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Rehm, John B. 1930-

REHM, John B. 1930-

PERSONAL:

Born November 23, 1930 in Paris, France; son of George (a journalist) and Mary (a homemaker) Rehm; married; wife's name Diane (a radio personality), 1959; children: two. Education: Harvard College, A.B., 1952; Columbia School of Law, LL.B., 1955. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Bethesda, MD. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER:

Lawyer. Formerly attorney in private practice; attorney for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations, Washington, DC.

WRITINGS:

(With wife, Diane Rehm) Toward Commitment: A Dialogue about Marriage, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

John B. Rehm is a retired lawyer who worked for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and then in private practice in Washington, D.C. He is also the husband of public radio talk show host Diane Rehm, with whom he has written Toward Commitment: A Dialogue about Marriage. Their book, which uses the Rehms' own rocky but loving marriage as a basis for helping readers deal with common marital stresses, addresses twenty-six different subjects. It contains both independent essays by each of the Rehms and the transcripts of conversations they had after writing these essays. The authors assert that it takes hard work to maintain a marriage and recommend that couples use counseling to deal with major problems. Critics described the book as containing lively, interesting advice based on personal rather than professional experience.

John and Diane Rehm were married for nearly forty-three years at the time of their book's publication. They describe their marriage experiences as difficult, with the happiest times coming in recent years. When they met in 1958 she was separated from her first husband and working at the U.S. State Department as a secretary; he was working for the government. They married the next year and had children quickly. After the birth of their first child, John expressed uncertainty over whether they should have gotten married, but Diane was unwilling to consider a divorce. During this period John escaped into his work, while Diane was unhappy at home. She later started a career in broadcasting and John bristled at references to himself as "Mr. Diane Rehm." A turning point in their relationship came in 1982 when they made a ten-point written agreement that included the item "I will be totally uncritical of my spouse." They also worked on their problems with the help of a therapist. Some of the issues they address in Toward Commitment are sex and money, which they call the most common marital problems, as well as expectations about marriage, in-laws, parenting, anger, careers, friends, retirement, illness, and aging.

The couple's honesty and thoroughness earned Toward Commitment numerous recommendations. The mildest came from a Publishers Weekly writer who commented on the book's format, saying that it is "insufficient as either a marriage manual or revelatory memoir," but that it gives "useful, if limited, relationship advice from a seasoned married couple." In a review for Booklist, Vanessa Bush liked the Rehms' "honest and insightful" commentary. Similarly, Washington Post's Roxanne Roberts called it a "remarkably frank, unvarnished look at their marriage" and "a practical, nonprofessional guide to identifying and talking through the issues that trouble most unions." Reviewer Elaina Richardson wrote in O that the Rehms have produced "a truly engaging book" and found it "hard to imagine two more probing inquisitors" than the authors. Commenting on the blend of advice and biography, Library Journal's Douglas Lord said that the Rehms' dialogues "tastefully make public the very private and often profound musings, reflections, and wisdom of two intelligent people."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Toward Commitment: A Dialogue about Marriage, p. 1898.

Library Journal, September 15, 2002, Douglas Lord, review of Toward Commitment, p. 80.

O, October, 2002, Elaina Richardson, "Secrets of a Marriage: One Couple's Funny, Searingly Honest Account," p. 92.

Publishers Weekly, June 24, 2002, review of Toward Commitment, p. 46.

Washington Post, September 13, 2002, Roxanne Roberts, "Staying Power," p. C01.

ONLINE

University Record Online,http://www.umich.edu/ (October 21, 2002), Jim Schiff, "NPR's Rehm Shares Marriage Tales."

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