I don't like to review books that I haven't finished - I think I've only done it...three times? But I just can't read this book anymore. It's incredibly depressing and is making me feel bad about my very happy 21 year marriage. Halfway through, I am putting it down.
I understand that the author is trying to point out that even the most successful marriages are tough - incredibly difficult at times. I also know that nearly everyone in a long term relationship has at least toyed with the idea of getting out. BUT - I did not expect to see so many powerfully negative words (loathe, hate, despair, rage, etc.) in this book. It makes me wonder what I am doing wrong that I have been happily married for the most part for as long as I have.
Author Iris Krasnow spent two years interviewing dozens of women about their long marriages, and speaks from the experience of hers. When she does, I started to find her an unreliable narrator of sorts. Not meaning I don't believe her - her experience is her own. Meaning that I found it unsettling to read a book on successful marriages when told through the lens of a marriage in which she is slightly jealous of Al & Tipper Gore's divorce when she hears of it, and who when she asks her husband if he thinks they will leave each other after forty years, he answers, "Haven't we already been married for forty years?" and she thinks, "Indeed, it seems like four hundred years."
And some of the women she interviews have the ability (and money) to spend summers or long periods of time away from their spouses in order to stay happily married - a choice few others have or possibly want. I agree that participants in a marriage need to have their own lives and identities in order to be happy and feel better about being part of a couple, but little of what I read would be probable for most people.
There was also a pervasive feeling that many women stayed married just because it would be too much trouble to not be married anymore, or to start over with someone new. As one woman says, "Too many adulterous relationships are started when there's a geographical separation. Although in our marriage we were apart for long stretches of time, we both had a very strong sense of loyalty and commitment, and - most important - I just didn't have the time or energy to get involved in something like that."
When I read that, the second half of that sentence completely negated the first part. It is most important that she didn't have the time or energy to have an affair?
That kind of summarizes my feelings about this book. These are long marriages, true, but not ones I would care to emulate or, turns out, read about - though I do wish the wives all the happiness in the world and I am glad it works for them.