Guest Post by Eleanor J. Bader
Thurber Prize winner Harrison Scott Key’s third memoir How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told is a heartbreakingly honest, and often hilarious, account of marital infidelity and the resultant fallout from what he calls “an absurdist nightmare.” Hyperbole aside – this isn’t the world’s most insane love story – the book lays bare the complex and fragile ties that bind. How they fray, sometimes without us noticing the unraveling, is clearly presented. What’s more, Key delineates the many pressures, from demanding jobs to demanding kids, that can stymie communication and lead to spousal dissatisfaction. Key’s astute analysis digs into the psychological wiring that initially drew him and his wife together and, later, caused them to separate. But this is not a self-help treatise. Instead, it’s a very particular story about a very particular marriage and Key takes pains to avoid oversimplification.
That said, the book emphasizes that Key got through this period thanks to good friends and Christian faith. And while he concedes that religion is not always a source of comfort, in conjunction with therapy and a deeply-felt appraisal of his missteps, it provided the foundation for him and his wife to reconcile. For them, shared values, shared time, and shared laughter proved potent. Whether they’re enough, however, remain open questions.
How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told by Harrison Scott Key. Avid Reader Press, June 2023.
Reviewer bio: Eleanor J. Bader is a Brooklyn, NY-based journalist who writes about books and domestic social issues for Truthout, Rain Taxi, The Progressive, Ms. Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Indypendent.