How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told
Harrison Scott Key
Avid Reader Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), 2023
How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told by Harrison Scott Key is a remarkable book about adultery from the perspective of the betrayed spouse. I was not familiar with Key or his previous work until I heard about this book during Jillian Hamilton’s interview with Key on the podcast ‘Cheating: When Love Lies.’ Key’s wife Lauren, with whom he has three daughters, now in their teens, took up with their married neighbor Chad (a pseudonym) and had two extended affairs with him. With scorching transparency Key narrates the first revelation and its patched-up aftermath and then how they navigated the revelation of the recurrence and how they’re working on reconciliation and healing now. Amazingly, Lauren contributes a chapter of her own near the end, where she explores the background and dynamics of her adultery.
Key’s first book, The World’s Largest Man won the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and he brings acerbic and no-holds-barred humor to this book as well. Sometimes the humor feels forced, like mediocre stand-up jokes, but it’s often spot-on. Key bares his soul as he explores his experiences of hurt, anger, love, humiliation, longing and fighting for his wife and his marriage. He is unsparing about his own faults and how his self-absorption, careerism and workaholism contributed to the environment in which Lauren decided to step out on the marriage. He explores the deep background of his own upbringing and Lauren’s as well.
Writing as a committed Christina, Key says the book is about his marriage, yes, but equally about the spiritual and religious journey that shapes how he has navigated the treacherous waters of his wife’s betrayal. As he traces the religious contours of his childhood, his adolescent questioning, his and Lauren’s return to faith and church, he brings caustic wit to his assessment of some forms of church life and portrays movingly the new community church in Savannah, Georgia, that helped support him and Lauren through their trauma. Profanities abound in Key’s language, but his theological insights into the Bible and such major Christian themes as love, humility and forgiveness are profound.
I highly recommend this book. Betrayed spouses will find multiple resonances with their own experience and benefit from Key’s analyses. Betraying spouses will benefit from learning about how a victim of betrayal feels and will find Lauren’s exploration of her experience illuminating. This is a landmark work in adultery literature.
Me: BH, married to fWW & committed to her 'till death us do part'
DD1: EA, followed by TT & MC
DD2: EA revealed as PA, followed by more TT & no MC
DD3: TT ended, now FT; R underway + IC & MC