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The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married Hardcover – September 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"At first this book terrified me: another submission and sacrifice marriage manual for wives? Instead Iris Krasnow delivers astonishing candor, realistic compassion, and invaluable wisdom when it comes to how paradoxically infuriating and rewarding long-term marriages can be. The best book on marriage ever." — Leslie Morgan Steiner

“In this breathtaking book The Secret Lives of Wives, Iris Krasnow opens a window into the inner world of women whose unique courage and vision has enabled them to find relationship happiness over the long term. With wit and wisdom, she thoughtfully tells their stories and then fills the reader with brilliant ideas and concepts to apply to their own lives. This is as much of a men’s book as it was written by and for women.”  — Dr. Bill Cloke

“Iris Krasnow has managed to demystify the workings of long-term marriages by confirming the mysterious uniqueness of each one. The secret, she finds, lies in the way two people negotiate their own personal amalgam of companionship and sex, compromise and disappointment, lust and tenderness, trust and lies. The challenge for the rest of us is to do the same.” — Suzanne Braun Levine

“She whips up a spirited, enlightening cocktail of comfort, support and grace. Fulfilling and well-structured.” — Kirkus Reviews

“One of Ten Titles to Pick Up Now. ‘Boyfriends with boundaries,’ separate summers, and other therapeutic strategies for maintaining wedded bliss over the long haul.” — O, The Oprah Magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Iris Krasnow is the author of New York Times bestseller Surrendering to Marriage, as well as Surrendering to Motherhood, Surrendering to Yourself, and I Am My Mother’s Daughter. A longtime journalism professor at American University, she has appeared on numerous national shows, ranging from Oprah and Good Morning America to Today and All Things Considered. She lives in Maryland with her husband and four sons.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; 1 edition (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592406807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592406807
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a book, a marriage manual of sorts by Iris Krasnow, who repeats many times that she both loves and loathes her husband. This is the theme of the writing. It should be reassuring to those who feel a successful marriage never contains these feelings. She is 56 and has been married 23 years.

There is advice from experts, and the author and most of those that are interviewed and the views that marriage is better for all concerned. It is summed up, in many instances, "that you can have an extraordinary life within the framework of an ordinary, even mediocre, marriage." At least one knows in reading this that it is definitely not based on the fairy tale of happily ever after.
Strategies and secrets to keep a marriage going are given and reiterated in the many interviews that are contained in this writing. This can be a revelation to many who read it and a help to many. Some of the interviews can be shocking and eye opening. The basic theme is do not expect your husband to make you happy - it is within yourself.

There is little of the idea that friendship makes for a successful and happy marriage. There seems to be almost no evidence of husbands that help cook and clean... what a saint this rare find must be. It is an idea and solution that is not really brought up. It does seem at times that it rests all upon the woman's shoulders; but that is the concept that is reiterated time and time again that your happiness lies within yourself. It's a good solid idea and this is a book that shows the difference between self-exploration and self-absorption. The warnings are here - of women who now regret and utter that phrase,"if I knew then what I know now".

In total this can be a revelation and a teaching tool for yourself or others who are married or are even aiming in that direction. No matter what, it will make you think and have more of a feeling of what a marriage is and what it takes to keep one going through the years.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Patti on March 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a happily married woman of 35 years, I will agree with Ms. Krasnow about a husband not being totally responsible for one's happiness. However, this book seems more like an excuse for her to justify the lack of emotional intimacy in her own marriage. We keep being reminded of how sexy and handsome her husband is but what is more telling is how he acts, or more precisely, how he doesn't act. I thought the saddest part of the book was Chuck telling Iris to go tell the guy next door about her news that she was going to Vietnam. He didn't want to be disturbed from watching hockey on TV to share in her excitement. She reveals that she's married to a man who basically "wants to be left alone." I'm glad she's made a good life for herself. Ms. Krasnow, you deserve better. If I didn't know better this book would scare me off marriage completely.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book kept my attention and I read it cover to cover, uninterrupted by other books. I love how the author integrated testimonials of women throughout the entire book. These include marriages in which the woman found male platonic relationships to fill in what the husband couldn't provide; one woman in a sexless marriage who found a lover (and her husband turned a blind eye); an arranged marriage that turned into love--but without all the expectations of romance; an interracial marriage in which the woman was cut off from her father (who never even met his grandchildren!); an elderly woman who makes out with her college boyfriend but never has sex with him; and many, many more. I love how the author doesn't pass moral judgment on these alternative lifestyles.

Throughout the book, we get glimpses into the author's own marriage and its ups and downs. Spoiler alert: Her husband even takes a trip to Israel, which she thinks is a business journey, and surprises her by converting to her religion of Judaism!

There is even a chapter on how women cope with the empty nest syndrome, one on what makes marriage last, and one on elderly women, many of who rediscover sex through vibrators!

I found the advice in this book very inspiring. Bottom line: don't rely on your husband for all your inspiration, excitement, or even finances. It underscores the idea that you have to have your own life and not have the Hollywood expectations of enduring romance, or fairy tale expectations of a prince rescuing you from a dreary life.

In our day of divorce this book brings a timely message: don't leave your man just because he's imperfect (with the exception of abuse) thinking the grass will be greener with a new man, unbruised by a relationship history.
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71 of 93 people found the following review helpful By booklover on October 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The description mentions "bold, sometimes secretive and shocking choices on how to keep their marital vows, "till death do us part," as Krasnow says, "without killing someone first." But "till death do us part" is not the only vow you make. You also swear to forsake all others, in good times and bad, and to "honor" them all your days. It doesn't mention picking and choosing the parts you'd like to keep.

While some advice is not bad -- not expecting someone else to fulfill you, finding outside interests -- this book glorifies and glamorizes extremely selfish and destructive behavior -- the selfish cheaters and liars who, rather than "save the marriage" by cheating, merely keep the charade of a marriage going, presumably for their own financial benefit. Borderline cheating is also not okay, as it violates the part about honoring your spouse, and is conducted with secrecy. If you do anything that you wouldn't want your spouse knowing about, there's a good chance it is wrong. The suggestion of potentially destroying your spouse and your family for 'thrills', to 'find yourself' etc etc is bordering on sociopathic.

This is terrible advice, and this book is full of it. Here's better advice: Stop being selfish and egotistical, learn to both give and receive love, don't be afraid of true intimacy, and make sacrifices for the good of your family. If you aren't ready for that, you are better of single.

And many of the stories read like people who want to have both the comfort and financial stability of marriage to some sucker, and the thrills and ego-boosts of singlehood. This is called having your cake and eating it. Or, being a terrible human being.
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