I am divorced. This may not shock most of you. I have been very open about it, sharing my struggles through my writing. And I have come to realize that although there is real cultural (and, in some cases, religious) stigma about being divorced, some of my worst misperceptions about being divorced come from me. Meaning: They are things I believe because of how I feel about being divorced and the stigma that comes with it. They aren’t actually substantiated anywhere except in my insecure head.
These things can best be summarized as phrases that might complete the following sentence:
Because I am divorced, I don’t know a thing about…
… being happy in a relationship.
… being a good partner.
… sticking it out through rough times.
These are things that I think are true but even my ex-husband would take issue with them; I think I am much harder on myself than even he is regarding our marriage and divorce! In fact, I do know things about being happy, and about being a good partner and about sticking it out through rough times.
It’s not like any of these are the reason I got divorced. In fact, there is not one reason I am divorced. I don’t think there is any divorced couple that can pinpoint the one thing that led to their divorce, actually. It’s almost always — from what I have experienced and gathered — a lot of things. In a similar vein,“fixing” a relationship is never about one thing, either. Repair of a relationship needs to come from a lot of work, communication and changes in behavior. It’s not a “one-fix” kind of thing.
When I heard about this book called The Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage, I wondered something else about myself. I wondered if because I am divorced, I don’t understand or can’t value traditional marriage, or if I even deserved to read a book about wives since I had sort of failed at being one.
Fawn Weaver, the author of The Happy Wives Club, is an amateur anthropologist of sorts. She traveled the world to interview happy couples who had been together a long time about what made their relationships work. And do you know something? I agree with a lot of their secrets and tidbits even though I am no longer married. Fawn discovered a lot of happily married women who celebrate being a wife in ways that our culture doesn’t always emphasize. Many women go through the motions, but Fawn argues that happiness in a marriage can oftentimes be spearheaded by the wife embracing her role.
Now, this is not a science book. Fawn is not an actual anthropologist. She is an observer and a cataloguer of behaviors and words and relationships. She may feel a tad “Dr. Laura” in her emphasis on “pleasing your man” as a way to make him — and you — happy.
But what I do love is that she discusses that there is value to traditional relationships. I love that she likes her identity as a wife but doesn’t need to give up her life or her career in order to do that. Mind you, she and her husband have no children, and I think children can really shift a relationship. But for now, I really enjoyed this book, as have hundreds of thousands of others, and I think all kinds of people can get something out of it.
Even the divorced among us.