'Eat, Pray, Love' Author Takes On Marriage

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elizabeth gilbert new book committed
Elizabeth Gilbert's new book uses history to convince her skeptic self to marry.

Over the course of writing Committed, Gilbert found that there were many reasons to fly in the face of present-day, negative divorce statistics and commit... and none of them had to do with shared health benefits, joint tax returns or life insurance payout. We Married For Health Insurance

One experience stands out from Gilbert's travels. Near the beginning of the book, she sits down with a Hmong family to talk marriage and wedding traditions. The Hmong are a "small, proud, isolated ethnic minority... who inhabit the highest mountain peaks of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and China," and Gilbert is eager to learn of how their attitudes toward marriage differ from those of the Western world, especially considering that their divorce rates are so low. What she finds is that, among the Hmong, "you don't necessarily expect your husband to be your best friend, your most intimate confidant, your emotional advisor, your intellectual equal, your comfort in times of sorrow." The Hmong understand that you can't look to your spouse to satisfy every one of your needs—to complete you. You need to look to yourself, and to your "tribe," for that.

 

So why marry? Why tie your life to another's when you alone remain responsible for your continued happiness? 20 Single Habits To Keep When You're In Love

Perhaps because friendship is still a very good reason to marry. As is companionship. Or security. A husband or a wife can still be a good confidant, at least when it comes to those things in life that don't directly affect the two of you. Maybe your spouse is your intellectual equal, someone you have long, satisfying conversations with about life, the universe and everything. Perhaps the only real reason you want to commit to someone is the fact that you miss him when he's not around, or because her happiness is integral to yours.

Whichever reasons you have, don't let them be all of the above. Don't let your spouse be your everything, Committed tells us. Because if your lover is also your heart, your blood and the air that you breathe, the two of you might not survive.