Friday, August 21, 2009

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

I haven't done a book review for a long time. I've been reading; there is a list of this year's selections about halfway down my sidebar. This post will be partially a book review, but also some of my own opinions (shocker) on the proper care and feeding of husbands.

It is probably good to begin by disclosing my own bias against self-help books. When I do find them useful, it is only because the basic philosophy of the author is consistent with gospel teachings. (For a brief discussion of this, check out Elder Uchtdorf's talk from the last conference.) Laura Schlessigner's book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands," is no exception to this--where her philosophy is consistent with gospel teachings I think she has a lot of helpful advice; but, to me, her basic theme in the book is completely incompatible with our understanding of the divine nature of man and woman. I'll complete this thought later.

The first thing that bothers me about the book is the shoddy scholarship. She explains that her ideas for the book come from her experience as a therapist, her radio show and her web site. As for the first, Dr. Laura (I use the term "doctor" very loosely here; this is Ms. Shlessigner's preferred title), currently holds no license from any state as a family therapist, and has not for many, many years. Her PhD is in physiology, not psychology. None of her educational background is in psychology. As for the radio show and the website, these can hardly be called unbiased sources as her often volatile program likely attracts a certain type of demographic. The addendum on her website says that any email or call becomes her sole property once it is made public. In other words, she has full discretion to abuse you soundly on the air and then use the interaction in a book, taking whichever excerpt proves her point and paints her in the light of having saved your marriage by way of a 20 second lecture.

There are no facts or statistics to back up the more specific claims she makes. There isn't a single footnote in the entire book. No expert, other than Dr. Laura herself, is quoted. Her evidence all seems to be anecdotal, though she has plenty of anecdotes.

As I read, I became curious about Dr. Laura's personal life and was quite shocked by what I learned. Her current incarnation/persona is of a highly conservative, God-fearing woman who is critical of anything that might break down the family. She thinks women should delay sex, if not until marriage, at least until relationships are serious. She is highly critical of feminism and thinks mothers should raise the children they have, and that those children should never be born out of wedlock. While this is generally positive, Dr. Laura, now in her 60's, only came by her current philosophy much later in life. It seems apparent that her first radio job was a result of sleeping with the boss, and the nude photos emerged 20 years later to prove it. She divorced her first husband after just a few years. She lived with her second husband for eight years before marrying him, and for the first of those years he was still married to another woman. She was pregnant their only son before they were married and had a very demanding career while he was a small child. Dr. Laura was a self-proclaimed feminist well into the 1980's. To defend herself against the many who have called her hypocrite she says, "A hypocrite says 'do as I say, not as I do.' I am saying, 'do as I say, not as I did.'"

None of the previous paragraph is, of course, in the book. I just wanted to know what I was dealing with. This makes it sound as though I don't think she could have anything worthwhile to say because of the life she has lived. In fact, just the reverse is true: I think her many negative experiences probably give her unique perspective on the mistakes that many women make. It does, however, make her holier-than-thou tone throughout the book a bit disgusting. It also makes me halfway think that her scathing critique of women is her own way of justifying her husband's prior infidelity--as though his first wife drove him to Dr. Laura's caring and feeding arms and she deserved it. (It seems, to the good doctor anyway, that most cheated on women DO deserve it.)

Anyway, I think her advice needs to be taken in context of who she is and where she is coming from, recognizing that her source material is certainly biased in favor of her own methods. Her motivation for writing the book is that women are undermining their marriages right and left by their own actions, and that most other "help" sources--books, talk shows, therapists and girl friends are contributing to the problem by validating and therefore reinforcing women's most negative behaviors to their husbands. In "researching" her topic, she set up a spot on her website where men could email comments to her about what should go into this book. She quotes from these extensively, but there is one such email that gets to the heart of her thesis very quickly.

"Men are simple. If I'm not horny then I probably want a sandwich."

This is funny. Maybe REALLY funny. And, as with many tacky jokes, it requires a broad generalization of men in order to work. Jumping from this platform, Dr. Laura's book deals in broad stereotypes, reiterating time and time again that MEN ARE SIMPLE. They want to be shown physical affection (reader Steve left this charming comment, "[Men] need more sex. Once a day is fine"), given praise, fed a good dinner and be shown "awe" by "their woman" for all they do for her. If a woman will perform these simple tricks then, voila! "Your man" will reciprocate by "slaying dragons" and "walking through fire for you."

Hm . . . . to some of this verbiage I want to say that we are fresh out of dragons and that in most normal circumstances, walking through fire would be rather useless. Yes, I get that this is figurative, but isn't it easy to say that you would do something very dramatic for the one you love, when all she might really want is for you NOT to regard the toilet as a general sort of a goal instead of a target?

If this seems like a gross simplification of a book that is nearly 200 pages, well, I'm not so sure. I think what I've said here really gets to the heart of what she is advocating. True, she treats topics such as respect, busy-ness, feelings, communication, nagging and sex in seperate chapters, but her conclusions are all the same.

I didn't hate this book, though I found her tone so supercilious at times that I wished for a dart board so that I could paste a picture of her face right on the bullseye. The book was actually recommended to me many years ago, and I've put off reading it as I had heard clips from Dr. Laura's radio show, and expected the tone to be very combative.

To say the least.

But in the interest of not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, I will tell you what I liked about it. I can hardly call these things "spoilers." I would actually think that for LDS women, these points shouldn't be anything we haven't already learned in Church or from our own mothers.

1--Dr. Laura goes on at some length about treating your spouse with kindness and love first without waiting for him to make the first move. She is basically saying that we should serve our families cheerfully, even when we aren't quite feeling it, because this basic service-attitude will make us feel much happier.

2--"Your feelings are not facts and should not be used as weapons." I quite like the way she worded this. It is true that some women use tears and verbal abuse to bend men to their will all the time. I'm grateful to have been raised by a mother who saw herself as a partner with my dad and she didn't resort to passive-aggressive methods in an attempt to make him into something else. My mother loved us all very much and never hesitated to express such in a hundred tiny ways, but she never turned on the waterworks or used the silent treatment to get her way with my dad.

3--The feminist movement tricked women: First into thinking they could have it all and do it well, and that if they DIDN'T then they were somehow less than a woman. The second fallacy is that women don't need men. And lastly is the popularized notion that women who find fulfillment in home and family are deluding themselves. I agree that these are all negative attitudes that were a result of that movement.

4--Love is more than just a feeling--it is both a choice and an action. Dr. Laura explains that she writes FOR women because so much ineffective advice, counsel and teaching is aimed at changing men. But it is women that want to change men. Since it really is only possible to change yourself, then it stands to reason that if your marriage is in trouble and worth saving, then you can really only influence your own behavior, and not your partner's. I like her proactive, practical approach to making your life better. We must choose every day to love our spouses, and then we must show that love by our actions.

5-Men and women ARE different. And that is okay, these differences can be a wonderful compliment to each other if we allow them to be.

As for what disturbed me about this book, it was partly her combative tone and Dr. Laura's advice doled out like she is spouting eternal truth in every consonant. She advocates control and manipulation just as powerfully as the feminists, but encourages women to do this in a uniquely feminine way. So here are a few of my gripes.
1--She seems to advocate serving in order to manipulate: love is practically an afterthought in the reasoning. By manipulate I mean that she encourages women to use all of their kindest "tricks" so that men will be putty in their hands and do whatever they want them to do. In other words, the purpose of serving "your man" is to get served in return. While I admit that such reciprocation of affection, help and love is often the result of properly caring and feeding your husband, I think the motivation here is everything. I remember once, some years ago, Dr. Phil had a woman on his show who was using sex as a way to get her husband to buy her expensive gifts. If this sounds like prostitution, well, you aren't alone in your thinking there. That, obviously, is an over-the-top example of a woman going to the extreme to get what she wants, but again, if our motivation is not pure love for our partner, giving without expectation of getting in return, then we haven't learned squat about charity.
2--She says that women ARE in control in their homes, but that men want to BELIEVE that they are. To this end, she instructs women on how to give men the illusion of wearing the pants. Yet, other times, she berates women soundly for emasculating their men by expecting them to be good listeners. There were whole passages in this book I found very contradictory to itself, besides being at odds with a patriarchal model of the family set forth by the Lord.

3--The feminist movement wasn't ALL bad. Heck, even "Dr. Laura" herself wouldn't exist without some kind of sexual revolution. Women have choices now that they never had 100 years ago. Absolutely, some of it has been taken too far (see #3 above), but it is pretty disingenuous to soundly criticize something you have been a huge beneficiary of.

4--Men's emotional needs are met, not just primarily, but pretty much entirely through sex: this is the gospel according to Dr. Laura. I won't say much more on this, some topics are better left between husband and wife, but I sincerely hope that if you are married (or become so one day) that it is to a man who has emotional needs beyond sex. Or at least if he views sex as the culmination of all emotional needs, he has made an honest effort to meet your emotional needs before he expects you to welcome his advances with open arms.

5--But the last thing, and probably most disturbing thing, about this book is the oversimplification of who man is. Yes, to a large degree, a man's needs might be rather simple. However, he, himself is not. Men are sons of God. Men who are priesthood holders and have made covenants are gods in embryo. To use sex and food to trick them into behaving as we want is regarding them as trained monkeys.

We reiterate to our young women week in and week out this princess part of their nature. Each week they recognize "divine nature" as one of their values. We play on their sense of romance by encouraging them to find a prince who will take them to the palace/temple and commit to them forever. What could be more romantic than that? Yet, when we make analogies with our young men, we talk so much in terms of warriors and armies and battles. Men are so trained to slay the dragon that I wonder if they sometimes forget that they will be kings as surely as their wives will be queens. Dr. Laura encourages each woman to set her standards much lower and then "stand by your man, because, after all, he's just a man."

I once heard a general authority give a talk about Christlike attributes, and the teaching of such to our young men. He said that too often, the qualities of Christ are attributes men only assign to women--love, compassion, mercy, tenderness, etc.--but that in reality, these are attributes we all must strive to have. Dr. Laura berates women for trying in so many negative ways to change the nature of men, and she certainly has a point about all of the mean and ineffectual ways women attempt to do this; but what she doesn't understand is that part of the nature of the covenant marriage is that a man and a woman will work as a team to go beyond just accepting and loving each other as they are, and instead bring out the very best in each other's natures in order to progress together toward something greater.

One of my favorite scriptures from the new testament is, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it." The counsel could apply equally to women, and I don't think Paul was talking about dying for the Church here, though Christ certainly did that too. I think he is talking about living for the things we love and have covenanted to. We shouldn't love our spouses to get dinner or sex or help around the house or a night off from changing diapers . . . . we should love our spouses because it makes us more Christlike to do so. Deep, abiding and lasting love has the power to change our very nature.

Maybe my next post will be about why in the world, if most men (as per Dr. Laura) are really looking for wives who are sweet and acquiescing by nature, do they try so hard to date women who manipulate, control, tease and tempt? But that can wait; this post is already twice as long on paper as it was in my head. By all means, share your thoughts on taking care of "your man," or on the book if you have read it.

35 comments:

Karin said...

Thank You, once again, for your post. You are able to articulate much better than I ever could. I own the book and read it years ago. There were some very good things, but it also disturbed me in some ways. You have articulated the reasons why. I have always wanted to believe that my husband is more complex and "royal" than she advocates men are.

He is.

Sherry said...

I found myself frequently wondering why you chose to read this book as I read your post. Did several people recommend it to you?

I think that our society makes men simple. If we allow them to believe that all their needs are met when they are well-sexed and well-fed, then they will have no reason to search and long for spiritual satisfaction. I think it is one of Satan's greatest ploys, and I think it is a reason that since the middle of the nineteenth century women have more interested in and drawn to religion than men. I think you could argue that their needs are primarily met with food and sex, and I don't think that is wrong. What is wrong is our society's agreement that those are all they will ever need.

FoxyJ said...

I've never liked Dr. Laura very much and haven't read any of her books. My mom loves her and so I've heard snippets of her program now and then, but never liked it much. Like you point out, I just don't think men are that simple either. They are also human and also children of God. I also really don't like the idea of relationships built on manipulation or game playing. Nope, not for me.

Nemesis said...

As soon as I saw the title of the book you were reviewing I thought, "Oh man. I have GOT to see what she thought about that." Now that I've read your review, I have no need to read the book (not that I was waiting anxiously for my copy or anything). But yeah. I'm finding it more and more interesting (read: terrifying) that the people will get up there and tout themselves as experts in very important subjects such as family therapy, politics, personal finance, etc. and are really nothing more than entertainers shouting loudly from soap boxes. They aren't backed up by facts, they're not the ones doing the research, and they have no professional responsibility to be objective. But people eat it up and look to them as authorities.

Grrrr.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Sherry--CHURCH book group. And to really pour gas on the fire, the discussion is at my house.

Our book group nearly has a complete uncoupling every month because of someone taking offense over a selection. One sister was told (not in so few words) that she would no longer be welcome to make suggestions. One of our most conservative members picked this one, ironically enough. Dr. Laura's language is a bit salty and there are passages that speak bluntly about sex. It will be interesting to see how the women react to it; I can't decide if the suggester is going to treat it like a Bible, or slam it to bits. Hm . . . . I'll have to check back and let you know.

Scully said...

I just read the last few of your posts in a row, so I wanted to say AMEN! to all of it. As for this post, I am an older single adult who has spent a good portion of the past year watching girls a decade+ younger than myself try in various ways to "get" certain guys in my ward. It is interesting to me how much they will each listen to what the world says about men and dating and relationships and care so very little about what the Lord says about it. These sisters spend so much time trying to be what they think the man (who they generally do not know very well and have created an illusion of who the man is that may not be precisely true) wants a woman to be that even if a relationship happens, they are both dating an illusion and the relationship has very little basis in reality. Which I think the ideas in this book tend to perpetuate.
Sorry for the long post just to say, I haven't read it, wasn't planning on it, but agree whole-heartedly with your review!

Andrea said...

My father-in-law gave that book to all his daughter's in law for Christmas a few years after I was married. (He asked if it would be okay first.) I thought about reading it, but never got past the Table of Contents. So, I'm grateful for your extensive review. I feel like I know the gist. And I have a few reasons I would never read it if it came up in conversation.

I heard that she had a husband on her show who used this book as an excuse to leave his wife who was pregnant with their eighth child. He said she wasn't "doing her part" and Dr. Laura agreed with him.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

I'm dying to hear how the discussion goes. :)

It's funny - I actually own this book and found myself thumbing through it last week for the first time in years. Some parts of it definitely merit a grain of salt, and I agree that the sandwich line is amusing in a demeaning sort of way, but I think some of the main themes of the book are worthwhile.

It can be tempting to wait for your spouse to take the lead in being kind or positive, or to focus on his flaws while ignoring his many strengths and your own shortcomings. Dr. Laura makes the point that if you want a loving, happy relationship, it's more likely to happen if you take the initiative to be kind and loving rather than critical and selfish.

Yes, that's an obvious principle, and yes, it's rehashed repeatedly throughout the book, but we human beings tend to learn best through repetition. That's why we hear many of the same topics over and over at General Conference. Even when we're familiar with a principle, a reminder and some memorable stories to back it up can't hurt.

emandtrev said...

I too am really interested to hear how the book group discussion goes.

Years ago, when I was a young singleton and working my way through college, I worked at a small retail store. I worked my shift alone and the silence sometimes wore on me, so I would turn on the old, beat-up radio to listen to whatever I could find.

The only station that I could get to tune in during the time frame I worked was an AM station. The program that filled that time slot was, of course, Dr. Laura. After a couple weeks of listening, I decided that I'd much rather enjoy the silence. :)

Thanks for your review.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Incidentally, I used to listen to Dr. Laura fairly regularly, and if she did applaud some guy for leaving his wife pregnant with their eighth child, there must have been a lot more to the story than that the woman wasn't cooking him dinner and complimenting him enough.

Dr. Laura's pretty consistent about encouraging callers of both genders to nurture or even resuscitate a marriage before they consider leaving it, especially if there are children involved.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Since we have no proof that it actually happened, we'll leave the man-leaving-his-eight-kids discussion for another time.

But the kids-thing raises an interesting issue. A lot of the women Dr. Laura cited in her book said things like, "We just had our third baby in four years; how can I possibly do anything for my husband?" Good point.

However, my other recent reading (including a memoir out of Tehran and a fictional account of a female doctor circa 1875) points out to me that one of the greatest blessings of modern life is the ability to CHOOSE the number and frequency of children in the home.

Having made this bold (?) statement on an LDS blog, however, I want to point out that this doesn't mean I advocate abortion, of course. What I mean is that women in our time can use any number of methods of birth control, have legal rights to say 'no' even to their husband, can make meaningful career choices if children are not in the cards (or if they are), and enjoy men who have been raised to have a stake in their families.

Now, if you and your spouse decide that the only method of birth control is that if it is meant to be then the Lord will send them, that is wonderful. Just make sure that you AND your spouse are united on this. And then, please, don't complain to me that three babies in four years just isn't keeping the romance alive in your marriage. I've never heard any general authority say that you should sacrifice your marriage in order to have children every 18 months.

I guess what I'm saying is what I've been saying or the past two weeks in my musing/ranting/diatribing--the decision to have more children is up to THREE individuals (think bishopbrics, presidencies, First presidencies, Godhead--there is really something to this!)--a husband and wife and the Lord. So in my own Dr. Laura moment of illustrating how women like to have control: as women we have to be careful not to look at spouse and say, "I've had inspiration, now get on board!" (This has been a very important lesson for me these last six weeks.) While it might be true that women are more in tune to this particular type of revelation, it doesn't mean that men are immune to it when properly encouraged seek inspiration.

Cathy said...

My mission companion from El Salvador had an interesting viewpoint on the country. She thought that one reason it was such a mess was because somewhere along the line in the cycle of unwed mother/ non-present father perpetuating itself through generations, the women had become so convinced they could handle it without the men that they'd stopped trying. Sure, the women were strong, but at the expense of the family unit existing and the stability of the society itself. I think we need to fight against demeaning views of men with great vigor, just like many have fought and continue to fight against demeaning views of women. After all, we absolutely can't make it without one man--Christ--on our quest for exaltation, and absolutely need his earthly counterparts too.

FoxyJ said...

I have strongly felt that contraceptives are just tools. They have been given to us to empower us and to give us better choices. Like many tools that are powerful, they can certainly be abused and used for wrong purposes. But we have used various forms of birth control together with personal revelation to plan our family. It has been essential, because I ovualate regularly every month and yet pregnancy and delivery are very difficult for my body. Having children a year apart would probably kill me. I also think that planning your family should include all members' needs--mom, dad, the other kids. Often God will ask us to do things that will stretch us, but it's good to involve him in the planning of our lives.

Desmama said...

*Happy sigh* Good discussion, gals. Makes me wish we could have it in my living room with a nice, tasty dessert. That'd be such a nice evening, no?

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Because dessert makes even good things better. :)

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I am making that Razzleberry pie I posted here a couple of weeks ago. I'll make two and save everyone a sliver. ;)

Science Teacher Mommy said...

If anybody is still checking here, get over to Segullah today for further treatment of this subject, but as it applies to singles.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

I haven't read the book, but I have enjoyed this discussion!
Check out this month's Ensign for a few pages of good marriage advice. It's timely. Let us know how your book group goes.

Dickey said...

Hate the book...I will leave at that. (Would love to be a mouse in the corner at book club.)

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Sarah--I can see that. Though I'm a bit sorry you "left it at that." :)

Miranda said...

I really enjoyed your post; was surprised to hear Dr. Laura's background. Wondering how we've allowed her to become a guru. And why? We do seem to gravitate toward demagogues...looking for certainty amidst uncertainty? Because whatever else she may be, she's certain about what she thinks.

I would love to hear your thoughts on why men date women who manipulate, control, tease. Or is the sweetness and acquiescence sometimes just a tool to manipulate...

You've got me thinking.

Whitney Johnson (signed in as my daughter)

Anonymous said...

My husband listens to Dr Laura and throws quotes from her book in my face on a regular basis. Why? Because he's having affairs and now he has a national talk show host and bestselling author telling him it is my fault!

I've done my best to be a loving wife for the past 20 years and for the most part, I've done the things Dr Laura says "should" keep my husband happy.

But he chose to walk away from the church 12 years ago to pursue a gambling addiction, which lead to a smoking and drinking addiction, which led to adultery. And he says it is all my fault. At every turn, he blamed me for his "unhappiness". (My thighs were too fat, by butt was too big...then when I lost weight he became jealous and accused me of cheating. Nothing I did was ever good enough. Mostly he claims now that I'm too religious)

Obviously his choosing to live without the Lord is the real reason for his unhappiness and his need to fill the void with sin.

I believe Dr. Laura blames the wife for the husband's infidelity because she was the "other woman" in her current marriage. Her husband was still married to another woman when she began a relationship with him (so his wife must have been neglecting his simple needs, right?). She also lived with him (what she now calls "shacking up") for eight years before they got married. She was pregnant with her son Derek when they got married. Dr. Laura renounced her Judiasm in 2003 and stated she no longer felt a connection to God. And this the moral voice of America? I wonder when she's going to write "The Proper Care & Feeding of Wives.


She seems to be a "do as I say - not as I did" person...and its my opinion that she has emasculated men by reducing them to "simple" animals who only need food and sex to keep them happy. If that were true then my husband wouldn't have turned to gambling, alcohol and other women, because I'm a great cook and passionate lover. It is a sad situation for me and my 4 children, but I choose to remain faithful and to trust God.

Please keep me and my family in your prayers.

chris w said...

Those book clubs can get dangerous (as far as hurt feelings/offense)!

We had this book for one of ours and it was just really tame and quiet because we had a room full of younger women and one old (70ish) yet very opinionated/outspoken relief society pres.

Good luck and wish I was there for the razzleberry pie!!

mstanger said...

Haven't read the book, but have heard a sacrament meeting talk about it. Gag.

My biggest beef with Dr. Laura is the effort she goes to to put people down--no D&C 121 in her vocabulary. Many callers to her show are given the impression they are worthless and stupid.

I've know a few LDS women over the years who couldn't cook but were still wonderful people. What does this book say to them? They are failing at 1/2 of their role as wives, if you believe her theory. And yet, to the outside observer, they appeared to have happy marriages.

chicagosapps said...

Dr. Laura needs to remember you can't make sweeping generalizations about any group of people, let alone a whole gender. Since I know my husband better than any other man, I can say his "needs" are a lot more complex than a sandwich and some lovin'. Wouldn't it be great if it were that easy? Then we wouldn't have to learn and grow and sacrifice much at all.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Whitney, Been thinking about that post for over a week now and I'm not quite sure what to say there. Hm . . .

Anon, WOW. Your experience absolutely epitomizes the very worst of Dr. Laura, but your own conclusions are spot on. It is when your husband abdicated his responsibilities as a righteous priesthood holder and chose to break his covenants that he lost any privilege for your best treatment. Indeed, my prayers will be with you and your family as you navigate these difficult years.

And Mike, what is our definition of priestcraft? Setting yourself up as an authority using sophistry in order to get gain and/or cause contention? The whole Dr. Laura thing is really along this lines. And not just her. Oprah. Dr. Phil. Etc. Whichever voice becomes our moral authority without actual authority can lead us into danger.

RunUpHill said...

I happen to think that there is a lot to learn from Dr. Laura, both from this book as well as her radio show. I challenge you to spend a few weeks just listening to her advice. Most of the time she cuts to the core and provides women and men alike very good advice. I find it shocking how many sad stories are out there, and I see Dr. Laura doing her best to teach as well as to heal. Yes, she casts blame, but it seems appropriate -- so many people are willing to hurt others yet are not willing to listen and accept responsibility and grow up.

warning -- personal comments ahead...

[rant on]
I'm writing this comment as well because my son (closing in on 3 years old) has recently been taken away from family and father by his angry and vindictive mother. As I re-read Dr. Laura's book, the examples she cites of women's "bad behavior" are a constant reminder of how painfully true this turned out to be in my case.

Yes, I am more than willing and able to accept responsibility in creating a difficult relationship. But for a child's mother to move him a thousand miles away and separate our son from the father who spent significant time raising him to literally the day she moved away is simply not in the best interests of the child.

Dr. Laura frequently points out that there are really only a few major deal-breakers that would justify splitting up a family: abuse, affairs, and addictions. NONE of these were at all evident in our situation. I now am in the midst of a very expensive and drawn-out court battle to retain the right to be a part of my son's life. The daily sadness is real and very hard to deal with. I am very worried about how this will affect him as he grows up.

My ex spent an increasing amount of time after our son was born focusing on my weaknesses, my faults, my deficiencies, etc. Her dissatisfaction with me was so pervasive and evident that I ended up just keeping my distance from her as much as possible. Forcing me to "change" became her primary, daily goal. Complaints and whining were constant. I pointed out to her that virtually all couples go through rough times, but they should realize these periods are only temporary and the bigger picture is to work towards making peace for the sake of the children. Unfortunately, she took the easy way out and now our son faces a future with the benefits of family and father.

What I'm trying to get across here is that I see Dr. Laura dealing with examples like mine every single day. She implores her listeners to not make choices that will negatively impact others, especially children. I have learned of the mistakes I made in this relationship, and regret not having been more honorable and respectful in my actions and behaviors. But the sad fact is that our son is now directly affected by his mother's decision to put her needs first, which I find to be selfish and unconscionable.

[rant off]

Science Teacher Mommy said...

RunUpHill--I have no idea about your background, other than what you've said here as your profile isn't public, but your story is obviously heartbreaking.

My book group was actually very positive and I was able to overlook my personal beefs to not throw out the baby with the bathwater on Dr. Laura's book. I can buy into many of the principles she is teaching there. And there is little doubt that your wife did a number on you. One of my husband's best friends is in a very similar situation right now. Such women SHOULD have taken a lesson from Dr. Laura, but to me the problem is something much deeper than behavior--it is a selfishness of heart, too.

I hope that you didn't take from the discussion here any thought that women are always right and men are always wrong. I think it was more about accepting one another as children of God with great potential and then working together as couples to achieve that potential. My other point is that these are things taught with a lot more love and compassion at my church than I could ever get them from Dr. Laura (see my current post on contention for further treatment of this topic).

God's blessings for all that you are dealing with. I can't imagine. Running up hill indeed.

tabbycatdeitrick said...

While you do raise some good points, and while her tone was somewhat hostile at times, I don't think it's fair to imply that because she isn't an LDS woman or because she has a history perhaps worth keeping to herself, that she isn't qualified to give the advice she does. I am an LDS woman myself and have never picked up on the points she made (to the depth she made them) in church! I hate when people assume that the only genuinely GOOD advice out there comes ONLY from the church.
I can HONESTLY say that I credit my marriage being saved SOLELY to this book! When I read it, my husband and I had more or less given up and were on the very brink of divorce for the 2nd time. But then I began to see the points she was making and began applying her advice to my own relationship. Since then, we've entered "the best part of our marriage" and are able to communicate or needs and feelings better than ever! I have recommended this book to a couple of friends whose marriages have been in turmoil, and I will continue to do so. It's a truely FANTASTIC book that really helps open the reader's eyes to the effect she has on her husband. If you are mature enough to accept responsibility for your own deeds (or misdeeds I suppose) the "hositility" is well worth reading through, and frankly, is probably a little more than deserved for most of us.

tabbycatdeitrick said...

..."I would actually think that for LDS women, these points shouldn't be anything we haven't already learned in Church or from our own mothers." I think this is an irresponsible thing to assume. Again, I am an LDS woman and aside from the church part that I mentioned in my previous post, my mother was in fact the person who engrained in me all the horrible qualities I brought into my marriage! I don't mean to take such serious offense to your opinions, but a few things just really struck a cord with me...
If LDS women give the impression to the rest of the world that we are so petty as to dismiss 40 years of experience working with couples (in any form!) over an embarrassing past (which may well have been the reason her views are different now than they were back then), and that nobody outside of the LDS faith has anything to say worth hearing, then I am ashamed to be a part of it. I think that's a horrible impression to leave on people. I don't say that because my faith is tried or I'm not active or anything along those lines...But it just dawned on me the more I sat here thinking about it, that a lot of the implications you made against her are just petty and unfair. Her past should be allowed to remain in her past. It has no bearing on her intentions today or the good she is able to do. I don't think it's very 'service minded' to tear her down for something that she's probably paid dearly for every day for all these years, and has likely tried in her own way to make ammends for. That's just something you may want to think about next time.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Wow, Tabbycat. I mean, a personal blog, after all, is my OWN take on the book. I certainly wasn't implying here that it had to be your take on the book, or that it was a universal opinion. I was really just trying to start a discussion, which clearly happened.

I'm glad that Dr. Laura helped save your marriage, but I still stand by my opinion that the best part of her approach are those things which are consistent with gospel teachings. (Several of which I pointed out in my original essay.) It is clear that her manner and style worked for you; it is equally clear that it didn't work for me. It doesn't in any way say anything about our commitment to the gospel. I'm sorry if my opinions implied such about any reader here.

-Peter Blind said...

Thanks for the review. I was glad to read a women's perspective on the book. I'm married 15 years, good times and bad times too. I do believe most women really undervalue sex and what it means to the man in the marriage. He can be kind, sensitive, caring and nurturing and any other thing he needs to be. That act, is a huge part of making the man feel loved, respected, appreciated and even needed. Anyhow I was disappointed that you skipped it w/o an opinion. Good review.

Jeanne Bradley said...

Loved the book! It wasn't until I read this book that I realized how much the feminist movement has infiltrated our churches and our homes. Too often I hear sisters talk about husbands being their 5th child or sarcastically remark that no wonder something went wrong, since the priesthood brethren were in charge. I think it's time for sisters to wake up and treat the men in our lives and in the church with respect. That idea was a major part of this book.

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

I FINALLY got over here to read your review.

You and I disagree on so many things but it looks like we're perfectly sympatico on this one.

My husband is not a carnal, gluttonous beast whom I can bribe to cater to my every whim and whimsy with some sex and a side of slaw. Therefore, a lot of her advice didn't really resonate with me because of her broad generalizations of the entire male population.

Well, her radio reign is now officially over.

Dr. Laura helped a lot of people and dispensed a lot of wisdom but like all things a person really needs to run any info. through their own personal filter in order to sift out what's useful to them. There is no magic advice panacea for the masses. Sadly.

Anonymous said...

I know Dr. Laura can be abrasive. That doesn't make her less right. She treats people with kindness unless and until they refuse to take responsibility. Those are the people she gives a verbal slap in the face. And they usually need it.

To the comments re oversimplifying men, I respectfully disagree. Dr Laura sums it up well, and most men I know would absolutely agree that we don't need much to be happy. As far as filtering it through scripture, let me say that I am a committed Christian husband (not LDS, I'm afraid, but protestant), married for 21½ years, four kids who love the Lord, with 12+ years as a deacon/elder, adult sunday school teacher, small group leader, etc.

So here goes:
1) Proverbs 5:19 -- we're told to be intoxicated with the sexual love of our wives. Your translation may not use that word, but the meaning of the Hebrew there indicates a man who is left staggering as though drunk. Quite a picture.
2) Song of Solomon 2:17 and 4:6. Twice we see married sex being portrayed as an all-night affair. When's the last time you heard that in church? — And Song of Solomon 5:1, which is usually interpreted as God speaking, encourages a sense of abundance in married sex, not meagerness.
3) I Corinthians 7:1-7. In a society every bit as bad as our American society ("corinthianizing" was a euphemism in Paul's day for doing you-know-what) the prescription for married couples is LOTS of married relations. Paul used very heavy words like "deprive" and "duty" and only offers time dedicated to prayer as a legitimate excuse! He even goes so far as to say "your body is not your own" — let that really sink in for a minute.

Now, just so you think I'm only beating on the wives here, let's take a look at 1 Peter 3:7 "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." In our society, women are surely not as "weak" as they were in Peter's, but lest men think they can use the above passages (or Dr Laura's book) to justify only their own needs, consider that unless you are treating your wife with honor as a joint-heir (and, as Paul advocates, loving her sacrificially, as Christ loved the church) God won't even listen to your prayers! Women are given direction and advice, but the husbands are given direction and advice AND a threat! And a huge one at that.

So. Back to Dr Laura. Treat her advice like a tool to put in your toolbox. Get other tools, too. Like "The Sex-starved Marriage" and "The 40 Beads Method" and "Is That All He Thinks About" and certainly "For Women Only". Science Teacher Mommy, I'm certainly glad you were able to take some positive out of the book, and I hope your marriage improved. For all of you who have taken the negative but not the positive, go ahead and read the book, and make up your own mind. And from a man who cares about the state of marriage in America, if you think your husband is not this simple, just ask him if he'd like more sex, less nagging, and more respect.

To be honest, I think Dr Laura's advice is not meant for women to manipulate their men, per se, but to love them well. But even if your only aim is to manipulate him, she's saying, then these ways will a) work much better than the alternative, and b) make him happier about it in the process.

Respectfully.