Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Promised Book Review: A Marriage Memoir

No Cheating No Dying. I Had A Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make it Better by Elizabeth Weil is a marriage memoir, the story of one couples sojourn into the land of marriage enrichment programs and therapies.   Like a therapy travelogue, this is a great book for couples who are thinking about heading down the path towards marriage improvement and are unsure where to start.  Elizabeth and her husband Dan try a smorgasbord of options and their dialogue and observations as they tip-toe into each new experiences are nothing less than hilarious and refreshing. 

Take their highly regarded, psychoanalytically oriented marriage therapist who does therapy in a reclining lawn chair due to her bad back and reminds Dan of Stephen Hawking.  Her initial comment that they need to find a problem and not just focus on their strengths leaves me scratching my head and thinking that’s a titch arrogant but overall the therapist makes interventions that I  think are pretty good,. As the couple leaves their first session, I find myself thinking they’re going to dump her for sure.  
Liz and Dan’s reactions to the marriage gurus who they encounter on their journey, “What the f--  kind of name is Harville?”are heartwarmingly authentic in a field where everyone takes themselves terribly seriously and assumes they have found the one true way.  By the way that would be Harville Hendricks, of course.  You could safely refer to him as a marriage guru.

A glimpse inside the heads of Liz and Dan as they leave their sessions provides a little humility for seasoned professionals like me who can’t actually read people’s minds as they are leaving our offices.  Other pilgrims on the road to marital betterment will surely be able to relate to Liz and Dan’s reactions to the therapists, educational groups and self help efforts along the way.

The glimpse into their marriage while be comforting to couples who are wondering if they are the only ones with issues.  Liz shares the heartbreak that reverberates through their marriage with the loss of their baby, as well as their joys, struggles and eccentricities.    Most importantly, you see transformation begin to take place in their marriage as they begin to experience the other person’s perspective, to give-up their hard fought realities and put themselves in the other person’s moccasins, so to speak. They stayed in marriage therapy after all. 

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