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September Songs: The Good News About Marriage in the Later Years Hardcover – September 4, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In this well-researched and eminently readable study, journalist Scarf (Intimate Partners) plunges into the lives of married people between the ages of 50 and 75, inquiring how their partnerships have changed, been renegotiated, reframed and refreshed as increased longevity has added up to three decades to the span of an average marriage. Conducting in-depth interviews with seven couples, the author poses perceptive and challenging questions to her subjects, asking how they have weathered difficulties, affairs, health problems, how they have disappointed or surprised each other over time and what are the major sexual issues that emerge at this time of life. The results, though hardly surprising (financial worries, lack of sexual desire and compromise are all recurring themes), are nonetheless stimulating, not least because these couples are so open, a testament to Scarf's skills as an interviewer. Her case studies are interspersed with chunks of data and interpretations that lend welcome empirical backup to her claims and add authority to this fascinating overview of an unexplored topic that should appeal to couples of all ages. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"[An] engrossing investigation into enduring marriage...unexpectedly candid"
-The New York Times Book Review
"Scarf is good...a probing but tactful questioner, an active listener, and even, on occasion, a quasi-therapist."
-The Washington Post
"A journalistic book...the clearest message, both from the research and the couples, is upbeat."
"Scarf wonderfully captures those insights that give meaning and joy to life even as the clock ticks."
-Jerome Groopman, M.D., author of How Doctors Think
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Top customer reviews
Of course we can't know how objective she was, and maybe she would have had trouble finding a publisher for a book that just said we get more miserable as we get older. Suicide rates go up, especially for old white guys, although there is evidence that women suffer less depression.
I think this will be of interest to older married couples. For professionals in the field of geriatric mental health it is lacking in scientific rigor. The writing is clear but klunky; full of adverbs and phrases such as "both members of the pair nodded in energetic agreement."
The "bonus years" are the 50s, 60s, and 70s. These are the thirty years added to our average lifetime since 1900. The author describes the "U Shaped Curve" which refers to our level of excitement about marriage: The left side of the U represents the initial passion and the bottom of the U describes the difficulties of the responsibilities and of all the miscommunications caused by our lack of time and energy. The right side of the U was missing altogether before 1900 because we died too young. Now we have the opportunity to understand more about our spouse as we live the bonus years.
Other books I enjoy about the general topics covered in "September Songs" are:
1. "The Longevity Revolution", By Robert Butler. This is a comprehensive study about "The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Longer Life".
2. "Happiness is a Serious Problem", by Dennis Prager. This book provides guidelines for choosing how to live a happy, meaningful, life.
That's why September Songs is a must-read book. Maggie Scarf does an excellent job of talking with long-term married couples, who confirm that marriage does not have to be perfect to become permanent. As you read the interviews, you'll feel that you are having a personal visit with each couple. Equally as important, you'll discover that the marriage problems you have faced, are facing now, and will face are not unique. And you'll discover workable solutions.
One great contribution of the book is the discussion about divorce, often viewed as a sure step toward happiness for fighting couples. Studies of divorced couples five years later show that the serenity they envisioned has been evasive.
Not only is September Songs a fit for married couples, young people considering marriage will benefit as well.
The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication-change Your Life!
Author Maggie Scarf has written a wonderful treatise on fulfillment in marriage, and shows us how you get there: going through hard times, and moving forward with courage and commitment to a better tomorrow.
There's nothing simplistic here, no formula, no program. Instead, there's the sage advice of 'the greatest generation' and others --- showing us the virtue and value of keeping your promises and staying together.
A great gift for a wedding or anniversary --- and a great read for yourself.
Dr. David & Lisa Frisbie
The Center for Marriage & Family Studies
Del Mar, California
Authors of ten books, including: The Soul-Mate Marriage: The Spiritual Journey of Becoming One