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Marriage Shock: The Transformation of Women into Wives [Kindle Edition]

Dalma Heyn
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Relationship expert Dalma Heyn asks not what is good for marriage but what is good for women in marriage—a question, she finds, that promises a much different answer and more fulfilling lives

Marriage, as we are told, makes a woman complete, more womanly. Why, then, do so many brides discover that the fun-loving, passionate single gal they used to be has been transformed into a woman recognizable only as a wife—a woman who unconsciously represses her own needs, wants, and vitality “for the sake of the marriage”?
Attacking the pervasive cultural myths that ask a wife to choose between her marriage and her own growth and self-expansion, Marriage Shock explores the ways in which wives can overcome deeply ingrained social and personal expectations and flourish both as wives and as individuals.
This ebook features a new introduction by Dalma Heyn and an illustrated biography including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The divorce rate is so high, Heyn contends, because newly married women are gripped by the vision of the self-sacrificing Victorian "angel of the house," suppressing their true personalities and needs not at the instigation of their husbands but in homage to this outmoded ideal. Aside from the fact that nothing but anecdotal evidence is offered to support this contention, the book's problem is that this is basically all it says; thus, it seems tedious though it is short. Many feminist authors, from Virginia Woolf to Carol Gilligan, have discussed the same issue in a broader context. Since the author's previous book (The Erotic Silence of the American Wife, LJ 6/15/92) was successful, public libraries may need to purchase for demand; otherwise, this title can be skipped.
-?Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A fervent but unconvincing argument that marriage as we know it is bad for women. A logical extension of Heyn's The Erotic Silence of the American Wife (1992), which looked at female adultery, this work is also based largely on anecdotal evidence. A longtime editor and writer for women's magazines (McCall's, Mademoiselle, Self), Heyn draws on a nonscientific sampling of letters and survey responses from readers of McCall's and New Woman as well as interviews with these and other mostly middle-class women. Her thesis is that when they marry, women give up most of what they enjoy about themselves in favor of a more conventional and proper version of themselves. The dutiful and good wife they aspire to be, she claims, is a middle-class invention first described fully in conduct books of the 18th and 19th centuries. Marriage shock, says Heyn, marks the moment of experiencing this split between what the woman is and what culture tells her she should be. That married women have a higher rate of depression than single women or married men is no accident, the author contends, nor is the fact that today most divorces are initiated by women. Excerpts from her interviews with various married women illustrate what Heyn sees as the suppression of desire and the absence of an honest relationship in marriage. Deception, guilt, and unhappiness seem to be the earmarks of modern marriage. Heyn's answer to this crisis? Revolutionize marriage. Overthrow those old-fashioned ideas about what a wife is supposed to be. Imagine marriage based on a new standard of sexual conduct in which women's desires are acknowledged as real. Think of pleasure, not self-improvement, of sexuality, not self-sacrifice. The kind of ``expert'' analysis of relationships that abounds in women's magazines, this all sounds as though it was conceived at least a generation ago. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 695 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004KZQKB4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,806,269 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An "AHA!" Moment!!! March 26, 2001
By A Customer
This book provided what eluded me for decades - what turns capable vibrant independent women into Barbies, into Stepford Wives. I stumbled across it in my mid-thirties, great job, great income, feeling strong about myself and my abilities in the wake of a difficult divorce - I had remarried - to someone diametrically opposed in every way to the first hubby - and WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? I'm cooking dinner every night, watering all his houseplants, clucking about dustballs and forgoing bike rides and gym visits and nights out with pals to stay in and WHAT? sew curtains???
It wasn't due to husband demands, nor did I have Donna Reed as a mom, - I needed an explanation as to why I was so hellbent on being The Wife - and this book provided an answer. Ms. Heyn's use of interviews and anecdote show how cultural influences permeat our lives, their power rivalling the more direct influences of family and spouse. The accompanying historical evidences were factual and interesting to read. I am amazed that this book has not gained more of a following, as its simple message can be a boon to those newly married, wondering Is this all there is? or What was I thinking?
Ms. Heyn has seen the enemy, and shows it to us in a way that allows us to beat it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revolutionary way to save marriage. June 21, 1997
By A Customer
This important, quietly subversive book suggests that the only way we can save marriage is by radically overhauling it -- so it has room for real, live, whole women. If you've ever wondered why you (or your wife) felt flat, gray and depressed in the first, supposedly blissful year of marriage, or why over 60 percent of American marriages end in divorce, two-thirds of them instigated by women, you've got to read this book -- it's an eye-opener. Yet it is not even remotely anti-male, or even anti-marriage. Rather, it unmasks a couple of fictional cultural characters -- the preachy Witness and the impossibly Good Wife -- who possess us like dybbuks at the altar. This book is a veritable exorcism that can give you back the self you lost and the lover you married
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I recently had the opportunity to read "Marriage Shock" & was absolutely riveted by this insightful treatise on what happens to women's identities after marriage. The book made me aware of a psychological phenomena peculiar to married women in which I have unwittingly participated for the last 14 years. What an eye-opener! Ms. Heyn's theory that married women subconsciouly & automatically, "edit" their behavior from their prior, single lives in order to conform to the role of "the good wife" is demonstrated by the fascinating, often quirky examples provided by the women who were the subjects of her interviews. The author's personal and refreshingly expressive style is just great. The reader can almost hear Ms. Heyn's voice as she reasons her way through some of the most engaging subject matter recently presented in print. This is a serious book, not a piece of Self-Help How-To fluff. Ms. Heyn is no Martha Stewart, and some of what you read may take you aback, but I think that you will be unable to put this book down. Any thinking woman who doesn't see a little of herself and every married woman she knows in "Marriage Shock" is not looking hard enough
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction,needs more proof March 15, 2000
Heyn's premise, that women lose the zip and tang of their unique personalities upon marrying, is right on target. This is not a "man-bashing" book. Its focus is primarily on women, not on their husbands. When I read her description of what Heyn calls "the witness," I immediately recognized and understood exactly to what she was referring. It was such a relief to realize that I am absolutely normal (in that respect at least) and that my discomfort in marriage is not something that has to be forever endured, nor that it is my fault, nor is it my husband's fault. Most women who have any sense or sensibility apparantly feel much the same as I do: suffocated by wifery.
My gripe about the book is this: minimal hard data. Due to contemplation of my own marital experience, I had little difficulty accepting much of what Heyn hypothesizes. There are those, however, who maintain that, if a woman is unhappy in her marriage, it's because she's somehow unfit. Perhaps her unhappiness is due to a fault: she is selfish, greedy, lazy, stupid, crazy, poorly bred, too unlike a man, etc... Heyn's heavy reliance on anecdotal evidence to prove her point won't do much to convince those who deny that a "good" woman married to a decent man can be unhappy in her marriage.
In addition, after reading the material describing the harm the witness causes a marrige, I was very disappointed to find but one chapter devoted to resolving this problem. Too many chapters are wasted on explaining the witness phenomenon, and not enough information is provided to help the reader to disable the "witness." But, as an introduction to the subject, I would definitely recommend this book. I, for one, am grateful that Ms. Heyn chose to share her insight on the prickly conundrum that is marriage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How women are transformed when they marry. May 11, 1998
By A Customer
This should be required reading for any woman of any age who is contemplating marriage. The author defines the social dictates that are so pervasive in our society and how they can influence women to assume stereotypical characteristics of a "wife" while sacrificing their autonomy and sense of self.
Both the evolution of the historical definition of "wife" and the way those values continue to be transmitted are examined, as well as the devastating effect this transformation has on both the individual and the marriage.
If nothing else, read this to be forewarned of the pitfalls that lie ahead and to understand the preconceptions that might influence a woman's behaviour in marriage.
The book is a lot cheaper than a divorce.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
Every woman married, about to be married, or thinking about marriage.....or divorced should read this book. You know what they say, "forewarned is forearmed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cmac
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh - so other people went through this too ?
I'm not going to say I have everything figured out.
The other doesn't purport that she had all the answers either.

Personally, I found that pretty cool. Read more
Published 5 months ago by cc
5.0 out of 5 stars a good depressing book
This is a depressing book. I thought it might give some insight in how we could get women back into the kitchen but instead it encourages their emancipation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by W. Jamison
5.0 out of 5 stars Identifies thought patterns you didn't even realize you had...and says...
A life changing book. I read it the week after I got married. It blew my mind and changed my entire thought process about my new relationship. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Kochava
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply and incomprehensibly malicious
This book is simply horrific. It is based on an assumption that the author nowhere even begins to defend: the idea that traditional marriage and family rearing is unsatisfying and... Read more
Published 19 months ago by CYNTHIA PRUDHOMME
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but intense
Recently divorced, it's great to read about your role as wife and know you were not alone in your feelings and experiences. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Pen Name
5.0 out of 5 stars Still VERY relevant
13 years after its publication, this book still bears relevance to women who want to enjoy marriage rather than BE married. Read more
Published on April 26, 2011 by Diana Rajchel
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start
This book's anecdotal evidence really reminded me of my early marriage and subsequent divorce..... I did lose part of myself.... lost the ability to speak my voice.... Read more
Published on September 29, 2008 by FifthElement
5.0 out of 5 stars buy this book before getting married
The other "marriage self-help" books are only instruction manuals on how to fix wives. I am ashamed that I have read many "marriage self-help" books and I come away thinking how... Read more
Published on December 2, 2007 by scholar of thoth
5.0 out of 5 stars Too true
I send this to all of my newly married girlfriends. It may be a simple premise, but I think to some extent this happens to all of us, who were independent, single, take charge as... Read more
Published on August 21, 2007 by J. Anderson
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More About the Author

Dalma Heyn is the author of number of bestselling books: The Erotic Silence of The American Wife;  Marriage Shock: The Transformation of Women into Wives; and Drama Kings: The Men Who Drive Strong Women Crazy; and most recently, she is the co-author, with her husband Richard Marek, of A Godsend: A Love Story For Grownups. Her books have been published worldwide and translated into 34 languages.

Dalma Heyn is a psychotherapist, a speaker, and a passionate advocate for women. Her books investigate the deepest places in our culture and our psyches to reveal the truth of women's experience, rather than reporting on how their experience is interpreted or judged.  Dalma listens to  women, rather than to what experts, or the culture, say about women.  Readers feel the difference.

In Dalma's own words: "For many years I've written books in which women express their deepest feelings about the tricky and often paralyzing negotiation between intimacy and self; between pleasure and pleasing. My books, both nonfiction and fiction, look at an evolving culture and its new choices for women; and the evolving women who are expressing a bold new vision for the place of love, marriage, spirituality and accomplishment in their lives."

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