Wife for Life by Ramona Zabriskie – Book Review

There is nothing more important, I believe than our relationships with each other. And the husband/ wife relationship is one of the closest and most important relationships of all. This is the relationship that can bring the most happiness on one end or the most misery on the other. When the marriage relationship is good and strong, both partners will feel happy, secure and on top of the world.

They will help each other to be their best selves and will be able to do more and be happier. So, who wouldn’t want to learn more about improving their marriage? And in having a better marriage, we will have a stronger family, and in having a stronger family, homeschooling will be a LOT easier!! So I though I would share my thoughts and review of this book with you!

Why I Read this Book

So this book was recommended in a mom’s group I’m in. Several people said that it had saved their marriage and marriages of people they know. Sparked by some negative comments about their husbands on a podcast I used to listen to, I decided to get and read this book. It just makes me sad when I hear women demean their husbands and say things like their husband is not good at household stuff or caring for the kids or just doesn’t do things the way the wife does them.

I found this book to be very insightful and enlightening. There are things we do to improve our marriages, but we may not understand why. And as women we may also not appreciate how differently men think and react to certain things. Having watched a couple divorces up close, I have to say that her assessment of marriage and the relationships are right on with what I have observed. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand marriage better, who wants to understand men better and/ or who want to improve or save their own marriage.

So this book is great for people who are married to a “Nice Guy”. This is someone who doesn’t have major character flaws, but may not be the best at communicating or doing things that help their marriage grow and prosper. It is not sufficient nor does it describe how to work with things like narcissism or other serious psychological issues or abuse. So there’s that. There are times when a marriage should end. Still sad, but still the best course. This book isn’t about that. This book is about saving marriages between to good partners who are trying, but may need a perspective adjustment and/ or a little more guidance and hope of what a marriage can become when we work on it.

Part 1 – Why You Both Want a Grand Lifelong Marriage

The first part of the book paints the picture of what a great marriage can be. Ramona talks about how her husband surprised her with tickets on a ship across the ocean because it was her dream to experience the nautical adventures of her ancestors. She describes how her husband is always wanting to fulfill her dreams, to the point that she doesn’t tell him all of them, because she doesn’t want to necessarily really do them all.

She then paints the picture with many examples of couples with long and successful, happy marriages. She gives us hope that since others have done it, we can too. In this modern age where we have so many opportunities for growth, our marriages can become even better and more fulfilling than in any other era!

Part 2 – How to Avoid Becoming a Dream Breaker

Men and Women are Different

Part 2 is probably the most helpful and descriptive portion of the book. Ramona begins by explaining the differences between men and women. News Flash: men and women are different!! She backs up her ideas with studies. Maybe we wish the world could be all roses, but we must accept reality. Men’s and women’s brains work differently, they process language differently, they have different ways of expressing themselves, etc.

The more we can understand about our husbands, the better we will be able to support them. As we support our husbands, they will in turn support us. It’s a positive feedback loop. One great thing about reading this book too, is that I had a lot to discuss with my husband and ask him if the ideas in it were accurate. So even if it seems that a lot of the book doesn’t apply to you, you may still benefit from it!

The book is addressed to wives. I’m sure there are many things husbands could do to improve their marriages also, but this book is written specifically to wives.

Problems Wives Can Develop if not Careful

The next part of this section goes into the problems that develop for wives as they become unhappy in their marriage, and the results of divorce on men. Many divorced men did not see it coming and struggle to understand what they did wrong.

Ramona describes what she calls the “crazy ladies”. These crazy behaviors come out for wives when the woman is feeling insecure, scared or unsure about whether her husband is a good guy and if he loves her. It describes limiting behaviors such as nagging, shaming, accusations, showing disappointment and disapproval, complaining, belittling, ingratitude, selfishness, neglect, sarcasm, begrudging, resentfulness, conveying that he is a failure, etc. Ramona is very open about her experiences acting in these ways, and it gives us hope that if she could overcome the “crazy ladies”, then we can too!

What Divorce Looks Like

Ramona paints a picture of what divorce looks like, when the woman has become a “Dream Breaker” instead of becoming an intimate partner in a loving marriage. She interviewed 10 men who had been divorced. They were all heartbroken, and had sad tales to tell. When she asked them why they were willing to open up to her about their experiences, they said that it was so awful, they hoped that sharing their experience might prevent someone from having to go through what they went through.

It was not a scientific sample, but their experiences matched some of the research on the subject she has studies. It also matched what I have observed in a few marriages I have watched dissolve. It is a sobering chapter, and one that brings more understanding to many people who end up divorced.

Practical Advice for Improving a Marriage

And then she gives a lot of very good practical advice to avoid these Dream Breaking behaviors. One is learning to communicate clearly with your husband, tell him when you are feeling overwhelmed and why. Another is finding things to be appreciative of toward him and emphasizing the good he does. And another consideration is to see if he needs time to himself- he is also a person after all- and sometimes just needs to decompress for a little bit before being bombarded with whatever.

Basically, be considerate, have realistic expectations, take care of your own mental health- don’t expect your husband to fix everything for you-, don’t be a needy partner, look for ways to help and encourage your husband, understand how he thinks and what he needs, be positive, and be kind, etc. Also, really respect and admire your husband. It may be hard to find things at first, but he will notice and do more of the things you respect and admire him for.

Part 3 – What to Do to Make Dreams Come True

Become and Intimate Partner with Your Husband

The next part is what and how women can support their husbands, give them love, adoration, respect and confidence which will help them grow and in turn help and support their wives in their goals and desires also.

Here is a quote from the book:

A young husband recently summarized this phenomenon for me in one sentence: “My wife shows unconditional love and concern for me in every way, and it makes me want to reciprocate.”

Quests and Dreams

Men also have a need to have what she calls a “Quest” in life. Their quest doesn’t have to be amazing, but it does have to make them feel like they are doing something good in the world. It needs to be outside of the home and family also. She gives examples of what this quest is for different men and practical advice on how to help our husbands find theirs. Things like, ask them questions to encourage them to be creative.

Encourage them to do things that promote their natural “Masculine Zest”. Men need adventure and creativity and fun. And then when he has found his quest, decide how we can support him and if we are wiling to share him with the world. Of course she gives lots of examples so it’s easy to understand exactly what she means by all this. Wives can then be his inspiration, “Dream Maker”, “Dream Keeper”, and “Dream Weaver”.

Conclusion- Read the Book!

In the end, it may just take some imagination. She also has a fun podcast and Wife for Life University. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to improve or understand their marriage. Ramona has been married 40+ years and was inspired to write this book when telling her friend of how she and her husband almost divorced their first year of marriage and how they were able to turn things around and to enjoy the great marriage they have now.

So yes, I enjoyed the book. It was easy and fun to read. It was thought provoking and it opened up some deep conversations between my husband and I. Definitely, put it on your reading list! I think you will be glad you did! And in the meantime, check out her podcast and website- she has a lot of great info!

Happy growing in your marriage!!


Amber is the mother of 8 kids ages 19 - 6 including 6 boys in a row and a set of twins. She has a lot of experience with homeschooling, parenting, getting kids to do their chores, cleaning and keeping it all organized. She currently lives in France with the 6 boys- the oldest is on a mission for their church in Tahiti, and the next daughter is headed to college in January!