For Jody, the best surprise about marriage was how quickly arguments—the very same arguments that would have been grounds for a breakup in a dating situation—could be resolved, and that a marriage can move forward strengthened by these negotiations. Her worst surprise was the one every wife in history has had to face eventually: "discovering that everything I thought I could tweak and improve in my husband remains untouched and the same! I adore him, but somehow I always thought I'd be able to mold him to my will."

Lynn said that what had surprised her most was how expensive it is to raise a family on one income. "Even if your husband has a good job, and you send your children to public school, it still takes so much money to keep up a normal, nice, middle-class lifestyle," she said.

Sarah said she had never imagined that she'd get divorced, and I told her she was so much better off that she ought to write her ex-husband a thank-you note. Then there was a round of the kind of conversation that happens among women when a husband jumps ship. (Just because Sarah and her ex are being perfectly civilized about the whole thing doesn't mean the rest of us had to be. Take a side and commit to it—that's always been my approach to friends' divorces, and I'm not about to change it.)


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