By Ariel Strahm
I had to smile when I found a book titled “How To Choose a Husband” at my place at the kitchen table one afternoon. As a 19-year-old woman in a serious relationship, the book seemed perfectly applicable to me.
I put the book down a week later encouraged, intellectually stimulated and fired up about the dangers of feminism.
But most importantly, it left me excited about marriage.
The author, Suzanne Venker, is a wife and mother who lives what she preaches. Her writing style is easy to read and comprehend, yet thorough and often profound. She manages to remain remarkably succinct; I never felt that she was repeating herself. Every chapter carried the burden of huge topics and essential points, yet none felt too long. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s witty. This book was a joy to read, and I could hardly put it down.
“How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage” is not about different types of men, which to choose and why. It’s about marriage, how the culture has warped it and our viewpoint of it – and what must be done if we want a loving, fulfilling union. It’s a message that needs to be heard, and for that reason I encourage all women to read this book. Though I wouldn’t recommend it to younger girls – Venker is writing to adults and doesn’t shy away from topics like sex – if you’re of marriageable age, read it. If you’re already married, read it. If nothing else, it will encourage you – Venker has plenty of useful tips about being a wife and mother.
Even if you’re like me, raised in a conservative home and against the feminist mindset, read the book anyway. I wasn’t sure if I would get much out of it, and many of her observations and revelations were old news to me, but hearing solid reasoning affirming my beliefs was encouraging and invigorating, making me more passionate about the truth.
Besides, I liked cheering all the way through!
Venker begins by urging women to think about all the time and energy we spend pursuing a career, and then imagine if we spent even half that time preparing to become a wife (“you know, like women used to do”). She admits it sounds old-fashioned, but throughout the book she compellingly and winsomely argues her case:
Culture is brainwashing us. And marriage is gravely in danger. With words that demand attention, she unapologetically lays out the truth.
Venker takes every idea, message and mindset we unknowingly adopt growing up in this century and addresses them one by one. She highlights the importance of rejecting the messages that besiege us every day, even to the point of calling them “wicked.” Perhaps this seems extreme, but I agree with her. Entitlement, feminism and other toxic cultural mindsets are the biggest enemies of marriage today.
“America is simply not interested in helping you find lasting love,” she writes. “If it were, we would honor the marriage relationship.” In words that ring tragically true, she reveals how feminism changed the goal of a woman’s life. “It took the spotlight off the things that matter – love, family and a sense of place – and put it where it doesn’t belong: on money, power and status.” Today, making something of yourself is having a career. Wife and motherhood? Sorry, not grand enough.
This especially resonates with people like me, who want to be stay-at-home moms. I feel like I constantly have to justify myself because at 19, I’m not in college full-time pursuing a fabulous career. Thanks, America, for making me look like a lazy, selfish person when in reality I want the toughest, most selfless job in the world: wife and mother.
If you want a good marriage, it doesn’t just happen. You have to be willing to create it! Find out how in Suzanne Venker’s “How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace With Marriage,” and get “The War on Men” too!
One of the arguments Venker deftly destroys is feminism’s promise that you can “have it all.” Full-time in the work force, happily married and raising kids – all at the same time. To this, Venker simply says, “Impossible.” You have to choose.
She points out how most working mothers are choosing to place the bulk of their focus on their jobs, not their homes and their children. She says they are “simply doing two things at once, half as well. They are becoming jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none.” Parenting children was never meant to be something on the side.
Perhaps the most vital plea she offers is to look to the future. “What matters to you now likely won’t mean beans down the road,” Venker says. “… It takes a big, fat dose of maturity to be able to think beyond tomorrow.” This is the crux of the issue. Be real: As a woman you will want to have babies. It’s programmed into you. Venker advises: Have your husband support you while you raise little ones – which, by the way, does not make one less strong, capable or intelligent. “Getting married and having children will not chip away at your identity. It will enhance it.”
To tackle the entitlement mentality, she points out how it lies in complete opposition to marriage – which is all about sacrifice. In reality, we don’t get the best because we “deserve” it. We have to work for it. Says Venker bluntly: “You don’t need to find yourself. You need to get over yourself.” Ouch. Point taken.
But “How to Choose a Husband” isn’t just a worldview shifter. Venker also throws in honest and real-life advice about marriage. She makes sure the reader understands that marriage is no fairytale – it’s loaded with difficulty. Yet she writes of how rewarding it is to actually (gasp) let a man care for and protect you. “Somewhere deep down, where feminists can’t reach, women are happiest when they’re not in control – at least when it comes to love. … They want to bury their heads in a big, strong chest and feel protected.” It sounds appalling to a generation of women taught that not being in control is being a doormat, but it’s true nonetheless.
One of my favorite chapters was entitled “What do you bring to the table?” Venker’s top six “tricks of the trade” for wives were succinct yet deeply essential – the sort of things that really make or break a marriage. Perhaps they should be obvious, but in today’s world, they’re not.
For all my praise, I have to admit that I didn’t agree with everything. But overall, the book resonated with me and will, I think, with many women. “Bottom line: there are more important things in life than work,” she says in the epilogue. “Like love.”
While many of the Amazon reviewers of this book have ridiculed it, I agree with Venker that as time rolls by, such angry women will realize that these principles are fact, not opinion. As for me, I say “Amen!” to “How to Choose a Husband.”
See the book trailer for “How to Choose a Husband”: