A session with Dr. Lara | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A session with Dr. Lara

Several marriages that are close to me have either divorced or separated recently and it has started me thinking about a lot of things. Things that I have observed both in my own marriage and in other marriages. Things that should and shouldn't be in a marriage relationship.

One thing, though, has stood out to me in particular. It will probably not be a very popular thing, either, but I truly believe it has a lot of merit.

And here it is: too often wives expect their husbands to be perfect. They want to be catered to and loved and spoiled and for hubby to do the dishes and change the diapers and take them out on dates. I don't really have issues with that, as I pretty much expect Joel to do all of that for me, too. What I do have a problem with, is that these same wives think they shouldn't have to do anything that would make their husbands happy. Or, better said, they feel that husbands shouldn't have the same types of expectations of wives as the women do for their men.

Perhaps it's the women's liberation, feminist, I am Woman, hear me roar type of stuff. Perhaps women feel they are already doing so much for their husbands and families (and they probably are) that they shouldn't have to worry about exactly what their particular husband needs from them. Perhaps I am totally out of line. If I am, you can go ahead and stop reading right now.

A few years ago my mom lent me Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." I read it and agreed with much of what she has to say. It was on my coffee table one day when I had some friends over. One of them picked up the book, snorted and said, "What about the proper care and feeding of wives? That's what we really need." That friend is now divorced. I am not in any way saying that her attitude brought about the demise of her marriage, but I can't help wondering if it was a contributing factor.

In the troubled and ended marriages that I spoke of earlier, I noticed some of the wives placing 100% of the blame on the husbands. He doesn't show me enough affection, he's addicted to his work, he's not paying enough attention to me, he this and he that. I have great difficulty with it all. I am by no means perfect in my marriage. I recognize when Joel isn't putting me first and I get upset/annoyed/angry/hurt about that. And I let him know. But I also try to let him know how wonderful I think he is and how grateful I am for him and for all he does for me and the kids. And I try to realize that if I want a happy husband who wants to do for me, I must also do for him.

President Hinckley said once, "The greatest factor in a happy marriage is an anxious concern for the comfort and well being of one's companion." Yes, he said it in the Priesthood Session, and perhaps the men need to hear it more than the women, BUT he did not say women are exempt. Women should have just as much "anxious concern" for the "comfort and well-being" of their spouse as should any man. And I think that showing gratitude for all our husbands do is the first step (even though we often feel they don't reciprocate or understand all that we do).

So, no matter how annoyed I am at Joel for coming home at lunch today and messing up my sparkling kitchen by cooking fish and rice instead of just making a PB&J, I am grateful for him. Grateful that I don't have a husband who comes home for lunch and demands that I make something for him. Grateful that he cleaned up the kitchen for me seven hours later. Grateful that he went to work today so I can even have a messy kitchen in the first place.

You may feel that I am living in the dark ages, and maybe I am. I really believe all I've said to be true, though. It takes two to tango, and we can only control our own actions. So, rather than complain and whine about all hubby isn't doing right, figure out what you aren't doing right and do something to improve. It will go a long way towards fixing his own issues. I'm sure of it.

Edited: I got a phone call this morning from someone dear to me who is currently separated from her husband, wanting to know if I was talking about her. I wasn't, and I appreciate the call. We had a really good talk. I'm afraid that others reading this might feel the same way and I wanted to clarify that all of the divorces I am talking about happened while I was serving as RS President. Because of that calling I had occasion to talk to the women involved and to know more than I would ever want to know about the details of the marriages in question. If you have never confided in me about your marriage then I am not talking about you. Hope that helps people rest a little easier!


  1. i just finished reading Dr. Laura's book recently and I have to say that no other book has opened my eyes to the workings of relationships such as that book has. several of my friends have also read the book and wholeheartedly agree. although Dr. Laura is not of the LDS faith, i think she is tune to the teachings of the Prophet. My girlfriends and I had a long discussion on changes we made in our own relationships with our husbands as a result of this book. I have to say that because of the changes that i have made because of the book, that my marriage has never been happier. Because I see to the needs of my husband and properly care for him, he responds and treats me well.

    Another book tha is making the rounds among my girlfriends is the Five Love Languages. The whole premise is that if you learn to speak their love language, that the relationship will improve and grow stronger.

    Thanks for the deep thoughts today. So many things I have read lately including Truman Madsen's "Four Essays on Love" have really brought all things things you discussed today to the forefront of my mind.
    It makes me sad that so many women in their self-centeredness fail to see the light.

    take care~

  2. I think this blog will get a lot of comments and a lot of feelings as well. I agree with this blog only in the perspective when we as women don't look at what our part is. Because the reality is the adversary has a huge goal and that is to destroy the family. Especially a covenant one. I feel I have come to understand a little better the eternal perspective, little by little. I know that no one knows everything and the older we get we know nothing. It's easy to say, oh he's selfish or she is, but the reality is couples just have a hard time learning how to dance together. But when one spouse it NOT willing to work on it, it is very difficult to get very far. So that is where the Spirit has to come in and tell us what the best thing to do for the moment.The thing couples must stop doing is blaming and just work on themselves the best they can and never give up or get sloppy about it. It may take years but it will be worth it, according to Parley P Pratt.

  3. I do want to clarify that I am in no way saying it is always the wife's fault, or even that it usually is. I'm just saying that I have noticed this attitude many times, and I don't like it.

    Of course there are marriages where the husband needs to learn this lesson, and the wife already has. And there are marriages with much, much more serious problems than just putting each other first.

    I guess I've just seen several women give up a marriage just because she wasn't willing to give, only to take...most of those when I was RS President.

  4. I agree with you, Lara. I'll have to look for Dr. Laura's book at the library; after all, who doesn't need a reminder?

    Another book that addresses this topic with some gospel perspective (and it completely changed my life) is "The Bonds that Make us Free" by Terry Warner.

    I think it's so easy to get selfish when one has a selfless man by her side (as I do). When I get unhappy my first instinct is to blame someone else. Unfortunately, most often I'm the one at fault. That's hard to swallow sometimes, though!