TODAY   |  April 12, 2013

Gabby Reece: Marital strife ‘made us stronger’

In her new book, “My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper,” the beach volleyball star is opening up about her relationship with surfer husband Laird Hamilton. NBC’s Kate Snow reports and Reece talks about the book, saying troubled times were good for their marriage.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now at 8:11 with mother, model and former pro beach volleyball star, gabrielle reese , and she's opening up about her life in a new book. we're going to talk with her in just a moment.

>>> first kate snow spent time with gabby at her hawaiian home.

>> good morning, natalie. every once in a while someone will come up to gabby reese and ask her what she's been up to the past decade. her answer, i've been here living. she lays it all out, the joys of marriage, being a mom and her words, serving her man. if you were alive you remember the spikes, the photos, the ridiculously cut body, gabby reese is known for being fierce, but in her new book she's also candid about how a marriage that started off floating down the river almost ended in divorce.

>> so it's perfect, perfect wedding, everything's perfect, perfect jobs in perfect places.

>> you look perfect.

>> correct but that's the whole point of the book which is the happily ever after. maybe what's typical is that you slam into a wall but then what are you going to do when you do get to that wall?

>> reporter: for gabby, part of that wall was her husband's moodiness, which she found hard to confront.

>> i was putting her in a position she had these things she wanted to express and not expressing them so you get this buildup over time .

>> reporter: gabby and laird worked through their problems and 17 years later settled into their own version of paradise, which is all the brighter, they say, for having weathered the storm.

>> i feel like it's a blessing for us that we've gone through a bunch of different things in our relationship, which is allowed us here today. we've been brought here through what we've endured in our relationship and at the end that's all made us stronger.

>> it won't surprise you gabby is big on exercise and a healthy diet . what might surprise you are the things she writes about marriage and her role as a woman. natalie?

>> we'll delve into that. kate snow thank you. the new book is called "my foot is too big for the glass slipper " gabrielle reese , good morning.

>> good morning.

>> great to see you again.

>> great to see you.

>> the book is funny, witty and brutally honest. you say this is the guide to the less than perfect life . yours is not the cinderella story .

>> first of all if you're going to write a book or have a real conversation about this you should try to be honest because it's already difficult enough to manage so you can't add to that by writing books about how perfect everything is. so for me i used to do a blog called deaf by domestication, a joke how you can figure out how to combat the things about domestic living and out of that came this book with karen carbo and just trying to not demist fee the idea of having it all but having a realistic conversation about what is the all.

>> we're going to get into that in a moment. let me start from the beginning where you start actually on page one with a book, you say "my happily ever after began november 30th , 1997 , i married my prince." next page, page two, "naturally four years later we filed for divorce."

>> sure.

>> you ended up sticking it out. how did you make it work for you and i say work because it really takes work.

>> it does. i think first of all you realize that what can you do different or do better in the relationship and that's what i had to look at. you're not born with the skillset to live and cohabitate and be in a relationship with somebody so really sometimes it's only trial by error and by fire and i think both of us realize that we had sort of a foundation to make it work out, and that we had a shot and that we should maximize that instead of saying okay this is too hard and quit but it's also forgiving yourself that you don't really know how and that you have to learn how.

>> so did you that.

>> i'm still doing that. sure.

>> and you actually, you sparked some interesting discussion i think with what you write about in the book, even as we were talking about this in the newsroom yesterday about gender roles and you write, "to be truly feminine means being soft and receptive and look out, here it comes, submissive." are you saying that women need to serve their men better to please their men better?

>> i think the idea of living with a partner is how can i make their life better, so if i'm the woman and he's the man, yes that's the dynamic. i'm willing and i choose to serve my family and my husband, because it creates a dynamic where he is then in fact acting more like a man and masculine and treating me the way i want to be treated which is i'd like to be cherished and like someone to look after me as well in that role and i think because women have the ability to set the tone that the ultimate strength and showing real power i believe is creating that environment. i don't think it's a sign of weakness. i think it's a sign of strength.

>> you're not being submissive as you say in weakness.

>> you're not saying dinner on the table at 6:00. we're not talking about that. i'm saying i'll lift up my side and do it happily and also the expectation would be or the hope would be that he comes with the same attitude, but yes, is it a form of service? absolutely, but i think it's the place i can express that part of myself and my personality.

>> do you think more women need to do that when it comes to trying to even have it all as we say?

>> well, there is no having it all but i think the idea is, women have to understand what's going to make them happy and if they choose and want to have a family and they want to empower their male partner that this would be a way to do it. the idea of the book is to figure out how do you make yourself happy, because no one is going to make you happy and you can't live through your children, and then within that, how do you empower and make the lives easier of your family members.

>> you have to choose, though.

>> you do.

>> the whole lean-in conversation i think that we've heard recently with the book by sheryl sandberg the idea that women can have it all, they can get to that point. it obviously comes with some sacrifice.

>> i think the idea for me in this book why don't rejigger what that definition is. first of all we don't worry about men having it all so i don't know where we got this idea to have it all. i think it's also about when do you want what? it's like i took off for almost ten years so i could be there for my very young children but there's a lot of different ways to get it done. it's got to be an inclusive conversation not making women feel bad that they do it one way or the other but going how are you getting it done, how can we support each other in that but i think it's very challenging to think oh i can have it all. my children know they can't have it all.

>> you're raising your daughters to believe that they will have to make some choices in life?

>> you have to make choices and i think, things are hard work so you've got to choose what you're going to work really hard at.

>> gabrielle reese it's sparking a lot of talk and a great conversation i think a lot of people will be talking about this tonight as well.

>> i won't be reading the internet.

>> no. we like your honesty and your open points of view.

>> thank you so much.

>> thank you for sharing it with us and there's a lot more health and wellness, everything related in this book as well so to read an excerpt from "my food is too big for the glass slipper " head to our