This book deserves to be considered a classic among marriage manuals. Karl Pillemer interviewed a diverse group of hundreds of senior citizens to ask what advice they would give to younger people about marriage and romance. Some of the advice is about what not to do, or what unhappily married people wished they had done differently. Most of the advice, though, can’t help but give a warm, snuggly feeling about growing old with that special someone.
One of the most interesting things about Pillemer’s research was that there were couples who were unhappy together for many years, only to find each other somehow and build a happy relationship in spite of their past. It seems that with long-term relationships, it’s part choice of partner and part attitude. Often, that transition from annoyance to love comes when one partner chooses to drop a resentment.
The thing about marriage manuals is that people wait to read them until they have a problem. I see them as entertainment. Most of the case histories are baffling. How can two people who loved each other enough to get married let themselves irritate each other so much? How can we let ourselves get so sloppy that we are just mean to each other? Generally, when I read a marriage book, I’ll find a story to share with my husband, and we both stare at each other incredulously. You guys got together on purpose, right? Have you tried talking to each other? Respectfully?
My husband and I both have parents who are still married and have never been married to anyone but each other. Although he and I have both been bitterly divorced, this family history is part of why we believe in marriage. Statistically, remarriage is a very poor gamble. We like each other, though. We talked openly about what didn’t work in our prior marriages. We shared our philosophical positions on sharing a home, a life, and a bank account. We met in the workplace, so that helps us to be businesslike about practical matters. Why fight about something when you can simply make a policy to address it?
We went through a few relationship books before we got married. It was interesting, and it helped us to iron out our ideas about what we both wanted in our life together. Now that I know about 30 Lessons for Loving, I would have been pleased to add it to that stack.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.