Author: Pamela Haag
Published: Harper; May 2011
Synopsis: Pamela Haag has written the generational "big book" on modern marriage, a mesmerizing, sometimes salacious look at the semi-happy ambivalence lurking just below the surface of many marriages today. The spouses may rarely fight—they may maintain a sincere affection for each other—but one or both may harbor a melancholy sense that something important is missing.
Remarkably, this side of the marriage story hasn't been told or analyzed—until now.
Meticulously researched and injected with insightful firsthand accounts and welcome doses of humor, Marriage Confidential articulates for a generation that grew up believing they would "have it all" why they have ended up disenchanted. Haag introduces us to contemporary marriages where spouses act more like life partners than lovers; children occupy an uncontested position at the center of the marital relationship; and even the romantic staples of sexual fidelity and passion are assailed from all sides—so much so that spouses can end up having affairs online almost by accident.
Blending tales from the front lines of matrimony with cultural history, surveys, and research covert-ops (such as joining an online affair-finding site and posting a personal ad in the New York Review of Books), Haag paints a detailed picture of the state of marriage today. And to show what's possible as well as what's melancholy in our post-romantic age, Haag seeks out marriages with a twist—rebels who are quietly brainstorming and evolving the scripts around career, money, social life, child rearing, and sex.
Provocative but sympathetic, forward-thinking and bold, here, at last, is a manifesto for living large in marriage.
My Take: If you have been reading my blog this year then you know that I am getting married later this year (squueeee!). My fiance and I dated for quite sometime beforehand, wanting to go into this marriage being sure that we knew each other because both being from divorced parents, we are well aware that marriage is hard. When I got the opportunity to review Pamela Haag's Marriage Confidential I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at some of the reality's of modern marriage so that I could maybe take the blinders off a bit.
Um, I am not sure if this was a good idea or not. This book kind of freaked me out. It's not that what was inside was bad or anything, it just didn't contain a lot of love. I realize that marriage is for life and life can be a really long time and it can through a lot of things at you and therefore as a partnership the two of you may deal with what life throws at you differently but what should start was passion, I felt that Haag almost always would say spiraled down into just a working relationship as a way to 'survive' marriage. And also, that kids almost always ruin marriage. Yikes!
Haag's book appears to be very well-researched, although it doesn't cite any notes in the footnotes when there are studies talked about. It's all in the back. Sometimes that makes me wonder where specific facts and figures come from. A lot of it does appear to be from her own marriage or people she knows. Regardless, it is not a book that you read to 'fix a problem' it is more a study on the people, such as Betty Friedan's seminal work The Feminine Mystique was.
I would recommend this book perhaps if your own marriage is in some sort of a malaise and you are looking for a 'thank God I am not alone' feeling but I know that to assume all relationships are the same, or that what goes on behind closed doors is anything like what goes on within your own is to assume something wrong. So perhaps you will get something more out of this work than I did. It did open my eyes and I did enjoy it but perhaps it also made me a little frightened too!
Cover Lust: The ARC has these pop art characters which I think add a lot to the cover. Sadly, what they chose isn't quite as entertaining!