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Happily Married With Kids: It's Not A Fairy Tale Paperback – May 18, 2011
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As a psychologist working both with couples and individuals ... practical and easy to read, even when you have had an exhausting day with the kids ... focuses on solutions, recovery and repair. --Ira B. Poll, California
From the Author
My new book, Happily Married With Kids: It's Not A Fairy Tale, is a revised, updated edition of my first book. I have condensed the information, updated the references and added a chapter on dealing with tough economic times. As you read it, I hope you will laugh a little with me, nod in recognition and gain a clear vision of how a happy couple works and plays and even disagrees together as they grow closer.
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In Happily Married With Kids, Carol goes through many techniques for real marriages. There are the 5 stages of marriage, normal marriages-real problems, discussion on vacations and how to develop a plan with or without baby in tow. I really enjoyed the section on Living Together Happily During Tough Economic Times. Since we're living in a country that is experiencing a drastic shift in our economy, and many couples are really struggling to pay the bills and find time for them, I think this chapter is priceless. Another section that I found helpful is Recognizing Helpful Conversation, this chapter talks about how to change the way you talk to your spouse so you're on equal playing ground. A spouse will respond much differently when you leave the accusations out of it and focus on what you really want to say without the negativity.
Overall the book is great and I would definitely recommend it to new parents. My children are 9 & 12 but I still found spots in the book that were helpful to me. I did feel the book was written for new and existing parents with children under school age though. Carol does not talk about children and school issues which is a factor in marriages with school age children. I like how Carol discusses things that the couple can do for free, but I did feel that the author focused on middle class families a lot. She talks about hiring a maid to take pressure off of the family a lot. Families of low SES (social economic status) cannot hire a maid nor can they afford a counselor. It is true that a maid is cheaper than a counselor but neither is attainable in a SES family. They likely can check out books at the library or perhaps purchase a self help book. There is a lot of good information in Happily Married With Kids though, and even if you are not in a position to hire a counselor a self help book can help.
I totally agree with the author's point "Often, parents don't realize that one of the best things they can give their children is a good marriage. Not only does it protect children from the obvious financial and emotional disruptions of divorce, a good marriage provides a role model for happiness, kindness, maintaining a sense of yourself in a group, and getting along with people in the world."
Now, this book is broken down into 4 main chapters: Baby on Board, Normal Marriages-- Real Problems, Travel, Holidays, and Other Crises and Let's Talk: Protecting Your Marriage.
In the first chapter, I learned that problems that occurred in the family should not be viewed as a negative thing or a failure in your relationship, instead it should be viewed as opportunities to make the couple's and family relationship better. It reminds us that a happy couple is one that works together to resolve conflicts, respect their partner and reconnects back after a disagreement.
I also learned a new perspective from page 38 "Men are taught to emphasize negotiation while women are trained in cooperation" where woman expects their husband to work together with them in taking care of the family while the man would expect some bargaining or barter work (according to the author, bargaining is a form of connection in a man's thinking) in caring for the family. Hence if a couple do not understand this, they end up getting frustrated and angry at their spouse when they are overwhelmed with the things on their hands.
I love it when the author mentioned that a happy couple does not necessarily share equal child care in the family but they should have a sense of appreciation for what the other brings to the marriage and they communicate that appreciation to each other.
In the second chapter, I learned what a normal marriage is like. The author highlights how to manage frustrations and anger properly so that it does not affect the marriage and also guides us to think and set our goals, roles, routines and resolutions for our relationship and for the family. The author also provides solutions on how to balance and manage our work, love and life in our marriage and family.
In the third chapter, the author provides tips on how to overcome separation anxiety and what to do when going for travel or vacation as a family.
In the last chapter, I find myself agreeing with this statement on page 183 "For good marriages to thrive, each partner needs to be able to express feelings of discomfort, distress and dissatisfaction, and be heard. This doesn't mean anyone needs to tolerate, nor should they spew, a torrent of abuse." In my case, I often find myself keeping my frustrations to myself as I feel that I should not burden my husband with the challenges I face in taking care of our 2 children and being at home all the time with them. I think my husband senses this when I started raising my voice and easily annoyed with whatever I'm facing. So I feel rather than for him to realise this when it's too late, I should tell him what I feel, right?
On page 195, I really love how the author stated this: "Fighting like the windows are open means speaking your piece effectively without hurting your partner or provoking a vicious counter attack. In other words, fight like the neighbors can hear you. When you fight with kids in the house, they are listening. And they learn your good and bad habits, not just about fighting but about everything else, too. When they hear tension in the adults' voices, even infants will burst into tears. As they begin to understand language, toddlers and preschoolers become more sensitive."
What I do not like in this book is the way certain points are emphasised in the grey box. Some of the statements are repeated and I feel that the author should just highlight or bold the statement itself instead of duplicating it again into the grey colored box which a lot of times appeared few paragraphs after making it seem out of context.
Other than that, this is a good book that you can consider getting for yourself or even as a gift to parents-to-be!
Topics discussed include dealing with sleep deprivation and new baby demands, sharing the work load of parenting and household chores, dealing with anger, setting goals, family vacations, holidays, and even surviving an affair. Dr. Lindquist provides bullet points of advice for dealing with each issue. Her advice on how to communicate respectfully is excellent and can be applied to any relationship.
Happily Married With Kids is a the perfect combination of advice and humor that will help couples navigate the ups and downs of parenthood while maintaining a loving relationship. I highly recommend it.