As someone who has built a successful career on her ability to ask questions, Diane Rehm is the first to admit that she doesn’t have all the answers. Her two books, Finding My Voice
(1999) and Toward Commitment
(2004), are refreshingly honest in their examination of her life and her marriage. Each book can be enjoyed separately, but taken together they create an in-depth look at a popular radio personality who has survived a difficult childhood, a failed early marriage, bouts of low self-esteem, and an ongoing battle with an incurable physical condition. At age 72, she now seems at peace with herself, and like colleagues Barbara Walters and Andy Rooney, “I’m not prepared to call it quits just because of the calendar.”
Whereas Finding My Voice is a typical—although insightful—autobiography, Toward Commitment is as much about marriage in general as it is about the Rehms’ 50-year union. John Rehm, a retired attorney, shares equal billing and is as eloquent as his wife. The book is formatted as essays followed by dialogues, with each author weighing in on more than 20 issues that spouses face. Never preaching, they talk about everything from money to religion and from to anger to making love. Again, honesty prevails. In the chapter called “The Third Person,” each partner admits to experiencing an attraction to someone outside their marriage. “I think at one point we were both serious about going our separate ways,” writes Diane.
Fortunately, they didn’t. Unfortunately they never discussed the hurt that the outside relationships caused them. Only when they collaborated on Toward Commitment did they air their feelings and put them to rest. “Now that you and I are in a good place,” writes John. “it isn’t that painful to look back.”
To nudge readers to take a look at their own marriages, the Rehms include several questions that spouses might ask each other. They conclude: “If this book succeeds in provoking individuals to think harder and more seriously about the committed relationship, both its benefits and its drawbacks, it will have been worthwhile.”