EXCERPT: 'Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break'

Of course, there are some men who do want you to change them, and it's because they're too lazy to change themselves. Like you, this man wishes he wasn't "water"--and he's hoping you can make good on your promise to turn him into "wine." Now, we have already defi ned this as a task achievable only by Jesus. But you came along and volunteered to change him--heck, you promised him that you could change him! Home cooking, a white picket fence, a baby . . . you've got it all planned out. So guess who gets blamed when, fi ve years later, he's still "water"?


But now you got a baby to raise.

And as women, if we do divorce (and 50 percent of us do), prepare for judgment and recriminations from every direction, especially if there are kids involved. People will say, "You shoulda tried harder." But if you stay in a bad marriage, someone will say, "You shoulda got a divorce." And if you remarry, you'll get nailed for "caving in too soon." And Lord help you if you stay single, 'cause that means: "You're too picky."

I haven't solved this riddle. Every couple of days, I get a case of the you-shoulda-tried-harders. On Saturday nights, I'm plagued with a case of the you're-too-pickys. Even though I did try hard, and I'm just picky enough.

Women often take on the job of marriage caretaker. If the relationship starts to sour, we're the ones who point it out and insist on therapy. We also find the therapist, make the appointment, and remind our men of the time and day at least twenty times.

Half the time, they forget to show up anyway. Men fix things around the house, but we are charged with fixing the emotional problems. And when the marriage fails, we blame ourselves.

If you're divorced, write yourself a permission slip to learn lessons from your "starter" marriage and apply them to your next one.

Sherri Shepherd: 'Permission Slips'


I'm gonna recommend something that might make you want to close this book and throw it across the room.

Not for wives, of course. In fact, if I could go back in time and have a talk with my married self, the only thing I would whisper in my ear would be, "Put away the vacuum cleaner, and start putting out."

More on that in a second.

I'm a single mom. Obviously I've got no virginity to protect, so it's fair to ask, "What's the point of being celibate now?" Especially since having a toddler kind of makes me celibate by default.

As a dater, I'm competing with women who do put out on the first date. In fact, some probably put out before the first date. But if a man just wants sex, I'm not the right one, anyway.

I'm no prude. I had lots of sex, and I had it early, too. However, it's been my experience that holding out forces you and your man to work on the emotional and spiritual connection first. And if he's not interested in those things before you have sex, he sure won't be interested in them after. You don't have to be celibate indefi nitely, but it helps separate the wheat from the chaff, and if you're a mom like me, you don't want your kids growing up thinking that "uncles" are men who go away every six months.

And wives? Well, if you've been married for more than five years, congratulations, you know more than me. But if you're a newlywed, please take my advice and have more sex than you feel like having. A quickie can take minutes, and if he's got stamina, it's really just an hour of your life. If you put that never-ending to-do list out of your mind, you might even enjoy it, too.

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