For those contemplating marriage or other committed, exclusive relationship, I highly recommend Judith Viorst's book, "Grown-Up Marriage: What We Know, Wish We Had Known, and Still Need to Know About Being Married". Editorial Reviews Amazon.com In Grown-Up Marriage, bestselling author Judith Viorst uses her abundant gifts to consider how marriage pulls, cajoles, and commands us to grow up. By viewing marriage "as a problem we have to solve again and again," Viorst offers a fresh view of both the mirages of marriage and how readers can adjust their expectations to create an enduring state of the union. Complacency, warns Viorst, is the bind that unties. "If we imagine that marriage is where we can burp, *****, snicker and snipe day after day without paying a price, we are wrong." She crafts a smart synthesis of decades of psychological research, case studies, and examples drawn from popular culture. Viorst rounds up the usual suspects--the routines that kill marriage, the outlaw in-laws, the mommy-daddy trap--and the unusual ones, including marital sibling rivalry and why second marriages often fail. Each subject is illuminated with nuanced, mirthful details about creating a mature marriage. Her insights are sometimes diluted with too many expert quotes or her own poetry. Still, her shrewd observations will make this book required reading before your next anniversary. From Publishers Weekly Viorst's comprehensive exploration of all things nuptial should be required reading for any betrothed who don't have a plainspeaking veteran to give them the lowdown on what happens when the honeymoon is over. Some of her topics-sex, in-laws, fighting-are standard fare for a book like this. Others, such as a look at the ho-hum ordinariness of daily married life and an overview of how kids change a couple, are more renegade in their honesty and clearly the product of Viorst's own 42 years of married wisdom. For example, how many matrimonial neophytes are truly honest about feeling competitive with their mates? "Such competition [doesn't] necessarily happen only in troubled marriages," writes Viorst. "Just as brothers and sisters vie with each other to be their parents' best-loved child, so may husbands and wives-in their wish to be best or first or most-engage in a marital version of sibling rivalry." Readers should be warned that the author is, in some ways, a product of her generation. It's not hard to detect Viorst's disdain for newfangled practices like living together before marriage and attachment parenting, but for the most part she presents an evenhanded picture of the choices modern couples face. From the introduction (I have exchange 1st and 2nd person plural pronouns ('we', 'us') with 'one'. Although marriage is for grown-ups, very few of us are grown up when we marry. Growing up takes time, perhaps a whole lifetime, and getting there -- if one gets there at all -- is hard. But marriage, which can be the most vexatious of human relationships, can also be the engine of one's growth. For in making some sort of peace with the disenchantments, demands, and astonishing complexities of ordinary everyday [i.e. mundane] married life, one can create -- a grown-up marriage. In a grown-up marriage one understands that one is not, and should noy be, the other's teacher, parent, editor, supervisor, or home-improvement project. A grown-up marriage allows one to find a balance between autonomy and connection. In a grown-up marriage on gradually acquires a rueful tolerance of the other's limitations and imperfections. I a grown-up marriage, one does not keep score -- or at least not out loud. I a grown-up marriage, one recognizes that one does not always have to be in love with the other. In fact, one is well aware that one cannot be in love with the other. But a grown-up marriage enables one, when one falls out of love with the other, to stick around until one falls back in. A grown-up marriage involves a tricky [challenging and delicate] combination of honest and polite. In a grown-up marriage, one is able to apologize when one is wrong and not gloat when one is right. One can accept an apology that falls short of total abasement, but not too short. In a grown-up marriage, the laughter exceeds the regret. In a grown-up marriage, one learns to forgive and forget - well maybe not forget. In a grown-up marriage, one knows how to communicate with the other and knows when the best thing to do is be quiet. In a grown-up marriage, one realizes that marriage will not give one an identity, or keep one safe from the sorrows and pain of life, or even protect one forever after lonliness. Viort's book is about the possibilities and difficulties of being truly and well and enduringly wed - or committed to an exclusive relationship. Contents 1. Why We Get Married The dread [or emptiness] of lonliness is greater than the fear of bondage, so we get married. - Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave 2. The First Shocks of Marriage 3. Marriage and Families 4. How Kids Change the Couple 5. Ordinary Everyday Married Life 6. Marital Sibling Rivalry 7. Married Sex 8. Making War, Making Up, Making Do 9. The Divorce Option 10. Marrying Again 11. Growing Old Together 12. Staying Married Marriage is an equal equity partnership - one does not surrender oneself to the other - but together each partner evolves and grows individually.