Brideshead Revisited

“51 Things You Should Know Before Getting Engaged”

The Issue: You've got the guy, but is he the one you want for good? (Remember when, once upon a time, you thought Zack Morris was the one?)

The Fix: 51 Things You Should Know Before Getting Engaged, a "mini-manifesto" that helps readers determine whether their partner is really the one... and how to keep it that way if they are.

Los Angeles marriage and family therapist Michelle Otelsberg likes this book, written by licensed social worker Michael Batshaw, because "it asks all the questions we're too afraid to ask ourselves and our friends are too embarrassed to point out." Except for that one fruit loop friend you may have who blurts out everything she's thinking.

Understanding why loving, long-term relationships often fail is important for any couple planning to make a lifetime commitment. As Otelsberg points out, "The divorce rate in the U.S. is 50 percent, and we have to ask ourselves why." In her own practice she's noticed that "many people get married for the wrong reasons...they often jump in too quickly, are blinded by love or even lust, or marry because they're comfortable and afraid of change or being alone." It's understandable: who hasn't reconsidered another date with a parolee after another run-in with the old lady walking her cat on a leash?

In 51 Things You Should Know Before Getting Engaged, Batshaw argues that often individuals "don't have the self awareness and proper perspective to make the right choice in a partner." And second, we often "lack the tools and techniques necessary to navigate the inevitable trials of a long-term relationship." War of the Roses anyone?

Batshaw helps provide the perspective and techniques needed to make better choices in a partner and navigate the trials of a long-term relationship. Some of our favorite pieces of advice/perspective from the book include:

- Ask yourself: What is your partner's true character? These qualities are not likely to change much in the future.
- Don't wait forever for progress in the relationship on issues that are important to you.
- The best couples argue forcefully but with empathy and respect.
- Real people will fall short of your expectations over an over again.
- Cultivate your friendships.
- Express frequent gratitude about what you like and love about your partner.

Otelsberg explains that the book won't tell you if your man's the right one for you, but it will impart lessons which help you stay "balanced and realistic" in your decision making. Second only to having a crystal ball, we suppose. Or, a marriage proposal from George Clooney (what's there to fight about with that man?)

Otelsberg recommends this book for any single woman, not just someone on the verge of getting married.

While a great find, this book's probably best read it in the privacy of our own homes. Not all must-reads are exactly dude magnets.


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Lisa J. commented
Humm, Christmas presents friends?
JaneJ commented
Mmm food for thought. Living life with one person full time all the time is incredibly challenging--bu that's why society came up with marriage in the first place! So couples wouldn't have an easy out option when things get rough. Even when it feels like it's harder on ourselves to stay together, unbroken unions are a key ingredient of healthy civilizations.