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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2001
This book provided what eluded me for decades - what turns capable vibrant independent women into Barbies, into Stepford Wives. I stumbled across it in my mid-thirties, great job, great income, feeling strong about myself and my abilities in the wake of a difficult divorce - I had remarried - to someone diametrically opposed in every way to the first hubby - and WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? I'm cooking dinner every night, watering all his houseplants, clucking about dustballs and forgoing bike rides and gym visits and nights out with pals to stay in and WHAT? sew curtains???
It wasn't due to husband demands, nor did I have Donna Reed as a mom, - I needed an explanation as to why I was so hellbent on being The Wife - and this book provided an answer. Ms. Heyn's use of interviews and anecdote show how cultural influences permeat our lives, their power rivalling the more direct influences of family and spouse. The accompanying historical evidences were factual and interesting to read. I am amazed that this book has not gained more of a following, as its simple message can be a boon to those newly married, wondering Is this all there is? or What was I thinking?
Ms. Heyn has seen the enemy, and shows it to us in a way that allows us to beat it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 1997
This important, quietly subversive book suggests that the only way we can save marriage is by radically overhauling it -- so it has room for real, live, whole women. If you've ever wondered why you (or your wife) felt flat, gray and depressed in the first, supposedly blissful year of marriage, or why over 60 percent of American marriages end in divorce, two-thirds of them instigated by women, you've got to read this book -- it's an eye-opener. Yet it is not even remotely anti-male, or even anti-marriage. Rather, it unmasks a couple of fictional cultural characters -- the preachy Witness and the impossibly Good Wife -- who possess us like dybbuks at the altar. This book is a veritable exorcism that can give you back the self you lost and the lover you married
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 1997
I recently had the opportunity to read "Marriage Shock" & was absolutely riveted by this insightful treatise on what happens to women's identities after marriage. The book made me aware of a psychological phenomena peculiar to married women in which I have unwittingly participated for the last 14 years. What an eye-opener! Ms. Heyn's theory that married women subconsciouly & automatically, "edit" their behavior from their prior, single lives in order to conform to the role of "the good wife" is demonstrated by the fascinating, often quirky examples provided by the women who were the subjects of her interviews. The author's personal and refreshingly expressive style is just great. The reader can almost hear Ms. Heyn's voice as she reasons her way through some of the most engaging subject matter recently presented in print. This is a serious book, not a piece of Self-Help How-To fluff. Ms. Heyn is no Martha Stewart, and some of what you read may take you aback, but I think that you will be unable to put this book down. Any thinking woman who doesn't see a little of herself and every married woman she knows in "Marriage Shock" is not looking hard enough
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2000
Heyn's premise, that women lose the zip and tang of their unique personalities upon marrying, is right on target. This is not a "man-bashing" book. Its focus is primarily on women, not on their husbands. When I read her description of what Heyn calls "the witness," I immediately recognized and understood exactly to what she was referring. It was such a relief to realize that I am absolutely normal (in that respect at least) and that my discomfort in marriage is not something that has to be forever endured, nor that it is my fault, nor is it my husband's fault. Most women who have any sense or sensibility apparantly feel much the same as I do: suffocated by wifery.
My gripe about the book is this: minimal hard data. Due to contemplation of my own marital experience, I had little difficulty accepting much of what Heyn hypothesizes. There are those, however, who maintain that, if a woman is unhappy in her marriage, it's because she's somehow unfit. Perhaps her unhappiness is due to a fault: she is selfish, greedy, lazy, stupid, crazy, poorly bred, too unlike a man, etc... Heyn's heavy reliance on anecdotal evidence to prove her point won't do much to convince those who deny that a "good" woman married to a decent man can be unhappy in her marriage.
In addition, after reading the material describing the harm the witness causes a marrige, I was very disappointed to find but one chapter devoted to resolving this problem. Too many chapters are wasted on explaining the witness phenomenon, and not enough information is provided to help the reader to disable the "witness." But, as an introduction to the subject, I would definitely recommend this book. I, for one, am grateful that Ms. Heyn chose to share her insight on the prickly conundrum that is marriage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 1998
This should be required reading for any woman of any age who is contemplating marriage. The author defines the social dictates that are so pervasive in our society and how they can influence women to assume stereotypical characteristics of a "wife" while sacrificing their autonomy and sense of self.
Both the evolution of the historical definition of "wife" and the way those values continue to be transmitted are examined, as well as the devastating effect this transformation has on both the individual and the marriage.
If nothing else, read this to be forewarned of the pitfalls that lie ahead and to understand the preconceptions that might influence a woman's behaviour in marriage.
The book is a lot cheaper than a divorce.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 1999
This book is absolutely revolutionary. Divorce statistics and the health statistics of married women ar scary, but they need not be if women will read this book! Dalma Heyn has put into writing what most women are thinking and feeling but afraid to talk about. Now we have a chance to understand that we should remain ourselves and dodge the stereotypes of "wives" if we want to keep our marriage alive. For centuries we have been told to do it wrong thus setting the divorce statistics at an all time high and women's self esteem at an all time low. A must read for women of all ages and all marital statuses.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2002
Ms Heyn addresses a topic that is kept quite secret in our culture - how women make the transition to what they consider to be "Wives". Finally a book that addresses our own expectations and doesn't lay the blame totally on the patriarchy. This book was quite helpful to me in my first year of marriage, as well as many of my clients.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2008
This book's anecdotal evidence really reminded me of my early marriage and subsequent divorce..... I did lose part of myself.... lost the ability to speak my voice....

but the book seems to peter out for me.... I wish there were more studies/books/written evidence referenced....

Women do need to learn to keep their own voice in marriage and not give in to all the "shoulds" we suddenly aquire when we acquire a ring....
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2003
This is certainly an interesting book which tries to sell a single point, but too focused. (I'm an upper middle class married woman with kids in case your wondering) The theme is basically this "Now you are a wife, you feel like crap, and it is YOUR fault because you are subservient to "the witness". Things just aren't that simple I'm afraid. (not once were other cultures, ego,hollywood movies, competition, or capitalism mentioned or delved into) The author is a magazine editor/writer who thinks she has the answer to reduce the divorce rate in America! I ask...does a magazine editor have the credentials and educational background of a sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist? Would you read a book about saving your marriage if the author were a proctologist? I feel deep down D.H. is insulting the intellegence of the women she is trying to help. In a nutshell her theory for a better marriage is- shift your focus on cooking and cleaning and numerous other chores that need to be done-have some great sex, and find pleasure.(HMMM... find a pleasurable activity, what a concept!)) There are some good idea's in this book which are quotes from other known psychology types who have probably written good books. I feel the problem women face in America is the undermining of women by WOMEN, which is never addressed in any womans magazine, as well as their inability to read non fiction books and share what they know with other women. This undermining leaves woman in an archaeic institution all alone, adding fuel to an already burning disaster. There is a wonderful bibliography on pages 201-205.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2007
I send this to all of my newly married girlfriends. It may be a simple premise, but I think to some extent this happens to all of us, who were independent, single, take charge as single women. Then we have to figure out and "ask permission" or figure out where the boundaries are when we become wives.

Things that we always did ourselves or places you used to go by yourself seem off-limits or like you are breaking "the rules". When you used to go somewhere with male friends from work with no worries, you now have to worry about your perception as a "wife" and it seems like people then have the right to question your commitment.

I would recommend to others that are just having a hard time adjusting to marriage. And it does get better after the first year, partially because you have negotiated these things and should be able to pull past the Witness.
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