Surrendering to Marriage
Iris Krasnow
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buy *Surrendering to Marriage: Husbands, Wives and Other Imperfections* online Surrendering to Marriage: Husbands, Wives and Other Imperfections
Iris Krasnow
240 pages
June 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Washington Post contributor and Surrendering to Motherhood author Iris Krasnow dares to peer under the rock of appearances to expose the dark, dirty secrets of marriage in order to help readers - and herself - discover why most unions are worth fighting for. Divorce rates in the U.S. continue to hover near the fifty percent mark, and Krasnow's assignment in writing this book (and it was assigned, after the success of Motherhood) was to use her own marriage as a sort of field sample for saving what sometimes seems unsalvageable.

Curled Up With a Good BookShe doesn't restrict herself to her own sometimes stormy relationship with her husband, Chuck, although she's always painfully honest about her personal experience with how spouses get on each other's nerves over time, about how little battles (like coming home to a messy house when her husband's been left alone for an evening with their four young boys) can become epic wars, how sexual attraction wanes with parenthood, age, and familiarity.  She also delves into the trials of friends, acquaintances, even strangers willing to talk about their discontent, their divorces, their tired old routines, their affairs.  It's a shockingly intimate peek into the matrimonial bonds that are taken so for granted today - not in the sexual sense, but in the raw emotional sense. 

Krasnow comes to the conclusion again and again (as do various marriage counselors and divorce lawyers she speaks with) that, unsurprisingly, the grass is rarely greener on the other side of the fence. Those who leave their marriages to be with others often find their "freedom" comes at a terrible price, paid in money, emotional pain, their children's security. Many - not all, but many - in such circumstances find themselves wishing they'd stuck things out with their original spouses. That first blush of excitement and being "in love" with their new lover quickly fades to similar sets of routines, annoying habits, boredom and distance.

It's not all doom and gloom. Krasnow iterates that there's something bedrock-solid wonderful about knowing that you're going to spend as much of your life as you can with this person you've chosen. There are those rich veins of shared experience that criss-cross the subterranean mazes of a marriage. And you can stop beating yourself up that your marriage isn't happy-happy-happy all the time. As Krasnow discovers, no one's is. Theirs ups and downs and, to paraphrase an old saw, you can't appreciate the ups without the downs. Her advice - probably the most succinct but useful one can find on the subject - is to let go.  You can't change a person, but you can remember to appreciate the things you found so wonderful to begin with whenever you feel the steam rising over one of those much-argued but never finished debates about picking up laundry or closing the lid on the toothpaste tube. Surrender - not yourself, but your stubborn insistence on always having things how you want them, on thinking that with someone else you might find happiness. Tough to do when it's human pride standing in the way, but, Krasnow says, she's no doubt - nor will readers - that marriage is worth the effort. Happiness resides within ourselves; switching mates midstream isn't the yellow brick road to paradise it looks to be in our fantasies. Surrendering the Marriage should be required reading for every married adult.

© 2002 by Sharon Schulz-Elsing for Curled Up With a Good Book

Other books by Iris Krasnow:

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