Happy Parents, Happy Kids

Look for Little Ways to Be Nice

One of the big differences between couples who make the transition to parenting smoothly and those who don't is their ability to express the three A's -- affection, appreciation, and admiration -- says researcher John Gottman, PhD, author of And Baby Makes Three. As I discovered with Dan, it's pretty easy. If he gets home late, instead of snapping at him I try to be sympathetic. "You must have had a really bad day" is all I need to say to ease his tension. Later, he'll be more inclined to take over bath and bedtime duties. And when he tells me I'm sexy (in sweats and a flannel shirt, no less) I'm more likely to suggest going to bed early -- for fun instead of sleeping. This kind of feel-good behavior makes you want do nice things for your spouse every day because there's such gratifying payback.

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