I’ve read a couple of non-fiction books about marriage recently. One was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Love Story, about the process she went through coming to terms with having to marry her Brazilian partner, Felipe, because of an issue with U.S. immigration. I liked the book all right—it’s an interesting sociological study of marriage—but, oh lord, can that woman make a big deal out of something. I don’t think she knows how to live outside a state of emotional turmoil.
In any case, the thing that struck me about Gilbert’s book is that she seems determined to believe that, in marriage, a person expects—in fact needs—her spouse to make her happy. Despite being a strong, educated, fairly independent woman, her very identity is wrapped up in her relationship. I’m sure it won’t be a surprise to you that this is a perspective I find hard to choke down.
A while back*, another blogger I know (who works in PR) was looking for people to review a book about marriage. Laura offered up a copy of The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. I had heard about the book because it was getting fairly sensational press and I thought it might be a juicy read.
It was, in fact, a very good read, but not in the sense I expected. The author, bestselling journalist Iris Krasnow, interviewed more than 200 wives whose marriages have survived for 15 to 70 years to find out what they do to make their marriages last. Yes, there are the expected affairs and illicit liaisons. There are women who keep some sort of their lives secret and would never even dream of sharing that side of themselves with their husbands. Contrary to the author’s argument, however, I suspect those women aren’t as happy—or happily married—as they’re portrayed to be.
The thing that fascinated me, though, was that the book’s essential assertion is that you have to be someone separate from your husband in order to stay happily married. This, of course, is no surprise. It’s the exact opposite of Gilbert’s belief and the exact message that made me like Krasnow’s book so much more than Gilbert’s evolving narcissistic memoir. (In case you haven’t heard, I’m not a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. Though, to be fair, in that post I did acknowledge one part of her perspective that really spoke to me.)
It’s also no surprise that in The Secret Lives of Wives Krasnow concludes that the secret to a happy marriage is as individual as the women she spoke to but that, ultimately, “marital bliss is possible if each partner is blissful apart from the other.”
So, wanna read it? Enter below.
*And this is where I apologize to Laura because she sent me the book shortly before we moved and then it got buried. When I finally dug it out I didn’t feel as though I had enough intelligence hanging around to do this review justice and, while I’m still not sure I have, I did want to share this with you and offer a copy to someone who wants to read it. It really is an interesting book.
Just so you know:
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the book titles and buy one Amazon will give me about 3 cents. Except not really, because I’m never going to earn enough affiliate commission to get paid out.
I received two copies of this book – one to read and one to give away – but was not paid to write the review. All opinions are my own, including my intolerance of Liz Gilbert.