The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands: a book review

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, by Laura Schlessinger is a book that I highly recommend for any woman interested in a Taken In Hand relationship. In fact, I would encourage any woman who feels as if her marriage has lost its spark, or who is unhappy in her marriage, to read and take Laura Schlessinger’s advice to heart. She can be abrasive and blunt, and her conservative political and social positions have a tendency to alienate more liberal readers, but the counsel she offers in this book transcends conservative, liberal, or religious agendas. It is just good common sense.

Laura Schlessinger’s premise is straightforward: Men are simple creatures who long for the admiration, respect and love of a good woman. Men were raised by women and still need to be deeply connected to a woman. According to Dr Laura, women have a great deal of unused, or misused, power in their relationships with men. If a woman is careful to meet her husband’s basic needs for admiration, respect, frequent sex, and good food, he will repay her in spades. Laura Schlessinger emphasizes that what seems to be a sacrifice for the woman at the beginning, is in fact a great gift she gives herself. A man who is properly cared for by his woman, will do anything for her—even, as Dr Laura likes to say “swim through shark infested waters” to please her.

When Laura Schlessinger says that men are “simple,” she doesn’t mean they are stupid or limited. In fact, she decries the liberal, feminist agenda that seems dead set on insulting men. She feels that young women have been raised in a culture that is hostile to men, and by internalizing this message, they have become selfish and have a sense of entitlement that is out of proportion. She berates women for feeling as if the man should meet the woman's needs without her making an equal effort to meet his. She points to women who are so busy with outside careers, volunteering, hobbies and children, that they neglect the one who should be number one in her life. Dr Laura is a working woman, and does not condemn women for working, but she does insist that women must put their husbands above their work, and even above their children.

Dr Laura does not imply that men are superior to women, nor does she insist that the man should be the “head of the household.” However, I found that by applying the principles in her book to my “equal” marriage, I empowered my husband to find and embrace his natural dominance. Since most women on this site are looking for that result, I always recommend putting Dr Laura’s principles into practice if one’s husband seems to reluctant to take her in hand.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is not about violence toward women or about abuse of any kind. Dr Laura does not advocate tolerating physical abuse or infidelity. It is a book about taking responsibility, acting like a sexy, respectful, adoring wife, and making your man happy. As she poignantly points out, “A good man is hard to find, not to keep.” In Proverbs in the Old Testament it says, “A wise woman builds up her house, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Dr Laura’s book is a terrific, readable guide to “building up your house.”


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My top book recommendation

I've not read this book, honestly, I thought the title was a bit condescending toward men, I'm glad to hear otherwise from someone who's read it. I've just finished the book Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love and Fulfilling Relationships, by Greg, Md. Baer, and would recommend it as a "must read", the book has given me a new understanding of unconditional love, and applies to all relationships, not just marriage.

Not Impressed with Dr. Laura

Dr. Laura places all the problems for any marriage on women's shoulders. She acts like this is a big compliment to us, but it is not.

In her examples of what she seems to think are typical women today, she caricatures us as selfish, money hungry, uncaring shrews who have nothing better to do than ignore and tear down our husbands, unless she swoops in with her right wing ideas and saves the day.


I didn't need her advice to treat my husband well. I don't need her carping and criticizing other women. She is no friend to her own gender.

IF you've been treating your husband like newspaper on the bottom of a birdcage, then maybe her advice will be helpful to you, but I don't see that the rest of us need her accusatory "help."

The one thing I can praise her for is she is in total disagreement with people like Noone who advocate physical violence against their wives.


Not for women with abusive husbands

Granted, Pat, she can be harsh toward her own gender. But, in fairness to her, I think she feels that she needs to be blunt in order for many women to get the point. In my case, I certainly did NOT treat my husband "like newspaper on the bottom of a birdcage." On the contrary, I have always been kind to my husband. However, I found myself taken to task several times in the book. I was NOT showing him enough appreciation and admiration, and I was not as sexually available as I could have been. Dr. Laura's book was a great wake-up call for me.

I wish I had had a copy of this book when I was a young wife with babies at home. I was so concerned about my own level of fatigue, and my own happiness, that I failed to take good care of my husband. I failed to fully appreciate the herculean efforts he made to support us financially, AND take over with the children when he was home. Dr. Laura is absolutely right when she counsels women that a little appreciation will reap great rewards.

It is imperative to understand that Dr. Laura is not writing this book for women with abusive husbands--she makes that clear up front. And she does not say that all of the problems in a marriage are the woman's fault. However, she does point out that the only one we can change is ourself. We can't change a man by force. Only by changing ourselves can we hope to achieve the kind of relationship we were hoping for! Charlotte

That's what my husband said

That's exactly what my husband said... “You don't need a book to tell you that!”
I think that most women especially my age and younger (30) don't even know what mistreatment is. Most men won't react: if their woman tells them they are doing it wrong and bashes them, they are quiet and make every attempt to do it the way she wants it. He is hurt and his ego is shot. To the woman it's mission accomplished. It doesn't even occur to the woman that she has totally emasculated him.
This book is a how-to-recognise-this-behavior book.
If you didn't need it, fine, but look around. Look at all the wimpy men on short leashes. Somebody needs this book.
I did. I was on my way to the attorney to file for divorce. Dr Laura was on the radio. I decided that I would make one last ditch effort to save this marriage. I bought her book. I am 30 years old. My mother was a staunch feminist, but not the “equal pay for equal work” kind. The men are evil and cause every problem the world has kind. Guess who adopted that mentality? Me. After I read the book (in 6 hours), my eyes were opened. I had to ask myself “Would I want to come home to me?” No.
It may seem that Dr Laura bashes women and blames them for the state of their marriages...because she does. She is blunt, which is good because the people who need this book (like me) are so pigheaded and stubborn that in-your-face-blunt is the only conversation we hear.
Women have all the power to change their marriage. Think about it. Think back to a non Taken In Hand relationship you had. If you had your mind made up about something, anything...could you man change it? Nope. If you didn't like what he was doing how easy was it to manipulate him to get the result YOU wanted? Pretty easy.
This book was the first step to my Taken In Hand relationship. I didn't foresee the end result (not in a million years). And this book is not a roadmap to Taken In Hand (she is the first to point out that not once in her book does she say “submit”). But Taken In Hand seems to be the next logical step.
I think the people who overtly badmouth her book are doing it because they don't like her. The messenger does not devalue the message.

Wish my wife would understand...

I too find Dr. Laura abrasive but, in that sense where for too long so many people have whined about this or that and been so selfish that her abrasiveness is a wake up to them. They need it. If I were drowning would I want someone to softly try to pull me out of the water? NO. I'd want action. Her words do that. I may be bruised by the force of my rescue but I am alive.

I am tempted to give this book to my wife (who got her divorce a year ago, and left home two years ago) but, I don't want to put up with more of being bashed. Like one reader said, when she realized she was the man bashing feminist her mother was, I have been coming home to that type of disinterest and bashing for years.

But I trust in G-d and want my marriage restored. She is changing, being healed, but it is so slow. My health is declining and while I'd appreciate restoration at any time, being able to enjoy a good sex relationship would be welcome. I don't know how long to wait, or if I should wait. I've heard some people they stayed away too long. By the time they realized what they had destroyed their partner grew weary of the games and animosity and had moved on. I hope this is not the case.

So, having dumped my feelings on you, my question is, how would I get this book in her hands without her knowing I sent it?

Maybe I should just forget it.


Re: Wish my wife would understand...

If you want to restore your marriage, giving your wife that book is a really bad idea. The book is mean-spirited. It is a good book for those who find it in a book shop and find that it speaks to them, but it is a bad book to give to your wife because however true it may be that she needs to change in the ways the book urges, she will not be able to 'hear' the message because it is expressed so harshly.

What is much more likely to help is kindness and genuine reaching out to her. A better book to give her might be Getting Through to the Man You Love, by Michele Weiner-Davis, and also Michaele Weiner Davis's The Divorce Remedy (and you should definitely read that one yourself if you want to get back together happily with your wife). You should also read How One of You Can Bring the Two of You Together, by Susan Page, and you might both like The Committed Marriage, by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore?, by Manis Friedman, and perhaps even Kosher Adultery and Kosher Sex, by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

What you need to understand very clearly is that whining and complaining and crtiticising harshly your wife will be counterproductive if you want to reconcile with her. Loving kindness is what is needed, not more negativity. Read John Gottman's books about marriage and relationships. In particular, read The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, by John Mordechai Gottman, and Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship, by John Mordechai Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman.

If, on the other hand, it is she who wants to reconcile with you, and you feel unable to tolerate her behaviour, then may I suggest a slightly different strategy: instead of merely complaining to her about her behaviour, be firm with her. Less talking (i.e., moaning and complaining and trying to persuade her to change) and more firm but loving action is required. If she really wants to be with you, and you are refusing on the grounds of her behaviour, she is going to be feeling really awful, and it is difficult to behave well when you feel awful. She might well find The Divorce Remedy, by Michele Weiner-Davis, extremely helpful. The Susan Page one too. And the Gottman books.

I do hope you two manage to reconcile and create a deeply happy marriage. Divorce is so tragic.

Just a man's view...

I certainly don't like listening to this woman, and I haven't read her book. However, listening to Charlotte's synopsis of the writing, I must say that there are some very important points that have been made.

No, women aren't totally responsible for man's happiness. They are, on the other hand, great influencers in the level of contentment that can be achieved in his life, and he is designed so that his mate fills a need that no other can fill. When a man understands this need AND opens himself to letting his mate fill that need, AND his mate moves to fill that need, then real intimacy can take place.

A critical tongue or demeaning attitude of his woman can not only destroy a man's foundation of confidence, but it also shut the door of intimacy that he wants to open. A man's ego can be VERY fragile, particularly if things aren't going well at work, and can either be fed or destroyed by his mate.

Men aren't that hard to figure out, as she says. And, if you've got a good man, it would be wise to invest yourself in him. The rate of return is better than any Wall Street investment.

Sam (of Sam & Missy)

The same applies to women

I have not read the book either, and the one occasion I listened to her on the radio certainly did nothing to make me feel inclined to listen to her again, and nor did what she say make me think that she knows anything. But given Charlotte's positive review, perhaps I will read the book.

Moving on to Sam's comments: what strikes me is that everything you have said applies equally to women. The man who cherishes his wife can make such a difference to her life and to the relationship.

Yes, it Applies to Both

I would agree, the boss. While I dislike her radio persona and her political views, she said things in the book that made some sense, IF they hadn't been exclusively aimed at the female gender. Everyone thrives on respect, love and admiration. The big question is, why does there even need to be a book on such an obvious fact?

However, throughout the book I felt she showed a disrespect and scorn for her fellow females that belied the good intentions of the book.


If respect, love and admirati

If respect, love and admiration were obvious facts, this would be a peaceful world. They are not obvious to everyone, clearly, and even when a woman (or a man) thinks she is showing love or respect, it may not be interpreted that way. This is a major point of the book--what women perceive as love (communication through sharing and talking, for example) is not the way men preceive love. A primary way a man perceives love is through sex, whereas that may not be the primary way his wife tries to show him love. Often, the wife will feel unappreciated for her efforts and the man will feel unloved, or vice versa, when both were trying to please the other based on what THEY THEMSELVES wanted. The sexes are equal, but not equivalent. Information is a good thing. Charlotte

Don't Need Dr. Laura

If men need sex to feel loved then my husband must be feeling pretty unloved...but it's his own fault!

I didn't need Dr. Laura to tell me this, it's been obvious from those conversations I have had with so many men.

Maybe it's because I'm a switch or maybe it is because I have high testosterone but I am more like a man in that regard. Oh, I like the 3 little words too but candy is bad for me and flowers..well, they shrivel up real fast.

Sex won't rot your teeth, as men seem to have discovered.


Dr. Laura, good and bad

First, I have to say I do not like to listen to Dr. Laura's show. I find her to be abrasive and mean and I find many of her attitudes to be distasteful. I am downright repulsed by her ideas on homosexuality and some other things. I do like her stand that caretaking one's family is a worthy way to spend one's life and the most important thing that anyone can do. I also like that she likes men and marriage and she is not afraid to say that.

That being said, I really enjoyed this book and found it very helpful as was its companion volume Woman Power. I don't think she was belittling women at all but merely belittling the attitude that many women have about their men. It is this idea that men are superfluous buffoons who are to be viewed with tolerant amusement. They are here to fulfill a woman's needs but heaven help them if they have any needs of their own. The only way for a man to be appropriately communicative and bonded is for him to act as a woman would in the same situation. I think she reacts to the contempt and disdain that is widespread among women towards men. No, it is not universal but it is not the minority either and it is certainly very much present in the media.

If you read carefully you will note that she does not put all the blame for problems in marriages on the woman's shoulders. What she does say is that women have more power than men do to affect change in the marriage. Also, if a woman is unhappy in her marriage maybe she should think about changing herself (which she can do) rather than focusing on changing her husband (which is outsider her power).

The fact is that, in general, men are simple and women are complex. (Simple, not stupid. Complex, not crazy or impossible to live with.) This is not an indictment of either gender but just a statement of fact. A man finds a woman that he is attracted to and that he has some commonality with so he falls in love with her. Pretty much all he needs to maintain that love and devote his whole life to her and fulfilling her every whim is to have her respect, admire and bed him. That is love to a man.

Women are different creatures. They are ruled by hormonal mood swings and sensitivities over tone and wording and expression and "what you *really* meant by that". (Again, not an indictment. That can be a really important trait when you need to work with children who haven't yet gotten to a point where they can name their feelings to themselves much less to anyone else.) It can be really hard for anyone to figure out what a woman wants without really listening to her. What makes a man want to listen to his woman and figure out what she wants and what she needs? Respect and admiration. Give a good man what he needs and he will fight and die for the woman he loves. As Dr. Laura says, "They will swim through shark infested waters to get us lemonade."

All she is saying is that if a woman stops her man-bashing and starts putting her husband and his needs first; if she respects him and lets him know he is the man of her dreams, she will have a very different husband. Yes, there are couples that are fine without this advice, but judging from the state of society and what we see in the media, there is definitely a need and there are certainly women who haven't gotten this concept yet.

One other thing I have to say is that one of the things I like about Dr. Laura is that she does get on women and take them to task for their choices. Don't get me wrong, I am a dyed in the wool third wave feminist, but I think some modern women have been totally steeped in the victim mentality of second wave feminism. What they do is nothing more than a reaction to what has been done to them and it is beyond their control. What Dr. Laura says is that actions and what you (male or female) put out in the world is a choice and you are responsible for it. And *that*, I can totally get behind.


Shark Infested Waters

I for one would not want my husband to swim through shark infested waters to get me lemonade. Waste of a good man.

Especially since he can't swim.

Men are more complicated than Dr. Laura thinks. You don't just admire them, jump their bones and respect them and think that's all of it, unless by bedding them you mean doing their secret fantasies for them too. Even if that secret fantasy is putting him in a dress and spanking his butt!

Men DO get concerned about "what she meant by that" and the subtle things that go on between them and their girlfriends and wives but they have been taught it is below their male dignity to say anything about it.

As for Woman Power, you've got to be pretty high on the pecking order to be able to get a publisher to print up a book that is largely made up of blank spaces for women to fill in their own thoughts, and still sell it as a nonfiction book rather than a lined journal at 1/3 the price. (Wink, wink!) Most self-help books are simply a rehash of the author's first one, over and over with new titles and a tiny bit of a different angle, but Woman Power is even worse, just a glorified journal or workbook.


A reply to the boss's comment...

You are right on. What I said applies to both—maybe even more so to women!! There is nothing quite so important for a man to do than to encourage and compliment his wife.

My wife tries not to show it, but she quietly glows when I tell her of her prettiness (and she is!!), her attributes (and she has many), and her value to me.

My thoughts were on addressing the topic at hand about the husband, but I do know that women tend to get a great deal of self-value from their husbands. Men tend to get a good amount of this input from work, but my experience has been that a woman's sense of self comes largely (not solely) from how she is treated by her mate.

And, while we're at it, the same words of encouragement, support, respect and leadership should be directed to his children. How powerful are a Dad's words—Wow! I have told my children to, "go for it, reach for the stars, don't be afraid to fail." And, they have gone for it—succeeded at times & failed at times—but, they are better people for both results.

Sam (of Sam & Missy)

I listen to Dr. Laura wheneve

I listen to Dr. Laura whenever I get the chance. Her abrasiveness doesn't bother me at all. I find it amusing when she gets abrupt with people who, in most cases, deserve it--for example the woman I heard the other day who called up to ask how she could convince her married lover to leave his wife and small children for her. I don't agree with a lot of her stances--particularly on religion--but I'm an intelligent adult who can sift out the things I'm uninterested in to get to the good stuff she has to offer.

I find that what she has to offer is not something I hear anywhere else in pop culture with the occasional exception of Tom Lycos. What she has to say about the relations between men and women has been invaluable for me. Her notion that men understand love in the form of sex has transformed my relationship with my boyfriend. Her assertion that men are valuable, important and worthy of respect is also definitely not a message that pop culture imparts these days, and it's one that, again, has transformed my relations with men. She's also one of the only voices out there that suggests unabashedly that women prefer a man who protects and provides for them, and that there's nothing wrong, "retro" or weak about that.

She does take women to task in her book, but as with her abrasiveness on the radio show I simply don't take offense to it. She's hard on women in this book, and hard on men in others. It's sometimes tough to listen to, but in this era of perpetual victimhood, when no one is responsible for his own bad behavior, I find it refreshing to hear someone willing to verbally take a caller or reader behind the woodshed once in a while.

I credit The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands with opening my eyes to my selfishness and disrespect of my boyfriend--her advice definitely applies to women in relationships as well as married women. My boyfriend has become a new man since I started simply respecting him and particularly since I turned over the decision of when we have sex to him. It's like magic and it happened pretty much like she says--once I started making him feel good instead of constantly nagging or sniping at him about something (and only having sex on my much slower timetable), he started doing all those loving things that I'd been craving so much. I've also been fascinated to notice that we've begun a slow and subtle shift toward a relationship wherein he is the more dominant partner. I was equally surprised to find that I quite like it, much to the dismay of the girl I was ten years ago if she could see me now.

Bad title, off-putting delivery, good advice

By the time I read this book, I had already made the very firm decision to adjust the manner in which I approached my husband and marriage and had been acting on that decision for about two years.

I had always avoided listening to Dr. Laura based on her reputation and when I bought the audio book, I thoroughly expected to be disappointed. The title seemed to belittle men and her delivery is truly abrasive, but the sound core principles of caring for and respecting your man ring true no matter what.

I had been at war with my husband for about 14 years over some terribly hurtful things he had said when our kids were little. A couple of years ago I came to the decision that I just didn't want to fight anymore. When I raised the white flag, much to my surprise, I received the apology I had been demanding since my older son's 5th birthday.

In Dr. Laura's book she quotes from a letter sent to her by a man who said "Face it, sometimes we men are just going to do or say dumb things." Understand and forgive us. Well that works, not long after I read this book last year, my husband said some things to my mother about a medical problem I've been having that he simply should have know better than to say. I got home from the Doctor's office and my mother was on the warpath about how my husband didn't respect or value me while I'm ill. I was upset by his comment and instead of fighting we talked about it and came close to another impasse about hurt feelings. Finally I said, "Honey, just tell me you are sorry that you hurt my feelings and that you didn't mean to and I promise you I'll let it go and never bring it up again". He did. Bam! Like magic, it was over, no more hurt feelings, and he was forgiven for making a comment with out thinking to the REALLY wrong person. After I got the whole story of what he was thinking beyond the comment I asked him, why would he say it to my mother of all people and he admitted, "I just wasn't thinking." Now he knows that he can make a mistake and I'll forgive him and still love and admire him. I got this directly from Dr. Laura's book.

Have you read the one about marriage?

Hello Charlotte

I must admit, I found Dr Laura a bit school marmish when I first read this and it's sequel, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage but, to be honest, it is fairly self-explanatory and benefits both parties. Dr Laura has a way of making you feel (sometimes justifiably so) like you've been a total schmuck in your relationship when you complain about things going wrong. However, when you look at the complaints made, the complainants tend to blame the other party and avoid self-awareness and reflection. Once you swallow your pride and show empathy, you understand that you could perhaps go the extra mile and make a bit more of an effort in a relationship. According to Abraham Maslow, we all have a need to be loved, wanted, respected and appreciated, and who better than our other half to give it to us? Quite often, these endeavours are reciprocated!!!

The only time where I feel Dr Laura may be a little naive, although this could be down to a cultural difference between the UK and the USA, is that she tends to focus on women being homemakers and full-time, hands-on Moms. This is quite a conservative viewpoint that not everyone subscribes to nowadays. Reasons for this, remember, may include socio-economic necessity, rather than preferential choice. It is hard in the UK, particularly with the increasing house prices and materialistic aftermath from the "greed is good" philosophy of the 1980s, to survive on one wage and breadwin and care as was the case in the 1950s perceived "golden age". Nevertheless, the emphasis on teamwork is quite apparent and positive throughout both books.

My in-laws are friends with a couple who have been married for 50+ years and have 5 daughters. The wife always told my mother-in-law that the secret behind her happy marriage was to "keep her husband happy, especially in the boudoir" (her exact words). Although my mother-in-law and I laugh about this from time to time, surely there is a pearl of wisdom in there that would make Dr Laura's philosophy seem quite astute.