The fact that Sharyn Wolfs own marriage was less than exemplary didnt prevent her from appearing on Oprah eight times to talk about such subjects as How to Stay Lovers for Life (one of her book titles). Wolf has made a living as a marriage counselor although she was unable to solve any of her own marriage problems. She wrote about ways to revitalize marriage while only having sex 3 times in 15 years. And now she has revealed why she didnt leave a marriage that had been crumbling for years in her new book, out in May, Love Shrinks. This book is for all of us who stayed in our marriages long after they were viable, who thought the good outweighed the bad even though we were miserable on a day to day basis.
Q: Do you intend to keep practicing marriage counseling and psychotherapy after your book hits the street? Will clients still want to listen to you when they read your big reveal about your own marriage?
A: I hope to maintain my practice. When one of my clients said she read about my book in my article in the Huffington Post last week I thought she was calling to cancel. But instead she made an appointment. A heart surgeon who has a heart attack can still see patients.
Q: Do the problems in your own marriage -- the lack of communication and inability to make a break -- devalue the expert tips and advice you gave in your books, seminars, and on TV?
A: At one point, I feared my sadness was contaminating a group that I led; but it was just my fear. My advice doesnt just come out of my head. Ive studied relationships from Plato to the present, how relationships work and why they dont. My advice comes from years and years of good analytical thinking and I stand by it.
Q: I like the structure of the book, with the reasons why you didn't leave your husband listed. Why does our perception or memory of what was good always seem to count for more than what was bad?
A: Its amazing how much pain and sorrow we tolerate. I thought I was happy for a long time. We had great vacations together. One great vacation could repair a whole lousy year. The good moments were so tender and loving that they made up for a lot. Plus I had an awful childhood, so my awful marriage felt in sync with rest of my life.
Q: The childhood issues that affected your ability to be good companion and partner are so dramatic, will you be writing another memoir?
A: Yes, I have started on a second memoir that centers on my childhood.
Q: What has your ex said about the book?
A: I havent told him about it. Since he never read anything I wrote before he may miss this and never know about it. If he reads it I dont think he looks like a bad person; in fact he looks like a good person although he might be unhappy I reveal things he would not like others to know.
Q: Are you optimistic that you could have a healthy relationship in the future?
A: I feel if I were to enter one now I would know how to do it right. But I dont feel the need to be in one. Its kind of a relief. I feel very stress-free.
Judy Kirkwood, who writes frequently for thirdage.com, also thought she was happy in a marriage that had ended long before its last gasp.