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It's (Mostly) His Fault: For Women Who Are Fed Up and the Men Who Love Them

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In the bestselling tradition of "The Rules" and "The Surrendered Wife" comes a controversial, empowering guide that says what women know already—that men are primarily responsible for marital problems.

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In the bestselling tradition of "The Rules" and "The Surrendered Wife" comes a controversial, empowering guide that says what women know already—that men are primarily responsible for marital problems.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Psychotherapist Robert Alter's 22 years of couple counseling have convinced him of one thing: Men are primarily responsible for marital problems. His controversial assertion serves as the central thesis of this empowering guide, which doesn't just point fingers; it points towards solutions. Alter describes how men can learn to take more active roles in their relationships and explains how both spouses can establish honest, straightforward communication.
Library Journal
"When a man is mature enough to accept fault where fault is due and is willing to change where change is needed, it will create change all around him." Thus declares psychotherapist Alter, who figured out after 30 some years of being married and counseling married men that males are (mostly) at the root of their relationship problems. Despite this amusing premise, his book is written for both men and women who want to improve their partnerships. Men will learn how to have more sex and stop being nagged, while women will gain happier, less angry husbands to whom they can really talk. Candid and written in a refreshing, man-to-man, tell-it-like-it-is style, Alter's how-to manual presents the opportunity for men and women to work together to create mutually deep, intimate, and fulfilling connections. The trick will be getting men to read it! Highly recommended.-Wendy Wendt, Marshall-Lyon Cty. Lib., MN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446577779
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/5/2008
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 391,601
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

It's (Mostly) His Fault

For Women Who Are Fed Up and the Men Who Love Them
By Robert Alter

Warner Books

Copyright © 2006 Robert Mark Alter
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-57777-4

Chapter One

Hey! You're in a Relationship!

Part of me loves and respects men so desperately, and part of me thinks they are so embarrassingly incompetent at life and in love. You have to teach them the very basics of emotional literacy. You have to teach them how to be there for you.

Anne Lamott

Marriage is a relationship ... You're no longer this one alone; your identity is in a relationship.

Joseph Campbell

Let's face it, we men don't know squat about relationships. We don't really do relationships. We do work, we do sports, we do cars, we do wars, and we do sex (which is what often passes for relationship with some of us), but we don't really do relationships.

"His idea of a relationship," said Margo of her husband, Paul, in their first session, "is he comes home from a three-day business trip, tired and cranky, says a perfunctory hi to me, who's standing there at the door to greet him, stoops down to hug the kids for a few seconds, then makes a beeline upstairs to shower, change his clothes, and come down a half hour later. He sits down with us at the table where he gobbles down his favorite meal, which I've spent two hours preparing for him, hardly saysa word to us, not a word of thanks to me, then gets up and goes into the den and turns on the TV and falls asleep. If I question him about it, like, 'Is this your idea of a relationship, Paul?' he either looks at me like I have two heads, or he gets mad at me. I really don't think he knows what I'm talking about. I'm not even sure he knows what the word 'relationship' means."

What we men mostly do is alone. "I am a rock, I am an island" ... "Jo-Jo was a man who thought he was a loner" ... "Desperado, you've been out ridin' fences" ... that sort of thing. Even relationships we're in-like our marriages-we do them alone, or try to.

This drives women completely nuts.

Because women do relationships. They like relationships. They find their very identity in relationships and connections. In the same way that it is the nature of water to be wet, it is the nature of women to be relational.

This is somewhere between quite surprising and totally incomprehensible to most of us men.

But it makes sense, when you think about it. Because women are totally biologically built for relationship. In pregnancy they carry another human being inside their bodies for nine months, which is about as relational as it gets. In the early years of their mothering they're nursing that baby night and day, which is also about as relational as it gets. In lovemaking they open up their beings and their very bodies to another human being, which is also about as relational as it gets.

Women, it is clear, are relational.

And you went and married one!

What were you thinking?

You probably weren't thinking, but if you had been, here's what you could have been thinking:

I'm a guy. I don't know squat about relationships. If you want to know the truth, I'm scared to death of relationships, the reason being that there's a secret little part of me that so needs a relationship, that's so dependent on a relationship-with a woman, with this woman who I married-that if I ever admitted it, especially to myself, the sheer power this woman has over me, I'm a goner.

So this dependency thing-I'll repress it, forget it, deny it, make fun of it, get mad at it, do everything but own it as a part of myself. In this way I will present the image of myself as an independent loner type, a mature man, a manly man, a regular John Wayne, off by myself, out ridin' fences ...

If I don't get honest with myself here, I'll spend the next fifty years of my marriage off by myself ridin' fences, moving from one self-constructed isolation booth to another-work, TV, sports, pornography-silence, alcohol, depression, pornography, work-while my wife's over there lip-synching Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely" and looking in the yellow pages under "Divorce Lawyers."

Hey, guys, the women are lonely!

You can diagnose them with depression and pump 'em full of Prozac, but they're really just lonely.

Did you hear me? Our wives are lonely.

So let's get honest with ourselves here.

I started getting honest with myself in 1969. Twenty-four years old. Two years out of Cornell, in graduate school in Boston. Rooming with a fellow graduate student in a house by a pond in a suburb of Boston. Jane, twenty-one, a senior at Cornell, visiting me from Ithaca. Our first weekend together. A cold, snowy Sunday afternoon in late December. A walk through the woods. Snow crunching under our feet. Talking. Getting to know each other. Talking about ourselves. "I'm quite happy by myself," I was saying. "I don't need anybody."

I'd been saying it for years-to girls, to myself, to everybody: I don't need anybody. It was my mantra. Coming from the family I came from, where we all lived in a kind of silent seclusion from each other, no wonder I said it and completely believed it.

I don't need anybody.

It was total bullshit. The opposite was true.

"I don't need anybody," I was saying to Jane, the two of us walking up a wooded hill, our boots breaking through the snow, her mittened hand in mine. "I really don't. I'm happy alone. I don't need anybody."

She stopped, turned to me, took my forearms in her mittens, held me still, looked up into my face. Her light blue eyes were sparkling in the falling snow.

"Yes, you do, Robert," she said. "You need me." And broke out into a big, beautiful smile.

In getting honest with yourself it helps if you meet a woman who sees right through you from the beginning of time.

All over the earth, since ancient times, women have been carrying the message of connection and relationship to us men. In bringing that message they also bring the messages of kindness and caring and communication, of human cooperation, of tending and befriending, of trust and love and peace.

Women know the way: It's the way of relationships. Of human connections. Of getting together and talking and listening to each other. Of liking and helping and having a good time with each other.

Of love.

Don't you get it?

Your wife is trying to teach you love.

It's like Dylan says to a woman in one of his songs:

Love is so simple, to quote a phrase

You've known it all the time, I'm learnin' it these days.

Women are love.

"You need me," said the woman who loves me.

What you need is your wife.

What the world needs now ... are the women!

And as soon as possible 'cause things are gettin' kind of scary here on the planet.


Hey! You're married to a woman! You're in a relationship! With her!

That means you're supposed to stay connected to her. Here are three simple things you can do today to stay connected to her. Do one or two or all three of them.

1. Right now go find your wife wherever she is in the house and ask her how her day went. Like if she's in the kitchen fixing a snack for the kids, go in there and sit up on the counter and say, "How'd your day go today?" or "Tell me about your day today" or something like that. And then listen.

2. When you leave the house today for work or to do errands or to go outside and do yard work, leave a little note on the kitchen counter: "See ya, honey. Love ya. You look pretty today."

3. When the two of you are watching TV together tonight, instead of sitting in your armchair, go sit next to her on the couch and put your arm around her. When the commercials come on, mute them and tell her little tidbits from your day.

These little daily connections are the stuff of relationship. You're in one. The fact that you're married to a woman means you're up to your ears in one.


All the Moves at the end of all these chapters are designed to bring your husband into closer relationship with you. Most of them will be new and unfamiliar behaviors for him, and he'll be stretching outside his comfort zone to try them.

So when he tries them, try to make him feel as comfortable as possible by welcoming him when he approaches you and responding positively when he does the new behavior. Tell him that you see and appreciate what he's trying to do with these Moves and that you hope he keeps making them as he reads through the book. Give him a hug and a kiss, and tell him you're proud of him for doing what he's doing. Remember that we're men, which means that your welcome of us is huge positive reinforcement for us all the way through.


Excerpted from It's (Mostly) His Fault by Robert Alter Copyright © 2006 by Robert Mark Alter . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2011

    Now I Finally Understand My Husband! A Must Read for Wives!

    My husband's behavior was driving me crazy! I didn't understand him and he didn't understand me. I had become a nag, and I didn't want to be. What else could I do? If this sounds like you, READ THIS BOOK! This book explains both male and female behavior, and how a relationship can be made satisfying for both the husband and the wife. It is direct, and the examples are right-on. It explains clearly, in a man's language, how he can be a great husband, and it has sections for the wife on how she can support her husband's transformation from a jerk to the man she can truly love. THANK YOU MR. ALTER! And many thanks to his wife, Jane, as well for insisting that he change!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 6, 2010

    Haven't even finished it and it's a MUST READ!

    I'm giving this to my two daughters and my daughter-in-law. We have had the conversations and discussions about how they are treated by their husbands, and I think this book gives the wife credibility for being the glue of the family, and tells the husband to be more aware of everyday stuff that leads to so much unhappiness. Finally, I think everyone can be on the same page if they follow even 1/2 of the suggestions in the book.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Take what you can from this

    Like most self-help books, the reader only gets from it what the truly want to get from it. Some may see the author's point as being narrow or about male bashing. But that isn't his point. It isn't about emasculating us males or turning us into some drone. It's about fixing stuff that is broken (and after all, isn't that why we're reading the book in the first place?). Alter's writing is concise and to the point, and has a certain every day speaking that gives less of a text-book feel and more of a common hook. It's not about statistics, it's about looking in the mirror and admitting that maybe- just possibly, perhaps- that you can do something to help stop all the bickering, arguing, anger, fighting. Guys, Chances are that you will find yourself being described someplace in the book. If you don't like that, then you have the power to fix it. That is Alter's simple message.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    A refreshing perspective

    I found this book on the bargain table and was caught by the title. I have read most of the Mars/Venus stuff and found it very helpful, but was frustrated by what women were supposed to do and just accept as far as men's behavior 'don't ever give advice, be critical, be upset when they retreat to their 'cave', etc'. John Gray does also coach men to be more understanding as well, but it still seemed like the women just had to accept behavior that was very hurtful as part of men's makeup that probably would never change. But in this book we have a male therapist who comes out and says that not only can men change, but that women have a right to be upset with much of what they do and to expect to be treated with love and respect and to keep after these guys until they behave accordingly! Yeah! I felt so much better after reading this. I had been trying to be understanding for so long when guys would just not call me because they were 'too busy' or whatever. I would feel hurt and angry, but believed that was just the way it was and I had to accept that. Now I feel much more empowered to believe that I deserve better, and to know that I have so much to give a man in my life and he needs to value that and treat me with the respect and love that I deserve. Robert Alter is my new hero!! Thank you so much for this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2007

    get the narcissism out of our men

    The book is for men by a man. It is not filled with psycho jargon. I could see how some may find Alter's view distasteful, a paradigm shift is always difficult. Alter uses real life stories to illustrate his points, it hits home. Men will see how ridiculous it is to demand everything be their way and for the wife to simply comply. No, he is not the center of the universe! It is not a put down for women it actually gives back women¿s power. If men and women are to live together in harmony and contentment, both of their needs have to be met. Alter tries to help men see that if they connect with their wives they both will have their needs met.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2007

    hysterical, real, right on

    this is the most wonderful book on marriage/relationships i have ever read...and i have read a lot. it is grounded in the theory that men, quite simply, are never taught or given the tools to know how to be in a 'healthy' marriage. society teaches women, not men. that is why we come to the table on such unequal ground. that is why women are so frustrated with their husbands. this book is a breath of fresh air because it is based on the real life experience and observation of one marriage counselor. it made made laugh, gave me comfort, affirmed my feelings, made my husband laugh, revealed the secret pain of so many married couples in an honest, genuine way that gives me so much hope and makes me feel not so alone in the universe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2006

    A pathetic excuse for information

    I read many books, and in evaluating a book I always look closely at the author and authorities (bibliographies, endnotes, footnotes, etc). If you read this book and, after searching for the point, feel as if you are in a disorienting fog, there is a reason. The books is groundless and has no bearing other than the opinions of the author, and it offers no reason why a careful reader would consider those opinions. Any woman (and I have several daughters) who would subscribe to the thesis of this book is an admitted victim, and this book panders to her victimhood. The scant endnotes cite no respectable journals or research no, the author's authorities are lyrics to songs, poetry, and similar literature he uses as inkblot upon which to project his own prejudices and conflicts. It is the same old baseless feminist propaganda...a rant against the imagined demons of patriarchy. It requires that women abdicate their responsibility for themselves and conform to some stereotypic weak victim. It would offend the likes of Mary Wolstonecraft (The Pernicious Effects Arising from Unnatural Distinctions in Society), and it is not what I would have in mind for my daughters nor is it consistent with what they have become, thankfully.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2006

    Stepford Wives in reverse..

    You categorize men as club dragging Neolithic misfits, while insulting women as needy, weak, and gutless. Then you expect men to abandon masculinity and become, 'yes dear' mates, as women proceed to gain and enforce empowerment. Then, raising the bar every time the poor guy reaches expectations. I believe a successful relationship is a two way street. A give and take, yin and yang situation. You missed the boat on this one. I predict your marriage will end within four years, as well as other relationships that read your book and take your idealistic one-sided advice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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