It's been a long time since I opened up a book the day it arrived in the mail and was able to sit down and read it in one sitting. (In fact, the last time I remember doing this was with Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast which was published in 2011). But, over spring break I had the pleasure of opening a package containing Ellen McCarthy's The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life From a Wedding Reporter's Notebook. And I was able to sit down and read and read, until I turned the last page of this book. McCarthy's book is full of little bits of wisdom about relationships and marriage as well as stories about a variety of the people she came to know because of her job.
McCarthy spent several years as a wedding reporter for the Washington Post. As a writer who enjoys writing about people, this job was right up her alley, despite the fact that her obtaining this job coincided neatly with a break-up with her boyfriend. McCarthy was going to be spending a lot of times at weddings and with people in love while she got over her own broken heart.
McCarthy's book is nicely arranged by topic: dating, commitment, breakups, weddings and making it last, providing a little something for everyone no matter what stage in a relationship you may find yourself. But I would encourage readers to read and take to heart the advice offered in each section.
There are many little gems I have taken away from this book. And already I feel as though I should be going through it again, marking passages to think about a bit more.
Just a few bits of advice I managed to take note of:
1. Be kind to each other. Look for a spouse who is kind.
2. The lyrics from a Don Henley song in reference to always thinking that someone else has it better, "To want what I have; To take what I'm given with grace."
3. The type of love that comes like a thunderbolt may not be the kind that lasts.
One of my favorite couples McCarthy introduced me to is octogenarians Betty and Edgar, a couple who had been wed for sixty five years. When asked if they believed that there wast just one special person they were destined to be with, the two laughed hysterically. They went on to explain that they believe that had they met other people they would also be happily married for sixty plus years - that's the type of people they are, the type that believe in commitment.
There are lots of other great stories and a treasure trove of wisdom in this book. The Real Thing may become the essential guide for every couple to read and discuss prior to getting married. Already married for seventeen years, I still managed to find this book fascinating and timely.
Other Books on Marriage:
Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup
Marry Him: The Case of Settling For Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb