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Editorial Reviews

Like some of the best nonfiction books out there, Tara Parker-Pope’s latest, For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, sprung from a personal place. After her 17-year union ended in divorce, the former health columnist couldn’t help but wonder if, had she been armed with more cold, hard facts before heading into marriage, she might have saved her own. "I knew where to look for answers about heart disease, diabetes, allergies, and numerous other health issues," she writes, "and I wanted the same objective, evidence-based advice about my marriage."

And with that as her jumping-off point, Parker-Pope, who also writes the popular “Well” blog for The New York Times, digs deep to uncover what makes a good marriage, well, good. (Hints: Have sex often, even when you don’t feel like it; use "we" more than "I" during arguments; and don’t roll your eyes at your partner, ever.) Spotlighting the oft-overlooked work of relationship researchers, For Better offers practical advice gleaned from studies on sex, money, parenting, gender roles — and even housework.

Competently narrating is Cassandra Campbell. Of course, For Better is, at heart, a science tome, so Campbell isn’t provided many opportunities to get all fancy with her cadence. And having someone verbalize the book’s self-help quizzes — of which there are more than a dozen designed to help you assess the state of your own marriage — seems especially futile. Still, Parker-Pope and, by extension, Campbell, deliver a solid package: nine hours of thoroughly researched, eye-opening statistics presented in an easy, conversational style. —Jaime Buerger

Publisher's Summary

We've all heard the statistic: Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Its enough to make many couples give up when the going gets rough, thinking that's what everybody else does. But what if it weren't true? What if, in fact, it's not only possible but often easier than you think to save a seemingly troubled relationship?

Those are the questions Tara Parker-Pope asked herself after her own divorce. An investigative journalist on the health and wellness beat, she turned to some of the top biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other scientists for the facts about marriage and divorce.

Those facts were more positive and provocative than she'd ever expected, and For Better offers plenty of astonishing, eye-opening good news. Parker-Pope presents the science behind why some marriages work and others don't; the biology behind why some spouses cheat and others remain faithful; and the best diagnostic tools created by the most cutting-edge psychologists to assess the probability of success in getting married, staying married, or remarrying. There are questionnaires to uncover potentially damaging hidden attitudes toward spouses. There are tools to show the impact of routine, fresh activity and how small adjustments can make a huge difference. Tara Parker-Pope's genius is for exploring the science behind the big issues that affect our lives every day and translating that science into advice that we can use every day.

For Better is the definitive guide to the most profound relationship of our lives.

©2010 Tara Parker-Pope (P)2010 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"Tara Parker-Pope has crafted a jam-packed, lucid survey of the science behind a sound marriage. No wonder she is so popular." (Mehmet Oz, M.D.)

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Good Food For Thought

The author covers an extremely complex subject and presents a great deal of scientific study, but this does not read like a text book. The narrator's voice is calm and soothing without being dull. The book contains a number of quizzes, which are read by the narrator who then interprets the results. I believe these would be more effective in printed form. This is merely a function of the audio format and not a criticism of the book itself. Overall, it was a very thought provoking read. I would recommend it for any married person or one who is contemplating marriage.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Morgan
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 10-14-10

Fascinating Read / Good Narrator

I bought this book because I liked the idea of getting advice based on facts / statistics. I was worried it might get boring, but I like to know authors are coming to conclusions based on scientific study or some kind of data. But I had no reason to worry because this book was fascinating! It offered good common sense advice about how to maintain a marriage or any committed relationship in a straight forward but not in a cheesy self-help way. Definitely recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Information Overload

There was so many different risk factors, personality traits, conflict styles, etc, presented in this book it becomes impossible to keep track of everything. I believe there are 19 total "For Better" quizzes. I was excited and eager about the first one; they became boring and mind numbing by the last one.

I did learn some interesting things along the way (my favorite was that hand holding reduces stress for women). By the end there was just too many topics covered that I lost concentration and interest. It was one of the few books I wanted to just reach the end.

I am still not sure how one would apply all the information. Should you try to score high on all 19 quizzes? Which quizzes are most important?

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marie
  • WASHINGTON, DC, United States
  • 11-14-10

Probably better for print

I do appreciate this book as part of my premarital reading, but there are tests and lots of numbers in this book that make me believe a print copy would be better in order to be more useful.
I did find myself zoning out at various points.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carla
  • Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  • 07-15-11

Entertaining, scientific look at marriage

I found this to be a very entertaining look at marriage and relationship studies. The quizzes were fun, but if you are looking for a book that's main focus is quizzes and exercises I don't think this is the one for you. If you are looking to understand more about what scientific study has shown to be factors in a good marriage this is a great book. A great book for a curious mind.

  • Overall
  • LUCY
  • bronx, NY, United States
  • 09-21-10

for better and for boredom

i was expecting a more dramatic approach to this book. where couple were ask question and they would answer them . this books was base on statistic and studies it was kind of boring.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful