The XX Factor

Can This Marriage Be Better?

After our debate on this site about Sandra Tsing Loh’s Atlantic piece about her liberating divorce and Christina Nehring’s book about the death of passion in the modern marriage, I kept waiting for someone to write about the other side. Now Elizabeth Weil has finally done it in her upcoming New York Times Magazine story , taking us deep inside her relatively happy, companionate union. This is a truly fascinating piece about what you discover when you put a perfectly good thing through the test:

I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly - some might say obsessively - at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?

Conversation page photograph of couple by Stockbyte/Getty Images.