Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Babyproofing Your Marriage Blog Book Tour

I first heard about the new book Babyproofing Your Marriage from Kristen. Apparently, she got an unannounced copy of the book in the mail and figured she had been targeted as someone who really needed some help in the marriage department. Let’s just say she is always very candid about the ups and downs of her relationship with her husband at Motherhood Uncensored. About a week later, I got the book in the mail and thought, “Now wait a minute, I don’t talk about my marriage on my blog. Why did I get the book?” and immediately hid it in the closet for fear that my husband would think I was seeking help to improve our marriage, God forbid. Yes, I was worried about what he might think seeing marital book on the nightstand, as ridiculous as that might sound. And then, Mother Talk asked if I wanted to review the book. Oh boy.

I was on the fence about even reading it because my husband and I are no longer in the “baby phase” of life anymore so I figured it wasn’t applicable. That was, until I starting reading the thing. And then I was like, “DANG! This is one hell of an important book!” and have not been able to put it down.

So, what exactly are the three very sage mothers (Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone) behind this Babyproofing book on to? What do they know that we don’t? Well, it’s not so much what they know, it’s that they had the gumption to really look at it for what it is; a universal marital dilemma and they tackled it head (and heart) on. Bravo ladies!

But, what’s the point of reading about something we are living? If we are already well aware that our lives as we knew them have unraveled since we’ve had kids and our marriages are well, a mere shadow of what they used to be? How about for validation? It’s absolutely imperative for us to recognize that what is discussed in this book are not “just our own marriage” issues. In fact, every couple that has kids goes through this stuff in one form or another and for the most part, argues about the exact same things. I swear, as I was reading the many spot on quotes included in the book feeling like I was reading exact conversations my husband and I have had over the course of the past 9 years, since our fist daughter was born. Word for word. I’m serious. And even now, as my kids are 3 and 9, we still drag these same gripes around with us day after day. Sure, life has gotten a easier with a little more sleep (now that our babies are no longer babies) and a few good parenting years under our belts but even still, the fundamental beefs we have had with one another since we had the babies, are still pretty much the same today, and thankfully are exactly what are dissected in this book.

Babyproofing Your Marriage tackles all the issues; the myth of the highly sought after, pretty much unattainable ‘equal partnership’ marriage, sex (and the lack thereof) and everything that goes along with that (which is, um, a lot), and the rest of the brutal truth about what having a children really does to your relationship. And believe you me, it’s not always pretty.

But above and beyond validation, the book gives you hope. I mean, once it’s all broken down, it’s not all that difficult really (if we can pry our resentments from our weathered and weary parent paws). The key is to for once, really start to recognize what our partners are going through. Sure, we moms might feel beaten down and taken for granted but so do our spouses. Both of us are feeling the exact same way (light bulbs going off?) with just a few variations as to 'the what and the whys’ (like hard wiring for example). This book takes it all apart and lays it out in the language that all parents can grasp and then starts to rebuild it as we begin to let ourselves feel the other person’s pain. It’s the first big step and this empathy alone can begin the shift toward a better relationship. Hooray!

What I think is the most refreshing part of the book is that both parties are equally represented. And this is why it is so important for our husbands to read the book (this issue noted in my conclusion). They'll be ecstatic to know they are in no way getting all the blame in this book. For as much as their manly tendencies are exposed (and sometimes constructively criticized), so are our pity parties (we all have them), constant comparisons -aka score keeping (‘I do 10 things to every one thing he does’), and over-protective, gate keeping attitudes (‘surely you aren’t taking the baby out dressed in that’) of which we have all been guilty. In Babyproofing both us moms and the dads are called to the table, held accountable for the mess our marriages are in, and everyone is offered very valuable help and very doable methods that can be used to improve our relationships tremendously. For God sakes, there are even mock scripts we can use if we flounder and lists of ways to make the opposite sex feel appreciated. Hello. Easy peasy. And the added bonus is that although these can be some heavy issues, the tone of the book is light, the writers are funny, and the language is appropriate. Like the F word. Tossing that one in at the right moment gave me the feeling that I’m among friends, having this discussion in my living room, with other normal parents, that are earnest because they too struggle with the same crap in their own marriages. It’s refreshing and enjoyable reading.

And if for some reason you are still even thinking for one single minute that you don’t need to read this book, I urge you to think again. However, be warned, this book is clearly written to both halves of the whole here. Which means, and I reiterate here, when you do get the book and read it, there is this one hurdle that might prove a difficult leap—getting your husband to read it too. I know first hand that that is waaaay easier said than done as I have yet to get a “yes dear, I will read the book” from my man but I won’t give up trying and hope you won’t either.

For more info on Babyproofing Your Marriage - How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone visit the website.

Catch the authors live on The Today Show on NBC...today.


Unknown said...

Good piece. Would you please consider reposting the entire piece on our Today Show forum?


Andrew McAllister said...

You've convinced me. I'm going to buy the book, today.

This sounds like something I can't ignore, given that I moderate a relationship advice forum. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Andrew (To Love, Honor, and Dismay)

Her Bad Mother said...

I've been reading the book - and you're right about how good it is. And HONEST. Their honesty scared me a bit sometimes (like, about what having more children does to your life), but in a good way.

Karianna said...

I just got my copy over the weekend and will be posting my review in a couple weeks.

I admit I am relieved to read your post, because it sounds as though many of us are in the same boat.

Now I feel less nervous about tackling similar issues on my own blog.

Thank you for the honesty and encouragement.

Kris said...

Great review! I too found the book validating and empowering. And the bit about the five-minute fix really cracked me up.

Stacie said...

Hi Tracey,

This is Stacie Cockrell, one of the BPYM authors. Thank you so much for reviewing our book and for your amazing comments! We are so excited to 'spread the word,' to let people know that they are not alone. When the lightbulb(s) went off for us, our marriages improved dramatically. Happy marriages = happy kids :).