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How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
By Jancee Dunn
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Also available from:
- Recommended by Nicole Cliffe in Slate
- Featured in People Picks
- A Red Tricycle Best Baby and Toddler Parenting Book of the Year
- One of Mother magazine’s favorite parenting books of the Year
How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids tackles the last taboo subject of parenthood: the startling, white-hot fury that new (and not-so-new) mothers often have for their mates. After Jancee Dunn had her baby, she found that she was doing virtually all the household chores, even though she and her husband worked equal hours. She asked herself: How did I become the ‘expert’ at changing a diaper?
Many expectant parents spend weeks researching the best crib or safest car seat, but spend little if any time thinking about the titanic impact the baby will have on their marriage – and the way their marriage will affect their child.
Enter Dunn, her well-meaning but blithely unhelpful husband, their daughter, and her boisterous extended family, who show us the ways in which outmoded family patterns and traditions thwart the overworked, overloaded parents of today.
On the brink of marital Armageddon, Dunn plunges into the latest relationship research, solicits the counsel of the country’s most renowned couples’ and sex therapists, canvasses fellow parents, and even consults an FBI hostage negotiator on how to effectively contain an “explosive situation.” Instead of having the same fights over and over, Dunn and her husband must figure out a way to resolve their larger issues and fix their family while there is still time. As they discover, adding a demanding new person to your relationship means you have to reevaluate — and rebuild — your marriage. In an exhilarating twist, they work together to save the day, happily returning to the kind of peaceful life they previously thought was the sole province of couples without children.
Part memoir, part self-help book with actionable and achievable advice, How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids is an eye-opening look at how the man who got you into this position in this first place is the ally you didn’t know you had.
THIS BOOK is written for parents and partners who define their marriages as "good" or "satisfactory" but feel they could be better. However, if you are experiencing problems in your marriage that arise from serious issues such as mental illness, physical altercations, or substance abuse, seek professional help.
I have changed all the names of the friends I have interviewed for this book to protect their privacy.
Maters Gonna Hate
When you have a baby, you set off an explosion in your marriage, and when the dust settles, your marriage is different from what it was.
When I was six months pregnant with my daughter, I had lunch with a group of friends, all of whom were eager to pass along their hard-won scraps of parental wisdom. In the quiet café they noisily threw them down, with much gesturing, like street-corner dice players on a hot streak. There were so many tips flying at me that I was forced to write them on a napkin. Bring flip-flops for nasty shower at hospital, I scribbled. Huggies wipes are nice, thick. Freeze maxi pads in water for postpartum 'roid-sicles.
"Oh, and get ready to hate your husband," said my friend Lauren. I looked up from writing If gas, pump baby's legs like bicycle. Wrong, I told her calmly. I listed various reasons why our relationship was solid: We had been together for nearly a decade. We were heading toward middle age, and squabbling requires siphoning precious energy from waning reserves. Most important, we were peaceable, semi-hermetic writers who startled at loud noises, running madly away like panicked antelope.
I looked around at my friends' carefully composed faces as they tried not to smirk. Over the course of a few months, I had already been privy to hundreds of parental decrees: Say good-bye to a good night's sleep. You'll never have sex again, and trust me, it will be a relief. Natural childbirth? You'll beg for that epidural, especially if your pelvis separates like mine did.
My favorite edict was supplied by my friend Justin, father of three. "Better see all the movies you can now," he said, shaking his head mournfully. "When the baby comes? Not gonna happen."
I squinted at him. Parenthood was so overwhelming that I wouldn't be able to sit on my couch and watch a movie? Ever?
As it turns out, my friend Justin was wrong—I was watching movies the week after I gave birth.
But my friend Lauren was right.
Soon after the baby was born, my husband and I had our first screaming fight as new parents. To be more precise, it was I who screamed.
What set me off was embarrassingly trivial, yet the source of a baffling amount of conflict in the first few weeks of parenthood: whose turn it was to empty the Diaper Genie. On that day, it was Tom's. The coiled bag had grown to the size of a Burmese python, and was about to spring like the snake-in-a-nut-can gag. The stench enveloped our small Brooklyn apartment.
"Please empty that thing," I called to him as I sat on the couch, breastfeeding the baby. "The fumes are making me dizzy."
"In a minute, hon," he said from the bedroom, his robotic voice a tip-off that he was playing chess on his computer. He has a handful of programmed responses on call, like tugging the string on an action doll: That's interesting; Huh, really? and Oh wow, sounds great (his response when I told him I had a suspicious growth on my leg).
In seconds, I was flooded with molten rage. I carefully put the baby down, barged into the bedroom, and seared him with contemptible, juvenile invective, terms that had not crossed my lips since I was a New Jersey teen in the '80s. Dickwad. Asshole. Piece-a-shit. The force of my anger surprised both of us. Almost immediately, I was filled with shame. True, I was reeling from hormones, sleep deprivation, and a sudden quadrupling of cleanup and laundry. But I love my husband—enough to have had him impregnate me in the first place. I knew within two weeks of meeting him that I wanted to marry him; he was the most interesting person I had ever met. I was charmed by the way he would blush and stammer when we talked, prompting me to lean in more closely just for the fun of making everything worse. During our tranquil nights at home in the early days of our marriage, I was often reminded of Christopher Isherwood's description of a couple reading: "the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other's presence."
I'm not sure what a dickwad is, exactly—but I know Tom isn't one. He's a sweet, caring spouse and father who spends hours with our daughter, Sylvie, patiently playing an eighth round of Go Fish. He refuses her nothing: when she begs him to ride bikes at dawn on a freezing Saturday, his standard response is what I've termed nokay. "No." (Five seconds elapse.) "Okay." He is almost comically protective of his only child. One day at our local playground, an older girl was taunting Sylvie as Tom watched grimly from the sidelines.
Older girl: You can't do the monkey bars! You're too small. You're not strong enough, like me!
Sylvie does not answer, so the girl continues in a singsong voice: You can't do it, you can't do it!
Tom materializes next to the older child, who squints up at his six three frame. Right. Let's see you do it, then.
The child swings through three bars, falls, then hastily jumps back on.
Tom, with Vulcan calm: You fell off. Which is cheating. You're the one who can't do the monkey bars. Older child backs away.
Playground disputes aside, Tom finds fighting physically unbearable: the moment my voice begins to rise, he turns light gray and retracts into himself like a stunned gastropod. While I have threatened divorce and called him every name in the book, he has never—I mean never—done the same to me. It gives me no satisfaction to holler at a kind, gentle chess player who enjoys reading and bird-watching in his spare time.
And did the Diaper Genie actually need to be emptied right away? Were we really ready to haul out the HazMat suits? It could have waited until Tom had finished his game. But from that day on, my resentment has been on a constant lochia-like drip. Our daughter is now six, and Tom and I still have endless, draining fights. Why do I have the world's tiniest fuse when it comes to the division of childcare and household labor?
I am baffled that things have turned out this way. I fully assumed that my very evolved husband and I, both freelance writers who work from home, would naturally be in tune. When we were a duo, he handled all the cooking while I did most of the housework; we grocery shopped and did laundry à deux. When I became pregnant, he confidently informed me he was ready for diaper duty.
Surely, we would figure everything out organically, as we always had.
I had read the encouraging news that modern men, unlike the distant breadwinners of previous generations, are more invested in their children than ever before. A Pew Research Center study shows that today's working dads are as likely as working moms to say they would prefer to be home with their kids. We live in an era in which fathers-to-be throw all-male "man showers" for their babies (according to one party-gear designer, a popular theme is "barbecue, babies, and beer"). Websites aimed solely at dads are on the rise, such as Fatherly.com, which features, alongside more standard content (an illustrated guide to high fives, tips from a Navy SEAL on how to dominate hide-and-seek), numerous articles on how to raise strong daughters—a response, said the site's founders, to reader demand.
Fathers' attitudes about housework are changing, too. The same Pew study found that since 1965, the time that fathers spend doing household chores has more than doubled—from about four hours a week to roughly ten. Men, though, are selective about the ones they will do, according to sociologist Scott Coltrane. He has said that of the "big five" household tasks—cooking, meal cleanup, grocery shopping, housework, and laundry—men are more apt to balk at housework and laundry and more likely to go for cooking, meal cleanup, and grocery shopping.
Since Tom and I had already established fairly clear roles in our household—our generation is, arguably, the first to have expectations of splitting up the work—I assumed we would simply fashion new ones. But after our baby was born, we soon slid backward into the traditional roles we'd grown up seeing, which were clearly more ingrained than I'd thought (we're just a grandma and grandpa away from the old model, after all). It wasn't by any grand design; it just sort of happened. I was making food for the baby, so I started doing all the family cooking and food shopping. I did the baby's laundry, so I began to throw in our clothes, too. When she was small, I stayed at home with her during the day and, out of habit, my caregiver duties gradually extended into the evening.
Our scenario is not uncommon: an Ohio State study of working couples who became first-time parents found that men did a fairly equal share of housework—until, that is, they became dads. By the time their baby had reached nine months, the women had picked up an average of thirty-seven hours of childcare and housework per week, while the men did twenty-four hours—even as both parents clocked in the same number of hours at work. When it came to childcare, moreover, dads did more of the fun stuff like reading stories, rather than decidedly less festive tasks such as diaper duty (not to mention that they did five fewer hours of housework per week after the baby arrived).
To their credit, the new fathers seemed to be clueless that they weren't keeping up with the burgeoning workload, says study coauthor Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan. "We were surprised at the inaccuracies," she tells me. "Both parents feel like they are doing a ton more work after the baby is born, but for men, that perception is especially inaccurate."
These days, Tom does around 10 percent of our household chores. He maintains that he is consistent: as a bachelor, he did 10 percent of his household chores. (I can vouch for that: in our early days of dating, upon my first visit to his apartment, the only thing I found in his refrigerator was a furred 64-ounce jar of salsa from Chi-Chi's, a brand I was not even aware still existed).
I wish his 10 percent effort was enough, but it isn't. I feel like he's a guest at the hotel I'm running. I'm constantly taking a silent feminist stand to see if he'll step up and lend a hand. The scorekeeping never ends. Adding to my resentment is that on weekends, Tom somehow manages to float around in a happy single-guy bubble. A typical Saturday for him starts with a game of soccer with his friends or a five-hour bike ride (he seemed to take up endurance sports right around the time our baby's umbilical cord was cut, like the sound of the snip was a starter's pistol to get the hell out of Dodge).
This is followed by a leisurely twenty-minute shower, a late breakfast, a long nap, and then a meandering perusal through a variety of periodicals. Meanwhile, I am ferrying our daughter to birthday parties and playdates. On weekend evenings, Tom doesn't check with me before he meets friends for drinks; he just breezes out the door with the assumption that I'll handle bath time and bed. Yet whose fault is that? In my deranged quest to Do It All, I have allowed this pattern to unfold—so is it fair of me to get angry when he ducks (or, as I view it, "skulks") into the bedroom for a nap?
And so I fume, and then unleash the beast at the slightest provocation. A typical scenario: I am in the kitchen, simultaneously cooking dinner, checking our daughter's homework, and emptying both her school lunch bag and the dishwasher. Tom heads into the kitchen and I brighten—Oh, good, some help!—but no, he is only wending through the typhoon in order to reach the refrigerator to pour himself a glass of wine.
TOM (OPENING FRIDGE, FROWNING): There's no wine left?
ME (DISTRACTED): I guess not.
TOM (WITH SLIGHTLY MORE URGENCY): You didn't get wine today?
ME: Oh, so now I manage the storerooms? My apologies, Lord Grantham! I'll alert the staff!
TOM: No, I just meant that you were at the store earlier, and…
ME (NOW ENRAGED): I know what you meant, Dickwad!
As this little contretemps is unfolding, our daughter runs over, stands protectively in front of Tom, and tells me not to yell at Daddy. "We're just working something out, honey," I say quickly. In one of the many parenting books I keep piled on my bedside table, I read that if you squabble in front of children, you should make an elaborate point of making up, so that they can witness your "healthy conflict resolution." "Here," I tell her. "I'll hug Daddy. We fight sometimes, but we always make up, because we love each other! You see?"
I move in for a hug. My back is toward her, so she doesn't see that as I embrace my husband, I scowlingly give him the finger and mouth, Fuck you!
Of course, I overreacted. And Tom could have gone down to the store without an Edwardian harrumph and purchased a new bottle of wine. Instead, I've become this lurking harridan who waits for her husband to screw up (I suppose the legal phrase for this is "entrapment"). But when I explode—making a conscious choice to vent, rather than consider my daughter's anxiety—is my "victory" worth it? My concern for her wellbeing turns out to be unsettlingly selective. While I carefully apply sunscreen to the back of her neck and shield her from the harms of too much sugar by scrutinizing the label of her Nature's Path EnviroKidz Organic Lightly Frosted Amazon Flakes, I apparently feel free to trash her sense of peace by yelling horrible names at her father.
We save our best selves for our children.
What makes me especially sad about our endless bickering is that it drags down what is by all accounts a pretty wonderful life. Our daughter is goofy and easygoing (bursting with excitement over the Mother's Day present she bought me, she says, "I'll give you a hint—it's soap!"). We live in a serene converted church in Brooklyn. Tom's enviable magazine assignments barely classify as work: a mountain biking expedition to Mayan ruins where he drinks whiskey with shamans atop a pyramid, traipsing in remote Utah deserts in search of rare bird sounds, horseback riding in the pampas of Uruguay.
Meanwhile, I have, through careful maneuvering, carved out a part-time job as a freelance writer. During the six hours my daughter is at school, I park myself in front of the computer and industriously write about beauty and health for magazines such as Vogue (even if, in my limp ponytail and frayed yoga pants, I am easily the fashion bible's least glamorous employee). During those hours, I barely rise from my chair—but the payoff is that when school is out at 3, I close my computer for the day and transform into a stay-at-home mom. Because I'm so demonically focused, my work output roughly equals that of my former job as a music writer at Rolling Stone magazine—I may have spent nine hours daily in the office, but a full third of it was dedicated to web-surfing, gossiping with coworkers, and debating what to have for lunch (if we weren't on deadline, twenty minutes could be devoted to the topic of will Mexican food make us too drowsy?).
These days, a delightfully surreal workday might involve dropping my daughter at school—a three-minute walk through a leafy park—hopping on the F train to Manhattan to meet up with Jennifer Lopez, and then heading back to Brooklyn in time for school pickup. Whenever I interview celebrities, I often warm them up with a softball question in which I have them describe for me the happiest time of their lives. If they are parents, their inevitable answer is this: Oh, the period of time when my children were small, no question. I am fully aware that this should be a golden era for me and Tom—we have our health, fulfilling jobs, the child we have longed for. And we are squandering it.
Our situation is certainly not unique: this simmering resentment dominates mom blogs. Get a group of mothers together, uncork a bottle or three of sauvignon blanc, and the scattered sniping will soon rise to a thunderous crescendo of complaint as everyone clamors to share their stories:
My husband works all week, so on weekends, he tells me he doesn't want to "deal with" our sons. I'm amazed that he doesn't notice that I'm basically radiating hatred all the time.
I'm emptying the dishwasher and Brian starts grabbing my boobs. I've had kids pawing me all day long, so that's not hot. If you want some action, help me unload the dishes, idiot.
My husband tries to get out of changing diapers by saying I'm the "expert."
I'm so tired of asking Andrew to do things around the house. No one has to ask me. You know why? Because I just get on with it.
I'd divorce Jason, but he drops off the kids at school in the mornings.
A friend just wrote me this: "I'm running on 5 hrs sleep and irrational anger at Adam while cortisol pumps itself into my breast milk. He just asked me what I wanted for our anniversary, and I tell him a weekend at a hotel, alone. I wasn't kidding. The words 'weekend alone' feel like porn to me."
Perhaps the single most widely cited piece of research on marriage and children comes from eminent couples therapists Julie and John Gottman. They found that 67 percent of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet after having a baby. No surprise there: your bundle of joy brings a boatload of additional stresses such as hormonal zigzagging, work schedule upheavals, money worries (the cost of diapers alone is panic-inducing), a sex drought, and, as one paper I read pointed out, "increased interactions with medical professionals."
And the significance of chronic sleep deprivation on a new parent's temper cannot be overestimated. Lack of sleep makes us focus on negative experiences, pick fights, and become irrational. Research shows that after sleep deprivation, the emotional part of the brain, the amygdala, is much more reactive. Normally, the more rational prefrontal cortex works to put everything into context, but when your brain is sleep deprived, this relationship breaks down—and often, so do you. Suddenly, your responses are way less controlled—and you rip your husband a new one when he unthinkingly slams a door after you've just gotten the baby to nap.
When people miss sleep for one night, they feel the effects the next day—but one study shows that if sleep loss continues, people report that they actually feel just fine: I got this! You know what? I don't even need sleep! When I chat with Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, he compares this mind-set to that of stubbornly confident drunk drivers. "After five drinks, they may think they're fine to drive home, but they're markedly impaired in their brain function," he says. "The same is true of sleep: when people regularly get less than seven hours, we can measure significant cognitive impairment."
Before I had a baby, I would roll my eyes when I'd hear a new mom lamenting that she didn't have time to shower for days on end. Please, I'd think. Doesn't a newborn sleep all the time? Drama! Now that I'm a mother, I roll my eyes when I hear the oft-repeated advice urging moms to "nap when the baby naps." The effort required to keep a tiny new being alive is bizarrely immense—and, at least when it comes to childcare and housework, women are bearing the brunt of it. Over a quarter century ago, Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild called this disparity the "stalled revolution," and it still holds true: while the lives of women, who now make up almost half of the US labor force, have radically changed, the behavior of their mates has not changed quite as much.
Working mothers are now the top earners in a record 40 percent of families with kids—yet a University of Maryland study found that married mothers are still doing nearly three and a half times as much housework as married fathers. And when you've been picking up nonstop after a two-year-old, your husband's formerly innocuous habit of shedding his socks into a bounceable ball shape—within view of the hamper—is suddenly deeply irritating.
Comedian Dena Blizzard, a New Jersey mom, says she would bristle when her husband would return home from work, look around at the chaos wrought by their three children, and ask her, "What happened here? Who pulled all this stuff out?" "Every day, he would say it," she tells me. "I'm like, 'Oh, this? Yeah, I pulled all this shit out. I was really bored today, so I thought I'd throw everything on the floor.'"
Then he would follow with the question dreaded by stay-at-home mothers worldwide: What did you do all day? "I did a hundred things, but none of them added up to anything," Blizzard says. "I vacuumed, I called Poison Control because my son ate a plant, and I think I took a shower. I'd tell him, 'We have three kids. This is as far as we got.' He would always be surprised. It was hard not to want to punch him in the face."
Sociologist Michael Kimmel, director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities (yes, this exists) at Stony Brook University, says that men tend to pitch in more with childcare than with housework—but as with housework, they're selective about the kind of childcare that they will do. "What happens in a lot of middle-class families is that Dad becomes the Fun Parent," Kimmel tells me. "So Dad takes the kids to the park on Saturday mornings to play soccer, and Mom cleans the breakfast dishes, makes the beds, does the laundry, makes lunch. Then the kids come home at noon and say, 'Oh my gosh, we had such a great time with Dad in the park—he's awesome!'"
This unfair dynamic is neatly summed up in an article from the satirical online newspaper the Onion: "Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties in Closer Proximity to Ocean." As the "mom" puts it, "I just love that I can be scrubbing the bathroom, look out the window, and see the tide coming in. We should do this every year!"
And even though fathers have stepped up considerably in sharing childcare duties—since the 1960s, nearly tripling the time they spend with their children—mothers still devote about twice as much time to their kids as fathers do. Perhaps it's not surprising that in the US government's American Time Use Survey, women reported feeling significantly more fatigued than fathers in all four major life categories—work, housework, leisure, and childcare. (I read these statistics and think of Tina Fey's tip in Bossypants for carving out "me time" after a baby: "Say you're going to look for the diaper cream and then go into your child's room and just stand there, until your spouse comes in and curtly says, 'What are you doing?'")
When journalist Josh Katz crunched the numbers from the most current Time Use Survey, he found that even when men didn't have jobs, they still did half the amount of housework and childcare that women did. A large survey of US mothers by NBC's Today program revealed that for nearly half of them, their husbands were a bigger source of stress than their children. Some of them commented that the fathers acted more like kids than equal partners.
"If I let my husband and baby have their way, I'd never pee, brush my teeth, shower, or eat again," says Leyla, a friend of a friend. When she went out one night for an hour-long meeting, she soon received a text from her husband about their daughter that read, ominously: Witching hour just began but don't worry. Moments later, a more urgent message arrived: This is the worst I've ever heard it. "Seconds later my phone beeps," she says. "He has sent an iPhone recording of the baby screaming bloody murder." Leyla quickly said her good-byes and hurried out the door. The iPhone, alas, is every parent's electronic parole bracelet—and in life, there is no "airplane mode."
I certainly feel like Tom's mother when I have to nag him to do a task—especially when he treats it as an option by saying, "In a minute," or simply ignores me completely. (At least he doesn't do what my friend's husband does: salute and shout, "Aye-aye, sir," to make their kids laugh. At her.) Darby Saxbe, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, explains to me that couples often fall into a pattern of demand and retreat—most often, the woman demands and the man retreats. This dynamic has arisen, she says, because men have less to gain by changing their behavior, while women are more likely to want to alter the status quo—which means they also initiate more fights.
My friend Jenny, mother of two, recalls one Saturday morning when it became clear that the baby had a dirty diaper. "My husband chirped, 'Your turn—I did the last one,'" she says. "As a stay-at-home mom, I was up a ballpark three thousand lifetime diaper changes on this guy. I think my head rotated 360 degrees."
When men do help around the house, says Pamela Smock, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan (with the very term help, she says, indicating that we have quite a way to go), they often choose chores with a "leisure component." This would include yard work, driving to the store to pick up something, or busily reordering the family Netflix queue—quasi-discretionary activities that have a more flexible timetable than more urgent jobs such as hustling the kids out the door for school or making dinner (and often, many of those "leisure component" chores involve getting out of the house).
Smock, a leading expert on the changing American family, who is equally at home discussing gender inequality as she is true crime novels and '70s rock bands, says that on top of basic duties such as cooking and cleaning, women do countless invisible tasks. This is the time-gobbling labor that will likely never show up on any sort of time use study. One is "kin work," which Smock defines to me as "giving emotional support to relatives, buying presents and sending cards, handling holiday celebrations, things like that." (Which is why a certain page in the gift book Porn for New Moms always gets a laugh: a smiling, hunky man sits at a desk and says, I'll be right there, hon. I'm just finishing the last of the baby shower thank-you cards.)
- "Drawing from her own life, journalist Dunn offers up a hilarious-and actually useful!-take on the lopsided division of labor that bedevils many a marriage post-baby."—People, People Picks
- "The book is steeped in sociological and scientific research on how men's and women's roles have changed (and not) in family life, and it's also hilarious. As Dunn and her husband take a bumpy ride through therapy, research and in-home experiments in an effort to make their family life equitable and peaceful again, you'll learn a little, and laugh a lot."—The Seattle Times, best books of 2018
"Dunn's writing is effortless and chatty.... The book is compassionate and reasonable.... This book would make a far more practical shower gift than, say, yet another organic cotton receiving blanket. Babies grow up fast and require less stuff than we usually buy them; we adults are the ones that keep growing."
"Part memoir, part self-help book, Jancee Dunn's How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids offers relationship research combined with personal anecdotes. Strategies learned from therapists, friends and even an FBI hostage negotiator help Dunn heal her marriage--and set a good example for her kid."
- "How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids," is equal parts romp and eye-opener, as she [Dunn] tackles relationship self-help from every angle-and through many experts and therapists. A few chapters in, one goop staffer had already photographed a dozen pages to send to her spouse."—Goop
"Jancee Dunn blends marital advice from real experts with her down to earth folksy wit in Hot Not To Hate Husband After Kids. If your husband has a better relationship with his phone than he does with his baby, you need to hit him with this book--and then ask him to read it."
—Jen Mann, New York Times bestselling author of People I Want to Punch in the Throat
"I already knew I loved my husband, but Jancee Dunn's book makes me realize how much I owe it to my kids to love their father harder and more visibly. And maybe to take a big timeout the next time I want to run over his pipe collection with my jog stroller."
—Faith Salie, author of Approval Junkie
"Readers familiar with Dunn's honest and humorous writing will appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at her own semi-messy family life, and those who need guidance through the rough spots can glean advice while being entertained.... A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after the birth of their child."
"Dunn proves herself a clever, honest, and hilarious writer who isn't afraid to take her own marriage on a great experiment. Few writers would be courageous enough to lay bare such uncomfortable truths as her verbal abuse of her husband in response to his selfishness and how it may be threatening to the normal development of their daughter.... Her book should become a baby shower classic."
"Hilarious.... This truly fascinating text is delightful. One of the best books on the subject. Highly recommended."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Why does your once-hot-and-harmonious relationship turn tense after you bring home a baby? Jancee Dunn, a Parents contributor, tackles the issue with brutal honesty and a healthy dose of humor."
- "This book is a very valuable addition to the whole huge transition to becoming parents. This book can help preserve the greatest gift you will ever give your baby: a loving relationship between the baby's parents."—John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
- "This part memoir, part self-help book is designed for anyone who's ever gone through the relationship shake-up that is parenting a child."—Nancy Schatz Alton, Parent Map
- "a breezy page-turner, a comedy of manners (and errors), and a treat to get lost in each night"—Well Rounded NY
- "Taking experiences from her own evolving marriage and combining it with the wisdom of professionals - neuroscientists, psychologists, parenting experts, and more - she has penned this book to help women navigate everything from household chores, budgets, and weekends with family to both fighting and having sex with your spouse."—Whitney C. Harris, Red Tricycle
- "Jancee Dunn takes a sticky issue and gives it personality . . . she gives hope to her readers and their partners that working together is possible and essential for their success as parents"—Mother Magazine
- On Sale
- Mar 21, 2017
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Little, Brown and Company