Ellyn Bader

Today’s blog is meant to bring some smiles your way!

It’s about a video and book that are guaranteed to make you laughand help your clients, too. It is a poignant look into a husband and wife’s journey when a new baby comes.

The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad, by Mike Birbiglia takes you on an emotional ride.

After all, when one spouse wants kids and the other doesn’t, what could possibly go wrong?

Mike started with a strong skepticism of children. He said, “I’ve lost a lot of great friends to kids.”

His book begins, “I live in Brooklyn with my wife, Jen, and our cat, Mazzy, and we have long decided that we are not going to have kids.” He has so many superb reasons…

He loves his marriage.

He has a cat.

His body is a wreck.

The earth has enough kids.

He doesn’t know why it rains.

But what happens when his wife changes her mind?

You get to go inside his mind. Follow the raw, honest, and heartfelt moments as this couple travels the journey from no kids, yes kids, infertility, then a baby and on to a 4-year old.

Mike and Jen’s path to parenthood is sprinkled with comedy, drama, and emotions that most folks understand but never verbalize.

Poems by Mike’s wife, J. Hope Stein, appear throughout the book, giving us a peek into her world as well.

Right now, my husband is playing guitar and singing
omething real stupid
Itsy-bitsy-peek-a-boo and songs about babies.
who won’t sleep
The three of us twirling like idiots –
We learn to dance before we learn to speak.

Netflix is streaming The New One as a solo comedy show. This is an incredible homework assignment for you to recommend to soon-to-be parents, those who just became parents, or even those old hands at parenting. They’ll laugh at themselves and then smile and laugh at a side of parenting that is tender, inspiring, and always testing even the best humans.

Your clients will love you even more for suggesting it. Mike claims he has heard folks say, “It saved my marriage.

It’s even fun for folks like Pete and me who have been empty nesting for a while but still remember those moments when Molly cried all night or threw up on us as we headed out for our first Thanksgiving dinner with friends.


Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy.

Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

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  1. Hi! After reading the intro I asked my husband to join me to watch the comedy show with Mike B. Both of us love comedy and often enjoyed his routines.
    This show was unique, poignant and so “right on.” Although Val and I have a wonderful, self-sufficient 23 y/o, we could relate all too well to the trials/tribulations we attributed to our child that nearly took out our marriage many times.
    When doing couples work, many of the thoughts/feelings Mike B pointed out so vibrantly, I shared in session. (not as vibrantly, but with compassion)
    It was important to hear/feel his pain as he shared those issues he endured on behalf of men. However, not just men have endured this solitude and separation: any partner may face this struggle who doesn’t happen to bear the child.

  2. Thank you Ellen – what a great recommendation! So many parents and parents to be are afraid of not being “perfect” parents. So human and real. So necessary.

  3. For anyone needing a wonderful dose of humanity, heart, hope, humor and breathtaking honesty, Mike Birbiglia & J Hope Stein’s “The New One” book (and Netflix special) are a true inspiration. For couples, for fathers to be, for therapists…this is a gift. So glad you posted about this Ellyn!

  4. My wife and I have been enjoying the audiobook. It’s not only read by the author, but with Mike Birbiglia being a stand-up comic it sounds like he’s doing his stand-up material instead of someone just reading. Mike is also an inspiring character because he is overcoming a number of physical health challenges which he describes in his trademark humorous way. For example, he has a rare sleep order that requires his wife to zip him tight in a sleeping bag each night. He’ll tell you about it…

  5. Thank you Ellyn for recommending this great resource! I love working with couples with young children, struggles and all. I look forward to this book/Netflix show and will definitely recommend it to my clients.
    Great timing for some comedy relief!

  6. Thanks for the suggestion. Laughter is such good medicine. I watched the Netflix trailer however I just don’t find gun violence jokes funny.

  7. I love Birbiglia! He makes me laugh so hard, and with almost no putting down of other people, which is the basis of so many other comics. Look forward to watching this!