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The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
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"As a man, I can tell you our needs are simple. We want to be fed, we want our kids mothered, and we want lovin'."
"Men are only interested in two things: If I'm not horny, make me a sandwich."
I am a thirty-seven-year-old man who has seen quite a bit in life, and I can offer this to your search for how to treat a man. We are men, not dumb-dumbs, psychics, or one bit unromantic. We need only clear communication, appreciation, honest love, and respect. This will be repaid by laying the moon and stars at your feet for your pleasure. There is no need to 'work' a man to get what you want. We live to take care of a wife, family, and home. Just remember that we are men, and know that our needs are simple but not to be ignored. A good man is hard to find, not to keep."
"A good man is hard to find, not to keep." That sentence should really make you stop and think. As a radio talk-show host/psychotherapist, I've got to tell you how remarkably true and sad it is that so many women struggle to hold on to some jerk, keep giving an abusive or philandering man yet another chance, have unprotected sex with some guy while barely knowing his last name, agree to shack up and risk making babies with some opportunist or loser, all in a pathetic version of a pursuit for love, but will resent the hell out of treating a decent, hardworking, caring husband with the thoughtfulness, attention, respect, and affection he needs to be content.
It boggles my mind.
What further puts me in boggle overdrive is how seemingly oblivious and insensitive many women are to how destructive they are being to their men and consequently to their marriages. Women will call me asking me if it's alright to go off on extended vacations "without him" when they want some freedom or R&R, or if it's okay to cut him off from sex because they're annoyed about something or just too tired from their busy day, or if they really have to make him a dinner when he gets home from work because it's just too tedious to plan meals, or if it's okay to keep stuff from him (like family or financial issues) because his input is unnecessary, or if they're really obligated to spend time with his family (in-laws or stepkids), or if they really have to show interest in his hobbies when they're bored silly by them, or -- well, you get the idea.
Let me relate the specific call that prompted me to write this book. Annette is thirty-five, her husband is thirty-nine, and they have a one-year-old son. She is a stay-at-home mom who just doesn't enjoy cooking and doesn't feel it's useful to spend a lot of time doing it. She called wondering if that was detrimental or not to her child. Right away I was alerted to her lack of concern about the needs or desires of her husband -- you know, the guy who slays dragons for her and their child every day. In order to really get a feel for this caller, you'll have to imagine the completely hostile and disdainful manner in which she spoke.Dr. Laura: What do you do for food?
Annette: We eat peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
Dr. Laura: That's not healthy three times a day.
Annette: No, he's [the child] not eating it three times a day.
Dr. Laura: What do you eat for dinner?
Annette: Well, he's still breast-feeding at one year old.
Dr. Laura: What do the adults in your house eat for dinner?
Annette: My husband might eat beef enchiladas from the freezer, and I might eat cereal or cottage cheese. My husband doesn't much like what I cook.
Dr. Laura: That's not really a balanced, healthy diet. Are you intentionally making awful things that he won't eat or is he some kind of ogre?
Annette: (Sarcastically) No, I'm just not a good cook. [What you can't read is her disdainful, hostile tone.]
Dr. Laura: Okay, Annette, being a better cook is easy to come by. All you do is take a class or get a book of recipes. I wonder if you're intentionally undermining his enjoyment of a home-cooked meal so that you simply don't have to do it. Let me tell you what is detrimental to your child. Dinnertime turns out to be one of the most important functions of a family in terms of a child bonding with parents, their ability to communicate and feel close to their parents -- all of which supports their self-esteem.
The dinner table is a most important aspect of that bonding. That is the routine time when the family sits down, says their prayers, and spends that pleasant time enjoying their meal together and talking. So, if that means you have to do what you don't like, so be it. Or did you plan to teach your son that when he doesn't enjoy something, he doesn't have to do it at all, or he doesn't have to do it right? In which case you are going to have a child growing up to be a monster.
There are a lot of things we all don't enjoy doing, but they are part of the rigor of life and they are a part of our obligations in our various roles. To be people of integrity, we have to follow through whether or not we enjoy something. So, if you are at home, I think it is important for you to make the effort to prepare pleasant dinners because I think that's part of the joy and comfort for your family. Put in the effort. If your husband can eat frozen, prepackaged Mexican food, with all those spices, it means he has a pretty open-minded stomach -- so you must be going far out of your way to mess with him.
I don't understand that hostility, especially from a woman who has a one-year-old child. The ability for you to maintain a safe and nurturing home for that child largely depends on the quality and existence of your marriage. I'd expect you to make more of an effort. Most of the women who complain that they are not getting what they want from their husbands should stop and look at how disrespectful and disdainful they are of them. They should also look at what they put their time and energy into at the expense of him and their marriage. It would be a stunner for them to realize that they try harder to impress strangers than they try to impress the person who is supposed to be the most important to them. As one listener, Gary, says:
"A husband is like a horse. At the end of the day he is usually rode hard and put away sweaty. Like in the movies, if his master drives and beats him, he'll go just so far before bucking and rebelling.
If you love him, if you coax him, he'll drive himself till his heart explodes before he will let down his master. He'll give himself to death for the one he loves.
Which way should women handle a man?"
I have never gotten a complaint from a male listener in twenty-five years on the radio over my assertion that men are very simple creatures. They agree. I have explained time and again on my radio program that men are borne of women and spend the rest of their lives yearning for a woman's acceptance and approval. Unless you've got a man with a frank mental or personality disorder (the exception, not the rule), men admittedly are putty in the hands of a woman they love. Give him direct communication, respect, appreciation, food, and good lovin', and he'll do just about anything you wish -- foolish or not.
With one particular caller, Sandy, I pushed this agenda through to a successful conclusion -- but not without a lot of sweat on my part and resistance on Sandy's part.
Sandy: My husband and I have a horrible relationship.
Dr. Laura: And why is that, I wonder.
Sandy: He says I'm too headstrong . . . but I think we are both too headstrong for each other.
Dr. Laura: He says you are too headstrong. And what does that mean? Sandy: He always tells me I like to take over situations -- that I like to control situations and that I go around him when we should discuss these things together. I just go ahead and do it myself.
Dr. Laura: So, why do you do that?
Excerpted from The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Laura C. Schlessinger . Copyright © 2004 by Laura C. Schlessinger. All rights reserved. Posted with permission of the publisher. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.