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Saturday, February 6

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

For the past week, I’ve been reading, Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow up memoir to her best seller Eat, Pray, Love. I read Eat, Pray, Love in 2008, and it inspired me to take a trip by myself halfway across the world to Indonesia. (One of the best decisions I’ve ever made). So, I was excited and anxious to read her next book to see what kind of travel inspiration I would draw from it.

As it turned out, none. But the book was no less amazing!

In Eat, Pray, Love, the author decided to travel internationally for a year in an effort to “find herself” after a horrible divorce. She visited Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Indonesia (Love). Yep, she found love again in Indonesia with a Brazilian-born, Australian citizen temporarily living in Bali for business.

Over the next three years, the two had a slow courtship and eventually pledged themselves to each other…but not immediately through conventional marriage. Both the author and her new beau had been through excruciatingly painful divorces which burdened them financially, emotionally and physically, so they were equally skeptical about the institution and had no desire to make their union “legal”—until the United States Government stepped in.

In order for Felipe, Gilbert’s new lover, to visit (and stay in) the US freely without the frequency of his trips raising suspicion with the border patrol, the two would need to be legally married…the couple had been sentenced to wed.

So, Committed is entirely about Gilbert’s attempt to make peace with the age-old, stubborn institution of marriage. She explores the history of marriage (which didn’t start off as a religious sacrament. It was once a secular institution monitored by families and civil courts. In fact, the church held celibacy in higher regard than marriage in the beginning); she interviews women from different cultures to get their perspectives on marriage; (what she finds is that arranged, or pragmatic, marriages—marriages based on the interest of the larger community rather than the two individuals involved—are more likely to stand the test of time). She also investigates the difference between infatuation and love. She notes that it is usually infatuation that gets people in the trouble of marrying or procreating too soon. Gilbert describes infatuation as, “the most perilous aspect of human desire….infatuation is not the quite same thing as love; it’s more like love’s shady second cousin who’s always borrowing money and can’t hold down a job.”

Gilbert also reveals from research that women who marry later in life and have fewer kids (among other factors) are more likely to stay married in this day. The whole book challenges the reader to think about marriage outside of convention because the reality is the institution changes as history changes and evolves. My marriage won’t look identical to my mom’s and will only vaguely resemble my grandmother’s.

I’ll stop here and conclude with simply calling the book “eye-opening.” If you’re looking for a good, non-fiction read, check out Committed.

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