Elizabeth Weil’s book No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage and I Tried to Make It Better was published in 2012. It sparked a conversation, and many articles, about what marriage is and whether it should be subject to the modern tendency to work at improving, tweaking, ‘perfecting’ just about everything.
The book expanded on ideas Weil first explored in a New York Times Magazine article titled ‘Married (Happily) With Issues‘. In that article, Weil wrote: ‘The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married — truly married — slowly, over time…’
Regardless of how you regard life-long unions (a thing best left unexplored, essential, outdated, poetic?), Weil’s book is fascinating: she gives us an honest, intimate, deep look inside her own relationship. And because she writes so beautifully, and with humility and humour, it’s not only voyeurism it’s an engaging, interesting story.
The New York Times reviewed it, saying: ’When the notion of enhancing her marriage first occurs to Weil, her husband’s most recent obsession is strength training. Of all possible life skills, Weil reflects, what could be more important than learning how to be a better spouse? But when they talk about this with friends, most are dubious. “Dude,” one of Duane’s buddies observes, “I think I know how this one ends.” ‘
Ah, but he didn’t. You need to read the book to know how it all ends.
Elizabeth Weil wrote for Open Field Issue Three about clothing, identity and cities. She also writes for Vogue and the New York Times Magazine.