At the conclusion of her best-selling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love", Elizabeth Gilbert found true love with the Brazilian-born Felipe. Her new book, "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" (Viking), picks up where EPL left off, with Gilbert and "The Brazilian" committed for life, but with no intention of marrying.
"The very idea of marriage ... filled us with a heavy sense of dread," Gilbert writes. But when Felipe is detained at an American border crossing, the couple is given a choice: get married, or Felipe can never reenter the country. "Committed" is Gilbert's attempt to accept the institution she'd sworn off forever.
How do you think EPL fans will react to the news you're married?
As much as I might think -- or even hope -- that people might say, "You sold out," they seem happy that we got married. People come up to me all the time and say, "Tell me you're still with the Brazilian! Tell me someone's having an actual relationship somewhere!"
How has your view of marriage changed since your first marriage?
I bring an enormous sense of self-accountability to this marriage. The way I was with my ex-husband, and all the men in my life, was that whoever was next to me at a specific moment was credited or blamed with whatever was going on with me. If I was happy, then that person was terrific. If I was unhappy, that person was a jerk. I won't do that to anybody anymore, much less the person I love and care about the most.
What do you want people to get out of this book?
I hope people will read it as it is written -- a sober, serious, eyes-wide-open, turn-on-all-the-lights contemplation of what this institution is. It's too important a subject to imbue with romanticism and dewy-eyed hope.
What advice would you give women who don't have to get married for legal reasons?
I'd say: Please have figured out your own life. Please be economically autonomous. Please educate yourself. And please choose somebody who, likewise, is all of these things. You can develop a life of sustained intimacy without a legal bond. But marriage is a bond of power. People you don't know will hand you regard that you wouldn't get otherwise. If you don't need that, that's okay, but it is worth something.
What have you learned from your mother, who has been with your father for 45 years?
At the same time, she can say, "I loved being home and raising you," and "I resent your father for making me stay home and raise you." When I run into relationship trouble I think, "Who said this was going to be straightforward?"
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