By Linda Franklin – The Real Cougar Woman
Iris Krasnow is a bestselling author and an assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University. For the past two years she has interviewed 200 wives who reflect on — or moan about — how they are managing to stick it out in long marriages. Scenes from their relationships range from 15 to 70 years are woven together in her new book, The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married coming out in early October.
Iris has married for 23 years and with her husband raised four sons. She freely admits there has been plenty of rocking and rolling in their relationship. From her experiences, and from all of our experieces, she is constantly reminded of the eggshell-thin line that separates loving from loathing. I know that staying married can mean plates flying across kitchens, tears soaking pillows and emailing old boyfriends at 3 a.m.
Iris admits she thought nothing could shock her about what really goes on behind closed doors between two people working hard to make it “til death do us part” — without killing someone first. After all, she’s heard every brand of twisted love story — swinging, adultery, spouses coming out as gay after 30 years together, threesomes, fist fights in restaurants, even the tale of a husband discovered to be having sex with a sheep, documented in a photograph discovered by his wife in his nightstand drawer.
But in piecing together her latest book she has surprised at some of the revelations. Her biggest shock is how many outwardly cheerful women who have been married forever think about divorce if not weekly, at least once a month.
How’s this for a statistic? Of the 200 plus women interviewed and woven into The Secret Lives of Wives, Iris can count on one hand those who have never considered splitting up. The biggest shocker is the number of wives in stable unions who frequently contemplate fleeing their marriages. These are not abused wives; they are women with nice husbands who give them orgasms and jewelry and stability. Yet many of these settled midlife women admitted they were slightly jealous of Tipper Gore who gets to have a fresh start after 40 years of matrimony with the same guy. While many speculated about whether one of the Gores fell in love with someone else, my instincts without talking to either of them is that perhaps they are a lot like other couples portrayed in the book. Maybe they were simply sick of being around each other. And maybe one or both of them finally couldn’t take it any more.
Who stays married and who doesn’t is a question not always about commitment or deep abiding love — it’s about endurance.
Wives who remain in long running marriages that the majority of them share these common traits: They have the guts and determination to stick it out, no matter what. And their laments about their marriages aren’t because of anything serious. It’s the subtle nuances of living with one person in one house for a very long time that grates at the soul, that causes a simmering malaise. It’s the grind of the ordinary that drives people into thinking, “Is this all there is? I want more. I want adventure. I want change.”
Who wouldn’t want changes with the current statistics on lifespan? Women in their 80s and 90s are the fastest growing segment of the aging population which means that many of us wives could easily hit our 50th wedding anniversaries and beyond. That’s a hell of a long time to sustain one love affair, particularly when empty nest hits and it’s only you and the husband with no cushion of kids as a buffer.
There are three strategies that have worked the best with the women I interviewed. The happiest wives have a sense of purpose and passion in work and causes outside of the home. Wives who counted on a spouse for fulfillment and sustenance were often angry and lonely. And the happiest wives don’t spend a whole lot of time with their husbands.
Finally, the wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent about their husbands.
The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest