Should You Put Stock in Iris Krasnow’s “The Secret Lives of Wives”?

Every now and again, there comes an exposé or piece of research that can truly change your life. “The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married” may not go so far as pushing you to a monumental life change, but that author certainly hopes that she can change your mind about the modern marriage. The author\’s purpose is to impress on her readers that if you truly love your family, you\’ll find a way—any way—to make your marriage work.

In her preface, Iris Krasnow announces, “My goal is to shatter false dream worlds by airing the voices of real women willing to reveal all.” If Mrs. Krasnow\’s account of the modern marriage is any indication of the true landscape of the American dreams, we can all kiss thoughts of easy communication and working through problems together goodbye! The accounts in “The Secret Lives of Wives” indicate that what it really takes to stay marriage is not to stay together and united, but separate and in the same house. Krasnow shares stories from promiscuous seniors who engage in weekly petting sessions with an old college boyfriend (who is NOT the current husband), a wife who considers herself and husband “monogamous swingers” who have been sharing their bed with friends for more than a decade, and a journalist whose mantra by age 39 was “I hate my husband, I hate my husband, I hate my husband.” And all of this—separate vacations, secret rendezvous, and infidelity at every turn—is what makes a healthy marriage.

While these might be very true accounts of what is happening in the American marriage, should we consider this to be the picture of the healthy American relationship? Krasnow suggests, “What is clear from my research is that modern marriage can look dozens of different ways, and this frees all of us to write our own rules.” But just how liberal can we be with these rules? Is it really better to hang on to a floundering marriage filled with miscommunication and alone time than to call it quits? Is it a woman\’s responsibility to take charge of their own happiness by compartmentalizing their life into “Good Father and Provider, dislikes sex” and “Boyfriend, likes sex”? Do the real life Desperate Housewives have it right?

The marriages depicted in Krasnow\’s book may be “working”, but a relationship filled with inconsistencies, mistruths, and infidelity cannot be considered healthy and normal. Sneaking around might be exciting, but what happens then the truth comes out? When your husband\’s friend or your children see you out with that old college boyfriend? Relationships are hard work. You won\’t always get along with your spouse. You might feel up when they feel down, energetic when they\’re tired. If this is a constant problem, if your timing and communications are never in sync, consider a counselor before considering a lover. Iris Krasnow has collected hundreds of intriguing tales, but few of them—if any—are worth taking to heart.

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