Project Relationship: Saving a Marriage One Self-help Book at a Time


A frog prince

She was planning his funeral. She thought about all the people she would invite, what her husband’s best friend would say, what food and drink she would serve, and how she would record the whole thing so that when their daughter was old enough, she could watch the video to really get to know her dad.

There was only one problem. Her husband was very much alive–and healthy.

Alisa Bowman is a writer whose chosen to write with incredible humour, honesty, and realism about her own marriage and journey from fantasizing about her mate’s death, to not being able to imagine life without him.

After having too much wine with a girlfriend one night, Bowman agreed to give her marriage one last try. As writers often do, she dove into the world of books reading everything she could about relationships and marriage. She shared little nuggets she thought were helpful and peppered her book with practical advice such as:

“If you are exhausted because you can’t get your kid dressed, ask for help and ask for it out loud. Your husband can’t hear the words inside your head. Only you can hear those! Be as specific as possible. “I need your help,” is good, but “Can you please get her dressed because I’m about to throttle her” is even better.”

Another great one was:

“Only take on one marital stressor at a time. If you are pregnant, don’t get a puppy. If you are starting a new business, don’t get pregnant. No matter what, never, ever in a million years consider starting a business, having a baby, and adopting a bad-behaving dog all at once.”

I had to chuckle at this because of course, they did all three and she was at home alone with a baby and a bad puppy while her husband worked all hours of the day.

What I liked about this book was that it was so accessible. I think any woman whose ever contemplated leaving her marriage would find some solidarity in Alisa’s prose. She really gets how hard it is to feel taken for granted, to feel like you’re not a priority, the degree of frustration experienced before you start calling your husband names in your head (one of her favourites was “slacker”), and just how differently we can think about things.

It was also hopeful. Alisa realized she had to speak up about things in a way that helped her husband listen and she had to do it again and again. She also realized she had to look for what he was doing right instead of just what he was doing wrong. Eventually she was ready to start working on their sex-life and got a bikini wax in the shape of a martini glass. (Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that’s what you have to do!)

For some humour, some tidbits, and for some hope, I’d recommend Project Happily Ever After: Saving your Marriage when the Fairytale Falters.

If you’d like to work on your relationship, I offer couple’s counselling and retreats.

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