The Secret Lives of Wives, cont.

Remember how I asked people to write in after my last post (on the Iris Krasnow piece) and let me know how often they thought about divorcing their spouses?

Well, a few women wrote to say that they don’t think about divorce nearly as often as they did when their children were babies (and when they were stuck in that intense no-sleep, no-life-for-you-chicka! phase).

One woman wrote:

It’s been a long time since I was married, but in my almost ten years of marriage, the divorce fantasy was a frequent visitor especially post-kids. Take heart though because that fantasy was steeped more in mundane daydreaming of a full night’s sleep and a precious every other weekend all alone than some intense desire to stray from my partner.  I don’t know if it would have affected the outcome of my marriage, but I do think taking the time you need for yourself especially after kids come along can go a long way to protect a marriage.

Many jumped on the night-out-with-friends approach to save their sanity, an approach Krasnow champions in her book, The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. I just started reading this book, but here’s what’s jumped out at me so far:

Here’s what older wives who know each other well are talking about: In order to keep the promise “’till death do us part” without killing someone first, a woman must have work and hobbies she loves, extramarital adventures, and a wine cellar (17).    

By the way, when she says extramarital adventures, she’s not advocating you go out and have an affair–she’s talking about taking trips with your girlfriends, learning a new language, etc.

One of the things that’s gotten Krasnow through her 23-year-long marriage (with four boys, by the way) is that “I don’t expect my husband to make me happy; I know I must do that for myself (18).”

This, apparently, is a lesson she learned in the early days and chronicled in an earlier book, Surrendering to Marriage. I’ll have to turn to that book next, since it deals more explicitly with the craziness that accompanies most of our married-with-young-children lives.

As I’ve chronicled family relationships over the years, I have learned from other young mothers that marriage wars in the early years generally stem from physical exhaustion.  Most eruptions in an old marriage spring from emotional exhaustion (24).

Oh, ho, ho!  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over that one.  After so many years of intense physical exhaustion, we can look forward to emotional torture next?

OK, one last thought-provoking quote before I’m tempted to stick my head in the oven. This one’s from Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project:

Most divorces take place in the first eight years of marriage, and most divorces are initiated by women. It’s not the seven-year itch; it’s eight years.  Couples who get past their eighth anniversary are much more likely to make their marriage last.  If you could give some advice to these women who are in their late thirties and forties and entering midlife, tell them to be patient.  This is when marriage can get hard; they have young children, and the wives often feel that their husbands aren’t really emotionally plugged into the marriage.  So the wives become disillusioned (8).

Be patient, huh? Boy, oh, boy. One of my most favorite things to do–ever!

Next up: As you can see, I’m in the midst of a pessimism attack over here. I think it has something to do with the ongoing reverberations from our recent garage sale–yes! we finally did it!–about which I’ll write more shortly. In the meantime, I’m going to delve a little deeper into this topic.

Bring on the wine, friends!



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