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Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting theby Pamela Haag
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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 Haag 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. Haag 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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Inthis timely and thought-provoking analysis of modern coupledom, PamelaHaagand paints a vivid tableau of the ‘semi-happy couple. Written withwit and aplomb, this page turner will instigate an insurrection against ourmarital complacency.” —Esther Perel, author of Matingin Captivity
Writtenwith the persuasive power of Naomi Wolf and the analytical skills of Susan Faludi, Pamela Haags provocative but sympathetic look atthe state of marriage today answers—and goes beyond—the question many of us are asking: "Is this all there is?"
About the Author
Pamela Haag earned a Ph.D. in history from Yale after attending Swarthmore College. She has worked as director of research for the American Association of University Women and as a speechwriter, and has written for the American Scholar, the Christian Science Monitor, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Huffington Post, and NPR, among others. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation and a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University.
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