The two psychologists who gave us Smart Women/Foolish Choices (1985) now talk about marital myths and reality and give us their formula for the 1990's marriage: a partnership in which husband and wife eliminate idealized expectations of one another and take on the "personal responsibility for making love happen." In this "Self-Directed" marriage, partners will no longer blame each other for problems, but will "disengage" and focus on changing their own behavior. Cowan and Kinder claim that by changing one's self, one helps bring about substantive change in a marriage. They raise some important points—for example, the fact that women are in a particular bind about the conflicting claims of work and mothering. Their solution? Women must "reassess their situation, sort out their priorities, and forget about trying to have it all." The authors not only gloss over the fact that at least part of this dilemma comes about because many men don't share equally in child-care and housework, but they go on to declare that as a nation we have become preoccupied with work as a means of enhancing the self. They suggest that we "pull back from our fixation. . .and reinvest our energies where they really count—at home with the people we love." But what about financial pressures? What about the bias against women who take time off to be with their children? Rather than dealing with these issues, Kinder and Cowan simply say that "most couples are committed to marriage in spite of their frustrations," and that all they need to do is accept their differences, become "friends," and rediscover the pleasures of family life. The authors' nco-idealized 1990's marriage will be of little real use to most couples—couples who don't need a new myth of marriage, but do need practical advice for living together in what will probably continue to be complicated, financially demanding, difficult times.
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