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The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married

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A bestselling, groundbreaking author investigates successful long term marriages, interviewing wives and 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 (sometimes clandestinely) manage to build marriages that are lasting longer than we ever A bestselling, groundbreaking author investigates successful long term marriages, interviewing wives and 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 (sometimes clandestinely) 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 200 wives whose marriages have survived for 15 to 70 years. They are a diverse cast, yet they share one common and significant trait: They have made bold, sometimes secretive and shocking choices on how to keep their marital vows, "till death do us part," as Krasnow says, "without killing someone first." In raw, candid, 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. A fascinating window on the many faces of modern relationships, The Secret Lives of Wives brims with inspiring and daring examples of women who have it both ways: a committed marriage and personal adventures in uncharted territory. For anyone who wants to stay married and stay sane, this is the book to read!


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A bestselling, groundbreaking author investigates successful long term marriages, interviewing wives and 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 (sometimes clandestinely) manage to build marriages that are lasting longer than we ever A bestselling, groundbreaking author investigates successful long term marriages, interviewing wives and 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 (sometimes clandestinely) 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 200 wives whose marriages have survived for 15 to 70 years. They are a diverse cast, yet they share one common and significant trait: They have made bold, sometimes secretive and shocking choices on how to keep their marital vows, "till death do us part," as Krasnow says, "without killing someone first." In raw, candid, 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. A fascinating window on the many faces of modern relationships, The Secret Lives of Wives brims with inspiring and daring examples of women who have it both ways: a committed marriage and personal adventures in uncharted territory. For anyone who wants to stay married and stay sane, this is the book to read!

30 review for The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    I couldn't finish it. Maybe it would have gotten better later on, but it seems like her entire attitude around marriage is that it's something to survive, not something to thrive in. Like all you can hope for is to have something outside your marriage to "make you happy" or "satisfied," that nothing can be found in your marriage. That you can't find someone who makes you a better person, someone you can still want to spend your life with ten, twenty, fifty years down the road... unless you have I couldn't finish it. Maybe it would have gotten better later on, but it seems like her entire attitude around marriage is that it's something to survive, not something to thrive in. Like all you can hope for is to have something outside your marriage to "make you happy" or "satisfied," that nothing can be found in your marriage. That you can't find someone who makes you a better person, someone you can still want to spend your life with ten, twenty, fifty years down the road... unless you have some sort of distraction like a date and petting session with an ex-boyfriend every few months?? That's not my idea of a healthy marriage. Maybe that's just the way the world views marriage. I don't know. I for one have a Higher view and expectation for marriage.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ebony

    The Secret Lives of Wives is really about one wife—the author. And Iris Krasnow doesn’t have any interesting secrets. The marketing of this text was excellent. It purports to divulge wives secrets about how to be happy in a marriage, but really the author drones on and on about how much she loves her husband and has four grown boys who used to be toddlers. I only needed a paragraph about her life, not chapters and chapters of restatements about her boring family life. The book is a missed opport The Secret Lives of Wives is really about one wife—the author. And Iris Krasnow doesn’t have any interesting secrets. The marketing of this text was excellent. It purports to divulge wives secrets about how to be happy in a marriage, but really the author drones on and on about how much she loves her husband and has four grown boys who used to be toddlers. I only needed a paragraph about her life, not chapters and chapters of restatements about her boring family life. The book is a missed opportunity to read about wives’ lives; instead Iris makes it about her, and I increasingly got the suspicion that most of the wives featured in the book were her friends. The features were mostly white—doctors, lawyers, executives and housewives—clearly upper middle class folks who have the means to take separate summer vacations and pursue their interests in art. Additionally, her women’s narratives are so perfect I began to wonder how much editing was involved. She said she spent weekends with these women and then they produced a precise 1,000 word articulation of their lives. There’s not one ellipsis in any of the stories. I got the sneaking suspicion that Iris was manipulating their stories to make her point that marrieds should stay married if for no other reason than they said they would. The promo material touts her speaking with a Muslim and a black woman to support diversity but both those stories occur in the last chapters and are clearly token exceptions to the “I’d rather talk to white people because that’s who I know” rule. Overall, the premise of this book is wildly misleading. The secrets are women should have their own lives and friends even after they get married. Wow. I was also surprised by the conservative tone of book. Every wife should stay married because it’s better for the kids and grandkids unless there’s abuse. Even infidelity is no reason to divorce, because you could leave and still be unhappy. She never once considers the possibility that one could leave and be happier by oneself. She seems to believe that marriage is the cure-all and people who marry should stay that way at all cost because the marriage might get better after 20 years. She says no one can judge another person’s marriage but in the judgment filled title of chapter eight “Naughty Girls” she includes women who cheat on their husbands and I kept thinking—why be married? Why not date if that’s what you want, but because marriage is her ideal she’s in the awkward position of having to champion women who massage the notions of marriage to essentially fit a single woman’s life. It’s just weird. I know that’s a conservative party line—protect marriage at all costs from the liberals and the celebrities and the gays—but the argument rings hollow to me when people can simply choose to be single if they want and not have to deal with the whole flawed institution.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bibliovoracious

    Apparently, the key is to put up with anything, wait for the kids to be out of the home to pursue your dreams, and just swallow that anything you wanted to do with your life is not very important, really

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carla Mackinnon

    I have really enjoyed this book. It came at a time in my life when I really needed some perspective. My husband and I have been a couple for 25 years, married for 21 of those. All couples go through ups and downs. This has been a down period for us. We have both gone through some soul searching and decided individually and as a couple that remaining married was what we want. Reading this book has just made that decision seem even more right. I see bits of our relationship in most of the stories. I have really enjoyed this book. It came at a time in my life when I really needed some perspective. My husband and I have been a couple for 25 years, married for 21 of those. All couples go through ups and downs. This has been a down period for us. We have both gone through some soul searching and decided individually and as a couple that remaining married was what we want. Reading this book has just made that decision seem even more right. I see bits of our relationship in most of the stories. Some of the advice and insight could have come directly from my lips. I believe there should be a little mystery. I believe that most marriages can be sustained is neither person falls out of love at the same time. I believe that we all need to have interests and time of our own. I can't help thinking as I am reading that all of the new brides and some of the vintage wives in my life really need to read this book. In fact, I'm planning to give my copy to my daughter-in-law. They will have their one year anniversary next month. Another year for them before they come out of that hormone driven infatuation phase and their real feelings of love can develop. When I finished, I gave this book to my daughter-in-law. Apparently she is really enjoying it and planning on giving it to her newly engaged sister.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Synful

    A collection of stories from women married (and some in non-legally bound) long-term relationships. Most of them were interesting, but some of them made me wonder how they could call them marriages. The woman who kept a husband and a boyfriend for over a decade somehow shouldn't count since for most of that time the husband never knew. My criticisms of this book are a couple. The first thing that stuck out at me was that all of these stories are about upper-middle to upper-class people. It's eas A collection of stories from women married (and some in non-legally bound) long-term relationships. Most of them were interesting, but some of them made me wonder how they could call them marriages. The woman who kept a husband and a boyfriend for over a decade somehow shouldn't count since for most of that time the husband never knew. My criticisms of this book are a couple. The first thing that stuck out at me was that all of these stories are about upper-middle to upper-class people. It's easy to advise for each spouse to go their own way when you can afford to keep several houses to spend months apart or have a boat on which one can sail away from the other to have their "me" time. Of course you don't need to have those things, but they sure as hell make things easier. People confined to the same 450sqft aren't going to be quite so able to follow that advice. Also, I felt the author, despite disclaimers repeatedly through the book, pushed that people stay together no matter what a little too much. While yes I think a lot of people get married with unrealistic expectations of fixing or changing their spouse and bailing when things don't go their way, sometimes you just have to know when to fold 'em. The number of apologists for completely traditional marriages also rubbed me the wrong way. However, my caveat is that I'm not in the most traditional of marriages and most people would probably find this book more enjoyable than I did. I guess the positive thing I can take away from the stories which entirely or at least partially annoyed me is they made me appreciate my marriage and my best friend and husband even more than I already do.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nissa

    I was hoping that this book would be more encouraging, uplifting, and give me some tips to make my already happy and tranquil marriage even more so. It was more about ways of coping and slogging through by doing your own thing and following your own passions. To me, that advice is called "how to be a person," not how to stay married for 50 years. Maybe a little more emphasis on actually listening to your partner, treating them the way you hope to be treated, and having actual conversations would I was hoping that this book would be more encouraging, uplifting, and give me some tips to make my already happy and tranquil marriage even more so. It was more about ways of coping and slogging through by doing your own thing and following your own passions. To me, that advice is called "how to be a person," not how to stay married for 50 years. Maybe a little more emphasis on actually listening to your partner, treating them the way you hope to be treated, and having actual conversations would help people stay married. I know she was just being glib, but at the end of the book, the author said something to the effect of "I could divorce my husband, but then what would I have to complain about on girl's night out?" What kind of insight is that into a long marriage? There were certainly some interesting stories in this book, but it was not a book on how to be happy in your marriage, it was not a pep talk for staying married, and it was not a bunch of sweet stories about how happy and fulfilling a marriage can be. The take away is: getting divorced screws up your family and kids, and you're just as likely to be facing the same crap in your next relationship, so just suck it up and lay in the bed you made yourself. Um...no thank you - I'll take my very happy marriage, and if anyone wants to know MY secrets, and why I'm so happy, feel free to ask - it will be a much more uplifting pep talk.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    While this is supposed to be an encouraging book, it feels more like a cautionary tale. I just keep feeling more and more hopeless the more I read. Some of the women mention loving their husbands, and there's even a whole chapter devoted to love. It is acknowledged as one important component, but then throughout the book, love really becomes sort of this bonus that some women get in their marriages and other women don't. For the women that don't, the message is "suck it up, it could be much wors While this is supposed to be an encouraging book, it feels more like a cautionary tale. I just keep feeling more and more hopeless the more I read. Some of the women mention loving their husbands, and there's even a whole chapter devoted to love. It is acknowledged as one important component, but then throughout the book, love really becomes sort of this bonus that some women get in their marriages and other women don't. For the women that don't, the message is "suck it up, it could be much worse and demanding more will only bring you sadness." This book includes interviews with women married 20-50+ years and is about "surviving" long-term marriages. The stories really are written in terms of survival. My summary of the book's message so far: Focus on the goal. The goal is marriage. Why? Because you believe that marriage is forever. It is a commitment and you can't back out on that promise unless you're being beaten. It would ruin everyone around you, and how could you possibly be so selfish? See, look at all these stories. Women everywhere are in terrible marriages and they are sticking with them forever. They have successful children and grandchildren, and lots of family memories, and post-retirement hobbies, and separate summers, and besides, they have a lot easier time planning holiday meals than the divorced, broken, despondent people you would all turn into if you managed to screw it all up. Women, not men, keep marriages together, and that's right and good. If you can't handle it then it's your fault that a divorce broke your whole family up and ruined everything. I'm only about 3/4 of the way through the book, though, so things could still look up...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    I received this book as a First Reads Giveaway. This is an excellent read, I highly recommend it anyone who is a wife at any stage of their marriage. At first I wasn't sure I needed a book like this but the more I read the more i realized I really need a book like this! It's a glimpse into so many different women and their lives and marriages, it's almost too personal at a point like a girlfriend sharing more information than you really wanted to know but the intimate glimpse allow for you to fi I received this book as a First Reads Giveaway. This is an excellent read, I highly recommend it anyone who is a wife at any stage of their marriage. At first I wasn't sure I needed a book like this but the more I read the more i realized I really need a book like this! It's a glimpse into so many different women and their lives and marriages, it's almost too personal at a point like a girlfriend sharing more information than you really wanted to know but the intimate glimpse allow for you to find an area that you can relate to in your own relationship. As you get to the end of the book you get to read the story of some older wives and it just warms your heart and gives you hope for how you can make your marriage last as many years as they have. This is a book I will keep and probably read again over time to remind myself that it takes real work to find my own inner happiness but also our happiness as a married couple.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarai

    I found the individual stories in the book to be interesting. I generally skipped over everything else because I found the author's stories to be annoying. My first problem was with the following quote: "We are seeing a shift happening among college-educated Americans in attitudes and behaviors about marriage. The point we make in our report is that middle-class Americans were doing pretty well in terms of staying married, but now divorce has crept up the social ladder into the middle class. So I found the individual stories in the book to be interesting. I generally skipped over everything else because I found the author's stories to be annoying. My first problem was with the following quote: "We are seeing a shift happening among college-educated Americans in attitudes and behaviors about marriage. The point we make in our report is that middle-class Americans were doing pretty well in terms of staying married, but now divorce has crept up the social ladder into the middle class. So really marriage is becoming the preserve of the well-educated and the privileged. Today if you're looking for one group that is able to hold onto the ideal of stable and intact marriage, it's the college-educated crowd." My reaction to this was that just about everyone I know would be considered middle class and they are ALL college-educated. In fact, most of my friends have master's degrees. I therefore found the statement that the college-educated crowd is not the middle class to be incorrect and, quite honestly, it made me wonder how old this report was. The next statement that irked me was: "These wives who are initiating divorce for really no good reason other than general dissatisfaction have to realize that marriage is not only better for the children, it's better for them." I find that to be a sweeping statement which implies that wives divorce for frivolous reasons. What about abuse? What about a spouse who is alcoholic or drug-addicted? What about adultery (oh, they get to that later). I don't find those to be frivolous reasons but the general tone of the book seems to feel they are. If you stay in your marriage beyond those difficult years, eventually things will get better is the theme. I find that a dangerous recommendation. Each marriage and individual in marriage is unique and has its own unique problems and to make such a blanket statement without knowing the particulars could lead to misery, and in some cases, death! The next one was: "We know that no matter what course former senator John Edwards's life takes, he will forever be a broken man." I'm sorry, but that's complete bull. In my opinion, he made his choices and he's fine with the results, except for maybe looking like an ass to the general public. And: "...there is a timeless fact about women in love and lust that remains unchanged: Females, even the toughest of us, are hardwired as a species to be tender of heart. ...It is biological and ancient and nonretractable." What? Another wild generalization? This book is full of them. I think that statement is utter nonsense. That's why I stopped reading what the author had to say and just started reading the stories from other people. Some of the stories were sad, some were inspiring. People are so different and react to things in different ways, and it was a nice cross-section of long-term couples. I would have enjoyed reading more of those stories. The other theme of the book, which I happen to agree with, is that for a marriage to be strong and long-lasting, each individual has to have their own life. Their own set of friends, their separate interests, a little time apart. You can't rely on your spouse to be your everything all the time because one person cannot possibly fulfill all your needs. There was one couple in the book who spent all their time together, and frankly, I found their story to be a bit creepy. Book Description Release Date: September 29, 2011 A bestselling, groundbreaking author investigates successful long term marriages, interviewing wives and 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 (sometimes clandestinely) 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 200 wives whose marriages have survived for 15 to 70 years. They are a diverse cast, yet they share one common and significant trait: They have made bold, sometimes secretive and shocking choices on how to keep their marital vows, "till death do us part," as Krasnow says, "without killing someone first." In raw, candid, 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. A fascinating window on the many faces of modern relationships, The Secret Lives of Wives brims with inspiring and daring examples of women who have it both ways: a committed marriage and personal adventures in uncharted territory. For anyone who wants to stay married and stay sane, this is the book to read!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jen (bookscoffeedogs)

    I found this book a little too similar to Surrendering To Marriage, this authors first book on marriage. As others have said, she writes the women's stories, then does her own commentary on whether those women made right or wrong choices and lets us know unequivocally that her marriage doesn't suffer from the same maladies. I also question whether she was trying to make her arguments to us or to herself. She raves about her marriage and how great it is, how she they spend a month away from each I found this book a little too similar to Surrendering To Marriage, this authors first book on marriage. As others have said, she writes the women's stories, then does her own commentary on whether those women made right or wrong choices and lets us know unequivocally that her marriage doesn't suffer from the same maladies. I also question whether she was trying to make her arguments to us or to herself. She raves about her marriage and how great it is, how she they spend a month away from each other every year, how she follows her own interests with unbridled passion, and so does he, we guess. And then after a women and the only husband in the book describe their lives spent mostly together, she poopoo's it saying that most of us can't/shouldn't have marriages like that. She should have let the women tell the story more. I did appreciate the reminders that another marriage wouldn't be better in so many ways. And some of the women's brutal honesty. I do agree with others who said that it seems like she interviewed mostly middle/upper class white women, who mostly seemed to be friends of hers, husbands who are businessmen, women who graduated from Stanford, etc. She could use some more emotional depth to her side of her stories. She mentions that 'there have been ups and downs' well, what does that look like? i want to know. the bad, what did that look like for you, what are your private thoughts on this? Of course, if i was writing a book on marriage it would be impossible to write it honestly and hope that at some point i wouldn't offend my husband. maybe that is why it lacks depth and emotional connection from the author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Struggling a little so far. Its sort of depressing. I picked it up because I just finished 'How to love an American Man' and I was hoping for more sweet touching stories from old people in love to cheer me up. The stories are OK but the narration in between is becoming difficult to read. I may just start skipping the text and just read the stories. Well I finally finished. It is not my thing. This woman basically tells you the sad story of her marriage and tries to justify it by showing worse one Struggling a little so far. Its sort of depressing. I picked it up because I just finished 'How to love an American Man' and I was hoping for more sweet touching stories from old people in love to cheer me up. The stories are OK but the narration in between is becoming difficult to read. I may just start skipping the text and just read the stories. Well I finally finished. It is not my thing. This woman basically tells you the sad story of her marriage and tries to justify it by showing worse ones. And comes up with rules for a 'good' marriage that validate her but then shows a few 'just the opposite' stories. Oy, I can't believe I made it all the way through, I just kept thinking it would get better. It didn't!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Roseanne Wilkins

    This was a Goodreads Giveaway. Receiving the book for free has not influenced my review in any way. I loved how Iris Krasnow handled the marital relationship. It was an honest look at how marriages really work - not a fluffy cover up of reality. She interviewed a variety of women who'd been married for some length of time. Although I would never do some of the things the interviewed women did, it was refreshing to see a book that showed marriages are as varied as the couples involved in them. An This was a Goodreads Giveaway. Receiving the book for free has not influenced my review in any way. I loved how Iris Krasnow handled the marital relationship. It was an honest look at how marriages really work - not a fluffy cover up of reality. She interviewed a variety of women who'd been married for some length of time. Although I would never do some of the things the interviewed women did, it was refreshing to see a book that showed marriages are as varied as the couples involved in them. Anyone can make a marriage work. The biggest binder in all of them was a commitment to keep the marriage together despite the weaknesses of the couple involved. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

    I would probably give this book 3.5 stars if I could; but I couldn't justify four stars. The book was well written, and I agree with the main conclusions about long-term marriages that the author draws from her research. While not particularly new or revolutionary, most long married women know that marriage is alot of work, you have to remain committed and persevere through the bad times as well as the good (and there will be bad times), but the rewards of staying definately outweigh the problem I would probably give this book 3.5 stars if I could; but I couldn't justify four stars. The book was well written, and I agree with the main conclusions about long-term marriages that the author draws from her research. While not particularly new or revolutionary, most long married women know that marriage is alot of work, you have to remain committed and persevere through the bad times as well as the good (and there will be bad times), but the rewards of staying definately outweigh the problems in leaving (you carry the same problems with you into another relationship). In order to stay married over a long time you have to love and respect your partner, not look to your partner to make you happy, and find passion and friendship outside of your relationship. In other words, your relationship must be interdependant, not dependant or independant. However, the biggest problem I found in this book was in the author's research, ie, you can always find someone's story or an anecdote to support your conclusions. It seemed like the author started out with her conclusions and then found the stories to support them. It should have been done the other way around. Show us what research has found about long-term marriages first, divide the book into chapters based on these characteristics, and use the stories to support them. Also she, needed to use stories from a wider variety of income levels (although she does say at the beginning that the higher income group is now seeing the fewest divorces). What about couples that cannot afford to take a vacation at all, much less seperate ones? What aout those who have to work in less than stimulating and exciting jobs to support their families, and are not passionate about their work?Finally, what is the story about the swinging, partner swapping couple doing in this book and why did she include it? While, there are many different kinds of marriages, how typical is this really, and how how healthy and conducive to a respectful and loving relationship is it? Would your average couple be able to emotionally handle it, and what's wrong with married monogamous sex? I find that much more intimate, sexy, and exciting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I have read at least 200 pages of this book, which I feel is quite enough. The topic seems interesting--who wouldn't want to get the inside scoop about what it takes to stay married long term? But this book is just awful. The writer inserts her own opinion and assessment after each woman's story. I guess the author just wanted something to say, but it was very distracting and frankly her commentary was not insightful. It seems to me that this book was written for women much older than me. The bo I have read at least 200 pages of this book, which I feel is quite enough. The topic seems interesting--who wouldn't want to get the inside scoop about what it takes to stay married long term? But this book is just awful. The writer inserts her own opinion and assessment after each woman's story. I guess the author just wanted something to say, but it was very distracting and frankly her commentary was not insightful. It seems to me that this book was written for women much older than me. The book keeps making the point--over and over again--that to be a good wife, women need to have their own identities. This means having their own careers, hobbies, vacations, or even separate summers. No kidding. The idea that this is a revelation to anyone strikes me as preposterous, and I couldn't help but find it rather insulting. I suppose (and hope) that this is a reflection of my generation understanding this concept, which is perhaps news to older ladies who married at a much younger age and under much different expectations. In addition, I have to take exception to the author's basic (and insistent) premise, that it is always better to stay married no matter what. I simply do not believe that to be true. Cite all the studies you want, but I know way too many people who grew up with parents in a terrible marriage, and you can't tell me that is better than divorce. Overall, it seemed like the author thought of several challenges to long-term marriages, found women who had faced those challenges, interviewed them, and then used quotes from her interviews to support her opinions. The result is a repetitive disappointment. If you are in your thirties like me or younger, save your time. You already know that women need their own lives to be happy in a marriage. I just saved you the time and expense of reading this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I thought this would be an interesting take on a part of life I have not experienced. I could not finish it. The secret to a lasting marriage according to this author? Have some separate interests and passions from your spouse, and take some time apart -- you'll appreciate each other more after a break. Well, duh. Even this never-married knows that much. Many of the women she interviews in this book keep their marriages "together" by cheating on their husbands frequently. I don't care for the wri I thought this would be an interesting take on a part of life I have not experienced. I could not finish it. The secret to a lasting marriage according to this author? Have some separate interests and passions from your spouse, and take some time apart -- you'll appreciate each other more after a break. Well, duh. Even this never-married knows that much. Many of the women she interviews in this book keep their marriages "together" by cheating on their husbands frequently. I don't care for the writing style. For example: "I am not equipped to study Lois as a neurologist would, but I can sense the dendrites sprouting in her brain as she talks about finding her way back to art." She can sense dendrites? Really? Or consider: "I giddily prep for dinner at Les Folies, a French restaurant where my table of girlfriends holds court in the center of the restaurant. Envisioning my bonjour embrace from the owner, Alain, a hard-bodied Frenchman who races cars as a hobby, I swoop on mascara and loudly sing You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman." Another gem: "Trouble starts when you become more interesting than (your husband)." Almost every married woman I know is more interesting than her husband, so I do not accept that statement. This author used to write for the Washington Post and I always enjoyed reading her articles. Perhaps my tastes have changed. This book did not hold my interest. But it did make me kind of glad I'm not married.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    The Secret Lives of Wives is basically telling you to find your passion in life so that you can fulfill yourself instead of expecting your marriage/husband/children to. If you are unhappy in your marriage, go find your inner happiness because the issue is probably with you instead of with your marriage. The author feels that you should stay married no matter what (barring abuse,or other very serious issues that would endanger you). Essentially she says you can go find a new man, but eventually h The Secret Lives of Wives is basically telling you to find your passion in life so that you can fulfill yourself instead of expecting your marriage/husband/children to. If you are unhappy in your marriage, go find your inner happiness because the issue is probably with you instead of with your marriage. The author feels that you should stay married no matter what (barring abuse,or other very serious issues that would endanger you). Essentially she says you can go find a new man, but eventually he’ll turn into the old man, and problems are going to arise regardless of who you are married to. However, if you can find something that you are passionate about, be it a job, hobby, etc, you’ll make your own happiness and learn to live with the ups and downs of a long marriage. I’m not sure what the “secret” is. The idea of finding your inner passion to fulfill yourself isn’t new. The book illustrates this with a bunch of anecdotal stories from women who have been married 15+ years that the author interviewed, and nothing they say or do is all that earth-shattering. Overall, it was interesting to read all the stories of how various women stick it out for the long haul in their marriages, but that’s all you’re getting; stories of women, interspersed with the authors own stories, finding themselves within a marriage.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leah Hortin

    DNF. Made it halfway through. It should be retitled to: The Not-So-Secret Lives of Middle Aged, Upper Class, Educated, Baby Making Mothers. Every single wife in the book fits that description. This book totally lacks dimension - its so narrow minded. And the "secret" that all the women seem to share? Have your own life and your own money. Uh... ok. And oh, having kids sucks the life out of your marriage. But then it gets better again when you are an empty nester so just tough it out. Or just not DNF. Made it halfway through. It should be retitled to: The Not-So-Secret Lives of Middle Aged, Upper Class, Educated, Baby Making Mothers. Every single wife in the book fits that description. This book totally lacks dimension - its so narrow minded. And the "secret" that all the women seem to share? Have your own life and your own money. Uh... ok. And oh, having kids sucks the life out of your marriage. But then it gets better again when you are an empty nester so just tough it out. Or just not have kids.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Lucas

    Won in goodreads giveaway. Review coming soon.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dana J. Moore

    I doubt I'll agree with much in this book. But I'm curious to see what American wives think it takes to stay married.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    There were some interesting stories, but overall is skewed so upper middle class (spend your summers traveling! fulfill your soul by selling yacths!) it was painful.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I was fortunate to win a copy of this book on Good Reads. Initially when I started reading this book, in the first chapter, and it started discussing how to be happy wives need to have a "secret" from their husbands, I felt myself becoming defensive. I was married before my current marriage, and it ended because I discovered my ex's "secrets" - a huge web of lies and infidelity. I am of a view that keeping secrets from your spouse is a bad thing. I took a deep breath and kept reading, and I am ve I was fortunate to win a copy of this book on Good Reads. Initially when I started reading this book, in the first chapter, and it started discussing how to be happy wives need to have a "secret" from their husbands, I felt myself becoming defensive. I was married before my current marriage, and it ended because I discovered my ex's "secrets" - a huge web of lies and infidelity. I am of a view that keeping secrets from your spouse is a bad thing. I took a deep breath and kept reading, and I am very glad that I did. Turns out the "secrets" that the author explores, are for the most part, just having something of your own that doesn't involve your husband. Girlfriend getaways, hobbies, classes, friends are all examples - basically having something that is just for you that helps round you out as an individual and helps feed you emotionally - that is the secret life that most of the scenarios in this book entail. I am all for this! I don't consider this "secret" in my opinion, it's just alone time that doesn't involve your spouse, so I had to get past my own preconceptions of what a "secret life" could entail. This book examines long term marriages, from all walks of life and from all scenarios, and examines why they are still intact. So many different marriage scenarios are explored - ones that were "hot" from the start (and stayed hot, or cooled off to a deep friendship), ones that started as a slow burn of friendship, ones that lost a child, dealt with illness, widowhood, and ones that have survived infidelity on both sides (as the cheater and the faithful spouse. The interview subjects are incredibly candid about their marriages, which is a fascinating look inside the lives of others. The author does a great job of being non-judgmental and gaining value from all the lessons available. These stories are completely fascinating! The essential message here is boiled down on page 236: "Wives who don't rely on their husbands for happiness end up having the happiest marriages." I agree with this completely, as you can't possibly place your happiness as the responsibility of another person, that is your job. The author also does reiterate that marriage isn't all wine a roses - there will be issues, there will be times you wondered why in the hell you anchored yourself to this person - and it is all normal, and sticking it out will be beneficial in the end (if no one is being abused) if you can just hang in there - the grass always looks greener, but it really isn't. I loved this book because it reflected how I personally feel about being married - I am a feminist completely, and I would be ok being alone, I could survive ok and I have great friends and hobbies to get me through. But I LOVE being a wife. I hyphenated my name because I didn't want to give up my name, but I wanted his to be a part of my reality also. Being a feminist and married are not mutually exclusive - you can have it all, you can have a great partnership where you enhance each other instead of repress each other. One thing I noticed was that while the author is very liberal-minded and non-judgmental, there was no discussion of non-hetero marriages. I understand that the majority of marriages are between a man and a woman, but there are many unions (legal!) between two women or two men. Then there are even non-traditional open marriages - I thought perhaps a chapter with some interviewees involved in those types of unions would help balance the book a bit better. So overall a wonderful book examining the different ways that marriages can enhance the lives of couples, and advice from wives as to how to make it to the final stretch together.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa T

    ****Please note I received this book for free from Goodreads**** This gives an inside look at a variety of marriages and a variety of opinions on the subject. And, while I'm not a wife, I have been in a relationship with the same man for almost 6 and a half years. Sometimes that can feel like a marriage. It's got nothing in terms of longevity on the various marriages in this book though. I believe the youngest marriage of all included was 17 years long, the oldest, 70. 70 years is a long time to ****Please note I received this book for free from Goodreads**** This gives an inside look at a variety of marriages and a variety of opinions on the subject. And, while I'm not a wife, I have been in a relationship with the same man for almost 6 and a half years. Sometimes that can feel like a marriage. It's got nothing in terms of longevity on the various marriages in this book though. I believe the youngest marriage of all included was 17 years long, the oldest, 70. 70 years is a long time to be married. I find it funny that even though I'm not married now, I find myself wondering if I could see myself married to him for the next 50 or so years. Lucky for me, that's not a crazy thing to think. The book explores a lot of different elements of staying married. The main themes/elements are to be responsible for one's own happiness and not dependent on their partner for it. I try to do this as best I can, sometimes to the point of shutting myself off, which I'm working on. Another theme is to explore your own hobbies, and to have space. I think this is crucial in any sort of relationship. Relationships where two people are engrossed in only each other are very limiting, and can be lonely, and boring. I'm a very solitary person by nature, though I do like to go out and socialize as well. Since my own relationship has been a long distance one, for most of the time, having space hasn't been too much of an issue. Though I must admit, since we have lived together for the last year and a half it has taken some getting used to. Another important thing is to constantly be making friends, since new friends bring new experiences, and new experiences bring growth. This is another one that's hard for me to do. I'm very shy, and slow to trust. That's not to say I don't want to make more friends, I suppose I'm just picky about it. Although the book is geared toward women, and holds mostly female points of view, a few male perspectives are provided as well, which gives this a nice sense of balance. It covers a lot of subjects, from parenthood and Empty Nest Syndrome to swingers, to starting over at 80. It has both an academic and personal feel to it. It would probably make a good accompaniment to a college class on marriages or women's studies.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mike Smith

    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 th 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

    I read about this book in a woman's magazine and thought it would be interesting to read. And the book turned out to be not only interesting, but thought-provoking as well. Many women were interviewed for this book, which explores the different ways that wives stay married to their husbands, for a variety of reasons. The one thing in common that all these women had was that they have stayed married to their husbands for 40-70 years! So these are women who really know what it takes to have a long I read about this book in a woman's magazine and thought it would be interesting to read. And the book turned out to be not only interesting, but thought-provoking as well. Many women were interviewed for this book, which explores the different ways that wives stay married to their husbands, for a variety of reasons. The one thing in common that all these women had was that they have stayed married to their husbands for 40-70 years! So these are women who really know what it takes to have a long-lasting marriage. What I got from this book was that marriage is NOT easy: you have two different people who have different viewpoints, tastes, and opinions. What you shouldn't do is to expect the both of you to do EVERYTHING together (although one couple was able to not only work together but spend their every waking moment together as well...a rare case!) And DO NOT expect your husband to be the only form of happiness for you. It's important to pursue your own interests, whether a career that will make you proud of your accomplishments, or a hobby that will leave you satisfied and happy about what you can do. Spouses actually become more close when they spend some time apart, doing what they are interested in doing, and pursuing their own hobbies and interests. I really loved this quote from one of the wives interviewed...she is 90 years old, and has been married for 70 years. (pg.255) "Young people look at us, married for seventy years, and ask me for advice. I tell them you must have love, you must have respect, and you must have a sense of self. Even if you are giving in to the other person, you never can lose yourself."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is interesting because it focuses on long term married coupes-like twenty years or more. I did agree with many of her conclusions... 1. it is important to have the freedom to pursue separate identitites (is careers, hobbies, interests, friendships, separate travel); 2. the child rearing years bring different challenges than the empty nest years;and 3. it is important to have common goals within your faith, parenting and lifestyles. However, it seemed like the bulk of of interviews were with new This is interesting because it focuses on long term married coupes-like twenty years or more. I did agree with many of her conclusions... 1. it is important to have the freedom to pursue separate identitites (is careers, hobbies, interests, friendships, separate travel); 2. the child rearing years bring different challenges than the empty nest years;and 3. it is important to have common goals within your faith, parenting and lifestyles. However, it seemed like the bulk of of interviews were with new age type couples or artists that I did not have a lot in common with generally. Additionally, many of the couples were filthy rich with plenty of time and money to pursue their hobbies and travel. Most of these couples encouraged adultery or "borderline" adulterous activity to improve longevity in their marriage. OK, not an option for those of us that would only practice a monogamous lifestyle. The bottom line I do think she gets right-marriage is hard work, and worth the work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I think every women who has been married for twenty years or more should read this non-fiction book. The reader will definitely find herself and her mate on atleast one or several of the pages. It left me feeling that everything is ok, all is good. As I read on I found myself wondering about the married lives of my friends, neighbours and coworkers - wondering what page they would fall under. Every young girl contemplating marriage might also benefit from this book. I am constantly trying to exp I think every women who has been married for twenty years or more should read this non-fiction book. The reader will definitely find herself and her mate on atleast one or several of the pages. It left me feeling that everything is ok, all is good. As I read on I found myself wondering about the married lives of my friends, neighbours and coworkers - wondering what page they would fall under. Every young girl contemplating marriage might also benefit from this book. I am constantly trying to explain to my daughter that the infactuation and romance that happens with every new relationship is such a teeny, tiny bit of true love. Numerous quotes in the book made me smile. I wish I had kept a pencil and paper handy to jot down some as I read them. Two that stick in my mind are "Marriage is like a hot bath. Once you get into it and get used to it, it's not so hot anymore." And..."There is something extraordinary about the perceivably ordinary". My daughter is constantly telling me that her Dad and I lead a boring life and my reply always is "Boring Is Good".

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    This is one of those books I really had to be patient with. The first half is so frustratingly loaded with privilege that it's hard to pay attention to the message. Sure, a woman can have her own life and interests when she's financially able to spend a month or two out of the year somewhere else, while her husband has his doctor's practice and then fishes for a month in Alaska. It's really not until the final third of the book that we really meet anyone more like....well, like us, if we're not This is one of those books I really had to be patient with. The first half is so frustratingly loaded with privilege that it's hard to pay attention to the message. Sure, a woman can have her own life and interests when she's financially able to spend a month or two out of the year somewhere else, while her husband has his doctor's practice and then fishes for a month in Alaska. It's really not until the final third of the book that we really meet anyone more like....well, like us, if we're not owning three homes and managing a dual six figure income. And there are exactly two women of color in the whole book, if I read this correctly. One black and one Indian American. But the good stuff is at the end, where the ladies who have lived a long, long, long time, in their 80s and 90s talk about the great lives they have had and still have. The sex lives they still have. The minds they still have. That's the part that's worthwhile. You just have to be patient to get there.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Rockenbeck

    I actually thought I was buying something a bit more titillating than this book. In spite of the initial mistake, I decided to listen to it given that I am in a long term relationship like the one described in the book. It was interesting, and heartening, to learn that a lot of my own experiences and "coping" techniques are things that appear to be somewhat universal with other women and couples. One message that comes through, over and over, is that women who remain in long term marriages usual I actually thought I was buying something a bit more titillating than this book. In spite of the initial mistake, I decided to listen to it given that I am in a long term relationship like the one described in the book. It was interesting, and heartening, to learn that a lot of my own experiences and "coping" techniques are things that appear to be somewhat universal with other women and couples. One message that comes through, over and over, is that women who remain in long term marriages usually do so because they are not relying on their spouse for happiness. We have our own friends, hobbies and interests that are separate and outside the marriage to keep us from feeling stuck or reliant upon another person. We continue to grow, change, and develop in parallel with the man we are committed to. The book also gives some very interesting examples of how women think outside the box to maintain their marriages in, sometimes, unconventional ways.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I am nearly 20 years into my second marriage and struggling. I look at the man I married and wonder where he went and who this person is he left in his place. I love him, but I don't like him much these days, and I suspect he feels the same about me. I think we will persevere and find a new happy medium, but sometimes I long for solitude and daily life without a man trying constantly to tell me what to do and how to do it. So this little book peaked my interest. It's full of personal stories of I am nearly 20 years into my second marriage and struggling. I look at the man I married and wonder where he went and who this person is he left in his place. I love him, but I don't like him much these days, and I suspect he feels the same about me. I think we will persevere and find a new happy medium, but sometimes I long for solitude and daily life without a man trying constantly to tell me what to do and how to do it. So this little book peaked my interest. It's full of personal stories of wives, mostly empty-nesters, who married young and are now 20 or 30 or more years into their marriages. I guess what I take away from these women's stories is this: (1) maintain your own interest and friends in spite of and outside of your marriage, (2) earn your own money in case you decide to leave, (3) all wives feel like killing or leaving their husbands, sometimes from early on in the marriage. Hmmmm.....now I AM depressed :-/

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    There is a lot of truth in this book. To wit: long term marriage is hard work. You have to want it. It's easy to give up. Your hot new lover turns into your boring/annoying old husband at some point down the line so it might be just as well to give things a bit more effort. It not only messes up your family and friendship relations but you also end up giving up your history when you throw in the towel on a long marriage. Not exactly groundbreaking but interesting and sort of comforting to know t There is a lot of truth in this book. To wit: long term marriage is hard work. You have to want it. It's easy to give up. Your hot new lover turns into your boring/annoying old husband at some point down the line so it might be just as well to give things a bit more effort. It not only messes up your family and friendship relations but you also end up giving up your history when you throw in the towel on a long marriage. Not exactly groundbreaking but interesting and sort of comforting to know that we all experience the same feelings over the long run (Well, most of us do - she illustrates a couple of totally unreal couples with perfect marriages, of course, but they are definitely the abberations, not the norm). What it seems to boil down to is: Stay together unless you are being abused, and it doesn't matter what it takes to keep you together as long as it works for you. (Yep, just what it sounds like).

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