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on July 15, 2015
Portrait of Our Marriage very cleverly draws the line between what should be acceptable in a relationship and what shouldn’t be. The clever part, though, is how faintly the author traces that line. Let’s face it, don’t we all love to convince ourselves – particularly one another – every other day, in some form, that we have a strong handle on what we perceive to be a perversion? And, in some cases, sexual perversion. It may be the fella who lives down the street, what he’s been up to; it may be someone’s escapades in a soap opera – oh, they’re easy-meat, ’should be hanged, end of !

But again, let’s face it, deep down, we all know that life isn’t so black and white, far from it, and that, were we not so insecure in ourselves, which we all are, we wouldn’t take this black and white view, but have to courage to affront life, for all its complexities. Well, the author of this novel has done just that – and I, personally, have yet to see it done elsewhere, books that approach the subject of porn addiction. She’s done it superbly.

We know from the outset that the marriage has hit the rocks, so I’m giving nothing away there, but, suffice it to say, the wife has it all; Brett, the loving, understanding hunk; the kids et al… except the husband isn’t so understanding when it comes to that little bugbear: porn. Furthermore, he just may not understand that he has an addiction, “may” being the operative word – does he have selective hearing? Selective understanding?

Or, to really throw the cards up in the air, might I suggest that Nicky, the narratorial wife, is a little too highly strung? I may just be playing devil’s advocate here, but my point is that anyone reading this novel, male and female, must, at some point at least, question themselves with regard to how they might behave in a similar situation at home – indeed, some might just be in a similar situation at home…

Of course, it takes more than subject matter for a reader to be posing pertinent questions. The writer must draw that reader in first of all, which the author succeeds in doing with grace.

And this, I might add, is her debut work. What a start. Bravo!
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on July 2, 2015
When I bought this book I really did not know what to expect. Martha Emms’s Portrait of our Marriage read like a case study on porn addiction. I am very impressed by Emms’s portrayal of how porn addiction can effect a couple.

Nicky and Brett’s romance blossomed to true love that is celebrated with a very beautiful wedding. The early years of their marriage mirrored any loving marriage as they raised their two children. Nicky had an oppressed upbringing and she struggled with guilt over her dad, but she grow up to be a very loving and thoughtful woman. Brett on the other hand did not seem to survive issues from his childhood. As the children were on the cusp of becoming adults, Brett seeking escape from stress and pressures in life turns to porn to escape. It was very poignant to see how desperately Nicky searched for answers while she embraced a support group. Brett’s addiction to porn started with an occasional magazine and movie then it escalated to an extreme hardcore daily habit. Brett, at first an ideal mate, turns into a nightmare as he rationalizes his addiction to porn. I found Brett’s rationalizing, porn as a common diversion, chilling.

I feel that the author did her homework on this addiction. Emm was brilliant with her pen, the story is written with the right balance of how they individually deal with the addiction, and its effect on their marriage. The progression of events carry the story well. I found the rotating pictures of their marriage in contrast to porn images to be heartrending symbolic. The ending did surprise me, but I support Nicky’s decision. Well done!
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I love the honesty in this book. We all strive for a perfect relationship but it isn’t always possible. If we add the stresses of pornography and Nicky’s struggles to appear normal to everyone outside her marriage, it’s no wonder the marriage is on the rocks. And yet the love and passion the couple share is deep and meaningful, not to mention, beautifully portrayed by the author. I think Nicky’s decision to stay or to go will resonate with many women. She has her memories of her and Brett’s early times and her children to consider too.

Apart from women, I think most men will get something out of this book. It might help them understand how women feel about watching porn and not giving one hundred percent to a relationship.

Ms Emms writes with a startling frankness that is like a fresh of breath air. She crafts dialogue superbly – all of which makes this a must-read, page turner. I can highly recommend it.
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First off, I thought the use of a digital picture frame to fill in back story was a pretty unique approach. With each new batch of pictures, we advance through the timeline and are also shown the deterioration of Brett's obsession with porn. I must admit, at the beginning, I thought Nicky was a little overboard with her concerns about the magazines and VHS tapes. Most households have them. When I was younger, my parents had pornographic comics. And of course, us kids found them, and reading them didn't cause any degenerate behavior. I also thought the daughter's reaction to accidentally seeing a porn film was over dramatic and unrealistic. But that particular scene helped set the stage for Brett's willingness to hide and lie about his addiction.

The plot line was well-constructed and flowed along, keeping me engaged. The characters were well-developed and I enjoyed watching how Nicky grew and had to make the hard decisions regarding her relationship with Brett.. Talking about one's sexuality is a touchy subject. One person's concept of deviant behavior may not be another persons. But the bathroom scene was enough to convince me that Brett definitely had a problem.

All in all, a very good read and I give it 5 feathers.
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on June 2, 2015
At what point in an adult couple’s relationship does one person’s private, sexual addictions become too intrusive for his/her partner? Who gets to decide what sexual standards/practices a person should engage in? How does one’s upbringing affect his/her sexual acceptance, repugnance, and/or enjoyment? In Martha Emms’ frank, pulls-no-punches “Portrait of Our Marriage,” these important and not often talked about questions are extremely well presented. Not only do we have a ringside seat to a sexually active and fulfilling marriage slowly disintegrating over time, we are also privy to various uplifting group therapy scenes, where the wife not only learns how to share her martial problems, the women in the group, much like a “Greek Chorus,” discuss every avenue, every point of view, and ultimately teach her the most important lesson of all: Be True To Thyself. A highly recommended read!
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on May 30, 2015
Gosh, there was sooo much emotion in this book. I'm still trying to sort out my feelings. First; I hated Brett right off the bat. The author did such a good job portraying her characters that his visceral perfectness just got under my skin. Little did I know it was just a personality that would show cracks somewhere else in his life. OMG... I am still shaking my head. Do men really DO these things? I know out of wedlock sex for a man can easily be separated from the feelings they have for their spouses and I don't condemn them for it. It was what Mother Nature intended. It's society that condemns. (And I would murder my hubby) But the extreme deviant nature of Brett's behavior is like watching something worse than a train wreck.

The author did a great job layering Nicky's character with the slowly growing feelings of unease and horror that was bringing on the destruction of her marriage. I felt for her and I understood that there but for the grace of God....
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on May 22, 2015
Portrait of our Marriage, by Martha Emms, is an emotionally graphic, sexually explicit, no-holds-barred portrayal of addiction to pornography. Told from the point of view of the wife of an addict, it is heart-wrenching. The story unfolds, as it so often does in life, slowly and painfully over years, clearly capturing the rationalizing and minimizing that partners often do when they hope beyond hope that a problem isn’t really a problem, or will just go away on its own.

Nicky is madly in love with Brett—their meeting, romance and marriage almost idyllic, until small cracks appear. As Brett’s secrets reveal themselves through those cracks, Nicky begins to question and confront him. Brett’s angry denial and the confusion in the world outside their marriage about the male prerogative to indulge in pornography keeps Nicky tied up, anxious, and uncertain. Like many women in her situation, she grows increasingly isolated and less sure of herself as a wife and a person. Fortunately, as Nicky eventually discovers, she’s not alone. The book does a good job of showing how difficult, but vital, help-seeking can be to women with troubled partners. Addictions have a trajectory that’s destructive and even deadly, however, unless the addict owns the problem and takes action. Will Brett do that—face his addiction to pornography? Will their marriage survive the toll that addiction takes on intimacy and trust? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Five Stars.
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on May 22, 2015
Marriage is not for the feint of heart. The writer depicts a part of marriage that may people deal with in these modern times. She gives us a realistic view of the trials and tribulations of dealing with an addiction and how it takes a toll on even the strongest love. My hat is off to the author for tackling a subject that is afflicting so many couples these days. The story is well written and moves along quickly. You are kept guessing right up until the end the fate of the couple. I think the author has left room to revisit this story for a book two for a possible reconciliation or to visit what happens next in the lives of this couple.
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on May 18, 2015
What a bittersweet story of love and addiction. Nicky and Brett were the perfect couple. They were popular in the neighborhood and had some close friends to go camping and skiing with. They loved to snow ski. In fact they met on the ski slope where Brett was a member of the ski patrol and Nicki skied into him.

Martha Emms tells this story beautifully from the moment the couple first met and how they came to fall in love. Nicky was from a repressive background and trying to learn how to live a full adventuresome life. Brett, an engineer, was perfect for her. He possessed a fearless love for adventure and supported her as she overcame her fears.

Nicky could not have known that some of Brett’s behaviors that all single men engage in would some day consume his life through addiction. She tells of the creeping isolation, and her efforts to seek help. As the addiction escalates Emms chronicles the steps and denial of Brett’s descent into his own empty world.

Brett’s love of his family is clear to the reader. I found myself rooting for Brett each time he told Nicky that he would change. I applauded his efforts to reach out to his wife and family while still in the grips of something stronger than himself.

Emms tells the story almost like a mystery leaving the reader trying to guess what will happen next. Will the loving husband defeat his addiction?

The big thing I learned from the story is to never judge others. We just don’t know what goes on in private lives and all sorts of addictions are so common. We don’t know why someone may quit a good job or leave the perfect spouse.

I highly recommend this book, especially for those who may be living in relationship where addiction is destroying a loved one.
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on May 18, 2015
A thought provoking book and an enjoyable (if a bit sad) read.

The way the lives of Nicky and Brett change from fairytale wedding/relationship to emotional torture through his addiction to pornography is really interesting but also a little depressing. (as it really would be) I loved the way the author pulled the reader into the story with a false sense of security when looking at all the photographs. It was a really nice touch that contrasted so well with what was actually happening in the character's lives.

The emotional turmoil was brilliantly described and the differences in what you see and what you know about a relationship are so poignant that I felt touched by all the pain and deceit involved.

I was so involved in the addiction side to this story and how Brett tried to turn things around and blame Nicky for his actions. It was just like knowing an alcoholic or a gambling addict. (Subjects that, sadly, I know a little more about) and even though this book was about porn addiction I could relate easily to how Nicky acted and reacted.

A thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable read.
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