Should You Listen to the Marriage Advice from The Empowered Wife?
Where Lara Doyle gets it right – and where she has it wrong.
Lara Doyle’s best-selling books, The Surrendered Wife and The Empowered Wife aroused both the praise and ire of feminists worldwide.
Lara struggled in an unhappy marriage for years, despite constantly running after therapists and marriage coaches. When she finally changed her perspective on the delicate male-female relationship, she saved her marriage and rekindled its love and passion.
In her book, The Empowered Wife, Lara gives women six intimacy skills to help them regain their partner’s time, attention, and affection.
Should you follow Doyle’s advice?
Here’s what I believe Lara got it right – and where she got it wrong.
What Doyle Got Right
1.Take responsibility for your own happiness.
It’s not your partner’s job to make you feel happy or fulfilled; it’s yours. Marriages thrive when both partners take personal responsibility for their own happiness.
Your partner needs your respect like he needs air. When he’s treated with disrespect, he’ll likely invest his energy into defending his shattered image instead of healing his broken relationship. When you give a man the respect he needs, he’ll have the emotional space to be the protective, caring, and selfless person he can be.
3. Trust him.
Positive expectations are like self-fulfilling prophecies. When your husband sees that you’re confident in him and trust his abilities, he’ll be motivated to live up to your expectations.
4. Be vulnerable.
Recognizing that we’re dependent on others is essential to intimacy. Your spouse will naturally want to give if you open the door to humbly and graciously receive.
5. Choose harmony over vindication
Being right won’t build your marriage, but living in harmony will.
What Doyle didn’t get right:
1.Your motivation should be self-driven
Throughout her book, Doyle reiterates that following her “intimacy formula” will encourage your spouse to give you the love, time and attention you crave. The desire to feel loved and cherished is a worthy goal. But when a goal is only self-serving, we might only follow through if we see results.
The true test of our commitment to marriage comes when we don’t see results – perhaps because of our spouse’s spiritual or emotional shortcomings. Will self-driven motivations give us the courage to continue practicing respect and nurturing self-happiness even if it doesn’t serve us? Or will it pull us down once the going gets rough?
2. Women should focus on learning how to receive
In an age where the media applauds the independent superwoman, Doyle stresses the importance of graciously accepting favors and gifts from others. It’s true that by graciously taking, we’re expressing a healthy level of vulnerability and an acceptance of our dependence on others. Yet, Judaism believes we were created to become givers, and there’s a fine line between graciously receiving and nurturing our selfish inclinations. If we’re not sure whether we crossed the line, it might help to ask ourselves: Will nurturing my inclination to take truly improve my marriage and my character?
3. Your husband should always do “whatever he thinks.”
Doyle suggests that a man should be left to his own devices when making decisions, including those that can have harmful consequences.
She’s correct that people are less inclined to respond positively when we’re critical or callous, but I think she goes too far. A woman is her husband’s partner and she can use her God-given wisdom and intuition to positively influence him.
Of course, tact, common sense and knowledge of what works for your spouse are key. If, for example, you’re concerned about husband’s unhealthy eating habits, telling him to eat healthier will probably only encourage him to consume the potato chip supply even faster. On the other hand, by choosing to exercise and eat healthy, stock the pantry with healthy snacks, and cook more wholesome dinners for your family, you can encourage healthy eating habits.
I found Lara Doyle’s positive yet untraditional approach refreshing. Her advice is helpful for those who desire to improve their marriage and desire to grow emotionally and spiritually.