Doyle, Laura 1967-
DOYLE, Laura 1967-
PERSONAL: Born January 27, 1967, in Huntington Beach, CA; daughter of W. Peter (an X-ray technician) and Maureen (a violinist) Mills; married John Doyle (a videographer), September 30, 1989. Education: San Jose State University, B.A. (with honors), 1989.
CAREER: Has worked as a marketing director and copywriter; leads workshops and training seminars based on her books.
The Surrendered Wife: A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion, and Peace with a Man, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
The Surrendered Single: A Practical Guide to Attracting and Marrying the Man Who's Right for You, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
ADAPTATIONS: The Surrendered Wife is available as an audiobook read by the author, Simon & Schuster.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Things Will Get as Good as You Can Stand: A Woman's Practical Guide to Receiving All the Best in Life, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Like many spouses, Laura Doyle was experiencing problems in her marriage. Her reaction to these difficulties led her not only to an improved and more satisfying relationship with her husband, but to the New York Times Bestseller list, where her book, The Surrendered Wife: A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion, and Peace with a Man had a home for numerous weeks.
Doyle explained to Contemporary Authors how her first book came to be. "I was trying to save my own marriage when I discovered the principles that contribute to intimacy. Once I learned them, I realized that they are simple, predictable, and constant. Now thousands of women write to me and say how helpful it is for them. So we know this stuff works, and it's important for keeping families together."
Not only do women write to her, men do, too. And in every corner of the world, there's a local Surrendered Wife/Surrendered Single workshop or self-help group springing up. In The Surrendered Wife, Doyle urges wives to hand over control of the finances to their husbands. Say Yes to sex at least once weekly. Don't tell the man how to drive or where to turn. Resist telling him what to do. Don't correct him. Avoid arguing. She claims that by following her guide, women will find their marriages more fulfilling both emotionally and physically. The men they married will seem more communicative, more open, and more enjoyable to be with.
Despite the book's popularity with its reading audience, it has proven controversial with critics and feminists, who fault its principles as backward and manipulative. Speaking to Time contributor Tamala M. Edwards, Philadelphia therapist Michael Broder warned, "What she is saying here is how to manipulate your husband. True intimacy comes from being able to express your true thoughts and feelings." John Gottman, a noted marriage therapist, found Doyle's surrendered wife concept "personally offensive and scientifically unfounded," as he told London Observer writer Maureen Freely. Other therapists have remarked that not being true to one's self leads only to resentment, which will not disappear but only fester until it boils over. Doyle, however, told Washington Times interviewer Julia Duin that she advocates surrendering control, not individuality. "It is incumbent on us to say what we want and how we feel. . . . Really expressing your desires is part of being able to be in an intimate relationship."
Other reviewers have pointed out that the author offers some useful suggestions in her book. Edwards, for instance, noted that while "some of Doyle's ideas seem demeaning and questionable," there are others that "have the imprint of sanity. . . . There is a lot to be said for apologizing, for walking away rather than escalating an argument." In the London Independent, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown admitted that "there are some sections and chapters which are startlingly revealing for anybody in a long-term relationship. Hidden mirrors placed around the pages which catch you out and make you look and see and think differently about how you are behaving and the effect of this on the people you most love in the world." In answer to charges that her philosophy is anti-feminist, the author told Duin that "I see this as the next phase of feminism. That is, acknowledging that what we want at work is different from what we want at home." As the author explained, "At work you have to be able to manage your staff, you have to be able to manage your projects, but marriage is not about managing your husband. It's about wanting companionship and romance and tenderness. And those are totally different goals and they require different behaviors."
Anna Reynolds of Brisbane, Australia's Courier-Mail wasn't impressed with Doyle's second book, The Surrendered Single: A Practical Guide to Attracting and Marrying the Man Who's Right for You. "The dictionary definition and the meaning generally understood by the community is the same: to surrender is to 'yield (something) to the possession or power of another.' This is why The Surrendered Single is so appalling." Feminist Katha Pollitt read the book and declared "A woman who follows this advice will get the man she deserves," as Sarah Wilson reported in the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun.
Though some people take issue with Doyle's self-help strategies, her own life has become busier and more productive as a direct result of her writing. She told Peggy O'Crowley, reporter for Newark The Star-Ledger, "There's a difference between surrender and submission. Sub means below, that one person is inferior and one is superior. Surrender is giving up the illusion that you can control anyone outside of yourself and, if you could, it would make you happy. Surrender is when you're in traffic, you want the cars to move, but you can't make them, so you use the time to listen to music." Despite the criticism from therapists, sociologists, feminists, and reviewers, there is an audience out there eager to surrender.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), June 6, 2002, Anna Reynolds, "Seduction by the Book Is Surrender, but Not Sweet," p. 21.
Daily Post, June 25, 2002, Noreen Barr, "Inside Out: Single? Try Smiling and Keeping Quiet," p. 18.
Independent (London, England), June 21, 2001, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, "How I Became a Surrendered Wife," p. 5.
Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1999, Patrice Apodaca, "Controlling Wives Are Urged to Take a Back Seat to Their Husbands on Decision-Making," p. 6.
New Yorker, April 2, 2001, Rebecca Mead, review of The Surrendered Wife: A Practical Guide for Finding Intimacy, Passion, and Peace with a Man, p. 82.
Observer (London, England), January 28, 2001, Maureen Freely, "So a Fish Does Need a Bicycle: According to a New U.S. Bestseller out Here Soon, There's Only One Way to Keep Mr. Right—Just Don't Tell Him He's Wrong: Love, Honour and—Shampoo. Mr. and Mrs. Doyle Show Us How to Have a Happy Marriage," p. 1.
People, February 26, 2001, "Mister Right: Who's the Boss? Laura Doyle, Author of The Surrendered Wife, Says It's Hubby," p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, December 4, 2000, review of The Surrendered Wife, January 1, 2001, Julie Mayeda, "Marriage 101: Here We Go Again," p. 31.
Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), April 8, 2001, Peggy O'Crowley, "Just 'Surrender' to Married Bliss," p. 1.
Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), July 14, 2002, Sarah Wilson, "How to Hook a Husband," p. Z20.
Sunday Times (London, England), April 28, 2002, Sarah Baxter, "Submission Is a Girl's Best Friend," p. 26.
Time, January 22, 2001, Tamala M. Edwards, "I Surrender, Dear: A Controversial New Book Argues That an Acquiescent Wife Is the Key to a Happy Marriage," p. 71.
Washington Times, January 18, 2001, Julia Duin, "Feminist Suggests Swapping Control for Better Marriage" (interview), p. 2.
Writer's Digest, December, 2001, Katie Struckel Brogan, interview with Laura Doyle, p. 26.
Surrendered Wife,http://www.surrenderedwife.com/ (October 2, 2002), author's Web site.
Surrendered Single,http://www.surrenderedsingle.com/ (May 10, 2003).