Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Title:  Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage
Author:  Elizabeth Gilbert
Release date:  January 5, 2010
Publisher:  Viking Adult
Pages:  304
Genre:  Nonfiction, memoir
Source:  Library

At the end of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love, she met and fell in love with Brazillian-born, Bali resident Felipe.  They knew they were in love and would be together, faithfully, forever, but both had absolutely awful marriages in their pasts, and were completely against marriage. Committed finds them at a turning point in their relationship – the United States homeland security decides that Felipe simply can’t come in and out of the U.S. every three months like he’s been doing for a few years, and if Liz and Felipe want to be together, they have no choice but to get married.  So what does Gilbert, who is terrified of marriage, do?  She undertakes the duty of researching marriage in order to get familiar with the institution, to understand what about it she is so averse to, and to find a way to make her own marriage one she can be fully happy about and thankful for.  She examines the history of marriage, how marriage affects different types of people in different ways, what marriages have been like in her own family, and her own prejudices about the institution of marriage.  Ultimately, she comes away with the understanding that love is complex and wonderful, difficult but joyful, all at once, and that her own marriage can be whatever she and Felipe make it to be.

Okay, first of all, I have to say one thing up front:  I am fully and unequivocally in love with Elizabeth Gilbert.  I know that opinions about Eat, Pray, Love were all over the board, especially in the blogging world, but I cannot adequately express how much I loved that book.  I just felt such a kinship with Gilbert… I really connected to her, for some reason, what she said and how she said it truly resonated with me and I just loved reading about her journey.  So, clearly, I have a little bias when it comes to Committed – I expected to love it, and I actually did.

I, too, was skeptical of marriage before I got married.  Not skeptical to the point where I didn’t want to enter into it, but skeptical because I’ve seen the result of my parents’ disastrous marriage – and I know that when they got married, they were totally in love.  I’ve always tried to figure out, among my friends’ and family members’ relationships, what makes some couples work for the long haul and others just can’t make it happen.  I love my husband and I believe in our relationship, but before we got married, I thought of divorce as something that just happened to you.  I feared that one day, I would wake up and we just wouldn’t work anymore.  Now I think that is certainly possible, and in some marriages perhaps that happens, but for us we both work hard to make sure that we have a strong marriage.  Really, we are still newlyweds (2.5 years), so I am probably just speaking from a place of ignorance more than anything else at this point.  But I will say that my views on marriage have changed a lot since before I got married.  So that’s one reason I loved Committed so much.

What I liked about it the most, I think, is the examination of Gilbert’s own experiences of marriages and her analysis of how her own prejudice and preconceived notions were tarnishing her ability to see how she could have a happy marriage of her own.  Upon examining her parents’ marriage, her grandmother’s marriage, her sister’s marriage, and the history of marriage, she really was able to develop her own ideas about what she wanted for her own marriage.  The conclusion she came to really stuck with me – marriage is so individual.  Each of us brings our own stuff into a marriage, good and bad, and it’s up to each couple to make things work for them.  Some figure it out, some do not.  I personally plan to learn from the marriages I’ve seen succeed and the marriages I’ve seen fail – I think that my husband and I both have stuff we have to figure out, and it will take years of practice for us to establish a pattern and a marriage that works for us.  But I do believe in our ability to do it.

Ultimately, marriage is about love.  This is what Gilbert finally understood, as she married Felipe, the love of her life.  Marriage does not have to be a certain way, it is shaped by the individuals within the union.  But really, it’s all about love.  Love for each other, love for your family, love for your common goals, and for your own individual aspirations – this is what Gilbert got out of her research, and that’s how she and Felipe started their own marriage.

I know that this book isn’t for everybody, but I really liked it.  I continue to adore Elizabeth Gilbert and will read anything else she writes. 🙂

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23 thoughts on “Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

  1. Oo, yay, I’m glad to see such a positive review of this book. I loved Eat Pray Love and identified with so many things she said, and I was afraid Committed wouldn’t live up to its high high standard. Can’t wait to read it!

  2. Yay! I’m glad that you liked this book. I loved Eat, Pray, Love – it meant a lot to me when I was going through a rough time in my life – recovering from a C-Section and struggling with PPD. I just picked up this book last week and it’s on my nightstand, along with Eat, Pray,Love which is due to be re-read.

  3. I’m reading this too right now, and I love it. I understand why people don’t, but as someone who also unequivocally adores Elizabeth Gilbert, I was sold. To read it in the weeks leading up to my wedding, as both someone who never thought she’d get married and one who isn’t convinced our relationship will change once we are, is perfect. I’m also a person who spends a lot of time contemplating what marriage is and whether it really matters or not. I’m glad to hear you liked it too!

    1. What a perfect time to read this book! Before I got married, I wanted to believe our relationship wouldn’t change in the after, but deep down I knew it would, and feared it would change for the worst. Now I’m confident that any changes start and end with the two of us, and we can work through what comes our way as long as we just trust each other and rely on each other. 🙂

  4. I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love but I’m certainly award of the controversy surrounding it. I’ve always believe in marriage and have been married for 30 years, so I’m not sure Committed is for me.

    1. Committed may not be for you, but I do think it’s an interesting analysis of marriage no matter what your marital status is. If you like nonfiction, I’d still recommend it to anyone. 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed Eat Pray Love and am interested to hear what people have to say about Committed – thanks for your review.

    I am interested to see how Gilbert struggles with the decision to marry since she was so anti-marriage by the end of Eat Pray Love.

    1. Yeah, that was the interesting thing – since she was coming from a place of being adamantly against marriage, and then had to choose between either getting married or breaking up, it was cool to see how she found a way to make marriage work for her and Felipe.

  6. This is the first review I’ve seen of this book in the blog world. I’m glad you like it so much! I also loved Eat, Pray, Love and really can relate to Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m not in a big rush to read this book though because I’m not married and want to save it for when I’m closer to that point in my life. I think it will mean more to me then. Thanks for the review!

    1. I was so surprised when it was at the library just a few days after its publication date! But of course, I was thrilled that I got to be one of the first ones to read it. I do hope you get to the book, even if you’re not headed towards marriage, because it’s really just a great examination of the institution in general and Gilbert’s history with it.

  7. It’s great that you are still newlyweds after 2+ years. I find marriage fascinating. You will not think of it the same at 2 years as you do at 11+ (where I am) and trying to find out what makes marriages work is elusive. I do think that’s why I like reading books about marriage. Every one is different.

  8. I’ll be reading this one for sure. I related to a lot in Eat, Pray, Love, and I like Gilbert’s writing. I also went through a lot of thinking about marriage (“a fine institution, if you like institutions”) after my first one ended…and ultimately decided to try it again, four years later. Thanks for the review!

  9. im reading this book for a couple of days and im loving it just like her eat love and pray book… i can relate to her emotions, feelings in certain experiences she went through eventhough im only 23 yrs old… thanks liz for giving me bits of wisdom with in comes to relatioships and personal trials.

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