Wednesday, July 11, 2012

11 PM Book Review: Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules

Marriage Confidential, by Pamela Haag, is a very interesting quasi-sociological read with a highly journalistic feel. The author's general focus is on contrasting the "romantic" marriage culture of previous generations with the "post-romantic" culture of Xers and millennials. I think this loosely translates into a "culture of passionate marriage" vs. a "culture of pragmatic marriage." Haag seems to believe that post-romantic marriage ideals are a result of the sexual, childbearing, and financial support "roles" of marriage being becoming unnecessary and replaced with a charismatic Christian ideal of "sticking out" a marriage for reasons like "the kids," and that this holds true even for secular people. She points out that trends like childfree marriage may be largely due to the dourness of the charismatic influenced "marriage movement" which makes child raising sound histrionically important to the exclusion of adult needs.

"Children today occupy the center of a marriage with fewer if any rivals because marriage has been pruned of it's other imperatives." p 114

"The family values movement may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. It sets such strict child-first standards that type A parents… might understandably decide to stay childfree." p 115

The author combines current data on marriage trends with interviews of friends, acquaintances, and correspondence from personals websites. She includes several shallow but non-judgmental chapters about non-monogamous marriage trends. Most of her interviews are with people whose marriages have failed, so Marriage Confidential seems biased against successful marriages. However, this is a breezy read about a serious topic. I think this is a good look at why people feel bad about "serviceable" marriages. It would be excellent for young or new couples, as a mindful inoculation against extremist ideals in marriage.

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