Reading Notebook #10: How to Destroy a Relationship

Committed

From the marvelous Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Committed:

There is nothing 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 relationship 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.

What often happens, though, during so-called harmless relationships, is that you begin sharing intimacies with your new friend that belong hidden within your marriage. You reveal secrets about yourself—your deepest yearnings and frustrations—and it feels good to be so exposed. You throw open a window where there really ought to be a solid, weight-bearing wall, and soon you find yourself spilling your secret heart with this new person. Not wanting your spouse to feel jealous, you keep the details of your new friendship hidden. In so doing, you have now created a problem: You have just built a wall between you and your spouse where there really ought to be free new circulation of air and light. The entire architecture of your matrimonial intimacy has therefore been rearranged. Every old wall is now a giant picture window; every old window is now boarded up like a crack house. You have just established the perfect blueprint for infidelity without even noticing.

Posted in Reading.
Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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teresabruce
teresabruce

This is an interesting part of Gilbert's book. But it begs the question – why would someone in a solid marriage need to share secrets with another person? It may be because of a problem with the foundation or walls of the marriage – a need that can't be met by the spouse. When I was still in my twenties I met my muse, who was in her 80s. Byrne Miller had been married almost sixty years and she taught me many things about love and life. She always told me never to try to be everything to a man.… Read more »