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10 Rules for Baby-Proofing Your Marriage

The house is one thing, but your marriage may need baby-proofing, too.

10 Rules for Baby-proofing Your Marriage continued...

No. 4: Avoid the 10 p.m. shoulder tap trap. Sex matters, it's that simple. "A man's sex drive not changing after having a baby is normal; but a woman's changing is also normal," Stone explains. "Sex is the glue that keeps relationships together." So both weary mom and harried dad need to find time for it. But many women report that their husbands merely give them a 10 p.m. shoulder tap when they crave sex. "Women told us that romance evaporated after the kids were born; but the 10 p.m. shoulder tap doesn't work," Stone says. "Men need to still pay attention to the finer things."

Springing for a babysitter and a regular "date night" would give both parents some time to relax and enjoy each other's company again without distracting baby duties. Or try a "dad on duty" night, with father taking over the diaper changing, cooking, and cleanup while mom relaxes with a book or a long bath. The payoff could be a rested and ready partner. And there's no reason you can't add a bouquet of grocery store flowers, wine, and candles to a dinner eaten while baby naps.

No. 5: Don't play midnight chicken. Nobody wins in midnight chicken. According to the book, midnight chicken is "a battle of the wills where each parent pretends to be asleep and blissfully unaware of the screaming down the hall in the hopes that the other parent will get up and tend to the crying baby." Instead of playing chicken, Stone says, "split up the night somehow so that both partners can get a solid chunk of sleep."

No. 6: Loosen the gender roles. Plan a training weekend, she says. "This is where the husband is left to man the kid ropes on his own for a weekend," Stone says. The dual benefits? "He learns a new respect for what it takes to care for a baby, and since some women have a hard time letting go of the reins, this teaches them its OK and that their husband can take care of it," she says. What's more, "the husband gets a chance to bond with baby on his own terms." Stone's prescription: Have training weekends early and as often as the baby changes and enters new phases. "A little continuing education is always a good idea," she says.

No. 7: Stop scorekeeping. "You really can never end scorekeeping completely, but you can ratchet it down by dividing and conquering," Stone says. "Don't worry about the stuff that is not on your list and acknowledge that both parties are giving 100% and no one has it tougher than the other," she says. Remember, "You are rowing in the same boat."

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