Laura Schlessinger vs Helen Andelin on how to treat your husband

Having derived enormous enjoyment from Fascinating Womanhood, I thought I would try reading The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, by Laura Schlessinger.

However, I found this book a great disappointment. It is nothing like as funny as Fascinating Womanhood. Dr. Schlessinger doesn't suggest that women should try to be both Agnes and Dora, she doesn't recommend cooing like a cat or purring like a pigeon, and there is absolutely no mention of snakes in her book (from Fascinating Womanhood I had gained the impression that the USA is a country where the entire populace spend much of their time grappling with snakes).

Dr Laura's basic premise is that men are simple creatures who only want to be respected, admired and fed in order to be happy. Men are hopelessly vulnerable and putty in the hands of their more complex wives. Her book is full of quotes from people who have rung her radio show, which I gather is very popular in the USA, and from these calls she has compiled a catalogue of brutally oppressed men and cruel, selfish women who walk all over their husbands.

Now, obviously these people are real because they are transcripts of actual telephone calls. Such people do exist. However, I have not personally found that all men are helpless, vulnerable creatures who are entirely at the mercy of their wives. Dr Laura admonishes women not to nag for instance, and not to try and change their husbands, but what if your husband is the one who does the nagging and is constantly criticising you, the wife? She doesn't mention that, yet it's a situation I have come across several times.

She differs from Mrs Andelin in many points. She does not say that women shouldn't work outside the home for instance, and she doesn't suggest that it is necessary for a woman to behave like an imbecile. She does, like Mrs Andelin, recommend that a woman put her husband first in her life, but her advice is on the whole much more rational than Mrs Andelin's. I was a bit disconcerted by the chapter on sex (unlike Mrs Andelin, she believes firmly that a woman should always gratify a man's sexual desires), because she also recommends taking the aggressive role in sex some of the time, she quotes one man who said he liked the idea of a woman chasing her man around the house.

I decided that this was beyond me—I am naturally very passive sexually—and although I generally respond to my husband's advances with enthusiasm, I really cannot see myself chasing him around the house. However, I do think it would have been useful if I could have read this chapter when I was much younger and going through a period of not wanting sex with my husband very much. It would have been helpful to me then.

Dr Laura's style is somewhat brutal, but I can see that, in the rather extreme cases of callous behaviour by wives that she quotes, her methods are probably effective. There is one point in the book where she tells a man off for having done something insensitive, which cheered me up somewhat, evidently she doesn't believe that everything is always the woman's fault. Much of her advice is sensible, if somewhat harshly presented.

To sum up, I would say that if you want advice on how to make your husband happier, and don't mind being told that you have the total power to make or break your husband, and that responsibility for making a marriage happy rests entirely with you, this book is quite a useful one. However, for sheer entertainment value I recommend Fascinating Womanhood.

Louise C

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I haven't read either but like your reviews. Some men are fairly submissive and may well like to be pursued around a house. This is why it's hard to generalise.

Some things are fairly obvious, that if we treat people well they treat us well back which applies both to men and women and is common sense. Nagging is pointless and if you've a strong and dominant man there are probably things that work with him that won't with others. I expect most men prefer to be admired and respected (as do most women).

Just about every self help book I've ever read I've gleaned one useful nugget of information or at least they cause you to pause and think, but I would never use them as a major source of help.


I have generally found that to be true too, that there are nuggets of information in most self-help books, though generally I have not found enough nuggets to make me give any one a glowing review like all of them seem to get "this book changed my life" "now I understand myself" "My marriage has been transformed" etc. When the boss produces the Taken In Hand book I might give it a review like that though, as it would be more or less true.

I do find Dr Laura's style, though somewhat brutal, quite refreshing. At one point she told off a woman who was complaining that her boyfriend doesn't have much in the way of formal manners, the woman said that she was having difficulty walking across a snowy road in high heels and her boyfriend didn't try to help her "Why weren't you wearing sensible shoes in that weather?" Dr Laura asked her tersely, which made me laugh because that is exactly the reply I would have given to a complaint like that. For a moment there I felt that Dr Laura and I were soul-mates.

However, what Dr Laura's book, and all the other books of this type have in common, is an insistence that if you adopt certain tactics, your man will respond in the way you want him to because 'men are simple creatures'. Men, as portrayed in all these books, only want to be treated in the right way to make them respond with adoration of their wives, and all problems will be solved. But what if you treat him the way these women recommend and it doesn't transform him into the angel of your dreams? What then? None of these books have an answer to that.


Brutal Style

Louise, maybe Dr. Laura has toned down some recently, I don't know, but I heard her a few years ago and it went way beyond "what were you doing out in spike heels in the snow." Btw, even if it was foolish to go out so attired I think her boyfriend should have helped her not to break her neck.

If you are doing something she doesn't approve of she goes right down your throat. It's her way or the highway.

Well, Dr. Laura insists her method will work. And to an extent it is pretty foolproof. Build up a guy's ego, be kind to him, feed him and give him all the sex he wants, and he'll probably be in a more mellow mood.

If he's still acting unpleasant, argumentative, mean, etc. he might fall under the category of an abuser, in which case Dr. Laura says, "dump the jerk." She reserves that solution for abuse, infidelity and addiction, though. Nothing else is a valid excuse for walking out, according to her.


Perfect husbands and perfect wives

The conversation about the man who didn't help his fiancee across the road in high heels is quoted by Dr Laura as an example of what she describes as "I love you—now change into my perfect husband." It goes:

Dr Laura: Why were you walking around in high heels in the dead of winter if you couldn't walk normally in them?
Nikki: We were out to a fancy dinner
Dr Laura: People can wear sensible shoes no matter where they go. Okay, so you wore silly shoes and he didn't throw you over his shoulder.
Nikki: What about such things as manners? When he comes over to my parents' house and he puts his face about an inch from the food and says "Wow, this smells really great!"
Dr Laura: I think that is very complimentary
Nikki: Even if his face was right above the food?
Dr Laura: How else would he smell it?

I don't know whether, in that shoe situation, it would have occured to my husband to help me or not, since I don't wear those kind of shoes anyway it's hard to tell. But I think Dr Laura's point is that you shouldn't expect perfection, which is all right, so long as the same courtesy is extended to women. I don't know whether she gets calls from men complaining about their wives in similar ways, there is only one incident in the book where she castigates a man for behaving insensitively towards a woman. I don't know whether that reflects the proportion of calls she gets from males and females.

My own personal experience, based on my own and also on other people's, is that it just as likely to be the man who is nagging and critical and never satisfied with what the woman does. It's only a little over a year ago my best friend sat in my kitchen weeping because her boyfriend had been giving her so much aggro about their new house. I was really shocked, I've known her 27 years, and that was the first time I'd ever seen her cry. It was SO unfair, because my friend is a fantastic housekeeper, nothing like me, her house is always immaculate, her boyfriend is just madly perfectionist when it comes to things like that—everything has got to be just right. Things have settled down between them since, but that was NOT her fault, and I don't know what Dr Laura would have had to say to her.


Dr. Laura

Dr. Laura is brutal to the point where I can't listen to her on the radio. I have heard her start screaming at people before they even get the first sentence out of their mouths. Sometimes I wonder if these people might have more fun just paying a professional domme to work them over.

On the whole some of what she says makes more sense than "Fascinating Womanhood." Her book on the proper care and feeding of marriage is a little more evenhanded in that it shows that men can be the problem too.

That's probably a better book to read than "Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." That one mainly ticked me off because she put all of the blame on wives except for that one example.


I really liked this one

I'm much more of a give it to me straight kind of gal, which maybe explains why I enjoyed this book so much. It's been a while since I read it, but I remember agreeing very much with what I thought was a lot of easy to let slide over the years of a marriage common sense. True, as Louise said, she doesn't address what to do if it's the husband who's the real nagger, but perhaps the topic for another book. It certainly seems from the radio transcripts that she found more than enough material for the topic at hand.

Anyway, it resonated with me very much, much more than Fascinating Womanhood (from what I saw as I flipped through it, to be fair). Interestingly, despite the very, very direct, almost (dare I say) unladylike approach, I think following a good bit of her advice would likely result in the feminine type of a wife that many a woman aspires to be and which is so often discussed on this site.