we often get too critical of one another about."

No. 3: Understand the Great Mom and Dad Divide. "Men and women react to parenting differently," Stone explains. "Men go into provider panic and women get extremely focused on the baby. Women zero in on the child and it consumes them to a degree that they never expected, and men are surprised by that and think, 'Hey, where did my wife go?'"

Haltzman adds that "when a new baby arrives, moms are more anxious and fathers and husbands tend to feel increasingly helpless that there is nothing they can do to make their wives feel better."

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