10 Rules for Baby-Proofing Your Marriage
The house is one thing, but your marriage may need baby-proofing, too.
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
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."