cover image The Nine Phases of Marriage: How to Make It, Break It, Keep It

The Nine Phases of Marriage: How to Make It, Break It, Keep It

Susan Shapiro Barash. Griffin, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-64219-8

Barash (Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships), a gender studies expert at Marymount Manhattan College, explores nine phases married women undergo (ranging from “passionate love” early on to a more practical “companionate love” later in life) and offers a prescription for successfully navigating such hurdles as home and child responsibilities, mothers-in-law, loss of shared goals, infidelity, with “Rx” at the end of each chapter. Testimonials from women (some of them composites) in each phase illustrate the differing viewpoints and ways in which women approach their marriages. While the testimonials liven up Barash’s theories, the book falls short in a few ways. One, the author presupposes that these nine phases represent the true trajectory of marriage as a whole, while her supporting data is hardly conclusive. Second, the examples lack any demographic distinctions such as religion, race, or ethnicity, detracting from the author’s credence. Finally, there are awkward juxtapositions of examples; e.g., the author puts real-life examples alongside movie and television scenarios, celebrities and other famous people, and examples in literature. Barash’s observations may be spot-on, but the lack of cohesiveness and demographic details overshadow an otherwise well-researched topic in women’s studies. Agent: Alice Martell, Martell Agency. (Sept.)