I found a great lecture by Sue Bohlin, who works at Probe Ministries. The lecture is about the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I recommend this book more highly than any other book to Christian women. It really does a lot to give young women a different perspective on men and marriage. Don’t be thrown off by the funny title, it’s really good.
The MP3 file is here. (48 minutes)
Here is a blog post that Sue wrote that captures most of the material in the lecture.
Here’s the introduction:
Talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written a book that is improving thousands of marriages: The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. We need this book because millions of wives either don’t know how to love their husbands wisely and well, or they’re too self-centered to see it as important. Dr. Laura credits this dismal condition to forty years of feminist philosophy, “with its condemnation of just about everything male as evil, stupid, and oppressive, and the denigration of female and male roles in families.” While the women’s movement certainly had a hand to play in the disintegration of relationships and the family, I believe the core cause is our sinful self-centeredness, just as the Bible says.
Which is why we need help, and God instructs older women to train younger women to love their husband and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a great resource for learning these important values and skills.
And here’s the first part I thought was most important:
A listener to Dr. Laura’s radio show named Edgar wrote, “There are a few things that men want so bad they would do anything for it. I think a good number of men want respect more than love. They like to feel they have some power. I nearly cry when you tell a woman caller to respect her husband. There is so much selfishness in the world—in marriages. Prosperity has allowed women to be so independent, and thus so selfish. I always feel as though I come last—my feelings come last, my needs come last.”
“A good number of men want respect more than love.” God knew this when He made us. His commands to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:33 reflects each one’s deepest needs: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of LoveandRespect.com points out that this verse commands a husband to love his wife. Why? She needs love like she needs air to breathe. This same verse commands a wife to respect her husband. Why? He needs respect like he needs air to breathe.
- Respect means treating someone in a way that builds him up and doesn’t tear him down, never denigrating or attacking.
- Respect means always treating the other person with the dignity they deserve as a person made in the image of God.
- Respect means grasping that a man’s needs and wants are every bit as valid and important as a woman’s needs and wants.
- Respect means not venting to others, especially the children. One woman wrote to Dr. Laura, “No emotional outlet is worth damaging my husband’s reputation.”
There are three A’s that men long for from their wives: attention, affection, and affirmation. Respect involves paying attention to what they do simply because they’re the ones doing it.
Yes, respect is very important to men, but the thing is, a woman can’t respect every man equally. She should choose a man who does things that are respectable. Then respecting him will be easy. Sometimes, women overestimate how easy men are to change after marriage. It’s better to just pick one who does all the important things instead of thinking that you can pick a good-looking one and make him do the important stuff like be faithful to you, hold a steady job, save money, argue without getting angry, etc. later. Men don’t change much, so pick one who does things that you respect and then give him respect.
And this part also seemed important to me:
A man named Roy wrote to Dr. Laura with some good advice for wives: “If you can’t accentuate the positive, at least acknowledge it. The world is full of messages to men that there are standards we don’t meet. There is always another man who is more handsome, more virile, or more athletic than we are. None of that matters if the most important person in our life looks up to us, accepts us as we are, and loves us even though we aren’t perfect. . . . All I know is that the husband who has a wife who supports him and praises him for the positive things he does is the envy of all the other men who have to live with criticism, sarcasm, and constant reminders of their failures.”
Men desperately want and need the support of their wives. This is reflected in what God reveals in His Word when He says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And through the apostle Paul, God instructs wives to relate to their husbands in a way that meets this need when He says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
Submission is basically giving support with a willing, cooperative heart.
A wife’s submission includes knowing her gifts and strengths, and using them to serve her husband and family.
Service has a bad name, but both husbands and wives are called to serve God first and then each other; husbands are called to sacrificially love and serve their wives with Jesus as their pattern.
So what does support look like?
- Believing in him. Telling him, “You have what it takes.” Being his #1 fan.
- Cultivating a cooperative heart.
- Being generous and openhearted—willing to use your gifts and strengths to help him succeed.
- Understanding the importance of making him look good: never saying anything negative in public.
- Creating a home that’s a safe haven from the world.
- Having a warm heart with a positive, cheerful demeanor. Women set the temperature of the home; we are thermostats, not thermometers, of the family. (On the other hand, Proverbs says “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”)
- Being interested in him and his life.
- Showing thoughtfulness. What does he like? Do it.
- And though by no means exhaustive, it also means being a person of faithfulness and integrity. That means keeping your promises and being dependable. As Proverbs 31 puts it, “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”
Support and encouragement is SO important to a man. A man can continue to function fine if the whole world opposes him, but not if the woman he loves doesn’t support him. When a man falls in love, a woman has to realize the enormous power she has over him, and be careful not to hurt him. Men are vulnerable to the woman they choose. Although they look pretty tough on the outside, they can easily be hurt by insults or discouragement.
So, this lecture and the book are good, but young women should also seek out the advice of older Christian women who have been married successfully for some time. Read Titus 2:3-4 – the Bible encourages older women to mentor younger women! This is really important because we are in a time where young women are often pulled by the culture in many wrong directions, and they need help from people who know what they are doing.
One last point – I actually bought the audio version of the Dr. Laura book and noticed that it was just over two hours long. It turns out that the audio version is abridged – it is not as complete as the actual book. I noticed that Sue was quoting from the book passages that I had not heard in the audio recording. So, if you want the full content, get the book, not the audio recording.
3 thoughts on “What’s the best book a woman can read to prepare herself for marriage?”
2nd episode of the Suzanne Venker podcast interviews Dr. Laura. Suzanne Venker books are exactly the correct message.
I was lucky and found this book at a thrift store for just a few dollars. I would also recommend Suzanne Venker’s Youtube channel, plus the subreddit DeadBedrooms.
Yes! Suzanne Venker is extremely good. I have to look at DeadBedrooms.