Boring Marriages vs. Failed Relationships

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 22 2009 2:57 PM

Boring Marriages vs. Failed Relationships

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Hanna, just so you know, I wasn’t calling your marriage "boring" ; Cristina Nehring was. No, in all seriousness, I’m glad you posted in response to Loh and to my piece about The Vindication of Love , the provocative new book arguing that we need to be less obsessed with "successful" relationships and more open to passion-in part because, Nehring argues, it leads to greater creativity. Your point that for every crazy artist in a series of chaotic relationships there’s one in a stable partnership is well-taken. Virginia Woolf, no slouch in the achievement department, may have had one of the most boring marriages of all time. But she liked it. It worked for her. Meanwhile, many partnerships you mention-like Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne-were hardly boring. As Nehring herself would concede, supportive relationships are key to survival and self-development. But I like that she wants to remind us that that support can take more forms than we sometimes think. To me, the really interesting point in her book is her idea that we don't "fail" when love doesn't work out. It's just part of growth.

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Photograph of couple in kitchen by Getty Images.

Meghan O'Rourke is Slate's culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at The New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother's death, is now out in paperback.