Laura Doyle Is Back With ‘The Surrendered Single’

Laura Doyle, author of the much touted/criticized book The Surrendered Wife, is back with a follow-up directed at unmarried women, The Surrendered Single. Doyle’s advice is predictable — if the way to have a happy marriage is through female passivity, then the way to find the man of your dreams is to be passive during dating.

If Doyle wanted to be honest about her advice, she would title her books The Surrendered Child, since she is essentially arguing that women assume a childlike posture toward women including going so far as to hide their true personalities in order to be more engaging and pleasing to men.

Doyle’s advises women that they should never ask men out. If they are asked out by a man, they should accept even if they do not find their suitor attractive or interesting. Smile at every man they meet, where form-fitting clothes, and keep your mouth shut on dates.

Katha Pollitt hit the nail on the head when she told The Daily Telegraph (London),

A woman who follows this advice will get the man she deserves. Being false and submissive will please only a man who wants someone false and submissive. And what happens when the truth comes out? The man is going to be very angry and bewildered.

I am still trying to figure out what sort of man wants to date Doyle’s submissive single and what sort of woman could follow this advice. According to Doyle,

… control is the enemy of intimacy. When we surrender control of who pursues us and how he does it, we clear the way for the relationship we always wanted.

But there’s no relationship at all here since Doyle’s advice boils down to telling women that they should always present themselves as little more than sycophants to their boyfriends and/or husbands.


The way to keep a man’s heart — keep quiet. Laurel Ives, The Daily Telegraph (London), April 30, 2002.

Even Conservative Women Find “The Surrendered Wife” Nauseating

I expected all of the liberal pundits to deplore The Surrendered Wife, but WorldNetDaily.Com’s Cynthia Grenier managed a pretty good dissection of the book in a recent column. Writing that, “I just about gagged as I began reading all these stories in the press about a new manual for women: ‘The Surrendered Wife’…”

Grenier reports that the book has sold about 100,000 copies, and you have to wonder about the sort of women (and men) who would find the book’s advice relevant to their lives. Taking her cue from author Laura Doyle’s suggestion that women should never attempt to correct men’s driving directions even if they miss the correct off-ramp on a highway and end up driving many miles out of their way, Grenier writes,

I can only wonder what in Heaven’s name any half way intelligent male would think on being allowed to drive miles and hours out of his way just to maintain his strong, manly image.

Grenier concludes her column with advice that applies equally well to men as well as women. “My advice: ‘Soften, yes; surrender, never.'” Now there’s some decent relationship advice.


What to do about the American wife?. Cynthia Grenier, WorldNetDaily, March 3, 2001.

The Surrendered Wife Phenomena

Everywhere I turn I seem to run into another profile or interview with Laura Doyle, the author of The Surrendered Wife. I haven’t read the book, but Doyle is kind enough to post the first chapter on her web site.

After describing the problems she initially confronted in her marriage, Doyle writes what she learned from talking to other women about her marital difficulties.

One friend told me she let her husband handle all of the finances, and what a relief that was for her. Another one told me she tried never to criticize her husband, no matter how much he seemed to deserve it. I decided I would experiment with doing things differently in my marriage and hoped that it wasn’t too late for us. I desperately wanted to save the relationship, and I also hoped to save my self-respect, which was fading with each episode of anger and frustration I unleashed on John.

Fortunately, the steps of surrendering helped me with both marital tranquility and self-respect. Today I call myself a surrendered wife because that’s what’s helped me have the marriage I’ve always dreamed of. The same thing will happen to you if you follow the principles in this book.

And what does a surrendered wife do? Let her husband be in charge. More precisely she seems to be advocating that women should aim for an almost child-like trust in their husbands. How does this manifest itself in every day life?

For instance, I thought I was merely making helpful suggestions when I told my husband that he should ask for a raise. When I urgently exclaimed that we should have turned right instead of left while riding in a friend’s car who knew perfectly well how to get to our destination, I reasoned that I was trying to save time and avoid traffic. When I tried to convince my brother that he really should get some therapy, I justified butting into his life as wanting “to be there for him.”

All of these justifications were merely elaborate covers for my inability to trust others. If I had trusted that my husband was earning as much money as he could, I wouldn’t have emasculated him by implying that I found him lacking ambition. If I had trusted my friend to get us to our destination in a reasonable time, I wouldn’t have barked out orders about where to turn, leaving a cold frost on the inside of the car. If I had trusted my brother to make his own way in the world, he would’ve felt more inclined to continue to share the emotional milestones of his life with me.

Today I try to relinquish control as much as I can and allow myself to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, I still don’t do this perfectly, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Just making intimacy my priority rather than control by practicing the principles described in this book, has transformed my marriage into a passionate, romantic union.

To be fair to Doyle, she is explicit that women should immediately leave or seek help if they are involved in relationships with men who are abusive, unfaithful, have substance abuse problems, etc. At the same time I can’t help but think that her advice is horrible regardless of whether her advice is taken by men or women.

Her financial advice is extremely wrongheaded. Somebody who feels emasculated and unable to participate in a relationship because his partner suggest he might want to ask for a raise or consider the possibility that his wife might be better at managing the finances sounds like a real control freak (one of Doyle’s core ideas is that men should always handle the finances and that they don’t feel in control if they don’t).

The same thing goes for the bizarre example of Doyle attempting to correct her friend, who while driving made a right turn when he should have made a left. According to a Time magazine profile, in her book Doyle recommends never telling a husband, for example, that he just missed the correct exit even “if he keeps going in the wrong direction … past the state line.” That’s just bizarre.

What strikes me most about Doyle’s advice is that she seems to think that in order to have a healthy, productive relationship a man must be convinced that a woman blindly worships him and always thinks he’s right. Forcing that sort of relationship strikes me as not only demeaning to both parties, but also psychologically unhealthy. People need others to act as a sort of “reality check” and saying that a wife should simply act as a mirror for her husband’s views misses the point of why people enter relationships. Certainly people try to avoid relationships with nagging, disagreeable people, but the alternative of marrying a sycophant seems unappealing as well.

The thing that really amazes me is that such simplistic pop advice is so popular. The Surrendered wife has been selling like crazy, cracking the Top 10 best sellers on Amazon.Com and Simon and Schuster upped the print run of her book to 100,000 which is an extremely high figure for a non-fiction book. That’s a little scary.


Wives surrender all to cult of obedience. John Harlow, The Sunday Times (UK), January 7, 2001.

I Surrender, Dear. Tamala M. Edwards, Time Magazine, January 22, 2001.