Book Review – No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make it Better by Elizabeth Weil

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!


The “M” Word

After a self-imposed four year hiatus from watching The Bachelor, I have been sucked back in. Call it a bad romance, but knowing that Brad Womack was coming back for his second chance at love after ending his original season by choosing neither of the girls, I had to see what would happen this time. Season 15 has a heavy dosage of the theme of redemption and forgiveness, and the previews make it seem as if this time around it will be Brad who is left at the altar. Let the voyeurism begin!

Admittedly this is reality television, and therefore not all that realistic, but a few moments in the first episode struck me. Brad is greeting the thirty women as they step out of their limos when one of them, within 10 seconds of meeting him, declares that she wants to get married. Another asks him to get down on one knee and propose right there. And yet another girl says that she wants to take him to meet her parents. The format of the show is like dating on speed, so of course, normal relationships don’t start out this way. But it brings up the question: when is it ok to bring up the “M” word in a relationship?

The women on The Bachelor feel that they have to differentiate themselves, since after all this is a competition, so they are usually a bit more forward than the rest of us on the other side of the television looking glass. Out here, our relationships are allowed to have their own road maps and time frames. And while laying all your cards on the table on the first date might seem like a good idea, it can be a bit too intense for most potential suitors. So when is it right?

The greatest fear when bringing up marriage is usually, “does the other person feel the same way I do? And if not, what does that mean for the relationship?” And yet it is hard at some point in the relationship not to let the words just bubble up and get blurted out. It doesn’t mean that you want to get married right this very moment. It’s just that the relationship is progressing, and you want to know if it is headed towards a collective goal. I have been on both sides of this proverbial relationship coin. I have brought up marriage with a partner, and seen that flinch, or heard that gulp, indicating that the hot topic arrow has officially reached it’s bullsye. And all of those outward reactions are not necessarily bad. Because in relationships, it is usually best to know where each of you are at. Even if your timelines aren’t perfectly aligned, it doesn’t mean you won’t reach the finish line together. So I say, bring it up when you’re ready, but be prepared to really listen to what the other person has to say as well. He or she might have been stifling the desire to talk about it too. And if they weren’t, now they know a bit more about how you’re feeling. Which means now you can move forward together.

What do you think? Is there a time in a relationship when it is just too soon to bring up marriage? Have you ever been surprised by what your partner said when you eventually brought it up?

The Bachelor image found here.