The Amateur Marriage (My Take)


There are a lot of books that talk about married life. Some paint pictures of marriage that are all roses and candy — good times, honeymoons that last for years, perfect portraits of happy couples. Other stories paint pictures of locks and keys — the secrets, the mysteries within a marriage. Then there are books that tell it like it is — that marriage is not always sunshine and rose petals, no matter how perfect the wedding day is. A marriage is not only about two people falling in love with and loving each other, but a union of practicalities, the management of two distinct personalities. It’s not a very romantic notion is it? But that is a reality of marriage.

amateurmarriage The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler captures the reality of marriage perfectly. Her story begins with the meeting of Michael and Pauline in 1941. Infatuation strikes both by surprise and they fall in love with each other quickly. Despite their difference in personalities (Michael is as straight-laced as Pauline is carefree), they weather the trials in their budding romance and exchange vows at the altar. Visions of marriage dance in their heads — how different they are from each other, we will know as we grow with them throughout the story. It is a marriage of two amateurs… but then again, aren’t we all amateurs as we begin married life?

Is a marriage mastered? Or is it meant to be a relationship of learning and re-learning? You are inspired to reflect on these questions as the story of Michael and Pauline unravels. You are witness to the doubts and insecurities of their early married life, when they adjust not only to rearing their first child but to growing (glaring?) differences in their personalities. Then there is the fact of them living with Michael’s mother.

The story covers more than thirty years of their lives, and their children’s lives as well. You are a voyeur to their married life as one resists sexual temptations, as they deal with the family’s black sheep, as they age but not grow together. You are witness to how silence causes cracks within a marriage, and how the things you first fell in love with in your spouse are the first things that start getting to you. You’ll find yourself nodding in agreement, gasping in surprise (and maybe in agreement), shaking your head in shock and hoping you could learn more, more, more about each one of them.

The characters seem typical of a family drama — a serious father, a vivacious mother, the black sheep, the good son, the good daughter, the seemingly-imposing mother-in-law, the requisite girlfriends of our vivacious mother, friendly neighbors, old school friends. But Anne Tyler’s characterization of each one is hardly typical. You find yourself learning to feel deeply for each one of them. Maybe it’s because you can relate to a certain trait one character has, or one reminds you of a family member of your own. Either way, you eventually get to sympathize with the characters, so much so that you may cry or rejoice with them in different moments in the book.

I liked The Amateur Marriage because it didn’t try too hard to explain a typical marriage. It didn’t over-romanticize nor did it become overly cynical. There is no sugar-coating and no hand-holding. It tells it like it is — the reality of married life, the reality of family life. I highly recommend this book, especially to fellow married couples. Do we ever graduate from being amateurs? Anne Tyler’s story is great inspiration to nurture your marriage such that it doesn’t have the immaturity and clumsiness of an amateur, but that it hopefully has the eagerness, animation and spirit of one.

17 Comments on The Amateur Marriage (My Take)

  1. jher
    September 5, 2006 at 10:02 am (17 years ago)

    Interesting book. So, toni… HOW ARE YOU?

  2. Toni
    September 5, 2006 at 10:03 am (17 years ago)

    Jher, hahahahahahaaha I’m okay!!! Natawa naman ako sa tanong mo.

  3. jher
    September 5, 2006 at 10:05 am (17 years ago)

    Hahahahahahah so smart! Na gets! Luv yah dear! 😛

  4. Toni
    September 5, 2006 at 10:06 am (17 years ago)

    Luv ya too, sweetie. Mwah!

  5. missyosigirl
    September 5, 2006 at 11:17 am (17 years ago)

    toni, where did you buy the book? :) parang i need to read this ah… hehe.

  6. pinayhekmi
    September 5, 2006 at 1:02 pm (17 years ago)

    Yeah, I haven’t forgotten your recommendation of this book. I must pick up a copy!

  7. Kay
    September 5, 2006 at 1:41 pm (17 years ago)

    Will surely pick up a copy of this. To answer your question, I don’t think we ever become experts. We remain amateurs for when we are amateurs do we exert effort. When we become the so-called experts, it may happen that we will not put effort in maintaining our marriage. We may be lulled into thinking that we know how to handle things now. No need for this and that.

    Then the marriage falls apart.

  8. jojo
    September 5, 2006 at 1:49 pm (17 years ago)

    i remember borrowing this from a friend months back. di ko sure kung natapos ko na, and if it is still with me…hmmm…i better check tonight.

  9. Toni
    September 5, 2006 at 2:43 pm (17 years ago)

    I got my copy from Powerbooks. I’ve also seen it sold in Fully Booked. :) Happy reading!

  10. ladybug
    September 5, 2006 at 4:44 pm (17 years ago)

    Thanks for the tip. I might pick up a copy. :-)

  11. Via
    September 5, 2006 at 7:08 pm (17 years ago)

    Oh my. This looks intriguing and a bit scary at the same time. Looks very real… :) How are you doing?

  12. Toni
    September 6, 2006 at 11:31 am (17 years ago)

    Hi V! I’m doing very well. Been reading a lot of books lately. This was one of the gems!

  13. JMom
    September 6, 2006 at 9:48 pm (17 years ago)

    Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the recommendation, Toni.

  14. Tracie
    September 8, 2006 at 10:48 am (17 years ago)

    Sounds like an interesting book-I am going to have to get a copy of it.

    Michele says hi!

  15. Dinna
    September 19, 2006 at 11:13 pm (17 years ago)

    Hi, Toni.. was browsing Barnes & Noble to get something to add to my order to get free shipping here and I chanced upon this book.. it caught my eye because I remember reading about it here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the read and I will let you know how I find it after I finish the book..

  16. yellowchoco
    April 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm (17 years ago)

    Can I get free download of that book in the internet? if yes, kindly give me some website.



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