Ingrid Michaelson Versus Steve Harvey

How much work does a person have to do in a relationship, anyway?

Ingrid Michaelson tells her guy, "Take me the way I am."

Whereas Steve Harvey and Frank Sinatra say, "If you want to keep me, better dress yourself up a little, darling."

Ingrid gets top billing, because she won a Grammy. And I like her view on relationships better.

Jessica Teller's photography can be found at

I had no idea that I could have skipped the whole school thing and still called myself a relationship expert. Everyone is doing it now, and frankly, if I had known this, well, it would have saved me a lot of tuition and headache.

Steve Harvey, radio show host and stand-up comic is on a run, won't stop with that. He's come out as a relationship expert and has a book to prove it. Microphone in hand, ready-made readership, perhaps he has a leg up as an authority.

I sure hope the book is meant to be funny.

It's so ironic. Only a week ago my doctoral students got the lecture on the reasons we in the academic community prefer the scientific method to other ways of knowing.

You probably are familiar with the scientific method. To pare it down: you (a) have a theory; (b) develop a hypothesis; (c) establish a logical research design to test the hypothesis; (d) test it; (e) interpret your findings.

It can seem tedious; research can take years from light bulb to publication, but at the end we have observable findings and a replicable experiment, empirical, evidence-based research. Scientific.

Other ways of knowing include common sense (Steve Harvey), tradition (religion), the media (newspapers, magazines, television, the Internet), and authority-- someone who calls himself an authority.

Authority is the tricky one. People say they have authority, meaning they have grounds for what they say, perhaps inside knowledge, an inside track. But often they don't have any grounds at all.

And you know that joke. FD tells it every time the coffee's not so great:

bad coffee = grounds for divorce.

Not apropos to anything, but I like it.

Almost anyone can be an authority. Journalists, for example, and staff at the Wall Street Journal afford authority to informants. A not-to-be-named source is
Someone close to the matter.
Now there's an authority.

I tell my students,
"You can only hope, basically, that your professors are authorities, that the things they say have some validity, are empirically grounded. By virtue of their positions, that should be the case.

But you have to be skeptical about everything you learn, because there are new studies published every day in every area of the social sciences.

So how are you, the lowly student, to know if the people handing out your grades are staying current?

Maybe, for all you know, they are making things up!"
kal ve'chomer, Steve Harvey.* If a professor can make things up, how much more likely is it that the Steve Harveys of the world, or the Dr. Phils and the therapydocs, even, make stuff up, too?

This is the real problem with common sense. Common though it may be, it still needs to be tested if you're going to call it scientific. (Much of what you get here at Everyone Needs Therapy has not been tested, either, I'm so sorry to have to tell you this. But some of it is. A lot of it is. No idea the percentages, sorry.)

By the way, I don't usually say this to my students, kal ve'chomer , which rhymes with doll-v'-go-mare, unless it slips out. The phrase is Hebrew for the following Talmudic rule of logic:
If an argument applies here, in an obvious case, then in cases that are even more obvious, it applies also. All the more so. For sure. Correct me if I'm wrong, if there are any logical Talmudists in the house.
(See, people think religion is not scientific, and they're right, probably most require that leap of faith, but if you need a logical argument for something, find a Talmudist. Trust me on this one. You can trust me, another great line,)

So basically I'm telling students, and you, my friends, to stay skeptical and do your own research. Use Google Scholar, if nothing else is available. You can google it.

This is what I like about teaching research. I don't need to keep learning. My job is to inspire them to learn, my students. They should keep reading, not me, and should read the research with a strong twist of skepticism. (The best way to do that is to check the methodology in those studies. Methodology tells you everything.)

This is a great sideline, by the way, teaching research, although I am considering becoming a radio show host.

But back to media.

Media is another one of those ways of knowing. We think it an unscientific way of knowing, but it is still a way. Certainly, in this doc's opinion, there is quite a bit of good stuff on the Teev, everyone's communal way of knowing. We sit with our families or friends, if we're lucky enough, and learn from shows like Nature, Nova, the Weather Channel,the History Channel, Turner Movie Classics, Friends (just seeing if you're paying attention) -- shows that drip with validity.

So we do learn from media. It's not so bad after all.

And I'll bet Steve Harvey's book, a combination of common sense and media pazazz, isn't half bad, even if Sal Minuchin and Jay Haley** won't be retiring their numbers any time soon. At least we hope not.

And the people who wrote He's Just Not That into You, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (Simon & Schuster, 2004), without a PhD between them, have something to teach us, too, even if the book is not empirically-based. (No spoilers in the comments, please, most of us haven't read the book or seen the movie, although you can bet it is the numero uno destination for our next chick flick night out.

And for sure,you remember Dr. Laura from her radio days, the older Jewish woman spleening about family values. Dr. Laura actually has some training in family therapy, although it's unlikely she could explain the difference between a Cronbach alpha and a t-test (PLEASE FORGIVE ME, DR. L, I'M A HUGE FAN, HONEST, JUST TRYING TO MAKE A POINT ABOUT YOUR USUAL MEDIA EXPERT), and her command of the DSM IV might be a little light. But that could be a good thing, we have so many pejorative labels floating about as it is.

I'll tell you the truth. Without our media gurus we wouldn't have anything to talk about at dinner.

I do get a little worried, however, when I hear some of the tripe served up on shows like Oprah, who should know better than to sponsor a show on hormone replacement therapies, for example. I worry that people believe what they hear because they believe in Oprah. If she hosts it is must be true, so they ingest things that might be dangerous, all because an authority clapped her hands.

This makes me uncomfortable. And it feels unethical, the way the media can lead us astray.

But back to Steve Harvey, talk show host/relationship expert.

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg reviews Steve's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment in the Wall Street Journal (February 7, 2009). A title like that alone deserves a review.

What it all comes down to, according to Mr. Trachtenberg, is that women can improve their relationships with men if they would only try to understand men better. Being a man, Mr. Harvey can speak for all men, obviously, and all women. He says:

"One of the biggest misconceptions that a woman has is that a man has to accept her the way she is. No, we don't. I don't know who told you that," he says in an interview.

He's speaking directly, you should know, to Ingrid Michaelson, who writes the song, Take Me the Way I Am. Mr. Harvey continues, and this is the best part:

"We like the bright and shiny. If you stop wearing the makeup, stop putting on nail polish, stop wearing high heels, you'll lose us."

Pass the pie, please, the one with the whipped cream.

A patient tells me, "You have to see this show, Mad Men. It's about the fifties, and how a woman's worth and primary purpose was to serve her man, her husband, literally."

Yeah, I know. I lived it, baby. From pouring the water at dinner, to serving them fruit cocktail for dessert, then clearing the table.

Maybe some of you are old enough to remember this song. Frank Sinatra is the crooner. Wives and Lovers. (1964) Pre-feminist era.

(B. Bacharach, H. David)

[Recorded June 12, 1964, Los Angeles]

Pretty marvelous, huh? Let's find another pie for Frank. You would think Old Blue Eyes and Steve Harvey were soul mates.

It still blows me away, that song. And it's catchy.

Does this mean, that Steve Harvey has climbed into bed with Frank Sinatra? I understand it, almost, in a bygone era, this sexism of the forties and fifties, a couple of short-lived decades in which women could stay home, men could go out and hunt. But now?

Especially now? Post-feminism?

Is Harvey saying, in the year 2009, that a woman who has worked a 12 hour day, who returns from a hard day at the office, the store, or worse, has been home parenting children, alone, making a home, should not takes off her nylons? They're so comfortable, after all.

Should she not throw on a pair of sweats, scrub the make-up off her face? Should she make dinner wearing heels? Shake the martinis rather than roll out a yoga mat? And if she's not hot enough, he'll be off to find someone bright and shiny?

In that case, as Mel Brooks said about the Indians, excuse me, Native Americans, in Blazing Saddles, Lazzan gain, (Yiddish, rhymes with doesn't rain). Let him go. Who needs him?

Or does it mean that he fully intends to stay bright and shiny for his woman? I do love a guy in a crisp shirt and a tie, let me tell you, the right tie, and it's a wonderful feeling of joy, art. But this is a condition? I should insist on the tie?
Hi dear, don't you dare take off that tie! Like, ever! I need the bright and shiny. Take off the tie, dear, and I'm out of here. Oh and by the way. I don't like the loafer look, very pedestrian, so if you don't mind, get yourself some Pradas and keep 'em on until I say, take them off.
Now that's more balanced, don't you think?

Better to get our messages, from today's rock stars, pop stars, American idols. Ingrid Michaelson would surely tell Mr. Harvey where to find his hat. Objectify ol' Ingrid, and she will tell you exactly what she thinks of you. Listen to this.

Take me the way I am

Adorable,our counterpoint relationship expert and spokesperson for 2009. I'm voting for her.

But really. Ingrid. Let's talk. Sometimes it's nice to compromise. Move in a little closer. Find a middle ground for the fun of it, to stretch the relationship, change just a little.

The way I am? Why would I always want to be the way I am? It will get boring if I live long enough. I can try out something different whenever I want. Even someone else's suggestions.

Oh! And mazal tov on that Grammie! It's so hard to resist the You go, Girl thing. Got it from the media.


*(kal ve'chomer rhymes with doll-v'-go-mare, Hebrew for. . .if it applies here, all the more it should apply there).

**Salvador Minuchin and Jay Haley are the Fathers of Family Therapy

Lyrics to Wives and Lovers

Hey, little girl, comb your hair, fix your make-up, soon he will open the door,

Don't think because there's a ring on your finger, you needn't try any more.
For wives should always be lovers too,
Run to his arms the moment that he comes home to you.
I'm warning you,
Day after day, there are girls at the office and the men will always be men,
Don't stand him up, with your hair still in curlers, you may not see him again.
Wives should always be lovers too,
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.
He's almost here, hey, little girl, better wear something pretty,
Something you wear to go to the city,
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music, time to get ready for love.
Time to get ready for love, yes it's time to get ready for love,
It's time to get ready, kick your shoes off, baby....,
Take Me the Way I Am Ingrid blogs, by the way.

Written by Ingrid Michaelson

If you were falling, then I would catch you
You need a light, I'd find a match

Cuz I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am

If you are chilly, here take my sweater
Your head is aching; I'll make it better

Cuz I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am

I'd buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair
Sew on patches to all you tear

Cuz I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am
You take me the way I am
You take me the way I am


Of course, I'm going to take the middle road on this; it's a little of both. But great job explaining Kal vaChomer!
therapydoc said…
Oh, no! I might have changed it since you read the first draft on the web (so insecure, I edit, re-edit, and edit again).
Melissa said…
Groan. I hate that song. The Wives and Lovers one.

And my husband takes me as I am.

(There's a Google Scholar?)
therapydoc said…
Yes, last I looked it sourced old research, but still. And you have to pay for some of it, of course. Better to check data bases at a college of some sort, get it all for free. Or use someone else's log-in, if they'll let you.
Anonymous said…
Ok, I'm not sure what I'm voting for (kind of like the regular election) but I know what I would like to see...
I remember my grandparents - old, stodgy, grey hair, wrinkles, functional shoes, and loved the daylights out of each other. I remember when my grandmother died 18 years after my grandfather, my mother said "Finally they are together again and the love goes on".
They married at 15 and 16, they had 11 children, they worked their tails off, they loved each other to the ends of the earth... Maybe grandma brushed her hair up a little after 12 hours on her feet being a waitress before starting dinner and before grandpa got home; and grandpa climbed out of his painters overalls before coming in the house - but they always kissed hello - said something nice and well, just loved each other.
And OMG could they dance!!! We grandkids were embarassed to the roots of our hair, but we cheered them on. Theirs was one of the greatest love stories and I was so fortunate to experience it... Neither Steve Harvey or Ingrid know what they are talking about - I didn't have to do any research, I experienced it from the experts -a little old couple from Russia who counted every day together as a blessing.
That's what I vote for - that's what I'm looking for...
The day Oprah, or Dr. Phil or anyother TV expert has someone on like grandpa and grandma - I might listen to them!
Mark said…
Steve Harvey did push a button! Ha. Of course you are correct, there is middle ground in all of this. To Francis Albert Sinarta's point, we do need to continue to try for each other and not fall into total complacency and to Ingrid's point, accept me for who I am, for at the end of the day it is who I will be.
Yes, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Thanks for a interesting and entertaining post.
Anna said…
Lots to say today!
"We have Nature, Nova, the Weather Channel,the History Channel, Turner Movie Classics (just seeing if you're paying attention) -- shows that drip with validity."

Just this Sunday, one person was suggesting that Moses' time was during Ramses II, based on a History Channel episode.
Another, far more reasearched individual (okay, authority- Family practice doctor with a Master's in religion) disagreed. Fortunately, we do this disagreement thing pretty well in my circles.

Dr. Laura-
"...although it's unlikely she could explain the difference to you between a Cronbach alpha and a t-test, and her command of the DSM IV might be a little light. But that could be a good thing, we have so many pejorative labels floating about as it is."

Okay, you've got me at the Cronbach alpha, but I know about t-tests.
Anyway. Does a diagnosis per DSM-IV really matter? How important is it in your own practice to put labels on your patients in order to help them?
Just a curious question, not an attack.

Last thing- another good one is Adam Sandler, in "The Wedding Singer." (It escapes me, at the moment, if a movie is italicized or underlined.)

I wanna make you smile whenever you're sad
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad
All I wanna do is grow old with you

Ill get your medicine when your tummy aches
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks
Oh it could be so nice, growing old with you

Ill miss you
Ill kiss you
Give you my coat when you are cold

Ill need you
Ill feed you
Even let ya hold the remote control

So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink
Put you to bed if you've had too much to drink
I could be the man who grows old with you
I wanna grow old with you

Good enough for me. :)
Anonymous said…
Well said, as always.

What bothers me about Frank/Steve here (besides the obvious) is that it insults MEN too. "Men will always be men," says Frank Sinatra. So Frank and Steve believe that men will always be shallow, drawn only to shiny objects, unappreciative of their spouses, unfaithful? That's just how they are and we should accept that?? That's their estimation of men's character?

Sorry, Frank and Steve. Not only do women deserve better...but so do men. Apparently I think more highly of your gender than you do. (Or at least, I feel it's reasonable to expect decent ethical behavior from both.)
therapydoc said…
Thank G-d for cancellations.
WENDY so lucky to have watched that marriage, much better than anything you could ever read about or watch on Teev.

MARK, always honored when you stop by.

And ANNA, that was a wonderful movie, and I love the song!

And about the DSM IV. It matters to me because it helps me conceptualize treatment.

Treatment is always custom-made for and with the patient, but some diagnoses really command one certain approach over another.

For example, if someone is suffering from one of the depressive disorders and wants to end it all, then not trying a psychotropic medication can be malpractice. We wouldn't insist without a true diagnosis of the illness, and technically, couldn't.
therapydoc said…
KRISTIN, thank you. You took the words right out of my mouth. It's totally insulting to them. It makes you just want to scream, "MEN!"
Anonymous said…
I think that Ingrid can stay just the way she is, and if she wants to change, she can do that, too, and he has to take her the way she changes.

Would you agree?
Anonymous said…
Have you seen her website? She's hysterical.
therapydoc said…
I have, and she is. Ingrid is now a blogger, you know. We should make her feel at home in the blogosphere. I might have linked to it in the post.

And BARFLY, Yes of course that's how it goes. But there are times one stretches to make another person happy, even if it isn't just right, or doesn't feel, just right at the time. Assuming there's nothing unethical or demeaning or counter-esteeming, I mean.
Anonymous said…
Tzipporah said…
Ah, you forgot another way of knowing - intuition. Much much different from common sense, yet very common, indeed.

Nice post.
therapydoc said…
Right! Even better sometimes.
Anonymous said…
I think that most people who fall in love and get into relationships take one another the way they are, then they use change as an excuse to break up.
blognut said…
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today. As always, this is a great post and Take Me the Way I Am is just the way I think it should be.

By the way, that song should no longer be stuck in your head because :^)
Margo said…
So much I could say here, so many things to think about.. great post! I'm amazed at how many reasonable and well educated women I know who would jump in front of a bus if Oprah told them too. One in particular clings to The Secret, or whatever. So willing to give away her power to O because it's easier and more acceptable than getting your butt into therapy or reading a book that isn't by Suzanne Somers (I do the edit things to death too on my blogs)
Anonymous said…
Maybe it comes as no surprise, having been raised by you, but I am completely with Kristin here. Can't we sum it up with Steve Harvey is talking about a lesser-evolved, baser form of male? And maybe that applied to himself - hey, he's the one who shamelessly put those opinions out there.
As swoon-worthy as Sinatra may have been, as much as I adore Jon Hamm in Mad Men, and for all that I'd like to believe times have changed considerably (and both genders improved for it) --- I don't really buy that the other (forgive me, BETTER) kind of guy didn't exist back then either. Sinatra probably got away with thinking that way because of his looks and success, and there will always be women who lack enough Self to buy into whatever crap someone "bright and shiny" spews. Maybe that kind of simplistic approach was all he needed to feel fulfilled in a relationship - simple guy, simple thoughts. Maybe he didn't even believe it, but the simple guys in his audience were the ones who paid for records.
Regardless, when I come across men who talk like that in 2009 - and actually, I do more often than I'd like - I want to pet their heads and say, Aw, you poor, sweet, basic creature. You probably shouldn't open your mouth in public anymore, k?. Have a beer.

(By the way, Mad Men's lead character is always drawn to more independent, rougher-around-the-edges women than his own red-lipsticked doll of a wife. Ok, he's incredibly flawed, but at least he spends the show trying to figure it all out and improve himself, evolution ultimately being the show's message.)
therapydoc said…
I did put you out there, didn't I.

Thanks both Margos, something good about this name. Margo 1, I am SO glad someone picked up on the Oprah thing. That really is the point of this post, one of the big ones, that not only should you not believe what you read, but in this media-driven world, you have to doubt what you see, too.

Back to the kid who dresses me, and I'm wearing that pink sweater as we speak, it's funny, isn't it, that I couldn't get past that first episode of Mad Men, couldn't watch people smoke like that, mainly.

I should have assumed that the guy would fall for an independently minded woman in the end.
Anonymous said…
On read-over, maybe I sound a bit harsh? What I really mean is, I was brought up to believe that as women, we could expect a lot of ourselves - we could (and should) strive to be many things simultaneously. And that likewise, we can expect, and even demand, a multi-dimensional form of man to serve as our other half. And that expecting sophisticated thoughts and corresponding actions out of anyone is the highest form of compliment, so men like Steve Harvey are doing themselves a disservice by "branding" each other in this way. Pretty much what Kristin said in fewer words :)
Anonymous said…
This is not just a "guy thang." For every man who thinks and acts like Steve Harvey (or Sinatra) there is a woman who is nagging her hubby because he doesn't make enough money, or he doesn't "buy her things". How do you think folks like "The Donald" manage to snag not one, not two, but MULTIPLE young beautiful women. Because he is willing to pay for "it" -- "it" being whatever Sinatra is describing in Wives and Lovers (the appearance of an intimate relationship? arm candy?)

Isn't this what you have blogged about before under the topic of intimacy? ... when men (and women) define their relationships in utilitarian terms then that's what they get from the relationship.

As for credentials... I hate to be the one to remind you but... this is an anonymous blog. In the blogsphere, there are no creds, just public opinion. Kinda like Steve Harvey ('cept that he gets paid the big bucks...cuz people are willing to pay him for his so-called expert advice.)
Anonymous said…
Loved the post. To me, it's attractive when a girl is comfortable with herself. I'd love to take her as she is. I understand the looks thing, and think it goes both ways. Either side enjoys it when the other tries to look their best. But all the time, every time? It's not necessary. I love a girl who hasn't done anything to change her appearance. I love smart women too. Gotta have intelligence to make fun of this crap =)
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the lovely post. I really appreciate your passion for teaching your students to love research and not blindly trust authority. I think that is my favorite thing about research.
Anna said…
Yes, thanks, I see how the DSM comes into play there.
My "other" background is in special education, where labels are more often shunned because they hold back the progress that could be made.

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