Okay friends: this is a divorce book. I originally picked it up because I knew that a few of my readers were going in that direction. They’d asked me for advice. Divorce is not something from my experience. So I decided to read up. I wanted a book I could recommend to others when they asked, “Do you have any advice for people going through a divorce?”
How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed is that book. But this book is an important read for people who are fighting to hold their marriages together, too. Here’s why. Many times in life, when we are struggling with a given situation, we create a fairy tale image of a different situation that we imagine would be much better for us.
For instance, single folks who are lonely generally have a fairy tale image of marriage. They imagine that meeting and marrying the right person will solve all of their problems.
Conversely, unhappily married folks generally have a fairy tale image of the single life. Or maybe that’s just me. When my marriage was bad, I thought being single would be freeing, fun, exciting, and just what I needed.
That’s why it’s important to read memoirs like How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed (as well as Can’t Think Straight, which is next up in this series). Such books shatter these myths.
How to Sleep Alone shatters the myth by painting a realistic picture of divorce. You travel side by side with Theo Pauline Nestor as she makes the decision to end her marriage. Folks: I don’t want to give too much away here because the beginning of the book is artfully written and contains a twist. For that reason, I’m not going to tell you why Theo needed to get out of her marriage. I’m just going to ask you to trust me. Theo was in one of the few types of marriages that most people would declare terminally broken.
So she ended it. What follows is how she grieved the loss of that marriage. You travel with her through shock, denial, anger, frustration, exhaustion, loneliness, yearning, guilt, shame, and sadness. After many years of marriage, you get a first hand glimpse of what it feels like to cleave yourself from another person. You read about the dinners she eats alone when the kids are with dad. You can commiserate with how hard it must be for her to ask her ex to help her start the mower (because she’s not strong enough to do it herself) or help her with rodent control.
If your marriage is ending, reading this book will be like talking to a friend who has already done it—that friend who listens and realistically tells you that you will be okay but that this is gonna be dang hard. (Note: if your marriage is ending, I recommend you connect with Theo personally on her Facebook page). If your marriage is struggling, reading this book will feel like Theo has wrapped her hands over your shoulders and is shaking you and saying: Singlehood is not the walk in the park that you imagine!
Theo ended up working on her stuff and becoming a stronger person outside of marriage. You might end up working on your stuff and becoming a stronger person inside your marriage.
Either way, if you want to get to happy, you’re going to have to work on your stuff.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.