- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2001

Laura Doyle says she's a "surrendered wife," the next phase of being that feminism needs to embrace.
The phrase repulsed her when she was newly married at 22. But 11 years later, she advises women to cede vast areas of their marriages (finances, the way he dresses and many other day-to-day decisions) to the men they love in the interest of getting a more intimate, satisfying union in return.
After she started instituting some of these ideas in her marriage, she started a Web site, www.surrenderedwife.com, and introduced "Surrendered Women" workshops to about 1,000 women in the Los Angeles area.
Here are excerpts from a recent interview, conducted by culture page editor Julia Duin, with Mrs. Doyle on her new book, "The Surrendered Wife.[p
Q: Why did you shift to your husband's last name on your ninth wedding anniversary? Were you a closet feminist?
A: Oh, I am a feminist. Definitely, to my core. I see this as the next phase of feminism. That is acknowledging that what we want at work is different from what we want at home.
I mean, at work you have to be able to manage your staff, you have to be able to manage your projects, but marriage is not about managing your husband. It's about wanting companionship and romance and tenderness. And those are totally different goals and they require different behaviors. So I think I'm helping women move forward by acknowledging this.
Q: You wrote about the resentment in a lot of marriages, where women feel they are carrying 95 percent of the load.
A: The wives are resentful because they feel like they have to do everything and the husbands are resentful because they feel emasculated. They would like to have some authority. They would like to feel like they could do something around their house and do it right.
If you've done 95 percent of everything and he did 5 percent, you're relinquishing some things and he's picking them up. All of a sudden, things are more balanced. Adult men do not need to be rescued. They don't need to have somebody come up and clean up behind them.
Q: So women need to be candid about their desires and needs.
A: I used to say, "John, do the dishes." And he'd do them and then I'd do the rest myself because he didn't wipe the counter or something. You either accept how someone does something and delegate it or you end up with all the responsibility.
Q: So you don't clean up after your husband?
A: No, the idea is leave the coffee cup there, leave the socks there or whatever. I mean, my husband never did the dishes before I surrendered, and now I never do the dishes. One night I said, 'I want to make us a nice dinner, but I don't want to do the dishes.' And he's been doing the dishes ever since.
Now, does that mean I let them sit in the sink longer than I'm comfortable with? Absolutely.
Q: Where did you get the philosophy of "the surrendered wife"?
A: Mostly what I did was talk to women who had marriages that worked. One of them told me she never criticized her husband, no matter how much it seemed like he deserved, and that that seemed to be really helpful to them. Another one explained to me that she let her husband handle the money and that was less responsibility for her.
Q: It sounds like you're telling women to act totally different at home than they do at work.
A: That's right. My husband once dated a woman who was a teacher. He said, when she got home, she was still a teacher. She would say, "Put that away. Put that over there." It was like she couldn't switch her hat, and that's one of the things I encourage women to do: Switch their hats.
Q: Which means?
A: Feminism addresses what I want at work, but says little about what to do in my marriage, about the romantic, intimate relationship I want. With John, I am softer and more flexible, a feminine spirit who delights in being attended to.
The minute you start to surrender in your marriage, people tell me they can see a pretty dramatic change in one week. You start to see all of a sudden the husband seems more considerate, there's more romance, less tension, sex improves. So we know this works.
Q: On what grounds are men not trustworthy?
A: If he's a physical abuser, I don't care how mild. I'm real strict on that one. [If he's an] active addict, alcoholic, gambling or drug addict. And if he's a chronic philanderer.
Q: I understand not trying to control the guy, but what if he's making your life miserable by, say, leaving his dirty socks everywhere?
A: I guess I'd have to say to myself, OK, socks are on the floor, again. Is it worth possibly starting to bicker because of that? Or is it better to accept that he's got other qualities, and he's got things he has to put up with about me? Is it better to be able to laugh together, dance in the kitchen and have some intimacy instead of fight about these socks on the floor?
So the minute you stop being the mom in your marriage, all of a sudden the little boy has to grow up, and that's what we see happening over and over again. If there's an attitude of acceptance and respect overall, then all of a sudden we find men doing things they would never do before. Like picking up the socks, because they a) don't feel controlled about it, and b) want to please their wives.
What I would probably do is say, "You know, I really want the bedroom to be clean. I really want a clean bedroom." But if you make an issue about the socks, then they are more likely to stay on the floor than they are to get picked up. And the second part is if you don't make an issue about the socks, and your husband knows that you prefer the socks to be picked up, then your husband is more likely to do it.
Q: So you merely say what your desires are.
A: That's really fundamental to what I teach at my seminars. It is incumbent on us to say what we want and how we feel. [Women] have always been taught that we shouldn't say what we want. But really expressing your desires is part of being able to be in an intimate relationship. It's a very crucial part.
Q: Why do you say surrender leads to a more intimate marriage?
A: Intimacy and control are opposites and mutually exclusive. Surrender says, "OK, I can't control you. I can't control how you do your hair. I can't control how you dress. I don't want a life-size dress-up doll. I want a man who makes his own decisions." And that's when you begin to surrender and embrace intimacy.
Q: And this makes men more masculine?
A: Men become more masculine when you surrender. I think because surrender is a journey into your female. Receiving graciously is a very feminine trait.
Q: You're saying women cannot be mother and wife to their husbands at the same time.
A: My experience has been I have tried to be my husband's mother. But you can't. Men are not sexually attracted, romantically attracted to their mothers. Part of it is facing our fears. Facing the fear of surrendering control. Well, why are we so anxious to control things? Well, because we are afraid. That's part of why you get married, to not be in control. That's the essence of living with someone else.


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