The Secret Lives of Wives

The Secret Lives of Wives

Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married

Book - 2012
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A bestselling, groundbreaking author investigates wives who thrive, sharing their uncensored strategies for staying married.

America's high divorce rate is well known. But little attention has been paid to the flip side: couples who creatively manage to build marriages that are lasting longer than we ever thought possible. What's the secret? To find out, bestselling journalist Iris Krasnow interviewed more than two hundred wives whose marriages have survived for fifteen to seventy years.

In raw, candid, sometimes titillating stories, Krasnow's cast of wise women give voice to the truth about marriage and the importance of maintaining a strong sense of self apart from the relationship. Some spend summers separately from their partners. Some make time for wine with the girls. One septuagenarian has a recurring date with an old flame from high school. In every case, the marriage operates on many tracks, giving both spouses license to pursue the question "Who am I apart from my marriage?"

Krasnow's goal is to give women permission to create their own marriages at any age. Marital bliss is possible, she says, if each partner is blissful apart from the other. For anyone who wants to stay married and stay sane, this is the book to read!

Publisher: New York : Gotham Books, [2012], c2011.
ISBN: 9781592407392
Branch Call Number: 306.872309051 Kra
Characteristics: xviii, 266 pages


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Jun 05, 2012

I picked up this book about women who managed to make marriage last for decades because of a magazine article about it that highlighted the story of one woman who goes out with her college boyfriend once a year and makes out in his car as way to stay energized for her own marriage. I wondered if the whole book were along those lines. That story is in there, as part of a chapter on "naughty girls" who found that extra-marital adventures, some platonic and some very much not, helped them endure their marriages. But it's clear the author, herself married for 23 years, does not advocate that as the key to a lasting marriage.

Krasnow is a journalist, so like most journalism these days, this book is a collection of anecdotes of a dozen or so women who have been married at least 25 or 30 years (one woman profiled was married for 70 years before her husband passed away). There is quite a bit of variety in their stories, though Krasnow tries to find a common thread that involves having a job you love and having hobbies and interests that are your own. Even there, she includes one couple who have worked together for decades and rarely spend any time with anyone besides each other and love it that way. So, in fact, there is no single secret to lasting marriage.

Most of the women interviewed are educated and middle- or upper-class, so it's not clear that they are representative of the overall population or all long marriages. There are occasional references to actual sociological studies, but they take a distant back seat to the personal stories. The stories are often touching; some are nearly unbelievable (one woman endured a verbally abusive, drunken husband for decades before managing to turn him around and teach him civility). But in the end, they are unique to these women. You will still have to navigate your own course through your own relationship.

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