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And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives [Hardcover]

John Gottman Ph.D. , Julie Schwartz Gottman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 9 2007
Having a baby is a joyous experience, but even the best relationships are strained during the transition from duo to trio. Lack of sleep, never-ending housework, and new fiscal concerns often lead to conflict, disappointment, and hurt feelings. In And Baby Makes Three Love Lab™ experts John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman teach couples the skills from their successful workshops, so partners can avoid the pitfalls of parenthood by:

• maintaining intimacy and romance
• replacing a culture of criticism and irritability with one of appreciation
• preventing post-partum depression
• creating a home environment that nurtures physical, emotional, and mental
health, as well as cognitive and behavioral development for your baby

Complete with exercises that separate the “master” from the “disaster” couples, And Baby Makes Three helps new parents positively manage the strain that comes along with their bundle of joy.

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About the Author

JOHN M. GOTTMAN, Ph.D., and JULIE SCHWARTZ GOTTMAN, Ph.D., are the founders and directors
of the Gottman Institute and the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle. The bestselling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, The Relationship Cure, and other books, John Gottman is an emeritus professor of psychology, an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, and the recipient of numerous awards and commendations. His research and findings have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time, the bestselling book Blink, and the broadcast media. Julie Schwartz Gottman serves as the clinical director of the Gottman Institute and created the Gottman Institute’s relationship clinic. She coauthored the book Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, with John Gottman and Joan DeClaire. A clinical psychologist, she is in private practice in Seattle, where the couple lives.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



Jim wakes up early one morning in an amorous mood. He reaches over and touches his wife's breast. She sits bolt upright and exclaims, "Those are for the baby!" Jim is crushed. He dashes out of bed and jumps in the shower.

Margarita and Carlos are about to make love one night when the baby starts crying. Carlos jokes, "Damn! This baby must have a radar for our lovemaking. He's saying, 'No sibs for me!'" Margarita doesn't laugh. She gets up. Carlos grabs her nightgown, pulls her back, and, a little irritably says, "Stay. He can just calm himself. The trouble is you never give him the chance to." Margarita frowns, once again gets up, and Carlos utters another "Damn!" under his breath. She hears him. When she returns to bed a while later, she expects Carlos to be angry. But surprisingly, Carlos apologizes and says that he understands why she had to go to the baby. He offers to go the next time the baby cries. Now she cries, but in gratitude. Exhausted, both of them feel closer again and cuddle together. They fall asleep in each other's arms, as the baby sleeps through his first night.

Across the street, Debbie comes to breakfast with her baby. Her husband, Harry, sits down to eat, too, but pulls his chair over to the portable TV. Debbie says, "Can't you turn that thing off and spend breakfast with me and the baby?" Harry says, "Shut up and stop nagging! I just want to hear the news before work. Anyway, what do you want me for? You sure as hell don't want me at night. I'm pretty worthless to you, aren't I? What do you care how hard I work, or when I help out around here? You're the one driving me away. All you want is to be with that baby." Debbie yells, "What is it with you men? Can't you get it that when a woman has a baby hanging on her all day, she doesn't want a man hanging on her all night?" Harry gets up and leaves with the portable TV, slamming the door behind him.

A few blocks away, there's a different picture. Jason and his partner, Shanique, play with their six-month-old son, Marcus, who's getting a fresh diaper on the changing table. Marcus is watching his parents with eyes like saucers. Jason sings, "I'm gonna . . . get . . . your . . . belly!" and he gives Marcus a big loud kiss on the belly. Marcus giggles and flashes Jason a gorgeous smile. Jason and Shanique both dive in, tickling and blowing on their baby's tummy. The baby wiggles and squeals with laughter. Shanique and Jason pick him up, fresh and clean, and dance over the living-room floor.

What's the difference between these families? They all have new babies, they all face the same joys and the same stresses, and yet some are so happy, and some are not. In our research, we've discovered that everyone has the best of intentions after their babies are born. But some couples weather the transition beautifully, others stumble but regain their footing, while still others fall . . . and keep falling.

First, though, before we examine what distinguishes one group of couples from another, let's answer a more fundamental question: Who is having babies in this country?


About 4.5 million babies are born each year in the United States. The vast majority are born to married couples, not single moms. But the numbers are changing dramatically. In 1980, the estimate was that 18.4 percent of all babies were born to single moms. By 2003, the figure increased to 34.6 percent--over a third of all babies born in this country. These figures suggest that single motherhood is on the rise. There's a fear that children born to single moms are at greater risk for poverty, neglect, and maltreatment. Some say that if these babies were born to couples committed to staying together, their families would be much better off.

These statistics are highly misleading. A recent study in twenty-one American cities found that unwed mothers are rarely alone. Independent of race and ethnicity, a whopping 82 percent of these moms are romantically involved with the fathers of their babies. Sixty percent of these couples live together and are gallantly struggling to make it. So the overwhelming majority of unwed mothers are partnered already with the dads of their babies. "Single" motherhood, at least in the first year of Baby's life, is largely a myth.

As we travel around the nation conducting our workshops for birth educators, we also see men in every social class and ethnic group wanting to be better fathers and partners. Many men have experienced absentee fathers whom they either have never met or who disappeared early from their families. They don't want to repeat their fathers' mistakes. They want a different life for themselves. Many of them want families even more than friends or careers.

All told, this means that nearly all babies are born to couples, married or not. And couples are showing a profound commitment these days to creating not just babies, but healthy families. That's what this book is all about.


There's an old joke about a man who goes to a restaurant, and after his soup arrives he calls the waiter over. He says to the waiter, "Taste the soup." The waiter assures him that this soup has taken weeks to prepare, and that the chef is one of the finest in the city. The man again says to the waiter, "Taste the soup." The waiter offers more assurances. He brings over framed restaurant reviews that all mention the soup. The man nods and smiles and again says to the waiter, "Taste the soup." Finally, exasperated, the waiter says, "All right. I'll taste the soup . . . Where's the spoon?" "Aha!" the man says.

There's no way for us to know how our lives will change after our baby arrives. We think we'll be full of joy. Everyone tells us that there's nothing more exciting than a new baby. Babies are the natural culmination of the love we share. They are the dawning of new hope. Babies delight us with their cuteness and draw us into their peaceful, loving world. They are soft and tender, helpless and small. They need us. They call us to love and nurture them. They are also very nice people. They openly greet us, and they eagerly play with us. They engage us, imitate us, and smile at us. Once we get to know our babies, we think, maybe our species is good and fine after all.

But sometimes we find that we may have cooked up a tasty fantasy. Once the realities of new parenthood set in, the stresses stand out, too, like too much salt in a dish.

Our thirteen-year research study with 130 young families uncovered a startling fact: In the first three years after babies were born, a whopping two-thirds of parents experienced a significant drop in their couple relationship quality. Being with Baby tasted so sweet, but being together as partners turned bitter; increases in conflict and hostility soured family life.

If these research results are representative, we're talking about an overwhelming majority of American families who suffer from relationship distress after children come. We heard many stories like these (the following names and identifying details were changed).

Angelica complained that her husband expects her to do almost all of the housework and child care even though she now works half-time. Robert said that he now works not only full-time but does a lot of overtime as well, and that should count for something.

She sarcastically said, "Thank you, Your Highness. But you can change this diaper right now as part of your overtime at home."

He snickered. "No way. I'll change a wet diaper, but the poop ones are all yours."

She did not laugh. She changed the diaper.

Jonathan and Jenny sat on a couch together during an interview. He said, "Jenny's too involved with the baby. She's got no limits. She doesn't get that we have to save our money now. She'll spend a week's salary just so the baby will look cute when she brings him out to her friends. It's like our baby is Barbie. She's totally impractical."

She said, "You don't understand! Our baby outgrows everything so fast. Besides, I am not impractical. I resent that! You're just a cheapskate who doesn't earn enough money. I had to get that new stroller. The old one wasn't safe."

He shot back, "All I ever hear out of your mouth are zingers, nothing but criticism. What about all the good stuff I do? "

She whipped out, "Whenever you do anything, you don't do it right, so I have to do it all over again." She laughed.

He said, "Another zinger."

The two of them ended up sitting next to each other, not talking, stone-faced and looking straight ahead.

These examples are typical. In our research, we score videotapes of couples discussing problems in detail, second by second. Here's what we see: The couples in trouble are critical, defensive, and disrespectful with each other. They are blind to their partner's point of view, and they can't compromise. They often say things they later regret. Not surprisingly, most of these couples have elevated heart rates during their arguments. Their fights feel like tripping through mine fields. Their partners seem like enemies, not allies. Apparently, their partners don't even like them, let alone respect them. Over time, both partners are haunted by feeling unappreciated, neglected, and lonely.

How does this calamity happen when there should only be joy? The story seems to be this: When a baby arrives, a couple's intimacy deteriorates. Sex, romance, and passion often decline. The relationship shifts its center to the baby. Husbands and wives who were once friends and lovers no longer have time for each other. Dating stops entirely, and long conversations disappear. Both parents get lonely, and can be drawn to others outside the marriage. Most affairs occur after children come. Family time is now battle time.

Worse yet, battles get ...

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Sept. 22 2013
By New mom
This book is exactly what I needed for a bit of guidance. As a new mom, it was the kick start to balancing my marriage And motherhood.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Dec 14 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I also recommend the 45 minute lecture that you can get in iTunes for 3.95 called "Making Marriage Work". Good luck! Enjoy!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This will SAVE your marriage! A Must READ!!!! May 25 2007
By E. Petrucelli - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a certified labor doula and I bought this book so I could help my doula clients. I didn't realize how helpful it would be to me as well. I wanted to be able to provide my clients with some good information about how things might be after their baby is born. IT's not an easy transition in many ways. Although delightful, the roller coaster of emotions both parents go through can be rough and lead to divorce. I can't tell you how many times I have gone to a postpartum visit only to see my clients sitting separately. The dad not responding to mom's requests and mom not talking to dad but talking AT him. I know them because we met prenatally and seeing the transition is astounding. The once happy couple, who would do anything for each other while pregnant, is now sad. Dad is no longer focused on mom and wanting to make her happy. Mom isn't really doing much to make dad happy. They are two people living in the same home but they are slowly losing each other. Sleep deprivation and an overwhelming sense of responsibility on both parents is splitting them apart. What's worse is, we don't think about how this will affect the baby.

When couples think about how life will change when baby comes, they often think about how it will affect them. They don't think about how these changes will affect their baby; especially in the long run. This book describes those changes and offers suggestions and support on how to get through them. Dad's typically withdraw and I thought it was very normal. It is, however, if dad withdraws from baby and for significant periods, this will have a profound effect on the baby at the present time and in the long run. We must also think about the baby not just us.

I heard an MD speak about Bringing Baby Home last year. My son was almost 3 at the time. I was shocked when I learned about this transition and the stages that we go through. The biggest reason...we went through each transition! It was like I was reliving what happened. Learning that what we experienced was normal, that everyone goes through it but not everyone survives it. I was able to rejoice in the fact that we were in the last stage and we were going to survive.

It is a rough road this "Transition to Parenthood." Don't let people think you need to be happy when all you are feeling is frustration and resentment. BUY THIS BOOK! Read it in pregnancy and read it again after the baby is born. Go to the classes if you have a local educator. IF you want to survive your marriage or relationship after Bringing Baby Home, YOU NEED THIS BOOK!
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Revisited June 10 2009
By Sara F. - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I LOVED the book Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Unfortunately, this book is simply a remake of that one. Many of the stories are identical, and not much of the information is new. There are a couple chapters related specifically to having a baby, but you could read them quickly at the library without purchasing the book. If you haven't read the other book, this book would be great -- just don't buy both!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the workshop! Nov. 12 2008
By B. Armstrong-Hoss - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My husband and I attended the Bringing Baby Home workshop, developed from this book, and I enjoy the text perhaps even more. Gottman's discussion about the origin of the concept of "spoiling" was fascinating and revealing about our culture and the historical influence behind some prevalent parenting theories. Gottman provides couples the tools, information, and the inpiration to stay bonded to each other and to become bonded to their babies. I found this book valuable and a wife, a pediatric nurse, and a new mother.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, realistic, and useful advice - a good read! March 8 2007
By SeattleMomma - Published on
This book will definitely help couples keep their marriages on track post-baby if both spouses read it, and I'd recommend reading it BEFORE baby arrives and talking about it together. That way, when you're sleep deprived and your life is upside down due to having a new baby in your life and family, you might remember some of the good advice about how to communicate with each other and take care of each other. I really liked the many examples from couples studied, and the research-based nature of the recommendations. You probably won't be surprised at the "no-duh" nature of much of this book, since caring for your spouse and marriage really boils down to communicating well with each other, thinking about the other person, and treating them with respect and love. Kindness begets kindness! Nonetheless, it's helpful to read the data supporting the recommendations and to have these messages reinforced for you and your spouse. Good luck!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good easy to read book Feb. 20 2014
By Brian & Kim French - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great for learning about positive communication techniques. Things you may not think of before the baby comes. Dynamics that will change for the good, bad or indifferent, but need addressing. You may find parts dry, as I did, but concepts are there that will make a relationship stronger for having thought and discussed them. I have been a counselor for years and it's funny how easy it is to forget the simplicity in being on the same page as your spouse. Good buy for an a read that will benefit you for many years. Good gift too.
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