By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) New York psychologist Guy Winch says, once a couple has a child, everything has to be up for renegotiation. With that in mind, Author Jancee Dunn examines how to re-negotiate with her own husband in her new book “How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids”
The unfortunate thing about Jancee Dunn’s new provocatively named manual, “How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids” (Little, Brown), is that husbands are unlikely to read it.
“How Not To Hate Your Spouse After Kids” would have been just as accurate and might have gotten the book’s extremely helpful (and often quite funny) message to more couples, rather than just wives.
Dunn’s own habits come in for as much criticism as her husband’s, and the fact that their marriage seems remarkably healthier and happier by the end of the book is a byproduct of both halves of the couple calibrating their expectations, participation and, most of all, communication style.
Dunn and her husband, Tom Vanderbilt, are New York-based writers who both work mostly from home. Before their daughter, Sylvie, was born, they divided and conquered domestic responsibilities, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping. When the baby arrived, Dunn took time off work to care for her, and adopted the bulk of the household chores as well.
Now, Sylvie is 6, and Dunn has been back to work for years. But Vanderbilt takes on a comically small share of the household chores, politely declining when Dunn asks him to do more and frequently forgetting when he’s agreed to do something outside his usual share, like pick up their daughter from school when Dunn is at a meeting with her editor.
“I wish his 10 percent effort was enough, but it isn’t,” Dunn writes. “I feel like he’s a guest at the hotel I’m running.”