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Toward Commitment: A Dialogue About Marriage Hardcover – September 24, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
The Rehms met in 1958, when Diane had been married and divorced once and John had had "scant experience with women." They married a year later, and that they are still happily married poses the inevitable question, "How did you do it?" In an unusual format of essays and dialogues, they offer their response "in the belief that an honest account of a marriage of more than forty years may encourage other marriages and comparable relationships not only to endure, but to flourish." Diane has been a well-known radio talk-show host for more than 20 years, and except for her highly successful career (which did not begin until their daughter was at boarding school and their son was working abroad), theirs has been a traditional marriage for their generation. John, an attorney first in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and then in private practice, attended more to his career than his family for many years, and the authors discuss this and other common marital issues, in alternating voices. Each chapter covers a single topic, including expectations, anger, sex, solitude, money, careers, religion, parenting, friends, in-laws, retirement, illness and aging. Focusing solely on their own personal experience restricts the amount of knowledge they have to offer on some subjects, while in other cases they speak generally rather than providing detailed real-life anecdotes (perhaps the fault of the dialogue format). Blaming the difficulties in their marriage on ignorance of themselves and each other, they recommend individual therapy, premarital counseling, couples counseling and thoughtful discussions of both marital issues and childhood experiences affecting assumptions and behaviors within the marriage. Insufficient as either a marriage manual or revelatory memoir, this "dialogue" offers useful, if limited, relationship advice from a seasoned married couple.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
John B. Rehm is a retired attorney, while radio personality Diane Rehm authored Finding My Voice. Together they have been working at their marriage long enough (43 years!) to make it look easy. Like everyone, they started out "with gross ignorance" of themselves and each other. Through devoted, sometimes dogged commitment to each other, they found that "marriage-or any long-term relationship-is a never-ending process of exploration and growth." The reader becomes a fly on the wall during the couple's discussions of some 25 topics (e.g., food, sex, commitment) in individual and then mutual conversation. These transcriptions tastefully make public the very private and often profound musings, reflections, and wisdom of two intelligent people who have been through life and now know something about it. Readers should listen up-they just might learn something. While the Rehms chose the straight and narrow, Robinson (Star Country) and Shaw walked the razor's edge. Two former alcoholics (now in recovery and in their sixties), they here describe their courtship and chronicle their misspent pasts in lurid detail. The authors alternate first-person narrative, a method that quickly becomes tiresome and confusing, and their pompous, self-important tone doesn't hide their obvious desperation. This offers zero how-to advice and is a bit too confessional in nature. Both books present the very personal side of the individual/couple dynamic as examined in self-help books like Martha Baldwin Beveridge's Loving Your Partner Without Losing Your Self. Of course, marriage doesn't universally equate to happiness and success, as Xavier F. Amador reminds us in Being Single in a Couple's World. Also consider Laura Davis's I Thought We'd Never Speak Again for a concerned, optimistic take on reconciliation. Toward Commitment is recommended, while Falling in Love is not.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.