BOOK REVIEW: A Humorous and Poignant Journal of Marriage Throughout the World

How do you learn to be married? How To Be Married is 276-page recipe box to get you thinking and chuckling about how different cultures approach this mysterious institution!

This is the story of Jo Piazza, a thirty-something American travel writer who married husband Nick after knowing him only six months. She realizes, while there’s so much written about planning a great wedding celebration, as well as plenty about how to fix a marriage when it’s in trouble, there’s virtually nothing that tells you how to be married. Panic ensues!

Jo previous relationship failures:

“In the fifteen years before I married Nick I had seven serious boyfriends, five of whom cheated on me. One cheated on me with thirty-seven women in a single year, which must be some kind of world record, even though Guinness has yet to get back to me.”

So Jo and Nick begin their research on creating a successful marriage while on their honeymoon, which included getting lost in Mexico, paying a marriage guru recommended to them,  who gave them communication exercises to do, promising “truth and clarity.” That’ll be 300 hundred bucks, please.

They undertake a “temazcal” experience – a fancy name for a smelly, smoky hut heated to 170 degrees, where they sweated for hours and screamed out their fears and frustrations in order to forge the bonds of sacred warriors. Jo thinks of nachos as she sweats; Nick peed his pants. What a bond.

Then there was the wife-carrying race – to build the husband/wife team. The wife flings herself over her husband’s shoulders and dangles head first, slapping his rear-end while her mate attempts an obstacle course without giving his wife a concussion.

“I’m going over a bench,” Nick yelled.
“What? No. You aren’t going over a bench. Do not go over that bench.”
“Keep your head up.”
“Put me down!”
“Let’s try going over this log”
“Seriously. Put me down!”
“Just one log.”
“Screw you.”
After two more logs, I hated my husband.

They take advantage of business trips to Europe, Asia and Africa asking friends and acquaintances their philosophy of a happy marriage. Their discoveries range from the concept of “hygge” in Denmark, (serenity and well-being among friends, family and comfortable surroundings), to being dumfounded by a polygamist tribe, the Samburu in Kenya, where the “sister wives” claim their happy married life a result of sharing household labor, (including building the house!), children, and husband! Different strokes for different folks.

Their trip to France teaches how French women keep the passion alive, including the essentials of sexy underwear, perfume, and banning sweatpants from their wardrobe (much to Jo’s chagrin).

When Jo learns she may be genetically disposed to contracting a debilitating illness in later life, she’s gripped by fear that her husband might end up as worn out caretaker, much as her mother had while taking care of her dad. When she shares her fears with Nick, the possibilities seems less overwhelming – they’ll face it together whenever it shows up.

You can’t help but like Jo, an emotional over-thinker who harbors fears and questions many newlyweds have at the beginning. But before trying to “buy hygge” with the purchase of soft blankets, pillows and candles, as Jo tried to do, How To Be Married teaches us to trust our own instincts, communicate often, and believe the answers to happy marriages lie within the many recipes Jo and Nick discover in their odyssey.

And don’t forget to spoil ourselves and wear gorgeous underwear every day!

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review


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