The authors reason that a lot of marriages appear to “fail,” when in fact the relationship is simply asked to carry a larger burden than the couple originally imagined. We do, after all, expect a marriage to be a romance, a business relationship, a sexual odyssey, a unified front of co-parenting, the additional caretaking of parents, children and each other, not to mention the duties house-keeping, companionship, and cheering each other on in career and hobbies. All of that is supposed to effortless.
In this book the authors recognize that couples may marry for a specific reason, or that an existing marriage may have come to an impasse where it makes sense to focus the efforts on a particular area, with more clearly defined obligations and parameters.
Because marriage is essentially a contract, they focus how to make a contract might look for marriages with different intensions.
Each chapter looks at a different primary element of marriage and shows a couple how to approach the relationship with that angle as the primary goal. They begin with the Contract or Starter Marriage. This is a lot like a traditional hand-fasting where a couple draws up an agreement to be married for a period of time – usually a year – and then revisits how it is going on their anniversary.
Other chapters include Companionship Marriage, Parenting Marriage, Long Distance Marriage, Safety or Financial Marriage, Covenant Marriage, and Open Marriage. There is also a chapter on prenuptial agreements, which they recommend no matter what matter what flavor of marriage you choose.
Each chapter ends with bullet point sections - What’s Good About…” “What’s Not so Good About…” “How to Make a …Work” “Is a …Marriage Right for Me?” “Read more” and “Takeaways”
The style is conversational and they quote from experts, other authors and their own research. They talk about how to enter into these kinds of marriage or how to convert the goals and parameters of an existing marriage. They give plenty of examples of how these things are working for other couples, how those couples negotiated them and what the pitfalls have been for them. All but the Covenant Marriage they apply to same sex unions. Because it is a marriage created by deeply conservative and religious people that is currently only legally binding in three states, it does not recognize same sex marriages.
If you are interested in making a more conscious choice or looking to improve or redefine an existing marriage this book is an excellent resource. If you are wondering if marriage is right for you, it may help you find the right fit.