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Babyproofing Your Marriage– Book Review

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The “Five-Minute Fix” was all anyone could talk about. I was at a restaurant eating dinner with a coed group. We had just left the book party for “Babyproofing Your Marriage,” and everyone wanted to talk about the authors’ key to fixing your marriage in five minutes. (Full disclosure: one of the diners is married to one of the authors).
So what is the Five-Minute Fix for any marriage? In their opinion– weekly fellatio. (The word they use actually starts with the letter “B.”)
Yes, that’s right, in addition to a lot of other useful advice, the three authors recommend this particular sex act. As they figure it, it “costs” you some exertion, a mere five minutes, and some feelings of compromising yourself. The “benefits”– your husband will think you’re a sex goddess and he’ll change the next diaper without being asked.
I’m writing about this book now, as part of my monthly blog with my breastfeeding blogger friends. Our theme for February is “Baby Love.” And I think the authors of “Babyproofing” are onto something with the general premise of their book. Parents with a little bit of perspective will tell you that one of the best ways to love your children is to create a sense of harmony at home. In most cases, that comes down to making sure your marriage is strong.
The authors write::
“Parenthood and family take everything we have to give and then some. But we all know, we reap what we sow. What we invest in our kids and our spouses come back to us in ways we can’t even imagine.” (p. 230)
“Babyproofing” takes a realistic look at how kids impact a marriage. Couples that were just recently wooing each other over late night dinners suddenly find themselves fighting over the minutiae of everyday life.
On any given weekend in thousands of homes across America, wives stand in front of their husbands listing all of the selfless acts they have performed in the last week: “I paid all the bills, bought a birthday present for your mother, read Goodnight Moon 5 times, took 4 six-year-olds to Chuck-E-Cheese … and that was just Tuesday…”
The husbands return fire: “Excuse me, but did I not make the kids breakfast every morning last week, including the morning it made me late for my presentation, when I really should have gone in early? And I picked up the dry-cleaning without being asked, and I did bath duty three times last week. What more do you want?”
A volley of personal accomplishments and sacrifices ensues. Not exactly what we thought life would be like when we eyed each other across a room all those years ago, is it? We both end up angry and defensive, each convinced that we have it tougher. Some people are habitual scorekeepers, some people just do it occasionally. But we all do it.
( Click here to read more of this excerpt).
Fortunately, the authors do have some practical solutions. My favorite is the “Training Weekend.” Mom takes off for the weekend leaving Dad behind, unassisted to deal with everything. It’s supposed to make him more appreciative and more confident. Sounds clever to me. So honey, as soon as I wean The Bear I’m going to give this one a try. Not because you need the kick in the pants, but because I NEED A BREAK. We’ll make it a training-Training Weekend. I’ll get the sitter to come help you.
Sometimes “Babyproofing” is painful to read. Sometimes it’s reassuring. Sometimes you will literally laugh aloud. My husband and I had a good chuckle over this one:
“Can you imagine a day that doesn’t begin with someone screaming and hurling a sippy cup across the kitchen in a wave of toddler fury?” (page. 266).
I only have a couple of issues with the book. First, I didn’t see much mention of breastfeeding (unless I’m so tired I missed it). I would have liked to see how the authors fit breastfeeding into their analysis. Second, the book is a little long. If we’re all so tired and stressed out, then who has time to read a nearly 300 page long book?
Nevertheless, even if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, you can still get something out of reading selected chapters. If you want to read about battling grandparents, check out Chapter 5, “In-Laws and Outlaws.” If you want to hear how having more kids (yes, more) can actually restore some balance to the marriage, read Chapter 6, “Ramping Up and Giving In: More Kids More Chaos.”
Finally, if you just want to focus on “The ‘Sex Life’ of New Parents: Coitus Non-Existus,” turn to Chapter Four. But ladies, rest assured, the responsibility for fixing things is not just on your shoulders with the Five Minute Fix. In the authors’ opinion, your spouse needs to keep romance alive and do more “domestic crap.” “The bottom line is: pitch in if you want her to put out.” (page 153)
You know what, I think the guys have their work cut out for them. That stuff– romance and housework– take a lot more than five minutes!

2 Responses to “Babyproofing Your Marriage– Book Review”

The “Five Minute Fix” sounds like the sort of advice dispense by women’s magazines in the 1950s, a 21st century update to this gem from Housekeeping Monthly (May 1955): “Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.”
I thought we were over that? Now three women are suggesting that already overworked moms literally get on their knees to persuade husbands to help care for their progeny and home? Hogwash. Don’t even get me started about how our oversexed culture leaves lactating moms feeling pressured and as if something’s wrong with them when their libido (quite naturally) isn’t what it used to be.
I do agree that moms deserve a weekend away, but why wait until baby is weaned to get some time to yourself? I get out for a couple hours at least one or two nights a week–I knit with my friends or meet with my local bf advocacy group. Every mother should get such time to herself, to attend to her own interests and do something that’s fulfilling to her outside of parenting. Every father should get the opportunity to learn to care for his children on his own (without a lot of micromanagement).

The chapter on sex alone is worth the cost of the whole book; it was so illuminating to read the male perspective there. And while the “five minute fix” is getting a lot of attention in particular, for the record, the book states that it is a stop gap, a band aid for if the baby grenade destruction has been left to run amok. Be reassured, people, that they are not saying that this is the ideal sex life.

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