Sunday, March 25, 2007

Babyproofing Your Marriage, by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone

I made the mistake of reading a few other reviews (and the resulting "I agree with you" commentary) before I cracked the spine on this book. Even though I had the negative impressions of the reviewers hoping to influence my own, I managed to find Babyproofing only marginally helpful for my own reasons.

Cockrell, O'Neill, and Stone come from and speak to a limited audience, which makes sense for book sales, but not as much for giving the self-help genre timeless and universal material. I realize that I'm crafting a fairly tall order for a book that isn't required to be more than the flavor of the month. Their suggestions may work just fine for those who are otherwise psychologically healthy; in my opinion, the healthy ones don't need this book, and parents who are dealing with some dysfunction will be frustrated with the authors' attitudes.

The authors state that "the sex issue" was the main prompt for their efforts to write this book. Amongst other suggestions, they propose using "the 5-minute fix" to satisfy one's husband's needs for the oh-so-small sacrifice of "mild feelings of compromising yourself." And that is where they lost me. I personally find that particular act to be demeaning on a high order. I don't like the idea of being a step up from what my husband can do for himself. I get no pleasure in pretending to be a porn actress. The times I have complied, I have never reaped any of the benefits the authors claim to exist on their little chart. While this "fix" may work for people who have come through life without having suffered/survived abuse via sex, it is at worst a reliving of a painful past and at best an insult to those of us who didn't escape what can be rightly called an epidemic.

As I was reading Babyproofing Your Marriage, I'd mention certain ideas to my husband. He scorned most of them, and after several attempts to communicate, I had to give up in order to keep the peace. Would this book have been more helpful if read before our son had been born? I find it hard to believe so.

The authors did have some good things to say about relationships with the new grandparents (although, thank goodness, very little of it has applied to our situation), having another child, and hope for the future. I especially appreciated that the authors (finally) included the best news I've heard in a long time: two-thirds of unhappy marriages right themselves within 5 years. If we (myself and my husband) can analogize this early childhood experience with a particularly challenging degree program, I think it will help us get through our rough patch.

1 comment:

Literacy-chic said...

I rather resent the implications of the title, which seems to perpetuate a myth--or perhaps a real though temporary feeling that is blown out of proportion by the messages about sex, marriage and families that are sent by the media and society. It does sound repugnant, though I am not above the "quickie," but unlike their suggestion, I do it for myself as much as my husband! Perhaps the idea of compromise needs to be promoted, but sexual compromise? O.K., but the idea that men's needs are that darn urgent (that they require that level of self-sacrifice) is another one of those popular myths. Do the enlightened authors mention a need for men to compromise, or is the book primarily intended for female readers? I don't mean to sound snarky (and if I come across that way, it's directed to the book!), but I do wonder about the target audience for the book (which you said is limited). I mean, feminists are out, for one, and others I can think of too...

Best of luck with your own situation. :(