Who's boss? Surrender and find out

Marriage: A new book urges wives to make 'Yes, dear' their mantra. But how does one get them to read it?

March 04, 2001|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff

Jan. 1, 2001

Dear Diary:

I have glimpsed utopia.

Imagine a world where I, as a husband, never heard any criticism, never got second-guessed, never suffered a put-down from my wife, always got my way and was generally treated in an appropriately royal manner.

Gives ya tingles, doesn't it? Whooo-baby. Make Daddy's reservations now.

But, here's the amazing part. I've discovered a way to get there. It's all contained in a book, "The Surrendered Wife," written by some gal named Laura Doyle out of California. She thinks wives are too bossy, too controlling, too nagging.

Well, hel-lo? What's to argue?

I'm picking up a copy of this fine paperback (Simon & Schuster, $13.00), and I'm going to give it a good read. Apparently, the book's been such a hit that it's launched Surrendered Wives support circles across the country.

I see my life returning to beer and ballgames, Diary. No more: "Pick up your clothes" or "Why haven't you taken the trash out?" or "Stop driving so fast."

I'm going to be a man. I'm going to be the king of the world. I'm going to be the big boss.

P.S. Won't tell You-Know-Who about the book. She might not approve. Don't need that kind of trouble.

Jan. 14, 2001

Have been reading my "Surrendered Wife" and it just keeps getting better.

Doyle argues that women are naturally too controlling. They don't criticize to be helpful, they criticize to have power.

"Disrespecting your husband's choices on a regular basis is like pricking him repeatedly with little pins," she writes. "Imagine living with a porcupine and you've got the idea of what it's like for him."

It turns wives into mothers and husbands into little boys, Doyle believes. And who wants that? Not me.

P.S. You-Know-Who almost caught me with the book this morning. Told her it was "Bridges of Madison County."

Jan. 21, 2001

A plan is forming.

Doyle says when women stop being so critical, their husbands will probably do what they wanted in the first place -- they just needed a chance to lead.

Take a husband who needs to paint a house. Doyle envisions a big argument starting when the un-Surrendered wife starts nagging.

But here's what happens when the wife has surrendered:

"Wife: I wish the outside of our house looked better. I want new paint. What do you think?

"Husband: I think we should go to the paint store, buy some paint, and start painting."

OK, here's my plan. If I can just get You-Know-Who to be the Surrendered Wife who asks my opinion, I'll have a slightly different response:

"Wife: I wish the outside of our house looked better. I want new paint. What do you think?"

"Husband: Just be sure you're careful with the ladder."

Oh, Diary, I feel good about myself.

P.S. You-Know-Who asked me while I have a smile on my face. "Cold sore," I told her.

Jan. 24, 2001

A small setback has developed.

Turns out, the book is intended for women to read. Yikes.

Seems the whole idea is for the wife to want to change. Then she's not even supposed to tell the husband she's changing.

"In the beginning, the anger, loneliness, depletion, and resentment you feel are prominent, and it's almost impossible to keep from expressing those feelings in a relaxed conversation," Doyle writes. "Doing so will do further damage to the intimacy in your relationship."

I guess that means You-Know-

Who is going to have to read this book. Willingly.


Jan. 28, 2001

I'm starting to have doubts about Mrs. Doyle (I know it's Mrs. because she made a big point of taking her husband's last name -- after she surrendered).

First, she suggests husbands take over the family finances. Yikes.

Then, she says husbands should be responsible for the kids. "What Daddy says, goes," she writes. Well, how can I defer to You-Know-Who if I have to make those decisions? When it comes to the kids, I'm like an Ohio State quarterback -- I like to hand off.

Makes me wonder why this book has gotten so much press. It's been in Time magazine, on "Dateline NBC," the New York Times (where those clever headline writers called it "Yes-Dearing Your Way to a Happy Marriage").

Yes, Dear. Those words do sound sweet. I can probably live with bankruptcy and juvenile delinquents if I get my way all the time.

This is what I'll do: I'll leave the book on her pillow.


Feb. 10, 2001

Will give You-Know-Who the book tonight. Here's a comforting thought: Admiring your husband brings you closer to God, Doyle writes.

I'll bring salvation to the little woman yet.

Feb. 11, 2001

Next week for sure.

Feb. 19, 2001

No later than Tuesday.

Feb. 21, 2001

Well, I found the right moment and left the book on her pillow.

No reaction yet. But then, she's not supposed to tell me, right?

Already planning to have the guys over for a poker game on Friday. We'll probably smoke cigars. Big, nasty ones.


P.S. Better skip the stogies. Doyle says the newly Surrendered often lapse. That could be painful.

Feb. 23, 2001

No sign yet. Cancelled the poker. Why take chances?

Feb. 27, 2001

Couldn't stand it anymore. Finally confronted You-Know-Who in the most forceful manner possible.

"Excuse me, but did you get a chance to glance at the book I left you?"

Well, this launched her into a long diatribe about how all this was just another form of manipulation. How it wasn't genuine. How a Surrendered Wife was still altering her behavior to achieve her own goals. How it was dishonest.

"But, but, but," I responded masterfully.

She said I shouldn't be duped by this pop psychology, and she wasn't going to bother reading it. Called it embarrassing to women and insulting to men.

I told her she was probably right.

March 1, 2001

An exciting day.

Made the usual breakfast for You-Know-Who, and she said she liked it. None of the customary complaints about too much hollandaise on the eggs Benedict or the double decaf skim latte being tepid or pulp floating in the freshly squeezed orange juice.

Diary, I think she may be surrendering.

Will keep you updated.

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