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Book Review: Happily Married With Kids by Carol Ummel Lindquist

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I came across Happily Married With Kids on the website last month and decided to request for a review copy.

A lot of couples enter into marriages and when they find out they are going to be parents, they do not realise that having a child is going to change the whole dynamics of the couple’s life. That said, it does not mean having a child means your marriage is going to end.

This is why I feel this book is good as it addresses the expectations, crises and provide tips on how to sail through married life happily with kids.

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.”

The book is broken down into four 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 occur in the family should not be viewed as a negative thing or a failure in your relationship; instead they should be viewed as opportunities to make the couple’s relationship better. It reminds us that a happy couple is one that works together to resolve conflicts, respect each other 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.” A woman expects her husband to work with her 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 when they are overwhelmed with the things on their hands.

I loved it when the author said that a happy couple does not necessarily share equally child care in the family, but that each should have a sense of appreciation for what the other brings to the marriage and they should 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 two children and being at home all the time with them. I think my husband senses this when I start raising my voice and am easily annoyed. So after reading this I concluded that rather than waiting for him to realise this when it’s too late, I should tell him what I feel.

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 emphasized in gray boxes. Some of the statements are repeated and I feel that the author should just highlight or bold the statement itself instead of duplicating it.

Other than that, this is a good book that you can consider getting for yourself or even as a gift to parents-to-be!

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