The Unhappy Wife

photo of author Katerin E Garland and cover for book The Unhappy Wife, used as image for an inteview with the author
Cover image and photograph courtesy of K E Garland, used with permission.

A Conversation with Dr. K E Garland

Dr. Katherin E Garland (writer/ academic / blogger / my friend) has just published The Unhappy Wife, a book of short stories based on the real lives of 12 women in marital discontent.

The closest I’ve come to marriage is having a partner who is a wedding photographer. With or without the ring, however, relationships have their ups and downs: sometimes they work; sometimes we invest in the work to make them work; sometimes we walk away; and sometimes, we remain – unhappily.

Over the weekend, Kathy and I chatted about her book, the writing process, and insights on love and relationships.


How did the concept for the book come about?

Many of my male friends and family members couldn’t understand why their wives were so unhappy. They felt they were doing everything they were “supposed” to, such as paying bills, but their wives were so sad. Reflecting on my own marriage and unhappiness, I also realized I had a story that needed to be heard, so I decided to write the book.

The women share quite intimate details of their lives. How did you gain their trust?

During my doctoral studies, I learned qualitative methods, such as interview techniques. For example, asking open-ended questions helped the women open up, so that came in handy. I also talked to them as if we were good girlfriends. A lot of the conversations felt like two women having coffee or drinks, while talking about their lives.

What was your writing / interviewing process?

I conducted recorded interviews with each woman either in person or over the phone. Conversations lasted 1- 3 hours depending on the woman. If it was over the phone, I also took notes. It took approximately two weeks to write up, revise, research certain parts, and fictionalize characters. I sent drafts to everyone, followed by one revision before calling it a final draft. Of course, once my editor got a hold of it, parts changed further.

Is there a common thread in the making/ breaking of a relationship that connects these women’s stories?

What’s common is that a majority of the women ignored their intuition and it ended up hurting them in the end. I can’t say there’s a common thread in the breaking of the relationship, because the relationships didn’t/don’t end similarly. That is the beauty of this book.

Readers will be interested to know you’re one of The Unhappy Wives. How has that candour affected your marriage?

Although I didn’t use my name for the story, my husband knows which one is me, we talked about it. I wouldn’t have been able to write my story without having reconciled my unhappiness and understood where it stemmed from. That’s another common theme: many of the women didn’t know themselves prior to marriage. In essence, I didn’t write from a space of unhappiness, I wrote from a space of reflection, clarity and self-awareness.

You have published a book of quotes, and on your blog you share quotes that inspire with simple truths. One of my favourite quotes on love/ relationships is:

I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. ― M. Scott Peck

Can you share a quote on the topic that resonates with you?

Funny you should ask. I begin each woman’s chapter with a quote. My favorite is one I’ve used for Miss Sharlene’s story, a woman who has been married four times. It is from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God:

Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly . ― Zora Neale Hurston

That’s great, and it can be good or bad; focusing on a dream and choosing positive paths to realise it, or grasping an illusion and ignoring reality to your detriment.

Women in this book tend to create their own illusion of men and marriage and then go with that, instead of functioning from a place of reality. That causes unhappiness.

In relationships, there are always two sides to the story. Is there scope for a husband’s edition?

LOL – there is no scope for an Unhappy Husband edition, though many have asked. That’s not my story to tell; however, I will edit it if someone else chooses to tell it. My goal is to raise women’s consciousness, and as Audre Lorde said so perfectly in Conversations with Audre Lorde ‘I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice…’

Audre Lorde quote 'I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't' used in author interview Katherin E Garland


Kathy’s eBook is available now from kegarland.com and Amazon. The paperback will be available from October 20th 2016.

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52 thoughts on “The Unhappy Wife

  1. I enjoyed the tone of your writing for this interview. It was so fascinating and kept me spellbound to read what would come next. As for the sudsy mishap, I’d say that “A book in the hand is worth more than two in the bath!” 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I make great cupcakes too! 😊 you’re too kind Marie. Thankyou- it was my first attempt at an interview, so your feedback means a lot- I’d like to do more interviews, particularly moving away from question/answer format. Kathy was a great interviewee…

      You can call me Mek 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Phew!! OK Mek, wasn’t sure if you were only Mek when we were talking on my blog,:) Interviewing is not easy. It definitely is a skill – there is a way to guide and direct an interview so you elicit views that are interesting and informative. I’ve witnessed interviews which have only elicited one word answers which can be quite painful for the audience and the interviewer, so I know that there is quite a lot involved here: it’s not just a case of throwing questions at the interviewee – you have to know how to couch those questions. Listen to me?!! Anyone would think I knew what I was talking about! :)) Can’t imagine Kathy giving one word answers: she has a lot to say! lol Shame I’m never going to taste your cupcakes – I bet they taste great! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yep- Mek most of the time except to family who use the full version of my name (Mekdes). I KNOW that you know what you’re talking about. Ha yes- Kathy isn’t short of words 😊 Re: cupcakes- never say never. The world is a small place. I used to live in the UK so not far fetched that I’d visit one day and whip up a batch 😊

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      3. Ha! I wish- no, it is the name of the part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church where sacred stuff is kept (like a tabernacle?). Ok i just went and googled ‘tabernacle mekdes’ and my mind was blown- there is a Wikipedia page referring to the meaning of my name! ‘…the innermost sanctuary of an Orthodox Christian church, where the tabot is kept and only clergy may enter. This is also called the “Bete Mekdes”. Every Ethiopian Orthodox Church has one, and it is covered with a Curtain. There are Three ways to enter (most of the time) and those three doors are also a way to reveal the Holy Trinity.’

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      4. Thank you for going to the trouble of explaining what your name means Mek. Trust you to be special! :)) Seriously though that’s a BIG name! On another lesser note and I do hope you will excuse my impudence (I have a very naughty sense of humour) and I don’t know how familiar you are with Jamaican patois, but I thought to myself when you told me your full name that perhaps when you were born and your parents first saw you, they said: “Boy a we mekdes?” Translation if it were not already obvious: did we make this? Mek, forgive me if you do not appreciate my small joke and make like I never said it. xXx

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      5. 😂 i was a little slow but as soon as I put on an accent I got it!!! That is hilarious!!! My accent making was aided by my reading of Marlon James’ recent novel. Don’t worry, I used to go with a much worse joke but I practiced a little restraint in the last comment. Thanks for the laugh 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’m so pleased that I hadn’t offended you. I would never have lived it down if my joke had fallen flat. I would love to hear the much worse joke, but understand if you don’t wish to share it. As for thanking me for the laugh, you’re very welcome and you are such a good sport. Have you shared it with Kathy? She might need a good laugh during this storm – hope you’re not too much affected by it. Stay safe! xx

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      7. I’m in Australia!!! Did you think I was in Florida? The worse joke is in the meaning really. I will leave it to you to find the punchline haha. No, haven’t told Kathy but I will- I’m sure she’ll find it funny.

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      8. You’re in Australia???!!!! I thought you were in Florida. When you said you had interviewed her I naturally thought you lived in the same state and probably just popped in to see her. It just goes to show you just should not assume things. So you are an Ethiopian living in Australia with the ability to speak “Jamaican” when the occasion calls for it? I’m impressed! Mek I’m not doing very well with coming up with that punchline -perhaps I need to sleep on it. I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping. lol

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      9. Yep- have you read ‘a brief history of seven killings’? While reading it, I learnt some Jamaican Patois cause of how large parts of it are written. The one that had me stuck and I had to google was ‘duppy’ but most of the others i figured out from the context.

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      10. No haven’t read that Mek. Mek you ask me dat question eeeh? lol Yes a duppy is a ghost or spirit. Shame you didn’t have me on hand while you were reading it so I could translate for you. lol “Brief history of seven killings”: sounds a bit gory to me. Was it?

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      11. Thanks for the link. I will check it out soon. Darkness and violence: two things I try to avoid! It’s great you stayed the course and read it all. I would have chickened out. But there’s also a silver lining: it prepared you for our patois exchanges.lol

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I never hesitate to stop a book part way through reading if I’m really not enjoying it. Because the book has a lot of different narrators, it was easy to get drawn into the lives of some of the characters even if others left you feeling cold. There was a female character (Nina) whose journey was pretty interesting to follow from Jamaica to the USA and all the drama and struggles she lived through…I found her story the most interesting, but the other characters were important as the backdrop to what was going on in her life and it was possible to empathise with even some of the murderous, drug dealing men when you understand the complexity of their stories and where they came from. I think my patois is a little limited to cussing 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      13. How kind of you to share this with me Mek. I am so appreciative and of course you can begin to develop empathy for individuals when you understand the complexity of their stories and where they came from. You might not agree with the outcome of their past in doing evil things, but there is understanding. I’d love to hear you cussing – what a cute thought!:)

        Liked by 1 person

      14. HA HA HA HA HA! Girl you can cuss bad eeh? I’ll give you an example of stringing a sentence together so you can add to your repertoire. lol ” A wha de bomboclat you tink you a do?!” Translation: “What the bomboclaat do you think you are doing?” and another as I’m getting quite carried away here: “Tek you rasclaat outta ya” – “Take your rasclaat out of here immediately1”. You can practice those in the mirror ready for when we meet up in Jamaica. lol Mek you have made me laugh this morning. I was feeling a bit sad, but after reading your well-timed piece of cussing, I could no longer feel sad.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Thanks for the tutorial! So glad I could reverse that sadness. Hope you continue smiling through the day xx

        Now tek you rasclaat outta ya an finna reason to smile a nuh me fi like it stay sad’ haha sorry about the abomination right there!

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      16. HA HA HA HA HA! Lardav mercy! Tink you say you cudden tark patois? Ya mek pappy-show outta me! (Lord of mercy. I thought you said you could not speak patois. You are making a puppet-show out of me) You are such a tonic! And you are either a fast learner or you’ve been pulling the wool over my eyes. No worries about the abomination. I heard a lot worse than that when I was growing up at home. I used to quake in my boots when my father started swearing. It terrified me and for years if I heard Jamaican swear words I was a complete wreck. But treating it with laughter softens the reaction for me and now eradicates the fear. What time is it over there? It’s nearly 10.00am here. I was surprised to see your comment so quickly having sent it about two hours ago. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure what you can do with “Marie”. It’s pretty mundane really. I’d be interested to know what you can come up with. I dare you! lol Trust me to find another angle to the meaning of your sacred space …:)

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