Published by Gotham on September 29, 2011
Genres/Lists: Essays, Non-Fiction
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married by Iris Krasnow (an Oprah “Ten Titles to Pick Up Now” book) is a book that delves into the personal stories of various women and what it takes to keep their marriage going. Most of the book emphasizes the importance of having hobbies and friends outside of the marriage while other women discuss the pros of having affairs and/or swinging. That said, I have mixed feelings about the book and it is 70% because it has so many spoilers about classic novels (more on that later).
I went into this one knowing that the target audience is women who have been married 20+ years and are becoming empty nesters for the first time. It’s a precarious age when a woman has time to relearn who she is without being a caregiver and can cause a lot of stress within a marriage. I enjoyed reading these parts and see the value in the importance of having a life outside of the marriage. One person cannot possibly bring another person complete and total happiness and it is unfair to put that much pressure on one single person. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
- ” I still love marriage – that is, when I don’t loathe it. ”
- “Marriage is like a hot bath. Once you get into it and get used to it, it’s not so hot anymore.”
- “Love can be perfect, if you know that it will never be perfect.”
- “I am…. frequently perched on the flimsy line that separates love from hate from a fistfight.”
What I liked about this book is that it is realistic. I’ve been married less than two years and am incredibly lucky and happy, but I didn’t go into it thinking everything would be sunshine and rainbows. Real life and real love can be hard, but that only makes it more rewarding when you come out on the other side.
In the five years that I’ve known my husband, he’s seen me through two years of school, two major surgeries, quitting smoking, and a cross-country move. I figure if we made it through all of these, then we are A-okay. There are couples who split over any one of these things, and I am fortunate to have such a loving and enduring husband.
There are two things I didn’t like about this book. The first is that the author spends so much time focusing on what is logical and realistic that it completely leaves out any room for heart-racing romance. I was left thinking that while the author said romance is important and that lulls are normal, she didn’t really believe it and was resigned to mediocrity. The second is that it has so many spoilers in regard to classic novels. I now know the endings to Madame Bovary, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, and the movie It’s Complicated. And I don’t mean she gives away the general sense-of-the-ending…. She gives away the details and pivotal points and all of these books are on my Classics Club list, which is very frustrating.
I think this book is best suited for women who have been married for at least 10+ years. I’m glad that I read it because it confirmed my suspicions that living only within the confines of a marriage can be stifling. A good marriage and a good husband is one that enables you to be yourself and flourish, not place limits on your potential. I just hope I can reciprocate!