How to Be Married: Engaging Memoir Meets Marriage Advice Book

Practically Married :: How to Be Married: Engaging Memoir Meets Marriage Advice Book

In her recent book, journalist and author Jo Piazza opens with the story of her real life "meet cute" on a boat in the Galápagos Islands. The cuteness was so intense, she almost lost me. But, with the words “Yeah. I know.” Piazza’s self-awareness won me back. Three months later, Jo and the great guy from the boat were engaged. (Ok, she almost lost me again.)

In How to Be Married, Jo Piazza shares the experience of her first year of marriage, a year some marriage experts call the “wet cement year.” As Piazza learned from therapist Dr. Peter Peterson, the first year is a time when “both members of a couple are figuring out how to exist as partners without getting stuck in the murk, without being trapped by bad habits.”

Piazza decided to spend her wet cement year traveling the world (often, but not always with her new husband) seeking insight into how people from different countries approach marriage. While describing the marital philosophy of various cultures, she also explores the tension many American women experience as they try to marry (pun intended) egalitarian beliefs with an institution still very much rooted in patriarchy.

The advice Piazza gleaned (conveniently summarized at the end of the book) covers many of the key areas couples must navigate in married life such as money, careers, health and in-laws. However, the point she raised that resonated most with me was the importance of community. We may accept (at least in theory) that it takes a village to raise a child, but when it comes to being a couple, American culture embraces a more “us against the world” approach. Piazza shows us that spouses in other countries rely on a network of extended family and friends to bolster and supplement their marriages.

I found How to Be Married entertaining, informative and a welcome departure from the prescriptive marriage books I generally read. That said, I particularly appreciated Piazza including research findings from renowned marriage experts. Hopefully she will do a follow-up book exploring how to be married with children. Piazza will have plenty of experience to draw from since she and her husband recently welcomed their first child.

Congratulations Jo and Nick!!!