The Mystique of A Woman (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: You're listening to Family Talk, the radio broadcasting division of the James Dobson Family Institute. I am that James Dobson and I'm so pleased that you've joined us today.

Roger Marsh: In 1963, Betty Friedan, one of the key leaders of the so-called "second wave feminism," published her a seminal book called The Feminine Mystique. Ms. Friedan was an outspoken supporter of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and in her book, she defined "feminine mystique" as a societal ideal that imprisoned women in traditional gender roles. Ms. Friedan claimed that society had imposed an unfair ideal on women, telling them that they should be completely satisfied being wives, mothers, and homemakers. Was this book a radical misdirect from a subversive? Well, we certainly think so. I'm Roger Marsh and you are listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

Our guest on today's edition of Family Talk also believed that women have untapped potential, but that this potential can and should be realized within a woman's God-given unique femininity. Her name was Jean Lush. The late Jean Lush was an author and certified counselor with Crista Ministries in Seattle, Washington. For over three decades, she offered insight into the dynamics of womanhood via her ministry and published works. Jean Lush co-authored many books, including Women and Stress: Practical Ways to Manage Tension, and the best seller, Emotional Phases of a Woman's Life.

Jean Lush attended the University of Adelaide in South Australia and was one of the first women certified as a marriage counselor in the State of Washington. In 1986, Dr. Dobson and Jean Lush sat down together to share a new, more positive definition of the feminine mystique. As you're about to hear, a woman's mystique is not what she does or doesn't do occupationally, but rather how she lives and the unique mystery and intelligent femininity that she brings to her marriage and her circle of influence. This conversation was almost prophetic in the way that they address the importance of gender roles in male/female relationships, and in all areas of a functioning society.

The confusion around gender that permeates our culture today is a sad departure from the good sense and biblical principles that you will hear in today's classic program. Jean Lush was a frequent in-studio guest with Dr. Dobson from the time they met in the early 1980s, until she passed away in 1996. Let's listen in now to their conversation, one that we're calling, "The Mystique of a Woman," right here on Family Talk.

Dr. James Dobson: Today, I want to talk to you about the feminine mystique. Many of us feel that the modern feminist movement began with the book by that name, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Of course, she had a very different interpretation of that phrase, feminine mystique, than what I want to talk to you about, but you do believe that there is a kind of a feminine persona that should be cultivated and maintained.

Jean Lush: Yes, I am very eager about this subject because I see it's lacking in Christian women. A search began years ago when I was seeing so much breakdown in the forties. Women would be married about 20 years at the time, and the breakdown was rising rapidly, at least in our area and my caseload was full of them. A lot of men complained about women being boring. They made funny little remarks, like, "If I want to talk about anything politically going on, I've got to talk to the people in my office. My wife sure doesn't keep up with anything, and yet once she was a bright lady." Stuff like that I was constantly hearing.

One occasion, I was very concerned about the breakdown, where the wife was a "good woman," an unusually good woman, and had done everything so well. Had been so supportive to this guy, had got him on and everything. I think I was a little perturbed to see that he, I had found out, you see, he had a mistress at this time. I think I was very involved in the unfairness of the situation, and I finally said, "But what could you possibly see in this other woman that measures up to your wife?" Now, I learnt more now than to say that.

Dr. James Dobson: You wouldn't ask him now.

Jean Lush: I wouldn't ask him now. You know what he said? "Oh, yes." He said, "My wife is the best woman I know." He said, "If I give her up, I will never have another like her." Then he said, "I know the other woman is not, can't measure up to my wife." He said, "She turns my mind on." He said, "I've gotten to so many new things since I met her. My wife never does." Like he saw goodness in every way, but he needed to be stimulated, you see, more than that. The mistake this precious lady had made was to stop still.

Dr. James Dobson: Boy that scares me, Jean, because-

Jean Lush: I know it's scary.

Dr. James Dobson: I hear an awful lot of women who say they go back to work just for that reason, because they are afraid they won't be stimulating and up to the minute in what's going on if they're not out in the world. You're not saying that.

Jean Lush: No, I'm certainly not, and that's an over simplistic viewpoint. Because good grief, the woman in the home has got advantage of some tremendous learning experience that she really does. Why, look at the wonderful new crafts and a lot of things. Now the educational advantages, school now is part of our daily life, and come here to stay. The woman at home has I think fabulous opportunities to grow and to be something. Not only that, I feel like it's almost unfair. She's got such wide choices, you see, someone supports her while she goes out and does some growing too. Listen, I want to say this. Look, when I had to stay home with three kids, it was wartime, and in Australia we were hard worked in wartime, everybody.

Dr. James Dobson: You came here in 1952 from Australia.

Jean Lush: After the war. Yes. I was home with three little kids and the first two were no easy street. As I've explained to you, some of the mischief they got into, you can't beat it. They were hard to raise, two of my kids, but I found wonderful chances of growing. I caught up on all the things I'd never had a chance. I organized my time so I always got two hours every day for study. It was good for the kids, because suddenly I brought more organization into their life so that I could do more. I set programs for myself year after year to learn something new that year. I didn't go out to learn it. I got materials to learn. Did quite a bit of disciplined study.

Dr. James Dobson: Do you recommend that kind of thing for wives at home?

Jean Lush: You bet I do.

Dr. James Dobson: That in terms of communicating with their husbands, they do need to continue to stay sharp and involved.

Jean Lush: Absolutely. Yes. Look, I think this is terribly important. Now look back at for a moment at the nature of a man. A woman likes perhaps to be comfortable. I do. I love security. I don't particularly want change all the time. I can live a very dull life and be happy with little things say, but you know, that's not the way with a man. A man, remember, was born to conquer, to seek, to search, to be ever have a challenge. He's built that way mostly. Look at your history of your country. You see this, don't you, all the time, that men want a challenge. Why should a woman think that she can sit back and become dull? When she should know that perhaps about a male, that he's got to have something in a sense to conquer. If he knows every blessed thing about her, what is there more to stimulate him?

Dr. James Dobson: All right, Jean, that takes us right to that word mystique. Talk Jean to a young woman. The Bible says the mature women are supposed to talk to the younger women. Talk to a younger woman about this mystique.

Jean Lush: All right.

Dr. James Dobson: She's been married for one year, two years, three years, and she wants to maintain that excitement that was there when they first got married. What specifically does she do in the relationship with her husband?

Jean Lush: I think she pays always attention to the way she looks, because after all this stimulates a man's feeling.

Dr. James Dobson: He's visual, isn't he?

Jean Lush: He's very visual.

Dr. James Dobson: She doesn't have to be beautiful.

Jean Lush: Oh no.

Dr. James Dobson: She does need to be neat. She does need to be, she should not be slovenly.

Jean Lush: Important. That's the thing I want to stress here. Yeah. Because now today even women who once weren't considered at all pretty have a lot of means to be beautiful. Really every woman can really literally be beautiful today. We don't appreciate certain kind of baby prettiness that we used to. That we have so many aids to beauty today that it's a wonderful time for women, every woman can look lovely today.

Dr. James Dobson: All right, so she needs to take care of her physical body.

Jean Lush: Not only that, I'm going to add this. I think she needs to develop a kind of style for herself. There's a lot of help to do that today.

Dr. James Dobson: Something that says this is you.

Jean Lush: This is essentially you, and this color or this style makes you look the best you can ever be. That's what I meant by the word high style. Lots of help for that today. Another thing, it's very economical to develop her own style. You don't buy endless bargains. You know where you're heading, and I find it is extremely economical to go that way. I've cut my wardrobe down just to one or two things. Boring perhaps, but I keep to those things and it helps me an awful lot. I don't have choices all the time like that.

Dr. James Dobson: It makes a statement again of who you are.

Jean Lush: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: Okay.

Jean Lush: Because I've taken to wearing the color cream an awful lot, I wear most of the time and I feel good in it, and somehow I have a feeling, this is me. This would be the style. I never thought of wearing cream all through the winter, but I've become known for it among my friends of the way I wear cream. This makes me feel good. I really was seedy all those years.

Dr. James Dobson: Oh, I don't believe that.

Jean Lush: Oh yes. Maybe my personality. You know what I mean? I got away with murder and looked awful in terms of I wasn't paying attention to those factors that I should have been.

Dr. James Dobson: What else is in that mystique?

Jean Lush: All right. I'm going to say now her environment. Men do not like sloppy environment. In my particular counseling, many husbands in one research I did of 150 couples, and I was checking out the factors progressively that people complain about, particularly that men complain about was my thrust here. I was surprised to find in the first five years of marriage, there were more men complained about slovenly, poor housekeeping than they did even sex or any other thing. Do you know that beauty is energy creating? For a woman to create a beautiful environment, she is giving energy to those around her. I often like to think of the fountains in the poorer areas of great cities of the world. Why do we put them there? Because everybody needs beauty, it's stimulating.

Dr. James Dobson: You draw inspiration from it too.

Jean Lush: We do really. Not only that, you draw energy at looking at something beautiful. I can't help thinking, of course, of the famous poem of Wordsworth "To the Daffodils." You remember, he ends up by saying he was so inspired by that great field of yellow daffodils that he said he often remembers it when on my couch I lie in vacant or in pensive mood. They flash upon that inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude. In other words, over and over came back the vision of the loveliness of those flowers. It forms a memory and even the memory itself recreates energy. Now isn't that a good reason why we should work very hard at making our homes lovely? You don't need a lot of money for that. You know what I mean? A woman can make it on very little. Goodness, some of the places I've lived in. Women must learn that.

Dr. James Dobson: You have really coped with what could be considered poverty in your life, haven't you, Jean?

Jean Lush: Pretty poor time. Yeah.

Dr. James Dobson: You didn't think of yourself as being in poverty, but you are not a woman of affluence.

Jean Lush: Oh no. I can't ever think of life with Lyle as poverty, because he was always been an exciting person. I would hate to say that, because after all I married an artist, and artists have a hard time, but he's a man that worked hard and he was very proud of always what he did, all the way along. I'd say my life's been ups and downs. Sometimes the better than other times, and my childhood was-

Dr. James Dobson: I brought that out to make it clear you are not referring to affluence here. You're not saying you've got to live above your means, because there are a lot of people doing that already.

Jean Lush: Oh no. Oh my goodness. No, because I think we can create beauty. Beauty comes from the taste. You know what I mean? The things we cherish, and also it comes from our motivation, don't you think?

Dr. James Dobson: Sure.

Jean Lush: To make things lovely. With a strong motive for that, I think we can create beauty.

Dr. James Dobson: Well, Jean, what else is on your list there?

Jean Lush: Now we've got to change to something entirely different. I want to talk a little bit about the attitude toward people now. This is very important. I'm going to say the attitude toward both men and women. It's very interesting the kind of element, and I think this is learned behavior, the few things I'm going to talk about now. She can be trusted by other people. Our woman of mystique is a very good friend. She often provides some element in a friendship that nobody else can for that person. It is said, you remember, of the Prince of Wales, that the Duchess of Windsor who so fascinated him, his future wife, provided an element of understanding nobody had ever given him before. It was something special, you see, that he'd never had.

This person also not only can be trusted utterly, she doesn't reveal confidences, and she has the power to lift depression in others. She doesn't zero in on her own needs. She isn't a dumper all the time. She provides good cheer. She tends to be amusing to others. It's very important in her relationship with men. Men do not like all the time coping with women's needs or women's moods. I mean, they're going to learn to do it and they struggle with it, but I don't think they like it particularly. In a way, this woman doesn't get to that place where she's tiring to men by dumping her own needs in on the relationship, whether it's her husband or whether it's somebody else. Now, another very important element here, I found that she never showed jealousy. Jealousy is a hateful thing in a woman. She's not a woman who really gossips. This is control. Now again, talking about self-discipline and things that you can really learn.

Dr. James Dobson: Is the opposite of this list that you're giving us right now, Jean, very common? You find women do have a tendency to do those things?

Jean Lush: Yes I do. Men complain about it. I've heard a lot of complaints to men that, and I'll use their word, "She bad mouthed others in my presence." It seems to be very distasteful. See, that doesn't go along with beauty and charm, does it?

Dr. James Dobson: Hardly.

Jean Lush: When we say yucky, ugly things about another person. If a woman wants mystique, she has to discipline that. She doesn't have that kind of luxury of bad mouthing others. That has to be disciplined out of her life because I think that's... It's no good her looking gorgeous, then ugly things coming out of her mouth. You can discipline that. That's a thing you'll feel very good when you stop doing that kind of thing.

Dr. James Dobson: Can she share those things with other women?

Jean Lush: Some of them, but I do think that women need discipline, because even something nasty said to another woman about another friend's going to get around.

Dr. James Dobson: The one to whom you say it wonders what you say about her when you're with someone else.

Jean Lush: You bet she does, you see. Yes. We're looking at something destructive. I know it's common among women, but I am suggesting we ought to work at that. It's not a spiritual quality in a woman. We are warned about that, aren't we?

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah. The Bible's pretty explicit about that.

Jean Lush: Very explicit about that. Isn't there some verse about even the bearer of bad news, you know what I mean? Don't bear bad news.

Dr. James Dobson: James talks about what the tongue can do.

Jean Lush: Yes. Here I think we're onto a very Bible based thing when we say this must be disciplined. A woman has no charm if she does that.

Dr. James Dobson: Jean, can a woman compete in a corporation and move toward the top of the ladder without losing her mystique?

Jean Lush: Oh yes. I think with mystique, she's going to get there pretty easily. Really I do, because after all a man respects the full woman. You see, he wants her to be a full woman. He doesn't want her to be like him, because how could he deal with that? A woman who is half man, how could he deal with that? I think that a woman must use all her proper womanly charm in the proper way. They want a woman still to be a woman. They're going to respect her all right, but they're going to expect the brains of a woman in a woman. Do you see? It's a different kind. They need that because she's going to bring in new aspects of thinking.

For instance, I find that women often notice details and it's a detail that might throw the costing. Men want from women what they have got that men don't have, so why should they pretend to be like any other man? I don't think it makes sense at all. Women have got a lot to offer industry because especially, if I dare say, in the way they think about costing. Women tend to be careful over details. Women are quick to find the little floor that might spoil the whole thing. Men, after all, often do see the overall picture and feel the little things that might be brought up to worry about, they say, "Ah, don't let's bother with it now we'll face it when we come." "She'll be Jake." Haven't you heard that? In other words, it'll disappear when we get to it. A woman will say, "No, I think we should face it now." I've seen that.

I think a woman has something special to offer any of the realms you mentioned. Politics, business, I don't care what it is, woman has something special, but I do think she must be her own charming self to make that specialness accepted by others. I have some strong feelings about that actually.

Dr. James Dobson: We're talking about a mystique, trying to define that almost indefinable something that makes you respect a woman, whether it's in marriage or, as we're talking about now, in the corporate world. What else is on the list?

Jean Lush: I think that these women that I would say have charm also had insights into human nature. Another thing, they're very honest about themselves. They can be, because after all, this is the base of growth, isn't it? That they are willing to look carefully at the hang-ups in themselves. She knows all her own weaknesses. Can I say about myself? There's a few things I like about myself, and one of those is I have the capacity to know the weaknesses. I know my hang-ups and I'm not ashamed of them. I'm not sure that I cover them up anymore because it's a waste of time. I wonder if knowing our weaknesses as well as our strengths isn't pretty important to give us a kind of, we're relaxing, aren't we, to be with other people.

Dr. James Dobson: That's consistent with my definition of the mystique, which is that quiet, inner confidence, where you can even accept your faults and not be embarrassed about them.

Jean Lush: Yes. Sometimes people mistake this in me for saying I have a very low self-esteem, but I believe this is part of my strengths. You know what I mean? To know, and to be very free about admitting what I can't do, what I have difficulty in. I have a lot of silly weaknesses, you see, which people don't expect to find, but that's okay. You see, I accept all these things now. I don't let them bother me anymore, though I have many areas I wish that weren't there, but I accept them now as part of myself. You have to be able to do that, to have strength as well.

Very often though, these women have a balance of, nowadays we are calling it left and right brain kind of elements. That they're neither one way or the other, particularly, they move back and forth. We do find that often women have that capacity. It is said of one ex-president's wife, when people talk a great deal about her lovely, gentle, feminine charm, her husband, who was president, said, "Ha-ha." He said, "If we were all on a yacht together, guess who would get to shore first? It is my wife." I'll leave you to imagine the rest of the story. It is said at that lady that a lot of her charm lies in a marvelous balance that-

Dr. James Dobson: Jean, we've forgotten that, haven't we? We have in the last 20 years or so blended the two personalities together to the point that we really believe there's only one sex.

Jean Lush: Right.

Dr. James Dobson: That those marvelous differences which make us complete, each representing an aspect of God's personality, we're incomplete, separate, but we're complete whole and "viva la difference."

Jean Lush: Well, I hate the leveling off. I don't like it in a lot of ways. I think a lot of cultures should try to keep their own gorgeous differences alive. They should respect it. Especially men and women must keep what is essential to themselves. Don't you think that's part of their attraction, their charm? We live a life of strain if we have to be unisex. I really resent that. Cutting the hair all the same, you know what I mean? The sad part of it is then we tend to mask the differences and we must know the differences between the male and female sex in order to get along. It's the struggling to think we're all one, I think it's causing a lot of strain right now in what's going on.

Dr. James Dobson: Let's bring this discussion of the mystique in for a landing. Anything else you need to say about it?

Jean Lush: A woman of mystique is not a weak person, is what I'm really trying to say. She is not. She has a lot of strength. Look, you need strength to make changes. You need strength to discipline yourself. You need strength to grow. We are not talking about a wimpy doormat-ish kind of woman, are we?

Dr. James Dobson: The description in Proverbs 31 certainly is a representative of a woman of mystique, isn't it?

Jean Lush: Oh yes. Because goodness, a lot of things we've talked about here we do find in her, don't we? A woman who worked hard and who was skilled, she was clever. She managed well. We're not talking about a doormat, are we there?

Dr. James Dobson: Her children rise up and call her blessed. I'm really amazed, Jean, at how much of our conversation today links into what I tried to write in Love Must Be Tough. People often see that book as advice to those who are going through infidelity in a partner or other serious marital breakup, but it's much broader than that. I was trying to talk about relationships, about respect in the relationship, how love for one another is usually a product of the way we see one another, and the way we see one another is a product of the way we see ourselves.

When I treat myself disrespectfully, when I strip myself bare before my partner, when I grovel, when I cry, when I show all of my insecurities, when every thought that runs through my head is laid out on the table and the other person is not so mature and is not doing that, and is reserved and not sure about whether they want the relationship to continue. That kind of grabbing and holding, that kind of disrespect for ourselves destroys the mystique. In some ways it's related to that other word of respect or confidence. All those things are all in the pot together there somewhere, aren't they?

Jean Lush: Yes, they are. It is hard to separate one from another or say which begins which. I wish there were such simple steps. Because we are dealing with something quite mysterious, aren't we, when we are talking about developing mystique? I'm going to go on finding more and more factors that I can lift out and say this is part of it, until we do have even more on this subject.

Dr. James Dobson: Bless you, my friend. It's been good to have you here.

Jean Lush: Thank you.

Roger Marsh: You've been listening to Family Talk and Dr. Dobson's classic interview with Jean Lush on the topic of "The Mystique of a Woman." To listen to any part of today's program that you might have missed, or to share it with a friend, please visit That's, or give us a call at (877) 732-6825. Remember, you can also interact with other listeners as well as us here at the Dobson Institute when you visit us on our Facebook page. Go to and then search for Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. We always share the daily broadcast, brand new videos, encouraging words from Dr. Dobson and much more. Join us on Facebook today. Well, I'm Roger Marsh thanking you for listening today and reminding you to join us again next time for another insightful edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

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