Baby-proofing your Marriage

I had forgotten how good the book Baby-proofing your Marriage was until a friend returned the copy I had lent her. She returned it with some “relevant passages tabbed” – I think she had used eighty packets of Post-It Notes.

I’ll start out with a reminder – there’s a reason that bookshops have walls of parenting guides and self-help books. What works for one person might not help the next. I raise this because Baby-proofing your Marriage divides readers. Some people think it’s all about ‘man-bashing’ and stereotyping, others find it amusing and helpful. I fall into the second camp and laughed out loud while reading it.

The book is billed as a guide to laughing more, arguing less and communicating better as your family grows. Authors Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill and Julia Stone guide readers through the warts-and-all truth about how having children can affect your relationship.

Baby-proofing your Marriage is broken into seven chapters that cover topics that other parenting manuals leave well alone. For example, ‘scorekeeping’, that complex, relentless and tedious tit-for-tat war waged by parents over the division of parenting responsibilities and domestic chores (hmmm, I think I know my way around this one….). You might think you don’t do it but a quick glance through the scorekeeping chapter and relevant sub-headings such as “Welcome to the weekend, the Scorekeeping World Cup“, “Top Ten Convenience Cards that our Husbands Use” and “It’s Never Enough!” are leaping off the page. The book gives strategies for ripping up the scorecard, including how to hand in your martyr badge and accept that good enough is good enough and shortcuts are ok (sometimes).

It’s the chapter on the sex-life of new parents that is getting book reviewers narky. The authors use the subtitle ‘Coitus Non-Existus‘ which I think is funny and true. Honestly, if your relationship has stayed exactly the same as it was pre-children, good luck to you and well done. I may be over-sharing here but ours didn’t and quite frankly, the ‘Five-minute Fix’, as outlined in chapter four is ground-breaking advice for a parenting book.

For immediate belly laughs, turn to the chapter “In-Laws and Out-Laws“. It gives a name to all sorts of things that you know happen but again, aren’t actually talked about – the ‘pecking order’ of grandparents, grandparent qualifications and the battle for wall and floor space – “Have you ever done a Grandparent Audit of your home? Tallied up… the number of pictures featuring each one of them? No, of course you haven’t. But plenty of grandparents have“.

Don’t take this book too seriously or you might be offended by the he says/ she says format. Instead, read it with your sense of humour present and accounted for – I recall laughing out loud when the authors exposed a trick that I thought I had invented (baby crying in the night, can’t be bothered getting out of bed, shaking husband awake saying “It’s your turn, I’ve been up ten times already…” and counting on the fact that he sleeps so heavily he doesn’t hear the baby crying) – seems it’s used by thousands of women every night. Like any good self-help book, a couple of suggestions will stick and I reckon that’s a good result and worth the read.

Find Baby-proofing your Marriage at Book Depository for $14.93 with free delivery to Australia.

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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