Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives by Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a non-fiction, self-help book for men, but it turns out it’s also a good read for women. The book is broken into ten chapters going over ten behaviors or ways of thinking that seem to plague most men and ruin their lives. The chapters are all arranged the same – first, the author explains what they mean, then she provides examples, from actual listeners of her radio show, of the thought processes in action. Lastly, she concludes each chapter with why it’s bad, how it ruins their life and how to fix it. I’ll break this review down by chapter.
Chapter one goes over stupid chivalry – when men feel the need to save women who haven’t and don’t want to save themselves. She points out how some men will waste their time and energy on a woman who won’t change simply because he feels he has to save or fix her. Sometimes it’s so they can feel needed or useful. Dr. Schlessinger further describes this as “getting involved with the wrong woman (someone who is weak, flaky, damaged, needy, desperate, stupid, untrustworthy, immature, etc.) you think that your love will save/transform her”. Many examples given of men dating women who were lazy, addicted to a substance, etc. with no intention to change for the better. She highlights that these types of behaviors are deep seated and need professional help which is not something she can get being in a relationship with a man.
The next chapter deals with stupid independence; what is stupid independence you ask? This is presented as men who refuse to admit they “need bonding and intimacy with a woman, so they occupy themselves with excess work, play, drink, drugs, porn and meaningless sex”. Sometimes men have difficulty realizing what they need and/or admitting what they need; the author uses the example of a man who wrote a letter to Dr. Schlessinger explaining how he lost his wife and didn’t realize how much he needed her until it was too late. The author makes the point that, for men, expressing emotions is not as central as it is to women, but it’s just as essential. She goes on to state that men, biologically speaking, are not wired to think about and handle expressing emotions the way women are. Dr. Schlessinger quickly points out that men can change, but it will take time and ladies will have to be patient. Stupid independence is not asking for help when it’s needed, not realizing or asking about possible problems in their relationships, throwing themselves into their work, meaningless sex, drugs, alcohol or some other vice in an attempt to conceal or ignore these things.
Chapter three gives examples of when men exhibit stupid ambition. This is when men are “unable to comfortably and proudly accept your (their) inherent importance to society and family as husband and father, you bow to the false idols of money, toys, power and status.” In this chapter the doc explains that males are naturally competitive – they have to be able to prove they’re the best in most things they pursue whether its a woman, job or promotion at a job; she explains that men end up spending too much time chasing and trying to attain status symbols when all they have to do is find a good woman whom they are compatible with, marry her, start a family with her, help her care for the child and then realize that simply being a husband and father places men in two of the most important roles they’ll play in people’s lives and in society. It’s an extremely valid point that I couldn’t agree with more if I tried because as a married woman and daughter, I can’t think of two more influential men in my life than my father and my husband.
Chapter four is stupid strength – described as being “uncomfortable with feeling weak, vulnerable, useless, powerless or rejected, you use intimidation, force or passive agressiveness to regain control”. Basically the author states that strength is a good thing – strength allows us to defend ourselves and those we love, allows us to be brave when we’re scared and you get the idea. She argues that it becomes a problem, in relationships, when men aren’t coping with these feelings and voicing their concerns or feelings to their partners. Communication is key and communicating these feelings to their partners allows their partner to either make some necessary changes or at least discuss these things. Men who aren’t able to communicate these feelings and deal with them usually end up trying to regain control through negative behaviors such as verbal abuse, physical abuse or some other passive aggressive behavior that is also detrimental to the relationship they’re in.
Chapter five goes over stupid sex which is “taking an attraction, opportunity, or erection as a ‘sign’, you (men) measure your masculinity and power by sexual conquests, infidelities and orgasms”. Some examples provided are:
- Sexual promiscuity – too many sexual partners
- Unprotected sex
- Cheating on your spouse
- Having sex when they’re too young
You get the idea and that’s not even the full list! (To get the full list, you’ll have to read the book.) I feel those examples are pretty self explanatory and you can see how they could possibly mess up your life. Having too many sexual partners, especially when having unprotected sex, can lead to sexually transmitted disease or you could get the woman/girl pregnant and/or it could interfere with how men view relationships and sex in those relationships. It definitely could cause more problems in the long term than it’s worth in the short-term. The sixth chapter is stupid matrimony. What is stupid matrimony? It’s when men realize, too late, that they married the wrong woman for the wrong reason(s) and feels “helpless to fix it”. This includes marrying a girl because “the sex is good” and includes marrying a girl because they want to swoop in and save the day, you know, to “fix” her. The author, rightly, points out that these are all terrible reasons to choose to spend the rest of your life with someone and usually isn’t enough to sustain a marriage on its own.
Chapter seven is stupid husbanding; the author describes this as husbands who view marriage as anything other than a relationship requiring constant work, love, patience, trust, respect and loyalty. It is a relationship of making adjustments together; men who don’t participate in this process, by not getting involved in family matters more often, by spending more time working or participating in hobbies and not balancing those activities with spending time with their wife causes serious rifts or distance in the marriage. It cannot be overstated how important this is. Eight is stupid parenting described as “believing that only woman/mothers nurture children, you withdraw from hands-on parenting to assert your masculine importance, missing out on the true ‘soul food’ of a child’s hug”. This deals with men’s beliefs about parenting roles – the author argues that how a man views these roles corresponds with how he parents his children. If he sees himself as the sole breadwinner or believes he’s to support the family financially, he may focus more heavily on working to provide for the family, but may lack the time or energy or both to spend quality time with the family.
Nine is stupid boyishness – “having not yet worked out a comfortable emotional and social understanding with your mother, you form relationships with women that became geared to avenge, resolve, or protect you from your ties to Mommy”. In this scenario, Dr. Laura is referring to men who have or had a hard time setting boundaries with their mothers so they leave their wives to do it. Not cool guys. Lastly, chapter ten is stupid machismo; stupid machismo is “understanding the true and meaninful difference between being male and a man, you can become a man”. The argument here or main point is that the biological male wants one thing (good or bad), but the logical (or rational) man can choose to do something other than what biological urges are signaling they want. It sounds like Dr. Schlessinger is saying that what makes a man a man is some self-control.
This book was published in 1997, so reading the back cover (got it at a library book sale by the way) I thought some of the quotes were corny or cliché, but the title was so interesting I just had to read it. Once I started the book, I had the hardest time putting it down. I found the book to be a refreshing change from what we normally hear about men from feminazis; I love Dr. Laura’s let’s-celebrate-our-inherent-differences attitude because it’s what I was taught to do. It is an undeniable fact that men and women are inherently different because it was intended to be that way – so let’s not fight it, let’s celebrate and learn to appreciate it. I love her positive outlook.
I would recommend this book to any man or woman looking to learn a little bit more about men and relationships; and I would definitely recommend it to any engaged or married couple. The advice and examples provided in the book were invaluable and give a real life view of how men handle certain situations in their life. I flew through the book and have found hardback copies on Barnes & Noble for $24.00 ($21.60 for Members!) and Amazon for $16.38 (unfortunately, not a Prime item).
Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to read some of my other book reviews!