We've all heard the statistic: Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Its enough to make many couples give up when the going gets rough, thinking that's what everybody else does. But what if it weren't true? What if, in fact, it's not only possible but often easier than you think to save a seemingly troubled relationship?
Those are the questions Tara Parker-Pope asked herself after her own divorce. An investigative journalist on the health and wellness beat, she turned to some of the top biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other scientists for the facts about marriage and divorce.
Those facts were more positive and provocative than she'd ever expected, and For Better offers plenty of astonishing, eye-opening good news. Parker-Pope presents the science behind why some marriages work and others don't; the biology behind why some spouses cheat and others remain faithful; and the best diagnostic tools created by the most cutting-edge psychologists to assess the probability of success in getting married, staying married, or remarrying. There are questionnaires to uncover potentially damaging hidden attitudes toward spouses. There are tools to show the impact of routine, fresh activity and how small adjustments can make a huge difference. Tara Parker-Pope's genius is for exploring the science behind the big issues that affect our lives every day and translating that science into advice that we can use every day.
For Better is the definitive guide to the most profound relationship of our lives.
Like some of the best nonfiction books out there, Tara Parker-Pope’s latest, For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, sprung from a personal place. After her 17-year union ended in divorce, the former health columnist couldn’t help but wonder if, had she been armed with more cold, hard facts before heading into marriage, she might have saved her own. "I knew where to look for answers about heart disease, diabetes, allergies, and numerous other health issues," she writes, "and I wanted the same objective, evidence-based advice about my marriage."
And with that as her jumping-off point, Parker-Pope, who also writes the popular “Well” blog for The New York Times, digs deep to uncover what makes a good marriage, well, good. (Hints: Have sex often, even when you don’t feel like it; use "we" more than "I" during arguments; and don’t roll your eyes at your partner, ever.) Spotlighting the oft-overlooked work of relationship researchers, For Better offers practical advice gleaned from studies on sex, money, parenting, gender roles and even housework.
Competently narrating is Cassandra Campbell. Of course, For Better is, at heart, a science tome, so Campbell isn’t provided many opportunities to get all fancy with her cadence. And having someone verbalize the book’s self-help quizzes of which there are more than a dozen designed to help you assess the state of your own marriage seems especially futile. Still, Parker-Pope and, by extension, Campbell, deliver a solid package: nine hours of thoroughly researched, eye-opening statistics presented in an easy, conversational style. Jaime Buerger
"Tara Parker-Pope has crafted a jam-packed, lucid survey of the science behind a sound marriage. No wonder she is so popular." (Mehmet Oz, M.D.)
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Good Food For Thought
- Melissa Holewinski
Probably better for print
- Marie "Professional librarian type, amateur historian."