The Silent Wife The Silent Wife discussion


91 views
In a bad marriage, is there only one person to blame? SPOILERS

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Illiterate Whether your loved the book or hated it- I am curious- In a 'bad marriage' is there only one person to blame? As a reader, do you yearn for the bad character(s)to be punished in the end? Or are you ok with a few characters to slip through, unjudged and unpunished? How does this point of view, color your rating of this book.


Illiterate Answering my own question first

SPOILERS ARE LIKELY in the discussion of this question

1)I think in a bad/marriage both are to blame. It is rare, a person is totally innocent, barring say child brides. Two consenting adults enter into a relationship choose to see and unsee what they wish. When things start going sour- as two consenting adults, they must own up to their part of the mess that has been created

2) As a fiction reader, I find that I do wish all bad actions to have real life consequences. It frustrates me when they don't. I have a hard time liking books that do this. Totally hypocritical of me, I know..It is fiction after all.

3) And so when characters, make seemingly obvious bad choices and escape real world consequences. I tend to rate these books lower. Once again hypocritical of me- Its fiction. But I cant help it!


message 3: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Feb 04, 2015 12:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes One person CAN be the only one to blame, or no one is to blame. Platitudes might be politically correct, but often a marriage can go south because either circumstances or a person has a radical change of goals or life circumstances or lied to get the person to marry them.

1. The man or the woman in a marriage decides to go to college. The other one doesn't, by choice, and maybe no one in either side of the family has ever gone to college, so neither knows what might happen. College actually changes the brain, makes one smarter, widens opportunities, increases vocabulary, life understanding, interests. The one who doesn't go to college often feels stupid, left out, left behind in the old life by the time the one who went to college graduates. To use a bad analogy, one may still be desiring to drink beer in the small farming hometown tavern and wanting to go bowling with everyone on Fridays, speaking only one language, while the other may be drinking fine wines and gets a job running a museum in a major city, speaking two languages now and having developed a love of opera.

Both will blame the other. But who could have known what effects going to college would have? Neither is at fault, IMHO.

This scenario happened to me, but not between my husband and me. A college education broke my relationship with my only sibling. I am now an atheist, he believes the earth is 6,000 years old because the entire Bible is absolutely god's word to him. Another example, one of my college friends divorced his now 'stupid' wife, who would not or could not educate herself. One did not read or do much math beyond adding and subtracting, the other was ready to get a job as a financial broker for a famous company. Yet, at high school graduation, they were in love and equals.

2. There are people out there who lie cheat and trick their way into marriages. They lie about their past, hiding previous marriages, children, criminal pasts and prison sentences.

3. Or one partner becomes addicted to gambling, multiple sexual partners, alcohol or drugs. It is more common than you think.

4. Car accidents or some other mishap or disease destroys one of the couple's body, while the other still has everything working. I saw MS destroy a marriage. I saw an addiction to painkillers destroy a marriage.

5. I saw the incapability of one partner to love their first child, handicapped, destroy the marriage.

A lot of this stuff completely blindsides the couple.


Illiterate Bad things happen.. Yes I get that.... But then again no one is promised a life of fortune, good health and smart decisions at every turn... whether you believe in the bible or not. Science shows that something is bound to happen. It is not if, it is when...

So setting the possibility of misfortunes, poor decision, poor health etc aside- both consenting adult partners must have had some forethought of how they would deal with the misfortune.. Or maybe they thought " Hey this marriage is only for better, richer and health.. none of that for sicker, poorer or worse crap"

Yes there are people who lie, cheat, steal, have hidden pasts, but in a marriage... at least a marriage both planned on keeping until death do they part. You learn to deal with these things. And to be honest, I feel in a marriage ... Someone who you live with day after day. Share your hopes and dreams with...It is hard to be truly blindsided by anything. Now you may chose to ignore the fact a spouse rarely mentions a childhood, or seems to have an obsession with alcohol/drugs... or is losing weight rapidly without trying - but it os rare that one is totally blindsided to what those things mean. The silent wife was not blindsided by anything...Marriage is NOT dating. Its not- oh this looks bad, I am out of here.
Marriage is this looks bad- let me hunker down and prepare for this storm because we are going to get through this together, because I took this vow.

So this is my problem with this book.SPOILER ALERT


They weren't married!!!! She was fully aware of this and infact that was her decision. Why be angry at a partner who begins to choose a different life? You made it clear that you did not want to be married.I am supposed to cheer for the character. Be happy she got away scott free? The man got what he deserved?
SMH. I just couldn't with this one


Illiterate I don't meant to sound insensitive to the pitfalls of health or difference of political opinion.

Also I am saddened to hear about the various 'broken' relationships you refer to...

But remember relationships are a CHOICE. You can choose to have a relationship with a sibling, despite their religious beliefs and backgrounds. In fact as college educated person...(especially if you have a liberal arts degree)... you should embrace the fact that everyone in your life, all of your friends WILL NOT share the same thoughts and beliefs. That's ok... That's becoming an adult.

I have an advanced degree. My father believes that women should be in the kitchen and barefoot. Do we not have relationship? Of course we do, Why? because I choose it. My degree just like his beliefs are not to blame for anything. Relationships are a choice! Marriage is a choice! Everyday you must actively choose it. At dinners with my father, we don't discuss womens rights, we discuss other things we have in common, laugh about good times we had on family vacations, discuss his upbringing- so that I one day may pass that history on to my kids, etc

I don't mean to be condescending with this post. I want you to know that you can still choose to have a relationship with that sibling. If you cant tolerate their 'backward' or 'religious' beliefs - then talk about something else. Talk about Growing up, running from the neighborhood dog, making sandcastles at the beach. A truly enlightened, educated person who is comfortable with their belief system shouldn't have a problem with doing that. They shouldn't feel the need to attack someone who is different...especially if that person is their sibling. I mean that is your SIBLING.... Embrace them for who they are, just as you ask to have done for yourself. IF they cant do that.. then you...as the educated person...should set the example, and take a leap of faith that they will one day follow suit.

When you get really good at it, You will find yourself going to church, supporting them at their religious observances - with nary a disparaging word, argument or thought. Why would you do such a thing if you don't believe it? Because this is your sibling, whom you love.. and they believe it. Same reason why you might go to a movie you don't want to see - because your friend/sibling/spouse wants to see it. If you are a really good friend/sibling/spouse...not only would you take them to the movie - You would laugh with them and be thankful you had the opportunity to share that special moment with them.

OK getting off my soapbox here


aPriL does feral sometimes Good for you that you can force your way past your dad's locked door. It's great he doesn't pick up the phone and have you arrested. Or perhaps you don't mind if he might press charges. I know people who willingly, happily toss people into prison who try to force themselves inside another person's house.

So happy you think that a wife being murdered by her husband, even though he is sent to prison for 30 years for her murder, that she can somehow come back from death and choose a relationship with him as a ghost.

I have a feeling that we are not communicating on the same plane.


message 7: by Illiterate (last edited Feb 04, 2015 07:53PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Illiterate I have a feeling that we are not communicating on the same plane

No probably not. It was good book. I shall leave it at that.


message 8: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita I liked this book. To answer your questions:

1. I would say if both people believe a marriage is bad, they are both to blame, be it poor communication, poor compromising abilities, etc. But I have seen marriages where one person thinks it is bad and the other doesn't, so...

2. I don't care if a bad character is "punished" as long as they face consequences, which I do think are two different things.

3. Your third question really hit me. I am finding so many books out there with "wussy" characters. I want to read books with strong characters, whether they are good or evil! I don't mind poor choices if the author explains them well. I have a hard time recommending books with characters who have no backbones.


Illiterate Great responses.
Just wondering -did you think the wife character faced any consequences for her actions? Or did she really not have any actions to have consequences for?

I understand your need to have strong characters. Both bad and evil. I really like a dark book so badness happening to good beople, or the ironic goodness happening to bad people is always welcome read for me. :)


message 10: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita I think the wife was living with many consequences that her husband caused. Did she deserve consequences for her own actions? Perhaps, but I do think she suffered plenty. And as a reader I thought the author showed that well.


message 11: by Illiterate (last edited Feb 15, 2015 09:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Illiterate Hmm, see I guess that's why I did not enjoy the book as much. I feel as If she did not suffer enough. She was taking advantage of things not owed to her.
Even the fact that she enjoyed being referred to as " Mrs.x, or his wife, widow" Was just too much for me. Maybe I would have felt a little more empathy if it was the husband who was actively choosing not to be married. But infact it was she who made that choice..
I do feel as if she clearly had a choice. She choose to make her bed ( stay with a cheating partner, choose not to legally marry, choose not to have kids despite his clear desire to), but then she did not want to lay in the bed she made. She feels somehow entitled to things not truly hers.... And she ends up with his money in the end I just couldn't stomach it.. I just couldn't even fathom thinking like this, but I guess there are people who don't have a problem with it.
It was definitely an eye opening book for me


message 12: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita Interesting, but I've seen relationships destroyed by infidelity so to me his cheating overshadowed anything she could have done. Once a spouse feels "entitled" to go outside a marriage, the playing field of entitlement gets leveled in my opinion. He could have been a bigger man and left the situation if he were unhappy (not marrying, not having children). Now that I am thinking about it more, lol, I'm really glad she got the money in the end. So glad you brought this up. I love discussing and thinking about books in a way I might not have without talking to someone else.


message 13: by Illiterate (last edited Feb 17, 2015 08:40AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Illiterate Although I am not an advocate of cheating, I always see infidelity as the canary in the coal mine. It is only alerting you to a greater problem in the marriage. Here the problem was his desire for the chase, he liked the pursuit and to some extent a greater problem was that his wife never indulged his dreams to have kids. Her problem was that he never indulged her dreams to remain faithful. So I believe both are to blame Anyhow..

The problem I have is that she never agreed to marriage nor having his kids- by choice. She did allow him early in the relationship to have other women - many people have 'open' marriages and are perfectly happy with the arrangement. As a supporter of womens rights I have no problems with any of her choices....

However, I feel like if she wanted the perks of marriage ( access to his money in the event of death, the title, the pity party when being jilted) , she should have become his wife and accepted the bad with the good- saying the vow, and compromising with his wish to have kids. That's marriage. Accepting your spouse as they come- then working on the things you feel you can not accept. Marriage is not ridiculing your partners dream, blocking your partners dream and having your partner indulge in only your ideal - then looking shocked when are enticed away by someone who is willing to be supportive. Their must be compromise at BOTH ends-or you endanger the relationship.

She should have used his desires, as her bargaining tool. "Oh you want to be married, kids? - Well I want fidelity, Do we have a deal?" LOLOL. Some part of me thinks she didn't even want fidelity - she built a comfortable life with him having this 'bad habit'. It is only when he exercised his option to stay away, to actually get married and follow a dream of being a father to a child- she got angered, and benefited. It the end she was the one who cheated... she cheated the idea of marriage.


message 14: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita I see cheating very differently than you do. I see the cheater as the problem rather than the marriage. Usually only one person cheats... I also don't consider an open marriage as cheating. You may be right though that the cheating wasn't her issue.

I didn't remember that she didn't let him know she wasn't interested in marriage or children. That is definitely a form of betrayal, as all secrets are.

I also don't believe you need that piece of paper to have all the perks you're referring to. To me if you believe you're in a committed relationship, everything you're discussing, kids, money, etc., go with that relationship. I see compromise being part of all human relationships. However, I do believe if two people want that piece of paper and for many legalities, it is necessary, they should have it.


Illiterate Yes I guess I understand that view.
I too used to view cheating as the problem. I guess I separate 'cheating' from adultery. Cheating by habitual cheaters is usually seen early in the relationship. Cheaters are the ones who have a string of broken relationships because of commitment issues. They like the chase, they cant sit still, they are always looking for the next one. I feel as if people who date this type- know what they are getting into. The family, the best friend warns you, but for some reason people choose to ignore the signs. I feel little pity for people who choose to ignore the red flags and marry people like this.

Now adultery, sleeping around in an established committed relationship is usually a sign of something deeper. Marriage counselors will tell you this. The mind ( and body) has begun to covet something missed in the current relationship. That takes a while to develop. I feel like movies may depict some quick fling with love at first sight- but what usually happens is the colleague from the office, the close friend from high school - 'listens' to the problems they cant explain to the spouse, offers support, provides the missing thing in the current relationship -and new bonds form. The 'thing' can be spontaneity, support, money, what ever that person senses is a pillar of love.

I feel as if for both cheating and adultery- the warning signs are there. Cheating- if you do just a touch of research, you see the person has had commitment issues in the past. Adultery- you have felt the distance grow between a spouse over time, you know that there is something, some gnawing, nagging issue that is not quite resolved but you as couple have chosen to ignore- it literally clears a hole in the relationship that ( if you don't work on or actively try to fill with counseling and the such) someone can just step right into and literally come between couple.

I think it is true you don't need a piece of paper to be entitled to all of the perks of marriage. I could have understand in situations where marriage can not be 'legally obtained'- but a commitment is clearly made (LGBT relationships). I guess I could understand it from that point of view. But like I said, this was clearly not the case for this couple. Marriage was totally within reach. She just declined it on multiple occasions.

pg 17
By forgoing marriage and children she has kept a clean slate, allowed for a sense of spaciousness. There are no regrets.....Her friends of course know her as Jodi Brett, but to most people she is Mrs. Gilbert. She likes the name and title; they give her a pedigree of sorts and act as an all-around shorthand, eliminating the need to correct people or make explanations, dispensing with awkward terminology like life partner and significant other."

and there is

Pgs136-137
There are times and this is one of them, when she thinks that not marrying Todd might have been a mistake. Sometimes it's hard to remember why she objected to marriage so emphatically. A reaction more than a decision. Aversion, distaste , something on a visceral level. He wanted to marry her and even proposed. He proposed more than once , she recalls...


Illiterate Thanks for indulging a reasonable intellectual discussion btw!


message 17: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita I find a book discussion much more interesting when there is disagreement about a book. It is so boring when I sit in a book club and everybody loves the book. lol I disagree with you on so many levels, but loved the discussion. What are you reading now?


message 18: by Illiterate (last edited Feb 19, 2015 07:29AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Illiterate Just finished The secret lives of Baba Segi's wives by Lola Shoneyin ( now published as The secret lives of the four wives). I am on my second read as I am hosting an upcoming book club for this title. I really enjoyed the book. I am on my second read working on generating some discussion questions.

I have recently renewed my love of reading. Now I find my self becoming partial to fiction based in far off locales, new cultures, new idea exposures. I think the 'chick lit' as they call it around here is just not real enough for me -- which I know is hypocritical, because it IS fiction. If you have any recommendations I would greatly appreciate it!

I think next for me may be Kite Runner, looking at Kontiki as well. How about yourself?


back to top