Charlottesville's great alternative newspaper, The Hook, did a feature article about the book! Check it out here.
Click here to read Meryl Ann Butler's review, published on OpEdNews. Lots of fun photos, too!
"Living Happily Ever After – Separately is a rich account of honoring the profound call to connection that doesn't fit neatly into our culturally prescribed boxes. Ms. Stoessel's commitment to her soul call as a guiding purpose for these connections and her unique way of honoring both her own voice and her enduring love for connection with her family is a powerful testimony that can offer creative alternatives for individuals looking for hope and professionals walking with people facing relationship distress.”
-- Annmarie Early, Ph.D, LMFT
“This beautifully written book is the soulful journey of a couple who, rather than settling for a dysfunctional marriage or divorce, have trail-blazed a third way… living separately and keeping the family unit together… a creative possibility for couples wrestling with two unacceptable choices.”
-- Mary Elizabeth Marlow
author of JUMPING MOUSE: A Story About Inner Trust
“This book speaks for a generation that was determined to do things better than their parents, to be true to themselves in achieving personal goals and creating loving families...to have it all. Now in retrospect we can see that the challenge of the 60's generation to be both self-actualized individuals and loving partners and parents, was a much taller order than we could possible have known. Lise Stryker Stoessel gives us a glimpse into the pain and joys of her generation's struggle in the family with gender roles, financial realities, and the lack of models for positive alternatives to the patriarchal model. The chapters by the children give us insight into how deeply parents' relationships impact everyone in the family, and how being real with our grown children can become a bond between the generations. The hope we find here is that it isn't too late, the "boomers" are still working on changing old and destructive patterns that have kept past generations from both freedom as individuals, and the connection we long for with others. Getting past the either/or thinking that has told us we must resign ourselves to what is, or reject it totally, opens up new possibilities for creative and fulfilling relationships, families, and communities.”
Family and Community Mediator, Common Ground Negotiation Services, Charlottesville, VA
"Each time a couple (or an individual, for that matter) enters my office with complaints of an unhappy or unworkable relationship, I often find myself wondering, and asking, a couple things: 1) what, if anything, still works?, 2) who, if anyone, is motivated to change?, and 3) what kind of creativity of theirs can we draw on to find new solutions?. Lise Stryker Stoessel's poignant and insightful work is a beautiful demonstration of the process of answering those questions in the quest for balance and satisfaction in self and relationship. Her narrative about her own family's process of redefining, reworking, and renegotiating is one that grants permission to others who feel stuck and limited by social (and legal) convention to forge something new and healthier.
She begins with a familiar fairy tale: the "wrong relationships", falling in love with the "right" one, and building up the image of the perfect, blissful marriage, right up to the point where the veneers give way to a frustrating reality.She beautifully writes about the work of courtship and marriage, blending families, giving birth, and figuring out where "you" and "I" end, and where "we" begin. The strain that she describes is both painful and normative to an extent; the challenges of adaptation and co-evolution are ripe in her journey, and the sadness that comes with that realization of disappointment and unmet expectations is powerful. But this book isn't only about those. It's about hope, and learning through living, and trying again.
The sections contributed by her adult children represent one of the most significant gifts of this book. Couples struggle so much so often with what to do about their children when the grown-ups have lost sight of loving, or even liking, each other; the words of these articulate and sensitive and generous young adults highlight how invested children are in these major decisions despite sometimes being left out of them, as well as how much relief can come from thinking creatively about change that inevitably impacts everyone in the family. Finally, she encourages readers to take a personal inventory in a guided and thoughtful way, the conclusion of which will help them decide whether some kind of similar non-convention might work for their families.
This book is an invitation, though not for the faint of heart or spirit; the ingenuity of her family's transformation does not obscure the fact that this crossroads is a trying one, and not everyone is able to choose as they did. I applaud her and her family's bravery and would gladly recommend this read to individuals and couples on the brink who are not quite ready to throw in the towel (or who at least wonder if there are any options of last resort). There are certainly some pearls of wisdom and beacons of hope in here for them.”
--Tziporah Rosenberg, PhD
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
“In sharing her personal journey, Ms. Stoessel presents a creative approach to salvaging love and commitment, the essence of marriage, when living together is eroding this as well as one's sense of self. Her book invites others feeling similarly unhappy living together to redefine their marriages, and offers hope that strengthening autonomy separately may allow intimacy to be reengaged with less conflict. She gives helpful suggestions on ways to assess whether to try to redefine or end the marriage, and on how to go about creating a marriage without cohabitation.
I'll be giving it to clients struggling in their marriages and considering divorce when there's still some love, trust and respect but too much sacrifice of self involved in living together.”
-- Catherine Johnston, Ph.D.
"Happily ever after doesn't always have to mean living under the same roof! This enlightening and useful book offers an alternative approach to marriage in the 21st century for those who love their spouse but can't stand living with them!"
author of The Soulmate Secret
"Irreconcilable differences" are the cause of thousands of divorces in this country, as the common separation agreement will attest to. This book demonstrates that irreconcilable differences can lead to an outcome other than divorce, an outcome that can rejuvenate a marriage and rekindle the love that once was there and that perhaps hasn't died after all. Stoessel offers us her compassionate story that reveals what two people can create to keep their union and their family intact when all else has failed. Her story gives us hope, enlightens our imagination and strengthens our resolve to create something new for ourselves when our relationship is faltering, rather than letting it end. For anyone thinking divorce is the only way out -- read Stoessel's story, and think again.
-- K. Catherine Albano
Family Law Attorney, Mediator