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The Husbands and Wives Club: A Year in the Life of a Couples Therapy Group

3.1  ·  Rating Details ·  218 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews

For more than a year, journalist Laurie Abraham sat in with five troubled couples as they underwent the searing process of group marriage therapy. Published as The New York Times Magazine’s cover story "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" the resulting article generated intense reader response and received the A
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Touchstone (first published 2010)
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Mar 09, 2010 Corrine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This one was a hard one to review. I really enjoyed the parts that showcased what I had bought the book for: Abraham's journey following a couples therapy group. My complaint is the passages were too disjointed and ultimately I felt cheated in the entirety of the text.

Abraham, an editor for Elle magazine, originally began this concept as an article, but quickly realized that to showcase the whole struggles of these five couples, she needed a larger format. It's very interesting the different typ
Oct 16, 2010 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
For me, this book was too much about the history of different couples therapy theories and not enough about the couples actually in the group. An attempt was made at character development, but, really more from a reporting eye than a plot device to make the story richer, deeper.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah B.
Aug 29, 2013 Sarah B. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: future couples therapists
I picked up this book partly out of the noble and sincere desire to learn how to make a great marriage, but mostly because I wanted to read about other people's problems and how they handle them. I don't like self-help books, which are usually both textbook-ish and too chipper. But a nonfiction book that follows real marriages over time, documenting their issues in brutal detail, and maybe offering insights into strategies that help some marriages last? Oh yes!

But that's not what this book was.
Aug 27, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading partly like a history of couples therapy and partly like a voyeuristic reality show, this MaryRoach-esque book was a true pleasure to read!

Abraham sifts through the psychobabble to find real gems from current and historical research to share with the reader, who is meanwhile finding pieces of themselves and their relationships through the real-life struggles of 5 couples in group therapy. There is a certain comfort in knowing that while you'll never be in the "hot seat", so to speak, you
Jeff Raymond
A book that chronicles a year of couple’s therapy with some couples out of Pennsylvania. Really, really interesting look into therapy and couples problems, and made me realize, yet again, how lucky I am to have a wife like Ann. So very, very lucky. A good read for sure, one of those books that gives a great look into something you think very little about.
Apr 04, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Being completely single, not even dating, and never married, one would think a book about group couples therapy would be an odd choice. But it was FASCINATING and ended up solidying my life choices in my mind. But I suspect there's something in this for everyone -- five couples to choose from to identify with. And lots of intellectual history of couple's counseling thrown in for good measure.
Nov 09, 2010 Arla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ditto this comment "Couldn't finish it. I thought it would be something I really liked, but it was very bland and hard for me to remember each couples' stories. I felt like I needed to finish it, but was just wasting my time when there are so many other books awaiting me."
Oct 19, 2010 Sharonb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting for mental health professionals. Others in different careers but interested in this field may like it too. I got engaged with the couples' stories, but then enjoyed the author's summary of and opinion on the hx of marital therapy.
Ayelet Waldman
Other people's bad marriages are like car accidents. You can't help but stare but it makes you feel bad.
Jun 04, 2010 Rhonda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Author of Elle magazine did an article on one couple in a therapy group, but this book is about the WHOLE group, all the couples, who committed to months of group therapywith therapist Judith Coche'. Each couple had their own issues, but were all dealt with in the group. Interesting, but there were many parts I didn't care for.

Favorite Quotes:

"This is how you teach people to be crazy,' Coche remarks. 'Tell them, 'Your realizty isn't correct, 'my' reality is correct." p 56

"the challenges of marri
A writer for the New York Times Magazine spent two years observing a group of couples as they went through marriage counseling together. Most therapists don't use group therapy for couples in need of marriage counseling, and I can see why it would be difficult. It's hard enough to reveal embarrassing truths in front of your partner and a shrink, but to do so in front of your partner, a shrink, and six to eight other people . . . oy. (And yes, some of the couples said they gossiped about the othe ...more
Jenni V.
Sep 13, 2013 Jenni V. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Negative reviews are difficult to write but here I go...
There were two aspects to the book - the personal information about the couples and the technical information about theories. Except for a few "aha" moments (the part about projective identification was especially fascinating), this book didn't hold my interest.
The way the author presented the information about the couples seemed skewed. I'm not suggesting she put words in anyone's mouth, I just think what she chose to include and how she
May 06, 2010 Yuki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Well written but I think I expected a bit more because on the cover there is a review that said "a rare work of nonfiction that reads like a really good novel". NOT. Was the book well written? Yes. But it's written like a journalist who follows 5 couples in marital therapy (which is exactly what the book is).

You know what I took away from this book? That if you don't marry someone who is your soul mate, if you don't marry someone who you have a deep passion and love for, if you don't marry someo
I tried to like this book, I really, really did! The premise is interesting: a journalist sits in on a year's worth of couples therapy group sessions. Indeed the sections in which she describes the five couples in the group and their interactions in therapy are interesting, as is the dynamics of the group.

However, interspersed with descriptions of the group sessions are segues about different philosophies of marriage counseling, and profiles of the originators of the different schools of though
Apr 04, 2010 Erika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read *not* because it was the story of five marriages through a year of couple's counseling, although that appealed to the part of me that loves to read biographies, letters, and diaries. (Real people with real problems fascinate me.) No, what I appreciated was the author's very serious effort to work her way through -- and describe and take apart -- the entire oeuvre of "scientific" literature on couples therapy. The story of Coche and the five couples was just the setting for th ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This might have been more like 2.5 stars.

Don't let the cover blurb fool you; this does not read like a novel. It took me a really long time to differentiate between the couples. I also had the sense throughout that the author knew something she wasn't telling or at the very least that she wasn't able to fully explain what she was seeing in the group.

Still, it was interesting to follow the struggles of these couples, to see how they dealt with therapy (often with the same defenses they used in t
Jan 19, 2011 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Laurie Abraham is a student of the art of marriage, and punctuates her work in this book with references to a great number of books and research papers on the subject. I found this book surprisingly engaging, especially since it had a 3 star rating from other readers. Sufficiently inspired to go out and get several of the other books she swears by, including Michael Miller's Intimate Terrorism.

After 35 years, I'm interested in trying to figure out how to continue to improve our relationship.
This book was good, but the subject matter was quite ambitious and the author never quite reached the depths required to make this better. She followed five couples in a counseling group and does her best to describe each person in the marriage as well as the couple, but I felt as though I only got glimpses rather than in-depth portrayals. She intersperses information about counseling theory and did an excellent job, especially for non-counselors.
Jul 09, 2010 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book felt very clinical, detached, and disjointed to me. It didn't tell the couples stories as much as have a bunch of quotes separated by paragraphs of psychobabble. Abraham didn't manage to make me care about any of the couples or what happened to them.

I also really didn't like the fact that in a single sentence early in the book the author said that the group was going to deal with x, y, and z, giving away all the interesting things that were going to happen within the group.
Jan 30, 2012 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, marriage
This book was more clinical than I was hoping for. You are put in these couples lives and got into their story and then Abraham breaks to go into the history of couples and marriage therapy. Then you forgot what story you were just getting into. I was hoping for more just about them. It was good but I probably would've preferred the magazine article that most likely skipped all the clinical talk and stuck mostly with the couples.
Aug 03, 2016 Cherene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It is a journalist's take on a couples therapy group that she attended for a year. I suspect that others who are not counselors or don't love marriage therapy would not love this book though. The author inserts a lot of counseling theories and background in between the interesting stories of the couples. I felt like she was trying to use really big words to sound more academic, but I loved the topic and the real-life stories.
Aug 19, 2011 Shifra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book in non fiction and the author follows five couples struggling with the normal challenges including money sex and power that couples face in a marriage. I found listening to their experiences helpful and inspiring. There are no easy answers to keep marriages evolving. It made me think about think more deeply about my own interactions. I do recommend this book.
Patricia Geller
Interesting insight into a year in a couples group. You grow tired of the clients, as you would in the group:) but Laurie Abraham brings an interesting and skeptical eye to all the guru's of the couple's therapy world. That itself is worth reading especially if you are in couples therapy or are treating couples. She challenges all the pearls of wisdom from an outsider perspective, which is great.
Well, the lengthy excerpt I read in a magazine proved to be the most interesting part of the book. I got bogged down with the additional statistical info on marriage and counseling. I wanted more about the people in the group and since there were holds on the book, I returned it without finishing it!
May 06, 2010 Maren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't see a lot of positive reviews of this book but I loved it. Abraham is compassionate, intelligent and involved; she asks the questions I wished I were there in person to ask and she always guided the narrative with a nice balance of contemporary theory and insight. Honestly, it was a little bit like subscribing to a educational (i.e. not guilt-inducing) reality TV show.
Mar 07, 2010 LK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A journalist follows a psychologist and five couples in a monthly marriage-support group for one year. Although I never fond of the psychologist, I grew fond of the couples' devotion and efforts to each other, even if these efforts seemed designated for death at times. Fortunately, all couples survived, grew, and improved.
Sara Smith
This is not a light read because it has a lot of psychology mixed in between the sessions. I guess I was hoping it was going to be juicier. My M.S. is in Counseling Psychology so this was more like partial reading for class.
Oct 11, 2011 Rachael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
Couldn't finish. Realized I wasn't interested in learning about other people's marriage troubles. I didn't know this before I tried, but it's incredibly hard for marriage problems to be interesting in any way.
Valeria Wicker
Sometimes I felt like a voyeur reading about the trials and mishaps of various married couples in group therapy, but it also offers some insight into what works in healthy relationships. The presentation of research interspersed with observations from the group sessions was an engaging approach.
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