My 7 Favorite Quotes From This Strange Interview About Male Self-Esteem

This exchange between Oprah’s Michelle Burford and Jay Carter, a psychologist who’s given couples’ counseling for 26 years, is ostensibly about how women can get their husbands to do what they want, but it’s also sprinkled with madness. For instance:

If a man leaves his pajamas on the floor, a woman might get so upset that she’ll accuse him of disregarding her feelings. Then for two days, he’ll pick up the PJs to avoid an emotional outburst. But if two men were living together, one would simply say to the other, “Do you think you could put away your smelly pajamas before my girlfriend gets here?” The other agrees — but still leaves his PJs out. So his roommate finally says with a grin, “The next time you leave your pajamas out, I’m gonna burn ’em in the backyard.” He does. When the other guy looks for his PJs, he finds a smoldering pile of cloth.

Cool roommate. Also this:

[When a man] meets someone he wants to spend his life with, he unconsciously gives her what I call his “jujube doll” — a kind of voodoo-like name I have for the part of a man’s self-esteem that’s vulnerable to a woman’s opinion of him. If she sticks a pin in his doll, he recoils.

If she sticks a pin in his doll!

[W]hat a man feels when you call him irresponsible is what a woman feels when you call her a bitch. It’s the ultimate insult. So if you’re angry at a man, just call him a bitch.


The man may initially improve according to her recommendations — remember, he has a lot invested in what she thinks of him. But over time, he becomes slower to respond. The there’s the day when she inadvertently steps on his jujube doll with a spiked heel, and it’s so painful that he snatches his self-esteem back.

Stepping on a man’s most special thing with a spiked heel. Got it.

While she’s been genuinely trying to improve him with the best of intentions, he’s been feeling her efforts as a shot to his self-esteem. After all the work she has put into him — he finally eats with his mouth closed, he doesn’t say ignorant things — he may run off with another woman.

“Don’t say ignorant things.”

He may never admit that there are heel marks all over his doll.


Let’s say a man leaves his McDonald’s wrappers all over the car. The woman is angry that he’s inconsiderate of her desire to drive without bits of cheese, pickles, and dried ketchup stuck to the steering wheel. What should she say?

“I see how organized you are by the way you keep your desk, which is why I’m a bit surprised about the wreck our car is.” Because she has first acknowledged the big picture — “I know you’re a neat guy” — the criticism doesn’t sting. And if she keeps the whole thing light, she’ll get a laugh out of him before he heads out to clean the car.

And that is how serial killers clean their car. I don’t know, maybe this wasn’t so weird after all, but just with all the dolls and the spiking and the stabbing and the burning. Anyway, Jay Carter, author of Nasty Women and Nasty People. For all your couples’ needs!