The New “I Do” is about “Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists, and Rebels.” This category probably includes the vast majority of divorced people such as the authors, Susan Pease Gadoua and Vicki Larson; myself; and my husband. From that vantage point, I heartily recommend reading this book for anyone who is currently single, dating, or engaged. It’s also great fun for a happily married person. I came away both validated and regretful that I hadn’t read a book like this before I met my first husband. Communicating honestly and being willing to modify a customized marriage would save a lot of heartbreak and prevent a lot of divorce.
You don’t marry a person. You marry that person, their entire past, their entire family, their children, their pets, their possessions, their debt, their habits, their values, and their plans for the future. You’re also marrying their attitudes about marriage, both overt and subconscious. The reverse is also true. You’re bringing your own stuff to the table, both good and ill, both what you put up on the board and what you try to kick underneath. I believe that this, my second marriage, works because we already knew at least 80% of each other’s baggage before we even started dating. We also spent about a year talking out what our relationship would be like if we upgraded. Now we’ve been together for eleven years, married for eight, and our relationship is more or less hassle-free.
One of our most romantic nights was the night he brought over all his financial information and asked to see mine. We still have the sheet of paper we used to write out our financial goals for the next ten years. That was a few months before he proposed. It’s one thing for someone to pull out a ring and say, “I love you.” It’s something else entirely for someone to expose his financial assets after already having paid out several years of alimony and child support to someone else.
This is the sort of frank, pragmatic discussion that The New “I Do” advises. The book outlines several varieties of non-traditional marriage, each of which would require significant honesty and open communication from both parties. It would be hard to say which would be the most controversial. An official starter marriage, with a set end date and a promise not to have children! (Been there, did that, kinda). A companionship marriage for a couple who aren’t a romantic couple. A parenting marriage, designed to last only long enough to raise the kids to adulthood. A distance marriage known as “living alone together.” A covenant marriage, one where you can’t divorce without waiting for two years unless you can prove fault. A “safety” marriage, aka gold-digger plus sugar daddy (or mama). An open marriage. There’s even a chapter on pre-nuptial agreements for each type.
What if you live so long that you wind up being married for a hundred years? This is the kind of risk you run into when you put the ring on. Better be sure what you’re getting yourself into. If it’s the right person, it will still be the right person five years from now... or will it? Marriage done right is one of the best things ever. Marriage to the wrong person for the wrong reasons is a living hell. A little skepticism, a little rebellion, and certainly a little realism is the real romance. Ask enough questions that you know you’re marrying a real human being and that the marriage you create is one that suits all parties concerned.
“A wife or a husband is expected to be soul mate, lover, best friend, co-parent, great communicator, romantic, intellectual, and professional equal, companion, and financial partner, and also provide happiness, fulfillment, financial stability, intimacy, social status, fidelity . . . well, you get the idea.”
“Where there’s sex, there’s infidelity; will the next spike in divorce be over robot-human trysts?”
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.
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