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NPR's Rehm shares marriage tales

Diane Rehm has spent decades exploring the lives of politicians, religious figures and musicians on her eponymous show. Now, in a new book co-authored with her husband of 42 years, the National Public Radio personality has turned off the mic and revealed details about her own life.

In a reception held last week at the Museum of Art, Rehm and her husband, John, talked about the book and the universal messages it contains. Titled "Toward Commitment: A Dialogue About Marriage," the work discusses 26 issues that couples face, including sex, in-laws, religion and parenting. It utilizes a format in which John and Diane wrote brief essays on each topic, and then came together and made a dialogue that lasted about 15 minutes. These dialogues, along with the essays, were then edited and included in the book.


"The beauty of the format was that in each essay, we wrote our own view. And then in the dialogue we elaborated upon and sometimes went beyond what we had done in the essay," John Rehm said. "Sometimes we found ourselves working through problems which had never been solved."

Though both believe their marriage has been a happy one, they said there have been bumps along the road. Work was always a relevant issue to the pair; he tried to balance his job as a high-powered attorney with family commitments, and she hoped to continue her broadcasting career. Since 1984, she has hosted "The Diane Rehm Show."

A pressing concern for Diane Rehm was her often-strained relationship with John's mother, who died 12 years ago. Although her death helped to "ease the pain," Diane Rehm said she only truly healed through the writing of this book.

"I think we are now better equipped to deal with even old issues," John Rehm said. "I'm almost prepared to say that a long-term relationship does not have real significance or value if there have been no difficulties."

The Rehms encouraged anyone in a long-term relationship, or even individuals who are considering a relationship, to read their book. An appendix offers a wealth of questions for readers to delve into and explore with their partners, such as "How did your parents handle money?" and "How do you feel about having children?" The pair hopes that "Toward Commitment" provides a venue for couples to vent their quarrels in a positive way. John Rehm even suggests they follow a similar format that he did in writing the bookopen dialogues following personal reflections.

"Most long-term relationships and marriages run into difficulties, but we've all sort of been seduced by this vision that makes mother nature work against us; we proceed along blissful and happy and gay without looking at backgrounds," he said. "We enter these relationships with a doublenessthe universe of ourselves and the universe of the otherand I think a long-term relationship demands that we try to reduce that degree of difference and conflict to arrive at a better understanding of who we are and who our spouse is."

Diane Rehm addressed a special concern to the young audience members. After attending three $100,000 to $500,000 weddings in the past seven years, all of which resulted in failed marriages within one year, she said she hopes that couples will have foresight into future problems before tying the knot.

"I'm worried about young people, especially those delving into relationships without having looked at what the backgrounds are," she said. "Having seen this (the failed marriages), we realize that so many people, no matter what their ages, were concentrating on something other than what happens afterwards."


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