How to Train a Husband

File this Newsweek story under the “We’re Not As Stupid as You Think” category. Before we comment on this story let’s take a look at a story from a U.K. publication that provides the average time it takes for a man to propose.

“The average man proposes two years, 11 months and eight days after first meeting their love, research has revealed.”

And it takes the average married man five minutes to tell the newly engaged man to run and never look back, but I digress. Let’s take a look at this ridiculous Newsweek story.

“Attention, frustrated wives: if you want your husband to start listening to you and stop leaving his socks on the floor, all you need is a little patience and a lot of mackerel. Such is the putative relationship advice of Amy Sutherland, a journalist who spent a year at an animal-trainer school and decided to apply the trainers’ techniques to her husband’s annoying habits. According to Sutherland, the key to marital bliss is to ignore negative habits and reward positive ones, the same approach animal trainers use to get killer whales to leap from their tanks and elephants to stand on their heads. So to teach her husband, Scott, to stop storming around the house when he couldn’t find his keys, she practiced what trainers call Least Reinforcing Scenario, which means she ignored his outbursts, and didn’t offer to help with the search. To prevent Scott from hovering over her while she tried to cook, she engineered “incompatible behaviors” by setting a bowl of chips and salsa at the other end of the room. Soon she had a key-finding, salsa-eating mate and, she says, a happier marriage.”

Sounds like a great marriage to me. It is so easy to picture her putting out her dear spouse’s water bowl for him. Of course none of this accounts for her behavior and that she might have more than a couple annoying habits of her own.

“While Sutherland claims that animal-training techniques work on both genders, in another new book, “Seducing the Boys Club,” Nina DiSesa advocates a gender-specific approach to changing people’s behavior. DiSesa, who was the first female chairman of the ad agency McCann Erickson, argues that women should use their femininity to manipulate the men they work with and advance their careers. Instead of criticizing an employee’s ad proposal, she flatters him for his “brilliant” idea, then sweetly asks if he had any other inspirations. “Women use these tactics with men all the time,” she says. “We’re mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters. We know how to handle men, we just don’t do it at work.”

Blah, blah, blah. How many times have I heard/read the same foolish comments about how women control men. Most of us are very aware of what is going on. Don’t think that our response is solely based upon your master manipulation.

“While DiSesa’s tactics may appall feminists, the appeal of Sutherland’s approach is obvious: no tearful couples-therapy sessions, no tantrums about unmet expectations. But Sutherland says it’s not a quick fix. In fact, she was the one who wound up being retrained, as she taught herself not to take her husband’s actions personally, and not to react when he did things that annoyed her. DiSesa also says she retrained herself to stop criticizing and confronting the men she worked with, and instead use “S and M,” seduction and manipulation, to get her way.”

Right, bat your eyes and we’ll swoon. We just can’t help ourselves, especially if we think that helping you we’ll lead right to your bedroom. It is laughable. Actually the part of Sutherland being retrained is kind of funny.

Whatever. Treat us like children or animals and you get what you deserve.

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  1. Shelli February 20, 2008 at 6:50 pm


    I’m much more of the Ghandi variety: “BECOME the change you wish to see in the world.”

    aka – dont’ expect (or try to make) others change – just change YOURSELF.


  2. Jack February 20, 2008 at 6:40 am




    Arf, arf.


    I am not a fan of trying to train people, period end of story. It is just nonsense.

  3. Kol Ra'ash Gadol February 20, 2008 at 2:47 am

    ACtually I read another article about her book, and actually she is pretty clear that thee techniques will work on anyone, not just men – basically what she’s advocating is skinnerian behaviorism, which does work, but only in relatively limited ways – and only over short periods of time. But it does work, on kids, grown up s men or women. My mom used to boast that her psych class got the professor to teach from the left side of the room using these techniques. *shrug* *whoop!* yep, that’s about the size of it. If you want your teacher teaching from the left side of the room, kol haKavod….

  4. Miriam L February 19, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Sounds like these articles hit a nerve, Jack. Would you like a biscuit? 😉

  5. John February 18, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Men are simple. Good food, good sex and we’re happy.

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