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Marriage Confidential Paperback – May 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061719285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061719288
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“If you’re coupled up—or want to be—you’ve got to read this.” (Glamour)

“Haag’s well-researched provocative study will get you thinking.” (People, "Great Summer Reads")

“The perfect book club choice.;. . . Free of the inflammatory politics and cultural baggage that usually accompanies the topic.;. . . It does make you reflect on modern mating habits. It’s fun.” (USA Today)

“[A] fun, interesting read.” (TODAY)

“Pamela Haag takes a fresh look at the state of our legal unions.” (More)

“Fascinating. . . . Couldn’t be more timely or relevant.” (Huffington Post)

“Provocative.” (The Times (London))

“Throughout her initial analysis she is spot-on. . . . [with a] sharp, erudite style . . . Haag has her capable finger on the pulse of the American marriage.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A startlingly honest and surprisingly funny account of marital discontent…. Avoiding comfortable bromides and rejecting the usual clichés, Haag reports on how married people really live these days…. This is one of the few books around with something new to say about the travails of modern love and coupledom.” (Laura Kipnis, author of Against Love: A Polemic and How to Become a Scandal)

“Brilliant. . . . Marriage Confidential is both laugh-out-loud funny and gasp-out-loud shocking, and nothing less than a Feminine Mystique for our time. Mark my words, your marriage will change after reading this book.” (Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher)

“In this timely and thought-provoking analysis of modern coupledom, Pamela Haag paints a vivid tableau of the ‘semi-happy’ couple. Written with wit and aplomb, this page turner will instigate an insurrection against our marital complacency.” (Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity)

“The personal is political after all. This first big history of the marriages of the post-feminist generation tells a riveting story of how socially empowered women-including many who opted out-and their mates are still struggling to find happiness in their personal lives.” (Linda Hirshman, author of Get to Work: . . . And Get a Life, Before It's Too Late)

“[Haag] doesn’t shy away from controversy in discussing how some marriage ‘rebels’ try to breathe new life into their relationships. A candid and thought-provoking read.” (Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage)

“[Haag] wittily and meticulously explores what sets apart those who suffer quietly in their semi-happy marriages from those who take action-whether that action is working to improve the situation, splitting up, retreating to a man cave or having an affair.” (BookPage)

Marriage Confidential is so rare, such a pleasantly charming pearl of great price . . . You learn something, but you hardly notice because you’re having such a good time.;. . . Flat-out brilliant.” (Washington Post Book World)

“A fascinating journey through the evolution of marriage.” (Date Night Magazine)

“I read it voraciously. . . . [Haag] is thoughtful, engaging, unconventional, and amusing.” (Bella DePaulo, Psychology Today)

“The chances are, this book describes your marriage. . . . It’s also an entertaining read.” (Mail on Sunday (UK))

From the Back Cover

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.


More About the Author

Pamela Haag began her professional life as an academic, earning a Ph.D. in history from Yale after attending Swarthmore College. Her writing spans a wide and unusual spectrum, from academic scholarship to memoir with a focus on women's issues, feminism, and American culture. She has worked as Director of Research for the AAUW, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which focuses on gender equity in education; as a speechwriter; and has written numerous personal and opinion essays in a variety of venues, from NPR to the American Scholar, the Christian Science Monitor to the Michigan Quarterly Review. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and post-doctoral fellowships at both Brown and Rutgers University. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Very interesting book.
N. Weisman
If such word choices are intended to impress the reader, in actuality they undermine the book's substance by making it less accessible, annoying this reader.
Brenda Frank
Now, explains Pamela Haag, marriage is more a partnership among financial equals and best friends.
Susan Schenck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Pippa Lee VINE VOICE on April 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Once upon a time and if we wanted society's approval, we needed to get married in order to have sex, children and financial security. Today, thanks to birth control, education, women's earning power and changing mores, marriage is no longer an imperative. It's a choice. However, as author Pamela Haag finds out, in spite of all the freedoms modern generations enjoy, marriage can still be as conventional and confining as it was in our parents' times.

In "Marriage Confidential," Ms. Haag argues that modern couples are increasingly susceptible to a malaise she calls "marriage melancholy." Husband and wife profess their love for each other and are committed to their children. To their families and friends, their marriage is a happy one. However, in private, both spouses are besieged by feelings of doubts, of "something not being quite right," and of sadness. Unable to pinpoint the root of their discontent, they settle into a low stress, low-conflict, semi-happy marriage.

Based on research literature on marriage, information glimpsed out of online discussions and groups, the results of two surveys, interviews, personal experiences resulting from her going "undercover" and on reflections of her own marriage, Ms. Haag uncovers the reasons of today's marital dissatisfaction in the "Have-It-All/Do-It-All" syndrome, the unrealistic expectations of parenthood perfection and online cheating. The first two factors have contributed to the spouses' disassociation with their identities as adults with intimate needs. The third one undermines (and denies) the last pillar of traditional marriage: monogamy. Curiously, Ms. Hagg seems to see monogamy as the obstacle toward marital fulfillment today.
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86 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Frank VINE VOICE on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Haag presents offers an analysis of contemporary marriage in the post-romantic age of workhorse wives, royal children, undersexed spouses, and rebel couples who are rewriting the rules. The fundamental problem with "Marriage Confidential" is that the writing style obscures its content.

It is very difficult to absorb the subject matter of this book due to the distraction caused by Haag's strange choice of words, confusing, unclear prose and inaccurate writing. The text is hopped up with pseudo-intellectual vocabulary, often used inappropriately, which does nothing more than confuse the reader. Sample words: jeremiad and charivari - both of which are used incorrectly. Why use "transmogrify" when you could use "transform"? If such word choices are intended to impress the reader, in actuality they undermine the book's substance by making it less accessible, annoying this reader.

Here's a sample sentence: "Emily loves to play `family,' and in this game, she ventriloquizes her parents' marriage with what sounds like chilling concision."

Emily is not "ventriloquizing," but parodying, mimicking or imitating her parents' marriage dialogue. Further, "concision" seems irrelevant in this sentence, although "accuracy" would be appropriate.

Haag describes the term "bromance" as being included in the "Oxford English Dictionary. This dictionary defines "bromance" as "a close but nonsexual relationship between two men." Webster's is consistent with Oxford, defining "bromance" as a close but nonsexual friendship between men." Haag's next sentence defines "bromances" as "crushes" among avowedly heterosexual men, directly conflicting with the use of the term as defined by Oxford.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I received this book for free through the Amazon Vine program.

This is the worst book I have read in a long time, in several senses of the word "worst." In fact, the only thing that kept me reading to the end was that I wanted to be able to write a complete review detailing everything that is wrong with it. Starting with the actual writing itself, there were two problems right off the bat. First, as other reviewers have noted, the ridiculously stilted language, which would be one problem on its own, but the fact that Haag misuses words, sometimes to the point of outright malapropisms, is another yet. Also it is clear before you are even half way through the first chapter that Haag is not certain about what kind of book she is writing. Hard nonfiction, with the research to back up her assertions? If that was the goal, the book fails miserably, as the research presented is thin indeed. Creative nonfiction, a kind of meditation on the current state of marriage? As such this book also fails, as the writing is too superficial and glib to be called "creative." She muddies the water further by dragging in her own marriage and her poor husband John, who is thanked in foreward and acknowledgements alike, but apparently is also a fine example of a disappointing, dull, passionless husband. This was a bad idea as it spoiled Haag herself as a sympathetic narrator; I spent the rest of the book feeling vaguely mortified for her husband and child, who also gets dragged in as evidence of kids-as-marriage-killers.

If you share Haag's perspective on what life ought to be, you might find this book more appealling. To give you an idea of her bias, she defines being grounded (as in rooted in a stable place) as a negative early in the book.
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