California Healthy Marriages Coalition Says Elizabeth Gilbert's Book 'Committed' Misrepresents Marriage for Women

Jan 15, 2010, 12:59 ET from California Healthy Marriages Coalition

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The so-called 'Marriage Benefit Imbalance' Elizabeth Gilbert writes about is a distortion of the truth," says Patty Howell, Vice President of the California Healthy Marriages Coalition. "There are other significant inaccuracies in Gilbert's new book 'Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage,'" said Howell. "I see no evidence of a 'Marriage Benefit Imbalance' in which married women are supposedly not as successful in their careers as single women, more depressed, less healthy or more likely to die a violent death than single women. While Gilbert correctly writes about the benefits of healthy marriages for men, she is flawed in her analysis of healthy marriages for women." Howell continues, "The data compiled in my recent booklet 'Healthy Marriages, Healthy Women and Girls' make clear the numerous benefits for women. Healthy marriages bring increases in women's mental and physical health, decreased physical and sexual violence, lowered risk of being the victim of crime, and lowered likelihood of poverty. Moreover, any income discrepancies are most likely explained by factors related to childbearing and childrearing."

Gilbert is correct in reporting that marriage is not a romantic fairytale. Millions of Americans will agree that there is no perfect prince charming and a "happily ever after" doesn't automatically happen. "Life is challenging," says Howell, "and couples need to address life's numerous challenges in ways that nurture their relationship. This takes relationship skills." Howell reports that "healthy marriages are where women thrive, and healthy marriages seldom happen by chance.  They are built upon relationship skills that equip both partners to communicate successfully about who they are and what they need so that decisions can be made that support the health and well-being of both partners.  Few of us learn these skills by watching our parents or reading fairytales about marriage.  If couples want to succeed together, there is no substitute for Marriage Education."

Fortunately, low cost Marriage Education and Relationship Education classes are available throughout the country and seven meta-analyses speak to their impact in helping couples learn the skills that increase relationship satisfaction. Howell says, "Just like learning to play golf or tennis, relationship skills benefit from practice, and CHMC encourages every couple to take at least one Marriage Education/Relationship Education class a year."

With the loosening of divorce laws, women's increased financial independence, widespread acceptance of living together without marriage, society's heightened expectations for marriage will continue to spell heartbreak for women like Gilbert unless couples learn what it takes to succeed in a relationship with another flawed human being.  What it takes are relationship skills.

CHMC is the recipient of the Federal government's largest Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grant. For the past four years, CHMC has taught proven relationship-building skills to thousands of California couples and individuals through Marriage Education and Relationship Skills classes for all ages and stages. The "Healthy Marriages, Healthy Women and Girls" booklet along with a comprehensive statewide listing of relationship skills classes are available at

SOURCE California Healthy Marriages Coalition