Book Review: Committed

Committed, written by author of Eat, Pray, Love, takes off where Eat, Pray, Love ended. Elizabeth Gilbert is in a committed relationship with that sexy Brazilian she met in Bali. Homeland Security deported her sexy Brazilian and for them to live in the states together, they had to consider marriage. This book is Gilbert considering marriage, in the context of her own personal life. She drops in a few historical anecdotes here and there, but mostly she pulls from her own journey. Memories from her parents’ marriage, her friends’ marriage, her first marriage, and interviews with Southeast Asian people on their take. (Southeast Asia is where she and Felipe spent most of their time as they waited for his visa.)

After about 50 pages in, I stopped reading for months. It was a slow start. I just wasn’t interested in her story. In between books, I picked it up again and I’m glad I did.

I really enjoyed two things in particular. One was an analogy she stumbled on by psychologist, Shirley Glass regarding infidelity. She touches on friendships cultivated with people with whom one is attracted. Usually these friendships house innocent intentions. However, when marriages go through strife, as it inevitably will, it’s tempting to divulge intimate secrets in the spirit of venting. However, when one does this, he or she is not only allowing someone an intimate glimpse into his or her marriage, but is also shutting out the spouse in the process. There’s now a window where a wall should have been and a wall between husband and wife (or husband/husband, wife/wife). This may not lead to infidelity, but a house is being built for it. I loved this analogy.

The second thing I enjoyed was her open resentment against impossible societal pressures on women. My best friend has turned me into a budding feminist. As a budding feminist, my relationship with feminism consist of a lot of unsorted raw feelings. Eloquence escapes me when I try to give my thoughts and feelings a voice. I find myself leaning for the time being on what I read to help sort myself out.

All in all, I’m so glad I didn’t fully abandon this book.

Favorite Excerpts from Committed

… Nothing is wrong with a married person launching a friendship outside of matrimony – so long as the “walls and windows” of the relationship remain in the correct places. It was Glass’s theory that every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationships that are open to the world – that is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimate secrets of your marriage.

And this is my beef, by the way, with social conservatives who are always harping about how the most nourishing home for a child is a two-parent household with a mother in the kitchen. If I – as a beneficiary of that exact formula – will concede that my own life was indeed enriched by that precise familial structure, will the social conservatives please (for once!) concede that this arrangement has always put a disproportionately cumbersome burden on women? Such a system demands that mothers become selfless to the point of near invisibility in order to construct these exemplary environments for their families. And might those same social conservatives – instead of just praising mothers as “sacred” and “noble”- be willing to someday join a larger conversation about how we might work together as a society to construct a world where healthy children can be raised and healthy families can prosper without women having to scape bare the walls of their own souls to do it?

Question: What are you reading these days?

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