REVIEW: ‘Happy Wives Club’ seems promising but disappoints
Fawn Weaver’s “Happy Wives Club” started as a website. What began as a place for women to share advice and find support in the face of largely negative perceptions about marriage quickly grew into something more.
As more women continued to join, Weaver realized how much valuable advice these women had to share, inspiring her to travel the world to interview these women and turn it into a book about the secrets of marriage.
Weaver visited 12 countries on six continents, including Italy, New Zealand and Argentina. She focused primarily on couples who had been married for more than 25 years, although a few exceptions were made — like a Croatian woman who balanced children and work or a married friend-of-a-friend with a demanding career — to give a more modern view of matrimony.
Each couple had something different to offer. A husband and wife in Winnipeg recommended facing disagreements head on. In Australia, they said laughter and being friends with your spouse are essential, while a couple from Buenos Aires shared the importance of common goals and supporting each other.
But one thing each couple stressed above everything was to trust and respect your partner because without that a happy marriage is impossible.
I thought “Happy Wives Club” would be an interesting, anthropological read amid media that often shows a largely negative view of marriage. Instead, it was more of a travel book that happened to use this project as a purpose for traveling.
A lot of the book describes Weaver’s activities, travel details and personal reflections, so I never felt like I got to know the people she interviewed and described in the book.
The couples and their stories seemed one-dimensional and started blending together, making it difficult to remember what each couple contributed. And while Weaver traveled the world, she only interviewed one couple that didn’t have a westernized marriage. By not capitalizing on cultural differences, it felt like she missed the point of traveling.
Weaver also limited herself by only looking at happy marriages. One woman she interviewed attributed the success of her second marriage to the failure of her first one, but Weaver focused on the second marriage. By doing this she missed the chance to discuss the importance of choosing the right spouse to create a successful marriage.
Even readers who might enjoy a travel book will be disappointed, as it ultimately reads more like a personal journal. Weaver frequently discusses her own marriage and reminds readers how much she missed her husband while visiting beautiful places like Croatia and the Philippines, a disconnect that made it difficult to sympathize.
As a result, Weaver is difficult to connect with as a person. She so strongly identified herself by her marriage despite having a successful career that as an unmarried reader, I felt we had little in common. She also provided too many personal details about her religion, such as describing how she believes God has shaped her travels or how important it is for her to pray to him before a meal. Combined with the personal details about her relationship, parts of the book became irrelevant and rather off-putting.
What Weaver is trying to do is inspiring, and “Happy Wives Club” has a lot of valuable advice. It challenges readers to evaluate their own relationships and shows different examples of what it takes to create a happy marriage. But reading the “Twelve Secrets to a Great Marriage” at the end of the book or visiting her website can help accomplish the same thing.
Call Meyer at (701) 780-1137 or email to email@example.com.