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 fightthey may maintain a sincere affection for each otherbut one or both may harbor a melancholy sense that something important is missing.Read more...
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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 fightthey may maintain a sincere affection for each otherbut 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 sidesso 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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-05-23
- Reviewer: Staff
After second-wave feminism won many important battles, the movement resigned itself essentially to nonexistence. Now Haag (Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Liberalism) reveals what she feels is the stark truth of the modern marriage: the ground gained by feminism is a loss for women—and marriage. In the so-called "Post-Romantic" age we are in, married men and women occupy a relationship category more similar to friend or partner than lover. The needs of children dominate (to the point that Haag suggests that they are the true "spouses"). Both partners may work; alternately, liberated men (who Hagg comically calls "Tom Sawyers") may stay home or take supplementary wage-earner roles, enabled to discover their true callings (a la Revolutionary Road's Frank Wheeler), and watch their wives bring home the bacon (and fry it up in a pan). Affairs are often tolerated; indeed, they're presented as part-problem/part-solution. Hagg gets to the bottom of the existential dilemma, focusing on what she calls the low-conflict/semi-happy marriage, likely to end in divorce (60% by her estimates). Throughout her initial analysis she is spot-on, but when discussing the desirability and viability of open marriages, her sharp, erudite style drifts. But her gained range from heartbreakingly tragic to fascinatingly awkward; Haag has her capable finger on the pulse of the American marriage. (June)