Jewish World Review Jan. 15, 2004 / 21 Teves, 5764
Keeping husbands happy
Wake up ladies. It's not all about you.
That could be the subtitle of uber-radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger's
newest book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
"Dr. Laura" says that men are fairly simple creatures. So it doesn't take a whole
lot to keep most husbands, and by extension most homes, happy. Here are the
basics: respect, gratitude, food, sex, some space for "guy time" and don't nag.
As "Dr. Laura" writes that one male listener to her show told her, "A good man
is hard to find, not hard to keep."
This may be the provocative, controversial talk show host's most provocative,
controversial book yet but she's absolutely right.
For many troubled marriages, here's a big part of the problem, says Dr. Laura:
If we recognize that men and women are different at all, we think it's that
women are so civilized, and men are just brutes.
I call it the "man bad, woman good" view of the world. If only men were more
like women, how much better the world would be, right?
Wrong. Men communicate differently. If they don't break down with emotion
when we think they should, it doesn't mean they're cave men. It often means
they are just showing some restraint. Women regularly complain on radio
shows like Dr. Laura's, on daytime talk shows, in magazines and so on that
men are so "insensitive." This is consistently met with nods of knowing,
superior, agreement from other women.
Now, imagine what would happen if one were to argue that sometimes women
are overly sensitive?
Well, "Dr. Laura" has made just that politically incorrect observation. But more
to the point, she says our differences balance each other in a marriage if we
Let's face it. We wives say we like the sensitive stuff until there's a mysterious
bump in the house in the middle of the night and then we just know it's our
husband's job to go find out what it is.
Anyway, too many women thanks to the feminist movement have come to
believe that their husbands should be their total emotional support system. But,
maybe they're just not equipped to be. So what? What happened to those great
networks of women friends who used to provide a profound and necessary
emotional outlet for the women of our mothers' and grandmothers'
generations? Today these groups are chick cliques that typically get together to
complain about, well, how the men in their lives are insensitive.
It's no accident that today two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. Yes
there are intolerable, philandering, substance-addicted or abusive husbands
out there. No one is suggesting putting up with such things.
And yes, there are many husbands who just need to put more effort into being
But I have seen women feel despondent and ill-used because their spouses
can't read their minds, or respond to every emotional need or important feeling.
Yet too many of these women don't stop to wonder what does he need? In
fact, we've become such a feminized society, it's almost verboten to ask, "How
can I find out what my man's needs are, and better meet them?" Somehow, say
the feminists, that's oppressive.
But in her new book, Dr. Laura uses lots of anecdotes and a breezy style and
delves into what makes a man tick. Most importantly, she says if we realize a
good man's needs are simple and are willing to do what we can to meet them,
guess what? That makes him more devoted to us and to meeting our needs.
She calls it "magic."
What, exactly, is so oppressive about that?
Maybe the "magic" doesn't always work. But I'm fortunate to know many women
who "get it." I recently spent a long weekend with eight or so such high school
friends, most of whom have been married for a dozen or more years. Smart,
accomplished women who don't think their marriages are "all about them."
I noticed (again) how positively these women spoke of their husbands "behind
their backs." These guys aren't perfect, whatever that means. But these men
are appreciated. These are happy marriages, which I can safely say will last a
OK, true confession: I have not followed "Dr. Laura's" advice to the letter, shall
we say, but after almost 17 years of marriage (I was married when I was 12) my
husband remarks that I'm "easier to be married to" than he thought I would be
at the beginning. Okay, so he's a funny guy.
I like that about him. I think I'll keep him.
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