Top critical review
understanding how he expresses his love, respecting and listening to his feelings
on July 27, 2015
This is an okay book, although there are a lot of faults with how Dr. Laura presents her message. In her book, she talks about the need to respect your husband through how a wife speaks to him, not belittling him, understanding how he expresses his love, respecting and listening to his feelings, remembering that he still needs his own autonomy and space within the relationship.
All of the things are great points, but there is nothing ground-breaking in her book.
Although I think that Dr. Laura has some good points, there are several issues that I have with the book.
• Does not cite sources
Throughout her book, Dr. Laura will say, “Studies have shown…” or make claims without backing up her statements. Not once does she reference a specific study or have a citation to back up her claim. The majority of the “proof” that Dr. Laura provides are snippets of conversations with listeners of her radio show (also not cited). These wouldn’t even qualify as case studies because we don’t get to know anything about the caller or their situation other than a 30 second call. Dr. Laura also does not follow up any of these anecdotes with research to prove her point. As someone with a PhD, she should be well-versed in how to cite her claims and provide proof for her arguments. I understand that not every reader cares about which particular study she is referring to, but as an author with an academic background, she should understand the importance of this.
• Generalities and Stereotypes
Throughout her book, Dr. Laura states that “men are like this, women are like this.” There is very little talk about individual difference within each gender. It gets to the point where you could replace any man or woman in a relationship and the relationship would remain the same based on how women are, or how men are. This is most definitely not true. Individual differences, personalities needs, professional goals, family goals are what makes each relationship different.
• Disparages feminism at every turn
With every point that she makes, she talks about how feminism ruins women’s relationships by telling women that they can have careers, not to listen to their husbands, etc. She makes no distinction between different waves or branches of feminism. All are lumped together and are at fault.
I find it especially ironic that a woman with a PhD in physiology disparages feminism so thoroughly. Without feminism, she would not have been allowed to receive a university education, let alone two advanced degrees in the sciences.
• Does not present her points in a balanced way
This is one of the most crucial problems with her book. Everything is presented as one-sided.
For instance, when she is telling women not to overwhelm their husbands with talking about all their emotions or venting about their frustrations, she mentions how men want to fix things. Instead of talking about what a healthy relationship might look like, with a balance between the needs of each spouse, it comes across as very one-sided where the needs of the husband are more important. But should not the husband care about the needs of his wife as his wife cares about his needs? Is not a healthy relationship characterized by finding a balance of meeting each other's needs?
The most glaring and disturbing example of this is a letter written by a man to his wife on pg. 168. In this letter (which Dr. Laura gives no background information to, to give it context), the husband tells his wife that she “doesn’t have a clue or understand the essence of what it means to be a wife and mother.” He states that he thinks it is important that she stay home 100 percent of the time. He tells his wife that too many things have been neglected, “our kids lack focus, training and discipline… To put it bluntly, you haven’t been a mother” After eviscerating her as a mother, he continues, “when it comes to being a wife, you put no effort.” He continues that he feels less interested in her and less motivated to keep the family together. But for me, the real kicker of a paragraph is this, “I’m not claiming that I’m the perfect husband and father. You and I both work too many hours, but I believe you underestimate the importance of the mother in a family. Mothers and fathers play different roles in a family. I’ve never discouraged you from pursuing a Ph.D., but I don’t think it’s high on the list of priorities of what I think is best for us as a family right now.”
Dr. Laura does not spend much time discussing everything that is in this letter. She just summarizes and says that “fixed roles” are controversial, but being a mother is important. She does not discuss why this husband felt justified in eviscerating his wife in a letter, attacking her as a mother, a wife and her dreams. His wife is obviously intelligent to the point of pursuing a Ph.D., which is draining. But instead of appreciating that about his wife, he talks about it like it’s a hobby that she should give up and stay home 100 percent of the time instead. She does not explore the reaction of the wife who receives this letter. She also does not talk about the importance of both spouses talking with each other to discuss what they want their family to look like.
Overall, I think that Dr. Laura had some basic points that were good, but were not ground-breaking. There were enough issues with speaking in stereotypes, not supporting her arguments and not presenting a balanced perspective that I would not recommend this book to anyone. I would also be very hesitant to read any of her other books.