Mike Kueber's Blog

May 8, 2012

Sunday Book Review #75 – Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 4:49 pm
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Steve Harvey, the author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, is a stand-up comic who has a radio talk show in which he advises women on how to handle men.  His book was published in 2009, and a few weeks ago a movie based on the book and titled Think Like a Man was released. 

The book, which is subtitled, “What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment,” is a distillation of Harvey’s insights, but its principal focus is on helping God-fearing women to get the right God-fearing man to marry them.  If you aren’t God-fearing or focused on getting married, then the book wasn’t meant for you.

Ironically, in the book Harvey continually describes a man’s behavior as “in our DNA,” yet he has generated some controversy on various talk shows by claiming that atheists are idiots with no moral barometer – “You can’t just tell me it spun out of a gastrous [sic] ball and then all of a sudden we were evolved from monkeys. Why we still got monkeys?”   

Harvey is not the kind of guy who slows down enough to think about where the DNA comes from.  All he knows is that it explains just about everything about a man, starting with his three primal needs:

  • Men are driven by who they are (his title), what they do (how he gets that title), and how much they make (the reward he gets for that effort).  These three things make up the basic DNA of manhood – the three accomplishments every man must achieve before he feels like he’s truly fulfilled his destiny as a man.  And until he’s achieved his goal in those three areas, the man you’re dating, committed to, or married to will be too busy to focus on you.

The preceding passage rings true with me.  I remember being so insecure about these things, especially in high school and college, that I had no ability to care about anyone else.  I imagine this insecurity afflicts all young men to varying degrees, but some, like my oldest son Bobby, who started dating his wife early in high school, seem to get comfortable in their own skin much quicker than the rest of us.

Harvey’s next insight is to warn women that men don’t display their love as expressively as women do, so expressiveness shouldn’t be expected.  Most men display their love in three ways:

  1. Profess.  He proudly lets everyone know that this woman in mine – my wife, my woman, my lady, my girl.  Never my friend.
  2. Provide.  He takes care of her financial needs.  No going dutch.
  3. Protect.  He takes care of her, not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually.

In return, a man needs support, loyalty, and the cookie (sex).

Sex is really the crux of this entire book.  According to Harvey, men have to have it (it’s in their DNA), and women need to use it to get men to behave appropriately.  As with his statement about a man’s insecurity, I think this statement also rings true.  I remember noticing in my younger years how some guys would act badly in a variety of ways, and then have girls reward that behavior.  To my thinking, the girls were almost more responsible for the bad acts than were the guys because, as Harvey points out, guys will do whatever gets a favorable response from the girls.  It’s axiomatic that if you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something; punish it.

Harvey suggests that the best time for a woman to establish her expectations with a man is right from the git-go, and that has been my experience, too.  I recall having my best secretarial experience back in Minot, ND when I sat down with a new secretary on her first day and had a thorough conversation with her on what she could expect from me and what I expected from her.  That made it less likely that a person would fail to meet expectations, and when they did, it was easier to broach the subject.  In other situations, where expectations haven’t been clearly set, it is more awkward to broach and discuss issues.

Because men are invariably after sex (the cookie) and because women invariably are after marriage (at least those for whom this book is written), Harvey advises holding out on the cookie for at least 90 days, by which time the man will have revealed himself and his intentions.  One of the ways to elicit this information is by asking the following five questions early in the relationship:

  1. What are your short-term goals (three to five years)?
  2. What are your long-term goals (ten years)?
  3. What are your views on relationships (parents, kids, God)?
  4. What do you think about me (and on what are those thoughts based)?
  5. What do you feel about me (can’t stop thinking about you)?

Harvey concludes by taking a shot at strong, independent women.  According to him, they are destined to be lonely unless they figure out a way for their man to feel like he is protecting and providing for them.  After all, it’s in the man’s DNA.

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