Bonnie Maslin compares the
troubled marriage to a traffic
jam. Drivers can't see the prob-
lem or a solution, but they do
see lack of movement.
suggests, have probably deteriorated past
the point of saving. But identifying the
behavioral routes that can lead to gridlock
before the jam occurs, and finding alter-
native paths of interaction, can help pre-
vent the paralysis that grips so many
Another key concept in the Maslin/Nir
approach is the idea of infidelity. They
define infidelity in unusually broad
terms — as the loss of faith and feeling in
"Sexual infidelity is only one symptom
of a marriage in trouble," Maslin says. "you
can be unfaithful in other ways. When a
man regularly turns on the television and
tunes out his wife, or when a woman gets
so buried in 'ring around the collar' that
the only thing that counts is whether her
home is neat and well greased and oiled,
these are also ways of being unfaithful.
There are plenty of people who haven't
strayed in a physical sense — but emo-
tionally, they're out of the marriage?'
Maslin and Nir then get down into the
trenches of marriage improvement with a
device they call the "Infidelity Quotient
(IQ) 'Ibst." The test consists of 55 questions
that force readers to lay out in detail the
sore spots of their marriages ("Are any of
these feelings part of the current emotional
climate of your marriage: lbo much water
under the bridge? Useless? Hopeless? We're
better off apart? I can't wait to get out?
It wasn't meant to be? I don't give a
Then, they interpret the results — not as
a precise diagnostic tool, but as a way of
helping readers unravel the underlying
behavior patterns that wreck marriages.
"It's not like a spelling test," Maslin says.
"The important thing isn't the final score,
but the questions you ask yourself as you
take the test and think about the results."
Maslin and Nir reinforce the message
with a series of case histories. They dissect
these troubled marriages with the thor-
oughness of biology professors going to
work on a frog; confused patterns of com-
munication are sorted out, conflicting
needs and wishes are diagrammed, and the
significance of individual symptoms — the
dirty socks on the floor that Maslin likes
to tslk about — is clarified.
Inevitably, people will see snatches of
their own behavior in these narratives.
"There's the shock of recognition?' she
says, "which makes it more personal for
people. We don't want people to read this
passively; it should be an active process,
an involved process."
Maslin. and Nir then deftly help readers