Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, brings us its sequel (if you will) in Committed. Though she does not explicitly write about what happened in her previous book, this new account does, for the most part, pick up where she left us.
After having both been through horrible divorces neither Gilbert nor her beau, Felipe, ever want to be married again. Live together, be together, commit to each other, and love each other; yes. Marry each other; no. Frankly, they not only don't see the point, they see a strong disadvantage to being legally married. However, when the United Stated Homeland Security gives them the ultimatum of "get married or get out... forever" they must come to terms with marriage and what it means for them (or what it doesn't mean, in this case).
Gilbert's research on the institution of marriage over the course of history is incredibly interesting (if you are interested in that type of thing, which I am). Will sociologists and others have information to add to, and probably refute, some of what Gilbert says? Of course. This is not the unabridged version of marital history -- it is the incredibly abridged, tailored for Gilbert, with emotional elements tagged on version. However, I thoroughly enjoyed her refreshing take on women and marriage. I admire that she is not ashamed to also reveal that she does not want children; a topic that still, even in 2010, is more taboo than it ought to be. Though her vision of not wanting to be married is even more taboo, because she is, after all, a woman. All women want to be married. Right? All little girls plan out their weddings their entire lives. Don't they? It's up to us, the women of the world, to convince the men that they want to be married. Isn't it? Gilbert says no. And she has statistics to back her up for why we should agree with her (though she is careful not to alienate those who don't). I devoured this book, because Gilbert was speaking my language, and I do (for a large part) agree with her.
The subtitle of this book is: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. I would venture to say that it's not that Gilbert so much makes peace with marriage in the end, but rather -- when forced to -- realizes that she can recreate marriage to fit her and Felipe, and finds peace in that.
Women of all ages, who want love but are not willing to sacrifice themselves (or the ones they love) in the process, will enjoy this book. And wise women of all ages who already have in one form or another done the sacrificing and lived to see the other side, will cheer Gilbert on in her exploration to find more balance and autonomy while also having love. And those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about -- you must be from Denmark; a country noted to be statistically in the bottom ten of the world's marriage rates*, as well as being that which studies by Forbes, The Independent, Oprah, and Businessweek (as well as others) find to be the top happiest country in the world. Coincidence? Elizabeth Gilbert would probably say not.
The Coconut Librarian
P.S. If you are a non-married man, please disregard all this talk about not getting married as it doesn't apply to you. While non-married women are considered to be the most productive (and happiest) of all human beings, non-married men are considered to be the least happy as well as least productive, members of society.** So, for goodness sake -- go find yourself a wife!
* Compared to the USA, which is on the top of that list for the most amount of people who get married.
** According to Elizabeth Gilbert's research in Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.