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Books About Marriage: Marriage Shock : The Transformation of Women Into Wives

  • , by Candy Cake
  • 5 min reading time

Be prepared for marriage by learning the ins and outs of marital dynamics with a book meant for the newlywed wife, the bride to be and women married for many years, Marriage Shock : The Transformation of Women Into Wives.  

A month of our favorite BOOKS ABOUT MARRIAGE, this book is on our top 10 list for so many reasons! 
Title: Marriage Shock : The Transformation of Women Into Wives
Author: Cheryl Jarvis

Be prepared for marriage by learning the ins and outs of marital dynamics with a book meant for the newlywed wife, the bride to be and women married for many years, Marriage Shock : The Transformation of Women Into Wives.


The Marriage Sabbatical: The Journey That Brings You Home

"With American women initiating two thirds of all divorces, the controversial, bestselling author of The Erotic Silence of the American Wife explores why the institution of marriage is failing them and what can be done. Marriage Shock will promote a vigorous debate over how husbands and wives can reinvent our most rigid institution so that both spouses will have marriages in which they can thrive."


Library Journal Review 
"The divorce rate is so high, Heyn contends, because newly married women are gripped by the vision of the self-sacrificing Victorian "angel of the house," suppressing their true personalities and needs not at the instigation of their husbands but in homage to this outmoded ideal.

Aside from the fact that nothing but anecdotal evidence is offered to support this contention, the book's problem is that this is basically all it says; thus, it seems tedious though it is short. Many feminist authors, from Virginia Woolf to Carol Gilligan, have discussed the same issue in a broader context.

Since the author's previous book (The Erotic Silence of the American Wife, LJ 6/15/92) was successful, public libraries may need to purchase for demand; otherwise, this title can be skipped. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/96.]‘Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Publishers Weekly Review Editor and writer Heyn (The Erotic Silence of the American Wife) advocates here a radical transformation of marriage to save the institution.

She presents convincing anecdotal evidence, based on interviews with young wives, that modern women are still victimized by the 17th-century ideal of a "good wife," who not only is responsible for the success of the marital union but also must give up her own ideas, pleasures and pastimes to achieve harmony with her husband. The author presents an interesting historical overview of the good wife, who, according to Heyn, was exemplified in 17th- and 18th-century books of conduct for wives, some of which she quotes from. Heyn advises women to support one another and to maintain their own identities after marrying, rather than compromising themselves within marriage as a way of avoiding divorce. Readers should note that Heyn's advice is directed only to middle-class women‘the group on which her study is based. Advertising; author tour. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Kirkus Review A fervent but unconvincing argument that marriage as we know it is bad for women.

A logical extension of Heyn's The Erotic Silence of the American Wife (1992), which looked at female adultery, this work is also based largely on anecdotal evidence. A longtime editor and writer for women's magazines (McCall's, Mademoiselle, Self), Heyn draws on a nonscientific sampling of letters and survey responses from readers of McCall's and New Woman as well as interviews with these and other mostly middle-class women.

Her thesis is that when they marry, women give up most of what they enjoy about themselves in favor of a more conventional and proper version of themselves. The dutiful and good wife they aspire to be, she claims, is a middle-class invention first described fully in conduct books of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Marriage shock, says Heyn, marks the moment of experiencing this split between what the woman is and what culture tells her she should be. That married women have a higher rate of depression than single women or married men is no accident, the author contends, nor is the fact that today most divorces are initiated by women.

Excerpts from her interviews with various married women illustrate what Heyn sees as the suppression of desire and the absence of an honest relationship in marriage. Deception, guilt, and unhappiness seem to be the earmarks of modern marriage. Heyn's answer to this crisis? Revolutionize marriage. Overthrow those old-fashioned ideas about what a wife is supposed to be. Imagine marriage based on a new standard of sexual conduct in which women's desires are acknowledged as real. Think of pleasure, not self-improvement, of sexuality, not self-sacrifice. The kind of ``expert'' analysis of relationships that abounds in women's magazines, this all sounds as though it was conceived at least a generation ago. (Author tour)"

Book Details:
Author: Heyn, Dalma
Title: Marriage shock : the transformation of women into wives|
Publisher, Date: New York : Villard, [1997] ©1997
Description: xvi, 206 pages ; 22 cm
Subjects: Wives -- United States -- Psychology. Marriage -- United States -- Psychological aspects. Divorce -- United States -- Psychological aspects.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN: 9780679457732 0679457739


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