Customer Reviews: Marriage Shock: The Transformation of Women into Wives
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on March 26, 2001
This book provided what eluded me for decades - what turns capable vibrant independent women into Barbies, into Stepford Wives. I stumbled across it in my mid-thirties, great job, great income, feeling strong about myself and my abilities in the wake of a difficult divorce - I had remarried - to someone diametrically opposed in every way to the first hubby - and WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? I'm cooking dinner every night, watering all his houseplants, clucking about dustballs and forgoing bike rides and gym visits and nights out with pals to stay in and WHAT? sew curtains???
It wasn't due to husband demands, nor did I have Donna Reed as a mom, - I needed an explanation as to why I was so hellbent on being The Wife - and this book provided an answer. Ms. Heyn's use of interviews and anecdote show how cultural influences permeat our lives, their power rivalling the more direct influences of family and spouse. The accompanying historical evidences were factual and interesting to read. I am amazed that this book has not gained more of a following, as its simple message can be a boon to those newly married, wondering Is this all there is? or What was I thinking?
Ms. Heyn has seen the enemy, and shows it to us in a way that allows us to beat it.
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on June 21, 1997
This important, quietly subversive book suggests that the only way we can save marriage is by radically overhauling it -- so it has room for real, live, whole women. If you've ever wondered why you (or your wife) felt flat, gray and depressed in the first, supposedly blissful year of marriage, or why over 60 percent of American marriages end in divorce, two-thirds of them instigated by women, you've got to read this book -- it's an eye-opener. Yet it is not even remotely anti-male, or even anti-marriage. Rather, it unmasks a couple of fictional cultural characters -- the preachy Witness and the impossibly Good Wife -- who possess us like dybbuks at the altar. This book is a veritable exorcism that can give you back the self you lost and the lover you married
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on February 13, 1997
I recently had the opportunity to read "Marriage Shock" & was absolutely riveted by this insightful treatise on what happens to women's identities after marriage. The book made me aware of a psychological phenomena peculiar to married women in which I have unwittingly participated for the last 14 years. What an eye-opener! Ms. Heyn's theory that married women subconsciouly & automatically, "edit" their behavior from their prior, single lives in order to conform to the role of "the good wife" is demonstrated by the fascinating, often quirky examples provided by the women who were the subjects of her interviews. The author's personal and refreshingly expressive style is just great. The reader can almost hear Ms. Heyn's voice as she reasons her way through some of the most engaging subject matter recently presented in print. This is a serious book, not a piece of Self-Help How-To fluff. Ms. Heyn is no Martha Stewart, and some of what you read may take you aback, but I think that you will be unable to put this book down. Any thinking woman who doesn't see a little of herself and every married woman she knows in "Marriage Shock" is not looking hard enough
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on March 15, 2000
Heyn's premise, that women lose the zip and tang of their unique personalities upon marrying, is right on target. This is not a "man-bashing" book. Its focus is primarily on women, not on their husbands. When I read her description of what Heyn calls "the witness," I immediately recognized and understood exactly to what she was referring. It was such a relief to realize that I am absolutely normal (in that respect at least) and that my discomfort in marriage is not something that has to be forever endured, nor that it is my fault, nor is it my husband's fault. Most women who have any sense or sensibility apparantly feel much the same as I do: suffocated by wifery.
My gripe about the book is this: minimal hard data. Due to contemplation of my own marital experience, I had little difficulty accepting much of what Heyn hypothesizes. There are those, however, who maintain that, if a woman is unhappy in her marriage, it's because she's somehow unfit. Perhaps her unhappiness is due to a fault: she is selfish, greedy, lazy, stupid, crazy, poorly bred, too unlike a man, etc... Heyn's heavy reliance on anecdotal evidence to prove her point won't do much to convince those who deny that a "good" woman married to a decent man can be unhappy in her marriage.
In addition, after reading the material describing the harm the witness causes a marrige, I was very disappointed to find but one chapter devoted to resolving this problem. Too many chapters are wasted on explaining the witness phenomenon, and not enough information is provided to help the reader to disable the "witness." But, as an introduction to the subject, I would definitely recommend this book. I, for one, am grateful that Ms. Heyn chose to share her insight on the prickly conundrum that is marriage.
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on May 11, 1998
This should be required reading for any woman of any age who is contemplating marriage. The author defines the social dictates that are so pervasive in our society and how they can influence women to assume stereotypical characteristics of a "wife" while sacrificing their autonomy and sense of self.
Both the evolution of the historical definition of "wife" and the way those values continue to be transmitted are examined, as well as the devastating effect this transformation has on both the individual and the marriage.
If nothing else, read this to be forewarned of the pitfalls that lie ahead and to understand the preconceptions that might influence a woman's behaviour in marriage.
The book is a lot cheaper than a divorce.
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on March 12, 2014
Every woman married, about to be married, or thinking about marriage.....or divorced should read this book. You know what they say, "forewarned is forearmed." It doesn't mean you don't love him and want to marry, it just means you need to know why and how all of us give away ourselves when we say those two little words, "I do." This is a smart, fair and necessary book and I think men should read it too. I reviewed the audio because I got that first and then I ordered this paper copy. I also recommend her next book: DRAMA KINGS: the men that drive strong women crazy.
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on February 2, 1999
This book is absolutely revolutionary. Divorce statistics and the health statistics of married women ar scary, but they need not be if women will read this book! Dalma Heyn has put into writing what most women are thinking and feeling but afraid to talk about. Now we have a chance to understand that we should remain ourselves and dodge the stereotypes of "wives" if we want to keep our marriage alive. For centuries we have been told to do it wrong thus setting the divorce statistics at an all time high and women's self esteem at an all time low. A must read for women of all ages and all marital statuses.
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on December 31, 2012
A life changing book. I read it the week after I got married. It blew my mind and changed my entire thought process about my new relationship. Unfortunately, it helped me realize the bad thought patterns and habits I was already falling into, and I became really disappointed in myself. It has been hard to change my "transformation," but at least I am conscious of the thought process and can hopefully overcome it in time.

This book is for smart, independent, motivated women. It essentially argues that upon marriage (even if the couple has already been living together for years), a wedding makes a switch go on in the modern woman's brain that makes her measure herself against the 19th century ideal "wife." It is so automatic that you don't even realize you've done it. And because society praises the self-sacrifice and backing down for the sake of "compromise," you actually feel *bad* when you act like the assertive, strong woman you used to be. The qualities that society subtly pressures you to aim for undermine your sense of self and is an unattainable ideal that you can never reach. Thus, guilt, lowered self-esteem, feeling like a different person, feeling like you have to make all the sacrifices, and other negative thought patterns.
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on October 27, 2013
I'm not going to say I have everything figured out.
The other doesn't purport that she had all the answers either.

Personally, I found that pretty cool.
I had done all the pre-marital couples classes, read the books, dated a lot before 'settling down', and ... was still ... somehow ... shocked by this overwhelming urge to learn how to use a crock-pot .

Why did that happen?

Apparently there is at least one more person in the world who went thru that. So - even though it's still a bizarre concept of kookiness. I'm glad I read the book. Misery loves company, no? And - there was a time I was confusedly miserable and the book was pretty helpful.
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on July 12, 2015
You complete me. Happily ever after. Many of us buy into the pinnacle of what the ultimate commitment is about – marriage. If we can experience culture shock when we travel or relocate, how about marriage shock?

I seem to have stumbled upon this book at the National Library – resorting to reading relationship books due to the dire lack of sex books. This is not a new book. Published in 1997, Marriage Shock questions what happens to the fun-loving, passionate single gal upon marriage. This woman transforms or is reduced to the status as a wife–a woman who unconsciously represses her own needs, wants, and vitality “for the sake of the marriage.” It explores the ways in which wives can overcome deeply ingrained social and personal expectations and flourish both as wives and as individuals.

I felt this book really belaboured the point. I was looking for take-aways – what should wives do to get over their shock upon marriage; what could these women do about finding themselves again; and how might their spouse support them? Not much. It’s all in the last chapter. So if you find yourself reacting like I was – nodding your head listlessly at the same points being phrased in different ways throughout the books, rolling your eyes and wondering when there will be any take-aways – you might like to just skip to the last chapter.

I am recommending this book because I actually can see the value in more women understanding what is happening to them upon marriage without even their conscious awareness. Too often, women remain silent, dismiss themselves for fear of rowing the boat and do herself or her relationship no favours at all.

On page 161 of this book, it says:

“It is lies and pretense about our erotic selves that go so deep we no longer notice. Pretense about our pleasure – its intensity, its rthymes, its idiosyncratic sources – is woven into our daily actions and expectations as wives like the threads in a patchword quilt. We lie to ourselves about it as well as to our husbands.

If we understood how dangerous it is to our psyches and our relationships to edit our words, our thoughts, our actions, would we begin telling the truth, piece by piece, thereby, in the words of Rich (Adrienne Rich), “opening the question of other ways of handling our fear”?

If we saw that the real danger in “sheltering” our husbands in the death of pleasure in our relationships with them, would we continue to respond to an ancient voice droning on about false dangers, threatening that we’ll lose it all if we dare to be real.”

So the take-aways by way of what one can do includes:

1) By admitting she (The Witness) exists – “by understanding why she was created, and what and whom she serves”

2) By realising she lives on in us;

3) By speaking the truth of our experience to our husbands and our friends;

4) By bringing our husbands into this experience of marriage shock so they too can watch what happens and how.

The book ends by advising that “women in the most satisfying relationships feel free to expand, want, explore, be themselves, pursue their own stories – and, not surprisingly, they are in the least conventional marriages.”
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