Portrait of Our Marriage by Martha Emms
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I finished this book yesterday and had to let myself sit and think about it before writing this review, mainly because it stirred up so many emotions in me that I had to wait for them to settle before I could approach this.
My background is in psychology, and I found Brett's years-long descent into porn addiction to be accurate in how it changes behavior, sexual performance, and how it slowly encroaches and erodes the trust and emotional connection within a relationship. The metamorphosis from charming, open, loving husband to secretive, defensive addict was painful to read, but so true. His emotional manipulation of Nicky was another thing that was painful to read about but so prevalent in certain dysfunctional relationships.
The way he villainized her whenever she confronted him, and how he would compare his severe transgressions to her healthy behavior based on minimal similarity is so typical of this behavior. The reasonable party, who is only trying to find common ground, often falls into the trap of admitting to the addict's accusations, the way Nicky does time and again, and is a phenomenal example of how there is no reasoning with a dysfunctional addict or emotional manipulator. They don't operate with any logic or reason, and anyone who engages with them is set up for failure. Nicky learned this time and again, and her resolve to continue believing in her husband for the sake of their marriage and the years of foundation they built together made me ache.
I don't understand the reviews criticizing the ending. Sometimes a happy ending isn't them living happily ever after. Not when one of them is blind to their own addiction and actively demolishing the relationship. Even if Brett had gone to therapy, I think it would have been too little, too late. Nicky fought for her marriage for too long, tried to be forgiving, understanding, tried to only focus on the positives, and lived with shame. The moment she came to the decision that she did, she started living again. Truly living.
THAT is the best happily-ever-after!
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review
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