What I’m about to say may not be very popular with my readership. That’s okay. I’m not here to win any popularity contests.
I’m here to give solid reality-based relationship advice. Such advice is not based on what I want personally; rather, it’s based on what is most effective in relating to the opposite sex.
So it’s with considerable ambivalence that I decided to review Suzanne Venker’s “How to Choose a Husband” today. It’s an easy read – I finished the book in one night – and Venker’s got a decidedly colloquial writing style. The reason I’m ambivalent about it is that while Venker’s actual relationship advice is really good, her judgmental opinions may blind you to her wisdom. Which is a shame. Like Lori Gottlieb, who got raked over the coals for writing a book for smart women who want to get married and have kids, Venker has taken a ton of heat herself – some of it deserved, some undeserved.
She holds special contempt for feminists, Hollywood, liberals, atheists, and casual sex, and since I believe in all five of those things, I could feel the heat rising when I learned how folks like me are unable to have successful and meaningful relationships. This is, on the surface, not true, and it’s a shame that Venker couldn’t have found a little more subtlety and nuance in making her case. Because her case is actually quite a compelling one. And it’s one I’ve been making on the pages of this blog for six years.
Like Lori Gottlieb, who got raked over the coals for writing a book for smart women who want to get married and have kids, Venker has taken a ton of heat herself – some of it deserved, some undeserved.
-Marriage isn’t always a passionfest.
-Men aren’t bad, or even worse than women.
-Being too busy, too difficult, too opinionated, and too arrogant are big problems for women (and men) looking for love.
-There are many women who have spent so much time working that they’ve lost touch with what makes them appealing to men. It’s not that we don’t love your fertile minds; it’s that if you’re working 60 hours a week, training for a marathon, and telling us how we need to change for you, we might just choose women who are a little more available, warm and supportive.
Any arguments so far? No? Then you should have no trouble with Venker’s relationship advice either (except for the fact that it comes from a very judgmental conservative):
From p. 9 “Marriage isn’t a power struggle; it’s a partnership. Unless your husband’s a Neanderthal – in which case, why’d you marry him in the first place? – he’s not the least bit interested in seizing your identity. Most men don’t want a doormat for a wife. One of the greatest ironies of feminism is that it never even occurs to the average husband to do the thing his wife is steeling herself against. In most cases, all that energy spent putting up a shield is for naught”.
From p. 32 “People’s priorities change when they get married. When you’re single, life outside of work is largely without obligations or sacrifice. When you’re married with children, you learn the art of compromise and unconditional love…. Growth hand in hand with a like minded person is the point – not growth in order to meet a like minded person. Unless the goal is to marry a mirror image of yourself (with a penis), there’s no need to become the person you want to attract.”