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10 Rules for Baby-Proofing Your Marriage

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

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."

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."

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