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Simon Schuster
TODAY
updated 5/1/2008 12:39:31 PM ET 2008-05-01T16:39:31

Have you ever wondered what makes a man want to marry a particular woman? Is it about timing? Sex? Money? In her new book, “Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning Her Man's Heart,” Sherry Argov shows women how to transform a casual relationship into a committed one. She explains that being nice to your man won’t make him more devoted. In her interviews with men, Argov found that men want to commit to women who exude confidence and are in control of their lives. She was invited on “Today” to discuss her book. Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
Throwing Out the Rulebook. Why a Strong Woman Wins His Heart

Let us now set forth one of the fundamental truths about marriage: the wife is in charge.
Bill Cosby

Society's Guidelines for Good Girls
Imagine a world in which roles were reversed and men cooked for women, picked up socks, and couldn't wait to get married. Pretend you had a boyfriend who owned a hope chest with six lavender bow ties inside that he wanted his groomsmen to wear at the wedding. Picture him getting choked up every time you strolled past a Baby Gap. And that he greeted you at the door wearing silk boxers and cowboy boots, so he could do a pole dance for you. Then add a few ultimatums:

“Where's my ring?”
“Why won't you marry me?”

Video: Why men marry strong women Chances are, you would assume the guy wasn't firing on all cylinders. And then you’d start planning your escape. “It's not you, it's me. [Translation: It's definitely you.] I'm too busy with work. I love you but I’m not in love with you.” Then you'd blow out the door ... like TNT.

As scary as it sounds, this is precisely the approach women are taught on how to catch a husband. It’s the plight of every "nice girl" who puts everyone else first, puts her own needs last, and doesn't think she is worthy of touching the hemline of her man’s pants.

When I polled men, they all said confident women are in very short supply. And that a confident woman is what they find sexiest. Is it any wonder that confident women are hard to come by? Look around. The average fashion magazine tells women to act like a servant, as if dating were a labor-intensive, blue-collar-job application: “Can you serve a cold beer in trashy lingerie? Do you leave razor-sharp creases in his shirts like employee-of-the-month at the Jolly Roger motel? Do you wear cellophane for him? Are you gardening in stilettos? Are you giving it up doggie-style? If so, he'll drop to one knee and propose ...”

What women are learning from all of this is how to behave desperately. When her attitude is “Pick me! Pick me!” she hits the kill switch on his desire. It’s human nature. You'd be just as turned off by a guy who brought two dozen roses to a first coffee date and told you he felt like the luckiest SOB on the planet in the first five minutes.

It's human nature. Telling a woman to work harder to please is like telling a little kid to walk up to a schoolyard bully on the first day of school and say, “Here, take my lunch money. And you can have my cupcakes too. I’ll even throw in my lunchbox since you don’t have one.” Or, in a dating situation, “Here, take my body. And I made you a cake. Please be nice. Please marry me. I'll even jack my butt up nice and high like they do in yoga. It's so comfortable being upside down. Really. I just love it!”

Just because a man sleeps with you doesn't mean he's thinking about the future. For him to think about forever, there has to be something he respects within you. Like a strong wit ... and a strong mind.

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Relationship Principle 1
In romance, there's nothing more attractive to a man than a woman who has dignity and pride in who she is.

In addition, you have to know your own mind. The more you focus on elevating yourself, the more he will work to be at the top of your priority list. He considers you a long-term prospect when you’ve added the key ingredient: respect. And respect is the glue that holds everything together.

Kara is a perfect example of why smart, confident women come out on top. Very early on, her fiancé tried to give her his two cents on how she should dress. She was leaving for a meeting, and he told her to wear a dress instead of the pantsuit she had on. Then he told her she was wearing too much makeup. What the nice girl would have done is run out and buy a new wardrobe. But Kara playfully put him in check: “Listen here, Versace. This outfit has always been fine. And I haven't had any complaints about the makeup either. But if you'd like, I'll let you know when I'm wearing this in advance. That way, if you don't want to see me in it, you don't have to come over.”

In order to be looked at differently, you have to think differently. He has to see that you call your own shots and that you don't need input from anyone about how to put your socks on. This says, “I am secure.” The biggest attraction killer is neediness and insecurity. The bitch doesn't audition or try to be the “best in show.” Instead of “where's my ring” or “why won't you marry me,” she's thinking:

“What's the advantage of having this guy around?”
“How do I feel about myself after I’ve been in his company?”
“What’s in it for me?”

And then a funny thing happens: He falls all over himself to be with her.

Kim Basinger said something interesting: “I don't have time to be classified as difficult, and I don't have time to care.” Men tend to feel at ease with a woman who doesn’t care so much because then he doesn’t have to be fully responsible for someone else’s happiness. When a man sees you are happy with him but you can be just as happy having nothing to do with him, that's when he won't want to leave your side. When you are happy, you are sexy.

Not only this, bitches have more fun. My friend Angela had a date with a guy on a Friday and they went out for Chinese food. They tried several dishes and had plenty of leftovers, so Angela took home all the doggie bags. The following evening, she had A date with a different guy and decided to be the “hostess with the mostest.” She reheated the Chinese leftovers, “reorganized” a medley on a pretty plate, and served it to her guest of honor. The fortune cookie said: “The catered din-din was a smashing success.”

Of course, I would never recommend that you choose such a quick and easy meal over three hours of sweating and slaving in the kitchen. However, I would be remiss if I did not include this one expert gourmet cooking tip: Don't keep the parsley. (If it gets soggy in the microwave it will be a dead giveaway every time.)

Notice what Kara and Angela had in common: Neither one of them felt the need to overcompensate. This earned the man's respect. Why? It was expected that they knock themselves out because the rulebook says women are supposed to. When they refused, a light bulb went off over his head. The message “I am worth something” is what turns him into a believer.

In a music-channel documentary, Tim McGraw said something very intriguing about his wife, Faith Hill: “She's a straight shooter, that's for sure. She doesn't take any sh*t from anybody.” He didn't choose to comment on her talent, success, beauty, fame, or any of the other things society celebrates. Instead, he commented on the attribute men respect most: a backbone. Do you think he’s proud that his wife doesn’t take B.S. lying down? I’d bet that he is.

Relationship Principle 2
He marries the woman who won't lay down like linoleum.
This brings us to the definition of a marrying bitch — aka a strong, spirited woman who can stand up for herself. The bitch is not rude or abrasive because she's smart enough to know that being considerate is more effective. But she won't compromise herself to be in a relationship. She won't work overtime to “catch a husband.” Because of this, he doesn't classify her as a mindless woman he can take advantage of. She has a certain moxie about her. Sugar and spice ... and not always so nice — that's what his dreams are made of.

Since many “nice” women mistakenly believe that being a strong woman (aka a bitch) is a bad thing, let's explore some of the criteria of the so-called eligible woman. Then we'll find out from men what they really think about women who behave this way.

Myth 1: You Have to Be Perfect
Think about the last time you were madly in love. Chances are, the guy wasn’t a millionaire or a brain surgeon with six-pack abs who was hung like a barnyard animal on Viagra. Chances are, he didn’t get you off five times before he got his. But there was something special about him. He had a couple of features that did it for you and a certain magic that made you tingle. Men who want to fit in a relationship are looking for that same magic.

Relationship Principle 3
He doesn't marry a woman who is perfect. He marries the woman who is interesting.
This is one of the biggest myths perpetuated by the media: If you are perfect, beautiful, and rich, you will get the respect and love you crave. So they say. (And now back to reality.) When a man meets a woman who seems too perfect, too sweet, or too agreeable, he tends to become bored very quickly.

Beauty pageants are a good example of how women are misled into thinking that the most important pursuits in life are beauty tips and “man catching” skills. Granted, they offer educational grants and scholarships, which is very ironic because the only men watching are the ones who like really stupid women. Intelligent men think it’s embarrassing for a woman to pose and smile like she’s always that chipper. Everybody knows the losers want to strangle the winner, and the Southern Belle who wins Miss Congeniality is dying to tell the judges: “Fuck all, y’all...you ugly summabitches.” All of them pretend to be virgins until marriage, and all are do-gooders for the poor:

Second runner-up: “I am a fifth-year junior at the local college majoring in pottery. I plan to end world hunger and find a cure for cancer. And once and for all, I intend to put an end to the global shortage of flower pots.”

First runner-up: “I plan to feed the starving, the homeless, the unemployed, and the destitute. That way all my relatives can eat.”

Queen bee: “Before I visit poverty-stricken villages in Africa, I'm fixin' to get my toes painted. Invite the press. I'm wearing my thousand-dollar Manolo Blahnik shoes!”

If you've ever noticed, beauty pageants are a lot like county fairs. The farmers show the cows the same way. They walk their prized Jersey cow across a stage in front of an audience with judges, and maybe the cow even twirls around a couple of times. Then the winning cow gets a satin ribbon draped over it, which has the title and the year on it. They even have twelve-month calendars featuring the “cow of the month.”

So let's try to apply this Barbie-like behavior to a first date to see why it goes over like a lead balloon. Picture a woman trying to be that “perfect girl.” She walks into the room like she's on a catwalk. The handbag matches the shoe button. She giggles on cue. For dinner, she orders two olives with low-cal dressing (on the side). Without realizing it, this woman has already marked herself: temporary. In his mind? “Deposit and go.” He may have sex with her, but from there on it’s a downhill slide. Why?

When she’s artificial, he becomes wary of who she really is and what her real motivations are. Usually, he figures she’s putting on a show to trap him. So it never goes to the next level. This is why some relationships never shift into second gear. By trying to be something she’s not, the woman automatically gets marked with the “insecure” stamp. “This one will need constant attention and nothing I give will ever be enough. She'll sap me of all my energy.” Before he’s spent any time with her, he is mentally on to the next.

Not only this, but when a man thinks a woman is weak or insecure, he won’t feel the need to work at the relationship. It becomes “male entertainment” at that point. The relationship becomes a sideshow. He'll kick back, crack a beer, and think, “She's trying so hard, I'll never have to break a sweat in this relationship.”

Relationship Principle 4
When a woman is trying too hard, a man will usually test to see how hard she's willing to work for it. He'll start throwing relationship Frisbees, just to see how hard she'll run and how high she'll jump.

Men are used to this. So they try to bait you into this behavior. He may tell you on a second date that he likes red toenail polish. Or that he likes a particular item of clothing. If you immediately begin to “work” to be what he wants, it lessens his respect.

To better understand, let’s take a sneak peek at a page inside the male rulebook. This is the hush-hush highly classified stuff.

A page from the male rulebook
The definition of unforgettably sexy: A woman who can function on her own and take care of herself. She won't let me always have the upper hand. And, she can tell anyone to go jump in the lake whenever she feels like it.

That's the woman he'll work harder to be with. Whenever you are too worried about someone else's approval, that person loses respect for you. When a man sees you knocking yourself out from the jump start, you are setting yourself up for a lopsided relationship, because you reinforce every guy's unspoken belief: “If you ignore her, she'll seek your validation and reassurance.” Approval then becomes his only “contribution.” When you need his approval, it blinds you and you quickly become the vulnerable one in the relationship. Adopt the philosophy of “approval neither desired nor required.”

After all, there will always be someone there to tell you that you aren’t attractive enough, perfect enough, or that you didn't come from the right side of the tracks. True confidence is born when you...

Relationship Principle 5

Don't believe what anyone tells you about yourself.

Sophia Loren said, “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” This is what makes you gorgeous to a quality man, because now you arrive complete. And that makes him say, “Gee, I wonder, what is that special magic she’s got?”

How does this affect long-term relationships? When a man can't crack your code, or figure out where your insecurities are, you are no longer readable. That’s when he doesn't have a 100 percent hold on you, and he has to put in his 50 percent share to win you over, keep your interest, and maintain a reciprocal and viable relationship.

Excerpted from “Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning Her Man's Heart,” by Sherry Argov. Copyright © 2006 by Sherry Argov. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from Simon & Schuster Inc.

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