And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John and Julie Gottman
What happens when you pair two psychologists with research statistics like “67 percent of couples become very unhappy with each other during the first three years of their baby’s life” and “83 percent of new parents go through moderate to severe crisis in the transition to parenthood”? You get a survival guide like this one. Dripping with real-life examples, data, and advice, the Gottmans provide crucial insight into navigating the dynamics of adding a third pea to your pod. Curl up together with a warm drink and a readiness to grow. You’ll learn some history. You’ll work through exercises. And you’ll end up much closer when you finish the book than when you started it.*
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
When we consider our relationship sacred, we deal with our conflicts differently.
How do we parents blend together a culture of shared meaning that creates a legacy for our children? Whether we realize it or not, we stitch one together with every word, every choice, every silence, and every act.
The greatest gift we can give our baby is our love for each other.
Ultimately, when we can process our fights well, we emerge with a deeper understanding of our partner’s humanity, the jagged edges they grapple with inside themselves.
See each other as wounded and struggling for dignity, rather than as dark villains.
Our gridlocked conflicts contain the potential for great intimacy between us. But we have to feel safe enough to pull our dreams out of the closet. When we wear them, our partner may glimpse how beautiful we are—fragile but shimmering. Then, with understanding, our partners may join us in being dream catchers, rather than dream shredders.
We have to sing our partner’s praises but whisper our wish for change.
One of the biggest revelations for me was that “bids for attention are really bids for emotional connection.” In rushing around to stay on *my* schedule, I frequently miss seeing the man God has put right in front of me to love on. A comment about something in the news isn’t just information to shrug off; it’s a request for me to draw closer to him through engagement. When I allow impatience to thwart gracious enthusiasm, I’m inadvertently sowing seeds of coldness and separation in my marriage, turning a short-term inconvenience into a long-term problem. Choosing to make what is important to him important to me, even in the little moments? That’s wisdom.
Journaling questions include:
- How can we call out to each other from within our own vulnerabilities?
- What are the perpetual issues in our relationship?
- In what ways can we lean on each other’s strengths in marriage? in parenting?
- How might I “turn toward” my husband throughout the day?
- What rituals of connection do we want to add to our home?
- Which hidden dreams lie underneath our gridlocked topics?
- How can we build “small things often” into our daily rhythms as a family?
- Where do I need to build a window rather than a wall in our relationship?
- When do I tend to be absent even though I’m present?
- How has my culture helped me give the ordinary extraordinary meaning?
*I do need to mention that this book is not written from a Christian perspective. While most of the material is extremely helpful and applicable to marriages across the board, there are a few parts—particularly in the chapter on intimacy—that are pretty flagrantly unbiblical. So if you decide to add this to your personal reading list, remember to filter it through the Word rather than swallowing everything hook, line, and sinker. Looking for a great resource on healthy bedroom relationships for believers? (Christian marriage might be steamier than you think.) Email me.