Over the past few years, especially since Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert published to great fame, there has been an influx of memoirs by “regular” people who took a year from their normal routines to change their lives. The authors’ changes range from the very specific, as A.J. Jacobs did in A Year of Living Biblically when he followed every single rule in the bible, to the more conceptual, as Gretchen Rubin did in The Happiness Project, where she aimed to find ways to bring more happiness into everyday life. Elizabeth Weil’s book, No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make it Better follows the latter concept – over the course of a year, could she make her already happy marriage happier?
Elizabeth’s journey involved looking deep into the issues that every couple deals with – money, sex, food, religion, etc. – to see if there was room for improvement in her own relationship. She consulted with sex therapists, financial planners, marriage coaches, and rabbis to get answers. The book basically reads like a memoir, but there are facts and research about marriage and relationships where relevant. I was able to read the book in just a day because the concept is so compelling. So often you hear about couples who decide to work on their relationships with therapists or counselors when things have gotten too unbearable to deal with anymore. The suggestion implicit in Elizabeth’s book is to be proactive about your relationship when times are good, in hopes that you can effectively communicate, connect, and build on your already solid foundation.
I loved Elizabeth’s candid descriptions of her relationship. She writes very openly and honestly about her and her husband’s past, their conflicts during the project, and the issues that come up time and again in their relationship. Even her descriptions of family and friends are very forthright. She isn’t afraid to describe things the way they truly are. If there is any issue I had with the book, it’s that I wanted more of that, the honest meat of their relationship and the straightforward experiences, rather than the stats about marriage. While the data was nice, the real heart of the story is about her and her husband.
I give this book a solid 3 carats. It’s not likely a book you will need to read more than once (so maybe borrow it from the library or buy it from a used bookstore), but still, it’s a lovely peek inside a couple’s relationship.
Book image found here. Diamond review image is hand drawn by me!