To stay or to leave a marriage can be an agonizing, impossible choice. But people make this decision every day: one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. When both of us hit rocky patches in our marriages, when it was crisis time and looked like divorce might be the only solution, we wondered how women knew what to do when they reached that fork in the road. And, what about the children?
We started questioning our friends to get at the heart of what makes or breaks a marriage. Even the "happily" married women told us: "Oh, I think of divorce every day." When a union is over and when it isn't, is very personal territory: what pushes one relationship to the brink might be something the couple down the street has lived with for years, or even decades.
It was comforting for us to realize just how exhausting marriage can be, for nearly everyone. As one of our writers notes in her essay about her dream second marriage, "even answered prayers come with work." Marriage, no surprise, is often a very difficult task, an endless workout, where you have to pull your chin to the bar even when you feel all your strength is gone. The strongest and happiest marriages are a lot of work, and even long-lasting couples go through ugly times. As another writer quips, "Divorce? Never. Homicide? Often."
We found married and divorced women including Joyce Maynard, Terry McMillan, Daniela Kuper, Ann Hood, and Martha McPhee who tackled the divisive issues in their relationships with candor and wit. Conflicts in marriages run the gambit-from problems that need constant care and attention to the unexpected events that blindside you. We've culled frank and hopeful stories that explore "sticking it out" as well as "ditching it" when women reach a crisis point in marriage, and we hope that readers will find comfort in the fact that no one's honeymoon lasts forever.