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The Marriage Benefit: The Surprising Rewards of Staying Together Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 21, 2008

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'Combines wisdom with practical suggestions, humor with insight, experience with fresh idea. O'Connell shows us a way of looking at marriage that instill joy and enthusiams, whle subduing the nagging doubts marriage so often secretly spawns.' - Edward Hallowell, MD, bestselling author of DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION 'Both robustly clinical and intensely personal. Dr. O'Connell's patients speak about their pain and about their dilemmas. Their therapist helps them to see what has ripened between them and what has withered, what can be altered and what can be nurtured. He tells us what staying the course with another has to offer and how it promotes optimal devlopment.' - Jim Herzog, author of FATHER HUNGER

About the Author

Mark O'Connell has 25 years of experience working in intensive psychotherapies with men, women, couples, and teenagers. He teaches at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital. He is the author of The Good Father and appears regularly on the Fox New England network. He has also appeared on NPR and other radio programs

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Springboard Press (July 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616794801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616794804
  • ASIN: B0036DE5B8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,540,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. One of my favorite pieces of advice is "celebrate your differences." To me, this was a real mind opener: you don't have to turn him/her into a clone of yourself; differences are okay and even enriching; improving a bad pattern is more a matter of modeling something better than trying to change your partner. Another great recommendation is "have real sex"--messy, funny, human sex that's a piece of the conversation rather than some specialized performance or ritual. O'Connell's stories of people's most intimate moments are a great antidote to the airbrushed images we see all the time, where everybody's young and a sexual athlete. The idea that we can grow older and still be on an adventure, still play and learn and discover new things, all inside our long-term marriages, is happy news for baby boomers. And we get great stories of real people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, involved in real struggles, who find real solutions and joy while staying together. This book is a must-read for anyone working on the most important relationship they will ever have.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Observer on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
At a time when divorce seems to be a popular option to solving marriage difficulties, along comes this crazy shrink with the audacious notion that people might consider investing in their marriage, that significant personal growth can be accomplished through long lasting and committed relationships, and, well, you get the idea. You know what they say. Shrinks are the craziest of all.

Ok. I have to be honest. I was prepared to be preached to...and I was expecting to dislike this book. Instead, I loved it.

First, I respect and share the author's point view that "We live in a culture that promises us Teflon-smooth lives lived with a minimum of hardship and a maximum of gratification." Of course things never go this way and when the inevitable happens who do we blame? "Everyone is a possible target, but perhaps the closest and easiest bull's-eye can be found stitched onto the backs of our intimate partners." And all this, of course, creates a major obstacle to both personal and relationship growth. So the author provides us with some cogent insight on coping with this pervasive characteristic of our somewhat decadent culture.

Second, he has provided his insight not by preaching or lecturing but by artfully allowing the reader to experience (eavesdrop on?) the challenges and traumas of his (fictional) patients. He used a similar approach in his other book, The Good Father, but I felt the technique was even more effective this time around. The "characters," fictional couples that I presume are an amalgamation of his own experience, are all grappling with some form of marital challenge that is directly related to the point of that chapter. The characters are arresting and vivid.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By no name on August 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
this is a fine book and a good read. the author is clinically savvy and writes beautifully. Not only does he make a compelling case for the ripening of a relationship and the accompanying relational and erotic unfolding, but he also introduces reality into that most complex of phenomena--marriage
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By Gwendally on October 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I really liked this book. In fact, the sub-title was right, it did surprise me. The author is kind, smart, articulate and experienced. The blurb bio says he's got twenty-five years of experience and works as an instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical. Yeah, that rings true.

I thought it would be a sermon on the virtues of marriage, perhaps talk about economic impact or something. I was half right. It is set up sort of like a series of sermons, but the best sort: the ones where a virtue is discussed in ways that illuminate how you can personally practice that virtue. It had illustrations from case studies, for example, of people struggling with the same issues. There is very little in there about why you OUGHT to stay married. It's basically about how to be a happier person (whether you stay married, or not, but bascially he feels that sticking with the person who knows you best is a good plan.)

The basic format is to practice eight resolutions to improve your marriage. The first four he calls "shared necessities". There is a chapter (sermon?) on each of them:
Embrace a longer-lasting vision of love
Celebrate your differences
Have real sex
Find liberation through commitment

Then he has four more resolutions he calls "shared choices":
Believe in something more important than yourselves
Give up your habits and addictions
Forgive and give thanks

I read it by myself and didn't have any special need to discuss it with my husband. Nothing in it requires that you both practice these virtues, although it's always nice if you happen to be married to a virtuous person.

By the way, it's me that put the spin of "virtue" and "sermon" on it. It's neither religious nor judgmental. It's just a vocabulary that makes sense to me.
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By Laura Weakley on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have long been aware of research concerning the benefit of being married, vs being single. The way this book was written, however gave me even more appreciation of marriage, which I believe was the goal. We live in a time of throw-away vows, and subsequently marriages (not for the reason of escaping abusive situations, although I applaud those who do indeed divorce for this reason) are more easily abandoned for the reason of someone better, cuter, younger, etc., coming along.

Vows are sacred promises which, the way society casually treats them today, like they are little more then promises with fingers crossed. When two people unite in marriage, they have promised each other, G-d, their communities, etc., to do all they can to sanctify the institution of marriage. This book doesn't preach nor ignore reality which is commendable and makes it an enjoyable read. It is a feel good book without trying too hard to be that way!

This book treats the subject of marriage, not only with the respect it so richly deserves, but also brings home the fact that time and experiences affect marriage, and with help we can get through these periods and rediscover the love which brought us together in the first place. I was very happy to read a book which extols the benefits of marriage, while at the same time recognizing the fact that the two people who took the vows of marriage don't live a fairy tale life happily ever after. The reality is there are going to be problems. But as this book points out, working together a couple can come through these problems stronger and more in love with each other. Expecting perfection of someone is naive. Love, however is forever when it is real and is worth fighting for because the benefits are wonderful!
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