Fleming and Washburne, who founded a feminist collective and co-authored Women in Transition (1975), examine the institution of marriage in an attempt to remove the ""stardust"" and scrutinize the realities. Framing numerous quotations from known works (by Sheehy, Bernard, Bird, et al.) and from women they have counseled with their own observations, they look closely at romantic myths and disillusionment, puzzling legalities, motherhood, wife abuse, lesbianism, and the growing number of at-home alternatives--open marriage, group marriage, LTAs (Living-Together-Arrangements), living-alone-and-liking it. In discussing open marriage, for example, they indicate the mutual advantages of separate friendships but don't ignore the difficulties of sexual involvements. Or in exploring aspects of motherhood, they insist on the satisfactions that can accrue but don't underestimate ""the intense strain that motherhood brings."" The basic assumption--that marriage is a male institution--may be challenged, and some of their conclusions will be disputed, but the quotations, representing a range of opinions, document how both men and women who found traditional marriage stultifying or destructive have reaped benefits from more flexible arrangements. Neither dirge nor dismissal, this cautionary book will be valued for its enunciation of problems and possibilities, its efforts to recognize middle-class and low-income variations, and the friendly-conversational tone of its development.