CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Laura Schlessinger
Aired February 4, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: (AUDIO GAP) the always outspoken and sometimes controversial Dr. Laura on politics, sex, marriage and who knows what else. She will take your calls.
But first, Ken Lay, the former head of Enron snubs Congress and now faces a subpoena. Joining us from Washington, they were waiting for Lay to testify before them. Senator Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Consumer Affairs Subcommittee. Also in Washington the ranking member of that committee, Senator Peter Fitzgerald. And from Houston, Ken Lay's long-time friend, the former Mayor of Houston, Bob Lanier. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
By the way, we invited Ken Lay and his attorney to appear on the show tonight. They declined. So we apologize for the fact that they are not here. We certainly would love to have them and it is an open invitation. Bob Lanier is the former mayor of Houston. He is a long- time friend of Ken Lay's. We'll start with Senator Dorgan, though, chairman of the Senate Consumer Affairs Committee.
Did you buy the reason that Ken Lay's attorney Earl Silber stated that the deck is stacked against him based on the statements made by television shows yesterday?
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), CHMN. CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: No. Actually the statements that were made had nothing to do with this. The report that was released on Saturday by the Enron corporation board of directors I think is what has caused Mr. Lay to decide not to come to Congress.
This was a devastating indictment of what went on inside the Enron Corporation. It follows of course statements by the accounting firm that said there were possible illegal activities. That follows the statement by the vice president who wrote him a memo last August talking about accounting hoaxes and so on. This was never going to be a walk in the park for Mr. Lay to come to Congress, we understand that. I think he just decided after that Saturday report by his own corporation that he wasn't going to come to Congress and testify.
KING: Senator Fitzgerald, what's your belief?
SEN. PETER FITZGERALD (R-IL), RNKNG. MEMBER, CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I agree with Senator Dorgan. The fact of the matter is it was a problem of timing for Mr. Lay. There are now so many documents out there, much of the autopsy on Enron has already been performed and the documents raise very uncomfortable questions, in my judgment, for Mr. Lay, and it would not surprise me if it was his attorney's decision to recommend to him that he not talk to Congress.
KING: But in agreeing to appear, Senator Fitzgerald, didn't he know all those things already?
FITZGERALD: Back when he agreed to appear that was in December. And at that time we didn't know as much as we do know today about the demise of Enron. Based on my investigation, Larry, and Senator Dorgan has seen the same documents and all that has been revealed in the press, in the board of directors report over the weekend, I actually believe -- this is my personal opinion -- that Enron was little more than a gigantic pyramid scheme grafted on to an old fashioned utility. And it appears that a vast -- the vast bulk of Enron's earnings over the past year and a half or so came from essentially bogus, fictitious transactions. Very serious matter.
KING: By the way, Senator Dorgan we understand is a Democrat, Senator Fitzgerald is a Republican from Illinois, Senator Dorgan from North Dakota. The former mayor of Houston and long-time friend of Ken Lay joins us. He is Bob Lanier.
Mayor Lanier, thank you for being with us. What's your read on all of this? I know how strong a citizen the Enron corporation was in your city. What do you make of this?
BOB LANIER, FORMER MAYOR OF HOUSTON: Well, except I don't know the inner workings within Enron, but pretty much as for Ken Lay's reasons for not appearing, I would agree with the two senators. I think it become more difficult to him after the Enron director's report, and I think it's quite likely his lawyer advised him not to appear. I don't know this from personal knowledge, but I'm a nonpracticing lawyer, I used to teach law. That would have been my advice.
KING: Mayor Lanier, the former governor Richards was with us last week and strongly defended Ken Lay, called him an outstanding citizen, said she would appear as a character witness for him.
LANIER: I feel the same way. I've known him for ten years, six of those as mayor. He was a constructive force in nearly every civic endeavor that happened in that city for ten years. He was a visionary, he was caring. I never saw him suggest or in any manner that was unethical or improper that I ever knew anything about or heard. Indeed he was -- he was really an unselfish person within the Ken Lay I've known.
KING: Senator Dorgan, are you suspicious of governmental involvement in this? Is there political motive here?
DORGAN: Well, this isn't about politics for me. There a lot of questions. Why didn't the accounting firm know what was going on? Why didn't the federal regulators know? Were they brain dead, asleep at the wheel or didn't have the authority?
But let me make another point, if I might. The other evening before I went to sleep I was going through a stack of mail as I always do, and the last letter I read was from a North Dakotan who worked for a subsidiary of Enron. And it was a fellow who wrote to me who said after working all those years, he had a $300,000 401(k) retirement account -- $300,000 -- that was about eight months ago.
Now it's worth $1,700. The point is a lot of people have been hurt and hurt badly, lost their life savings. But not everybody, the people at the top, many board of directors, and officers of this corporations made off with tens of millions of dollars, $1.1 billion in stock sales by the top executives and the directors just in a two- year period. So, this is a case where, you know, we must get to the bottom of this, Larry.
You've seen the market today and what happened. There's great concern out there about what impact this might have, and whether other companies are doing the same thing and whether we have regulators to look over the shoulder and protect the investors and employees in this country.
KING: The people involved in Global Crossing, Senator Fitzgerald, which also went down the tank, said that they defended making a lot of money at the top while people at the bottom lost, as capitalism. Do you agree with that?
FITZGERALD: Oh, no. Certainly not in the case of Enron. Enron was a case in which people within the corporation were running a giant shell game. They kept booking fictitious earnings to pump up their stock price in order, in my judgment, to -- so that they could make gains on their stock options. And those who knew what they were doing have done something in my judgment that's horribly wrong.
Now it's theoretically possible that the CEO Ken Lay didn't know something was going wrong beneath him. But these transactions went on for so long with such frequency and were so large that to believe that you would have to conclude that he was the most out to lunch CEO of any major corporation in America. So, in my judgment right now things don't look very good with respect to senior management at Enron.
DORGAN: Let me make a point on that. The employees at the bottom were locked into a circumstance where they couldn't sell stock at the end because the Enron corporation had changed the providers or the managers of their fund so the employees were locked in. They couldn't sell any stock. Meanwhile the top executives were dumping stock every day as it went down. They were still making money, the employees were locked out of being able to sell anything.
The other point here is this company created massive numbers, up to 3,000 secret off-the-books partnerships. If you saw what went on between these partnerships and among the partnerships, it makes you want to cry. We want to find out who the investors were in all these partnerships. How much did they invest, how much did they make? We need to unlock the secrets here so that it doesn't happen again. And we'll learn all the lessons we can from it.
KING: Mayor Lanier, if all these things are true of the Ken Lay you know, is it possible he wouldn't have known about this? LANIER: First of all, I think the senators are absolutely within their rights of the inquiry they're making there. I wouldn't second guess that at all. But Ken Lay is kind of like a captain who ran his ship aground. And a lot of people drowned and it is alleged that the ship was unseaworthy, and he (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he's out there thrown in the water and there's sharks all around him.
I wasn't in the engine room, I don't know what happened. But I think he's entitled to swim ashore if he can, and have a hearing in front of a court of inquiry in which the constitutional rights everybody has will apply to him also. The biggest tragedy is the with the employees and the people that have lost their savings. I have nothing but sympathy for them and I understand their anger and I understand the senators' inquiry.
KING: You going to subpoena him, Senator Dorgan?
DORGAN: Yes. We'll meet at 9:30 tomorrow morning and issue a subpoena and ask Mr. Lay to come before the Senate Commerce Next Week.
KING: And of course, Senator Fitzgerald, he doesn't have to answer your questions.
FITZGERALD: No. That's clear that all we can do is compel Mr. Lay's appearance. He has a constitutional right not to incriminate himself, and certainly it my well be that his lawyer will advise him not to testify, and we have to do what we can to get to the bottom of this.
KING: And Mayor Lanier, have you spoken to him recently?
LANIER: Not since November. I spoke to him when he presented the Enron Award to Chairman Greenspan at the Baker Institute. Not since then. Just a few words then.
KING: Thank you all very much, Senators Byron Dorgan, Peter Fitzgerald, and former Mayor Bob Lanier.
Doctor Laura Schlessinger is next. She's got a new book out. We've got that and lots of things to talk about. Don't go away.
KING: She's had five major bestsellers, and her newest promises to be the sixth, "10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships," with a very nice lime green cover. The guest is America's foremost radio talk-show host, Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The new book is just published by Cliff Street Books, a division of Harper Collins.
Before we get into this, I must ask you about what they've been talking about on CNN all day today and your reaction. In fact, Wolf Blitzer did a whole show on it, on the American Academy of Pediatrics report that gay parents fare as well as any other parents, and they're encouraging states to allow them to adopt.
DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: I'm sorry. Your question is?
KING: What do you think of that?
SCHLESSINGER: I think that the needs of children since human beings were created have never changed, and the optimal condition for raising a child is a mummy and daddy, preferably his or her own, in a covenantal relationship with, you know, a house, a picket fence, and a dog that throws up on the carpet, and I don't think that changes.
KING: Are you surprised at the American Academy of Pediatrics, certainly a distinguished...
SCHLESSINGER: Larry, I am never surprised anymore at things.
KING: Well, that's a pretty distinguished organization saying that there's no difference...
SCHLESSINGER: Well, that's...
KING: ... between a gay couple...
SCHLESSINGER: That's what they're saying.
KING: You disagree?
SCHLESSINGER: I still think the optimal condition for raising a child -- and I can't imagine there could be much argument -- mummy and daddy married together.
KING: But you're not surprised?
SCHLESSINGER: I'm not surprised by hardly anything anymore. I'm 55.
KING: "10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships." "Stupid." That's a strong word.
KING: And you don't use words lightly.
KING: OK. So these are things you believe are stupid?
KING: What was the genesis of this book?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I have been on radio a span of 25 years. When I say it that way, it gets -- it's been a quarter of a century. That's even better. And taking calls for three hours a day and hearing what people are doing to hurt themselves, hurt each other, and lose one of the most precious things we have.
You know, you mentioned when you introduced me early on that -- controversial. It's funny. Since September 11th, I don't think anybody thinks I'm controversial anymore for talking about morals, values, ethics, principles, religion, commitment, and it is in the best interest of society, of civilization, much less children, that people produce quality relationships because that is what nurtures each other and gives the best basket to hold the child.
KING: But stupidity didn't end September 11th. So one would imagine the people having problems September 10th in a relationship still got them.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah, but they're looking -- but they're realizing it, they're understanding it, because that shook everybody to their foundation, and people immediately turned to God, they immediately turned to patriotism, to their community.
And the incidents, interestingly enough, of people withdrawing their divorce requests -- it was phenomenal. I remember reading an article just a month afterwards where people were realizing they wanted to feel secure and loved and safe and warm because the world is so -- well, life is so fragile.
KING: Doctor, why do people do stupid things repeatedly? Anyone could do a stupid thing once or twice. Why would someone do a stupid thing?
SCHLESSINGER: Because I figure, "If I keep pushing this book towards you, it will eventually get there and because I'm too afraid to try anything else." It's funny.
Do you play any sport?
KING: Well, I used to...
KING: ... adequately play...
KING: Tennis a little.
SCHLESSINGER: All right. Whatever it was. You know, you're hitting the ball, and it mostly doesn't go over right with this particular backhand, and the teacher shows you do it this way. Well, you try it.
And you know what? It works really good, but when you're in a pinch and it's tight and you might lose the point, you tend to go where you're the most familiar, and people tend to use what they were brought up with in their homes, what they have developed a habit about, and it's hard to give it up to do something new.
We feel insecure. We feel frightened. We tend to fall back into old patterns.
KING: How did you pick these 10? SCHLESSINGER: Well, I actually sat down with a big pad, went outside on a pretty day, and I said, "What do I hear about the most?" and that's how I came up with these 10.
KING: When we do it by chapters -- we'll get into each of these and take calls, by the way -- does that mean, number one, stupid secrets is more important than stupid breakups?
SCHLESSINGER: No. It's just that I...
KING: So these are not in...
SCHLESSINGER: I couldn't put everything at number one. They make you count.
KING: They're all kind of equal?
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. They're all kind of equal because -- it's like all the commandments. We're not supposed to say one's more important than the other because God has reasons for all of them.
The kinds of things we need to do or not do to have a loving, safe, wonderful relationship are really all equal, and the more we respect all of those parts, the more effort we tend to put into all of them.
Whenever we say, "Well, that's more important," we tend to let everything else go by the wayside. "As long as I'm doing that, I don't have to be doing the other things," and that's a bad philosophy when it comes to being a loving partner.
KING: So what's an example of a stupid secret? Doesn't everyone have secrets, certain secrets?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, well, there's a difference between privacy and secrecy. There are certain things out of your own dignity that you just keep private. There are certain things which in a marriage...
KING: With your mate?
SCHLESSINGER: ... in a marriage that I think you should not speak.
For example, I remember this one guy called. His wife is so mad. I said, "Well, what happened? Let's try to fix it." And he said, "Well, there's this girl at work, and she really kind of turned me on and I thought, 'No, I'm married, and I'm not going to do anything about it.'
"So I wanted to come home -- I was so proud -- to tell my wife that there's this girl who's young and sexy and adorable and single, and she's coming on to me, but I'm not doing anything about it." I mean, his wife probably still hasn't gotten over that. It would have been better...
KING: That was stupid.
SCHLESSINGER: Stupid. It would have been better to keep that a secret, to come home and take that extra loving that he realized -- "This is so important. She's cute and hot, and that might be fun, but what I have is so valuable" -- and to use it to be lovingly constructive as opposed to treating her like she's his buddy to whom he can say things or his shrink.
KING: Are -- the title "Stupid Secrets" seems to imply that it's stupid to have secrets.
SCHLESSINGER: No, there are some stupid secrets. One is -- in that chapter -- it's a pretty complex one because I talk about the difference between privacy and secrecy, and then I talk about what things should be secret and what things should not because people call...
KING: What's an example of what should not be secret?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, the truth is that a lot of people lie about their health, they lie about the finances, they lie about things at work, they lie about things.
Here's the key: When it clearly is going to impact the family and the dynamics of the marriage, the other person has the right to know because they should have the dignity of making decisions for themselves.
KING: Simply put well. But a health problem -- you should not hide from your spouse you've got this disease the doctor told you about.
SCHLESSINGER: Guys tend to do that -- they tend to be more stalwart -- more than women do that because, you know, we take care of these things quickly. But, you know, he doesn't want her to not see him as manly or to worry or what have you.
And when these men call me, I go, "You know, the reason -- one of the reasons you got married is to actually have a partner, someone with whom you can share and face these things with. It isn't about you being the president of a company."
I -- after Enron, I don't want to go there.
KING: Do men call you a lot?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, half the callers at least are men.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. KING: We'll be back with more of Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The book is "10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships." We'll be taking your calls. Don't go away.
KING: By the way, if you have any relationship questions, we'll certainly entertain them. If you do stupid things or wonder about stupid things. Of course, you may never do stupid things. You're in this audience. You have probably never done a stupid thing. Here's Dr. Laura Schlessinger. All right.
SCHLESSINGER: We all do stupid things.
KING: Even Dr. Laura?
SCHLESSINGER: We all do them.
KING: Dr. Laura does a stupid thing?
SCHLESSINGER: Of course!
SCHLESSINGER: I have to rein myself in like everybody else has to.
KING: Back to secrets, before we move to the second thing. We've had many interviews on this program concerning -- mostly concerning women who have kept secrets about bulimia or about alcohol. Gerald Ford -- Betty Ford didn't tell the family. Kitty Dukakis. And when they finally discovered it through some method of their own, they confront it.
What about that kind of health secret where you're embarrassed or you're ashamed or you're afraid?
SCHLESSINGER: Hey, I understand all those things, but I feel -- I believe you have a moral obligation to share this with your spouse because, obviously, it's impacting everything.
KING: But sometimes maybe you're drinking and you don't face reality or you don't think you're an alcoholic.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, if you can be that loaded that often and nobody close to you notices, that's odd, don't you think? I think the denial is often on the part of the spouse not wanting to deal with it.
KING: Oh, so you don't think it's the party denying it. It's the other person.
SCHLESSINGER: I think it's both. I think it's a team effort, which is why they have AA and Alanon.
KING: Yeah. Good thinking.
KING: All right. Let's move to the chapters you introduce here on stupid -- in stupid secrets. We've got -- they're right on the back. OK. Stupid egotism.
SCHLESSINGER: It amazes me how often people get married and decide to act like they're single and that their partner is like a parent and they're 18 now, "So you can't ask me where I'm going or what I'm doing." It is so painful.
KING: "None of your business."
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. What is that? I mean, they act like they're oppressed or that the relationship really exists to serve them and they're not really required to give, and it's amazing how often I hear that. It's a very childlike view of an adult relationship.
KING: How do you change that if you've been doing it for 15 years? You know, "Honey, don't ask me about that."
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I often wonder how you can look into the eyes of someone you say you love, see the pain, and not be willing to be introspective. Introspection is tough.
It's like those mirrors when you're in a hotel in a bathroom. This side looks normal. This side makes you look like you can see every pore enlarged. Introspection has you do that, and it's uncomfortable. It also gives you the sense that you're losing control.
And the irony in this egotism and in so many of the other chapters is underneath that is really a real creepy, cruddy person.
SCHLESSINGER: Really. It happens. There are creepy human beings.
But that's rarely it. Generally, when people are behaving badly, ultimately, they're very scared. Their basic fear is one of rejection. And we do all kinds of things to avoid rejection.
One of the things we do is act pompous and controlling because we think, if we do that, somehow we'll make that person anything we want, and the reality is this is all about us being scared of not being lovable, not being loved, being abandoned, and a whole slew of behaviors, from very dependent and frightened to very demanding, come out of that fear.
KING: That's interesting. We taped a show on heart disease today, and Kirk Douglas was one of the guests, and he said one of the things he's learned at age 85 about stress is you have less stress if you do less thinking about yourself and more -- and less stress if you think about other people more than yourself. We too much think about ourselves. SCHLESSINGER: Focus. That is -- well, that's part of the motivation behind religious observance. What religion tells you is to look outside of yourself, to look to God, to use whatever your talents are and direct them to the community, your family, people who are less well off, and there's joy from that.
People have to learn how to distinguish happiness from joy. Happiness is, "Oh, I get to go somewhere fun." Joy usually is recognized by its ability to make you cry. You're moved.
And I think we're a society that's looking for happiness so much -- and I have a chapter on that -- and less understanding that it's almost the subtlety in all things in life that really give us joy and make us feel satisfied.
KING: Stupid pettiness. Example?
SCHLESSINGER: Da, da, da, da, da, da. It is amazing how people chop away at each other. That's the one I have to work on a lot all the time, yeah, because I'm a very intense person.
KING: So you tend to be petty?
SCHLESSINGER: I can -- I can be petty, and I have to rein that in because I'm so intense and so focused in on doing so many things that sometimes -- when I go home, I'll go, "So did you get that done?" You know? And hello!
KING: I do that.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, we both have to read that chapter every day.
KING: That's petty?
KING: I never thought of myself as petty.
SCHLESSINGER: We start griping.
KING: I'm real -- I'm not petty. Is that petty?
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. Yeah. We start griping at the small stuff.
KING: I don't -- I...
SCHLESSINGER: Criticizing. Challenging. All of that.
KING: I don't mean it as a critique. Come on.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. Well, it comes across that way.
KING: It does?
SCHLESSINGER: Whether you and I mean it or not, it's hurtful. We've got to work on this. KING: Ah. So we're back to thinking of ourselves.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, we're not thinking mostly, and so one of the things that I think is good, assuming you're not an alcoholic -- not you, but one -- is to go home, have a glass of wine, relax a little bit, take a walk, run, take a hot bath, do something, and come down because home is not supposed to be your personal refuge from all your stress where you then get to dump on everybody else. Home is a refuge for everybody in the family. So we have to be more circumspect about that.
So you asked me. That's mine.
KING: We'll be including your calls in a little while for Dr. Laura. Number four on this "10 Stupid Things" is -- and, of course, the book and chapters goes into detail -- stupid power, the need to be in control. Common?
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. And both men and women, and they control differently.
KING: That's like -- a lot of marriages are war. Once there's a marriage, the war begins.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. You do...
KING: Who is in control?
SCHLESSINGER: That's sad because it doesn't have to be that way. But, again, people don't know how to deal with stress, people don't know how to deal with a lot of their childhood angst, people don't know how to deal with a lot of their fears, people don't know how to deal with a lot of stuff. So they come to the place where, quote, "I should be the most safe and act the worst."
And, of course, the people love you so they end up absorbing a lot, but it really isn't in your best interest because you don't become a better person. You certainly don't relax. You had a whole thing on heart disease. That kind of stress is really bad.
But the issue of stupid power is deriving preeminence in the relationship, and it happens in a number of ways. It can happen by whining as much as it can happen by physical threat. You know, different people have different ways of trying to control everything.
KING: There are control freaks, aren't they?
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. I mean, that's just people in high gear about it.
KING: Do they know it?
SCHLESSINGER: Sometimes. You know, I'm surprised how many people calling my show will describe themselves honestly. It's just that when you're in a pit, you don't always know how to get out.
KING: Do you like writing as much as broadcasting?
SCHLESSINGER: I love writing.
KING: You do.
SCHLESSINGER: I sit there like an out-of-body experience, and I'll be typing, and a sentence will come out, and I'll -- "Oh, oh, look at that," as though I didn't write it.
KING: You do.
SCHLESSINGER: I enjoy it. To me, it's another way of communicating. If I had to choose one, I'd choose radio because there's the immediacy, but I get a lot of personal gratification -- I love writing.
KING: "10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships." Dr. Laura's the guest. The book is now everywhere. And we'll come back and include your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Our guest is Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The book is "10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships." We're going to include your phone calls, and we'll go back to the list of stupid things as well.
Springfield, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Dr. Laura.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Laura.
CALLER: Previously -- you were just talking about a man and how he got into a situation with his co-worker, and my question is -- isn't a marriage based on love and trust, and if he were to tell his wife and, heaven forbid, she walk in and, actually, see her flirting with him, wouldn't she trust him better?
CALLER: Trust him more by being honest?
SCHLESSINGER: No. I think -- you know, I'm always surprised when I hear especially a female saying that because what we forget is it goes two ways.
You and I are married. I decide to trust you because that's part of a commitment of marriage. It's a decision. You need to behave in ways which continue to feed my assumption and my decision. You're responsible, too, for my trust, not just me.
KING: OK. So if I go to that trust and I'm trusting and you're trusting, how do I hurt us if I say there's this girl at the office?
SCHLESSINGER: Telling me you're turned on about this young thing in a short skirt.
KING: "But, honey, I didn't do anything about it."
SCHLESSINGER: It doesn't matter. It's hurtful. It's just -- there's no reason to make a spouse feel insecure or worried because there's a progression of thought. People start obsessing.
Sometimes people talk about things because they think it gives them a little leeway. "Now that I've said that, it's more OK because she didn't get mad." And then we start, "We'll talk a little bit. I'm not really flirting. I'm just talking."
I think it's very important that when you take vows and when you have a commitment that you have the obligation to behave in a way which gives testament to those vows everywhere at all times. There is no point in doing anything which could undermine the sense of comfort and trust your partner has in you.
KING: Stupid priorities -- number five -- meaning?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, you know, "I have to be away from my family, you know, four weeks out of every month, but I'm building a career and this is very important and" -- that's a stupid priority, and it amazes me how people do that in their marriages and with their children, but this is not about kids, this book.
KING: So how do you balance that difficulty when priorities -- let's say that you have to earn a living to support this...
SCHLESSINGER: Ah. Having to earn a living -- one guy called, and he said, "I moved the family all the way across the country. We came from a small town. We have two kids. We left the grandparents. We left everybody we knew, our church, everything to come here so I could have this A-plus job because I really want to take care of my family well." "I'm earning a living," he said.
Both of them are on the phone at the same time. She's miserable because they grew up in a small town and there's a lot of value to that. And I said, "Well, what could be the job financially if you were back in the small town?" He said, "B plus." I said, "You'd have a B-plus job, and your family would be happier. Are you happy, sir?"
And he goes, "No. Not really, but my definition of a good husband was how much I would bring into the home." And I pointed out that there's a lot of different ways and things one brings into the home and only one of that is money.
KING: But we are raised, are we not, to be good providers?
SCHLESSINGER: Good providers? KING: Aren't...
SCHLESSINGER: Providing a good community and family continuity is also providing. People seem to think providing is only money. Do you want to think you're only money? Otherwise, we don't need you guys?
KING: No, but money is not unimportant.
SCHLESSINGER: No, but past a certain point, it becomes a focal point in itself, and we give up other things of value.
KING: And that's stupid.
KING: Back to stupid again.
KING: This one I have trouble understanding. Stupid happiness. That seems like an oxymoron.
SCHLESSINGER: Does it?
SCHLESSINGER: We tend to look -- in our society, we have made a great deal -- we have 500, a thousand television things now if you have a dish -- constant input, constant stimulation, constantly buy this, constant do that, constantly be stimulated, constantly be elated, constantly be happy.
And as I mentioned earlier on in the program, we have forgotten this distinction between happiness and joy. I...
KING: Happiness isn't bad, is it?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, I love it, but a pursuit...
KING: Joy is great, but...
SCHLESSINGER: A constant obsessive pursuit of happiness misses joy and misses depth. I got a call -- I didn't get a call. It was -- I have a foundation for abused and neglected kids, and people send things for the "My Stuff" bags that we give the kids who are rescued.
KING: Oh, wonderful.
SCHLESSINGER: Remember I had that here?
Well, I started reading the letters that people sent on my radio show, the letters that people sent with the things they were giving for the kids, and I was starting to cry on air because I was so moved that people were giving to us and thanking us for the opportunity to do something like this. They knew joy. KING: Well put.
By the way, this is Help People Week. Dr. Phil is going be with us tomorrow night. He's a regular on Oprah's show. What do you think of him?
SCHLESSINGER: I'm sorry. I'm not familiar with him.
SCHLESSINGER: Daytime I'm on radio.
KING: Tacoma, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Dr. Laura and Larry.
CALLER: Hi. I am calling -- my husband is gone away a lot, but he does it in service to his country, and we only have a certain amount of time when he's home -- it depends -- on trying to reacquaint ourselves with each other.
CALLER: The bickering and the pettiness is quite common. What can we do to further the process to get it so we aren't bickering and having the pettiness when we only have a few short days together?
KING: I want to add to a good question. Why with less time would there be bickering and pettiness? You would think there'd be none of that.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, OK. "I'm home alone." I'll exaggerate, my dear, so -- this is not exactly what she's saying. "I'm home alone. I run everything, and everything is done my way. Somebody walks into my sphere and starts making demands and wanting things done in another way."
Not good. Somebody is not there. They realize that a whole life is happening without them, that the relationship with their spouse is a little distant, and that they are not in control of anything. So they come in and want to feel a part of what's going on, so they start doing things to gain control, criticizing, "No, you should do it this way."
So it's -- the adjustment is very, very difficult. I have recommended -- especially I've been talking to a lot of military since September 11th, and I was not that familiar with all of the problems that our men and women in service have, but I think the more that people talk about and e-mail and write to each other outside so he feels more involved, and she asks him questions about how to do things, and then he comes in and says, "How do you do this?"
In other words, they give up that wanting to have the power, and they feed each other's need for power, and then you warm again together immediately.
KING: So that's awareness.
SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. Well, she has it.
KING: She has it in the call.
KING: Now how does she transmit this to him when he comes home on leave?
SCHLESSINGER: "I called the Larry King show and talked to Dr. Laura, and what she said is"...
KING: That's not bad.
SCHLESSINGER: "So what can I do, honey, when you come home to make you feel more like a part of things?" And then he goes, "You know" --
And the minute you give somebody something, they want to give something back, and then he says, "You know, honey, that's true, and I come in, and I want to feel like I am still the man in the house, and I really should show you more respect for how much you're doing all on your own."
And, you know, then they're in bed. but that's OK because they're married.
KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Laura and more phone calls as well. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Another hit book on our hands. We go to Salem, Oregon. Hello. Salem, are you there?
CALLER: Yes, I am. Good evening, Larry. Hi, Dr. Laura.
CALLER: I've been in divorce for 12 years, I work in the field, and I want to tell you every single thing you said tonight is absolutely right on the button.
SCHLESSINGER: Thank you.
CALLER: My question is this: One of the things I've always seen in our practice is at that there are so many people in their early 20's who are getting a divorce because they have no clue about any of the things you said tonight or about relationships. Don't you think it would be practical as a public policy thing to have really serious classes in relationships about divorce and about marriage in middle school and high school? SCHLESSINGER: No. Already our kids can hardly compete around the world with second and third world countries with math and science. No, I don't want that taking up more of the educational time. The main problems that kids in their 20 are having it's the insecurity built up because of chaos in their family's homes and their divorce and remarriage and divorce and remarriage and shacking up and all that.
KING: Where would you teach it?
SCHLESSINGER: There was a time you learned it from home from your stable family.
KING: That doesn't exist right now.
KING: When would you teach it?
SCHLESSINGER: You know, I'm not going to take up the academic time in school. I wrote this book, I'm on the air, there are counselors like this dear lady calling, there are places to go.
I'll tell you where you should be getting that, and I have been harping on priests and ministers and rabbis that they should have, as a rule to themselves, that they will not marry anybody they haven't had in premarital counseling for say three to six months, because in that time they could deal with the issues of marriage that are really important -- kids, how many, who is going to raise them, if there are step children, how do we deal with that, what are the problems, let's be honest about it. You deal with money, where are we going to live, your parents, my parents, I hate your mother.
All of these important things need to be dealt with so people at the end of that three to six months can realize that love is not enough. You have to have the maturity. And what happens, people marry out of flipping, out of being in love and realize they don't have what it takes to make it work.
KING: If you don't have a priest or minister or rabbi and you're going to be married civilly, would you say go to a counselor before you do this?
SCHLESSINGER: If they were married civilly, there wouldn't be a problem -- oh, you mean legally?
SCHLESSINGER: That was a joke, Larry.
Yes. There are -- secular counselors do, or maybe even the therapist that was just on with us because she does divorce counseling. And these people generally also do the flip side because they want to avoid the divorces for people, and it's very important that people go in for premarital counseling. And you find a lot of people will go no, no, no. And why is that? It's a small investment for the rest of your life because they don't want to again look at their pores enlarged.
KING: Before we take the next call, stupid excuses.
SCHLESSINGER: That's when people don't own up and be accountable for their actions and make a lot of excuses up for what they do, and I hear all kinds of examples...
KING: Like, I'm sorry I did this because...
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, I had from my childhood this or you did that. The best one is, well, I know I did that and it's because you...
And I always remind people when they point a finger, they've got three pointing back. This is not good. They need to be accountable. I would say one of the more frustrating things to people is when they're trying to deal with their partner about something and the other one won't own up that they did it or that it was bad or that it was hurtful because they're afraid of getting rejected so they tend to act obnoxious.
When they do that, it hurts me even more when you don't even acknowledge that you hurt me. If I told you, Larry, you hurt me and you went, you know, I am really sorry I shouldn't have done that, it's gone. People need to realize there's a lot more power in owning up than trying to fight it off.
KING: Why don't you give credit, if you do something good for ten days and you goof up on the 11th day...
SCHLESSINGER: You should get credit. But that still means you are not entitled to do bad things and get away with it.
KING: I got it. OK, but you should get credit.
SCHLESSINGER: You should get lumped up every day for the good things you are doing. That is an important part of a good marriage.
KING: Freemont, Ohio, Hello.
CALLER: Dr. Laura, and hello, Larry. It's really good to talk to both of you.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: Dr. Laura, I am kind of a new fan, and I have been listening to you daily for about the last couple of weeks and I do have a question but I also want to say that I became pregnant at 32 about 20 years ago -- not quite 20 years ago and my son, I have remained single, I have raised him and I have to tell you that it has been my relationship with the church that has really helped me to do that. And I feel really solid and strong and I have a lot of joy in my life.
CALLER: My question is this. I'm curious as to what you think about the amount of people who are using anti-depressant drugs. I recognize that there are biological problems and there are...
CALLER: ... mental illness and emotional problems. It just seems like there are so many people using anti-depressants to get through their life.
KING: I think it's the No. 1 seller in the pharmaceutical industry.
SCHLESSINGER: Where somebody has a frank clinical disorder of depression and they -- the therapy combined with medication, the medication isn't there, you have a higher suicide rate. So for people who are clearly and frankly clinically depressed, the medication is often a life saver to help them get through the awful time so they can learn better how to function.
I would agree that a lot of medications of all sorts of are being misused as people want things easy. Do you remember there was a commercial for you just drank some liquid that was in a tablet and you lost weight and it was like exercise. It's amazing to me how we want it easy.
KING: Stupid liaisons.
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, my gosh, I had this call today, one that fit right into that chapter. That has mostly to do with how you allow the relationship, say with your own biological family, to interfere here. They've been married 27 years, the kids are all grown up and out and she is still screaming on a daily basis about how all his allegiance is to his family.
She said our daughter is 25 and she needed to do her resume and he wouldn't help her but the next day his brother called and needed help with his resume and he was right there to do it. And he was on the phone. I said is that so? And he said, yes. And I said, why didn't you help your daughter? He said well, because she could have the school counselor do it. I said why didn't you do it, you're her dad?
I don't know, I think it had something to do that I was busy at work. And it was really clear that his total focus was on his biological family. This was really unhealthy. So I said to him, gee, you seem to be very attached to your family -- brilliant insight -- and he said, well, blood is thicker than water. And I said to her well, you should have done a lucretia and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because unless he's married to his sister you're not going to get the attention.
And you know, three decades into that I suggested she get busy with community affairs, learn how to dance, take up a hobby.
KING: Hometown, Illinois, Hello.
Yes, oh I'm sorry, we lost it. I didn't mean to hang up. I was going to ask her, when people ask you, what's your hometown? What do you say hometown? Stupid mismatch.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, stupid mismatch is chapter nine. It goes together with stupid breakups. It is amazing how many people don't look -- they are looking square in the face of, I shouldn't be going forward and tend do it anyway, which is one of the reasons I recommend, against out of wedlock sex, buying homes together, shacking up because this is the time period where a decision needs to be made. But when we have the behaviors of a decision already made, it's very hard to be objective and we find ourselves stuck in places we ought not be.
KING: An adult couple who do not wish to have children, why do they have to be married?
SCHLESSINGER: I'm a religious person. I come from the sacraments for everything. The obligation, the vows, the commitment in the eyes of God, to me...
KING: If you're not religious there's no reason to be married, if you don't want children. Why?
SCHLESSINGER: I think that our society is held together by respect for these public voicings of commitment. I think that these strengthen our society. I don't see why we would want to toss them.
KING: Hometown, Illinois. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Dr. Laura, I'm a fan of yours. I know a couple that has a husband that he doesn't want to do what she want to do, just goes out where he wants to go, he sees his ex-wife he says because of his children and always complains about money. He doesn't give her any money and always complains about money and he refuses to go to marriage counseling. Do you think this lady should get a divorce or stay with him?
KING: Do you ever recommend divorce?
SCHLESSINGER: I recommend divorce for what I call the triple A, it's not the Automobile Club of America. It's adultery, affairs and abuse. Abuse can come in many forms, punching out is one. There are a lot of people and it's more typically the woman, very dependent and frightened about life, happy to be connected, let somebody else control things and then he does. Other people look at it and see, this is terrible. But sometimes people in that polarity find a place that's comfortable. That's her description of them. I wonder what the woman's description would be of her own life.
KING: The final stupidity is stupid breakups. We'll ask about that when we come back.
KING: We are going to take another call. First let me ask about the tenth stupid thing and that is stupid breakups.
SCHLESSINGER: It's probably the saddest chapter because more often than not relationships can survive just about anything if people are committed. And I remember so often reading research that says that people go through difficult times, they're sure they want a divorce they can't stand each other and they don't see any hope. And they don't because they have a commitment to their kids, to their vows, whatever.
In five years they go back and talk to these people and most of them, I think 80-85 percent were grateful they didn't leave. People need to be a little more patient. And you know what, the cutest, most touching thing is to see two people 85, 90 years old walking in the park holding hands. Because they survived it like a war movie, buddies who go through things together, become friends forever, when we go through things together, that builds a depth you can't get from just a quickie, so to speak.
KING: Indianapolis. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: Dr. Laura, I dated this lady for four years and she had major surgery in September and I went over to her house two days a week to take her out to dinner and helped her through and brought her flowers and everything.
SCHLESSINGER: That was very sweet.
CALLER: And then the day after she went back to work, which was right after Thanksgiving, she dumped me and she didn't even come over Thanksgiving because she said she found somebody else. And I even...
SCHLESSINGER: When she was convalescing, when did she find somebody else?
CALLER: She must have found him a long time ago, because I asked her when she was in the hospital. In fact, she left the hospital early. She had major surgery on Tuesday and went home from the hospital on Thursday morning because she didn't want us to run into each other.
KING: What's your question?
CALLER: And she just dumped me over it. I just wonder why you think people lie about things like that an take advantage of people?
SCHLESSINGER: Because they're incredibly self-centered. As I've said to men when they call telling me this, get on your knees and say thank you God, she's gone.
KING: But it's hard to be dumped. It's hard to be the dumper.
SCHLESSINGER: But you know what, in four years -- I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to him -- why are we dating for four years? Why not two and get married? Why are we dating -- you know something, if we asked him to describe the four years of their relationship, he wouldn't describe somebody who was loving and giving. He's probably the guy who was brought up in a home where to survive he had to keep working his mom or working his dad in order to make the household be a certain way. What happens when the kids grow up is they find somebody difficult and remote and keep doing the same behaviors.
KING: Why do you like what you do since most of the people you talk to are calling in conflict and unhappy?
SCHLESSINGER: Because they're calling, which means they have hope and they have a desire to be better.
KING: That's their point of view. But you.
SCHLESSINGER: I'm not here to help anybody feel better per se. I'm here to help people get better. When they get better and do better, they will feel better. I derive joy from being helpful. It's as simple as that.
KING: Even though you're hearing painful things all the time.
SCHLESSINGER: But you see, I see that as very positive because they're reaching out. That's positive.
KING: Thank you, Laura, as always.
SCHLESSINGER: Thank you.
KING: Our guest has been Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Her new book is "10 Stupid Things Couples Do To Mess Up Their Relationships." She has written five other best-sellers. This one is published by Cliff Street Books, a division of Harper Collins. When we come back, we'll tell you about tomorrow night and other things. You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: By the way, a lady who is always the subject of controversy it seems, Martha Stewart, is going to be our guest Thursday night. We'll talk about her and Kmart and a lot of other things. She, of course, one of the more industrious business women in the United States.
Tomorrow night, Dr. Phil. He's the most popular guest on Oprah. He'll be with us tomorrow evening for the full hour. Aaron Brown has the night off so guess who's sitting in on NEWSNIGHT. Let's see. Who's our man in need, indeed, there he is, my man himself, the kid from Buffalo -- Wolf.
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