"Judy Steinberg Dean is irrelevant to her husband's campaign." Plus: Readers respond to "Mommy Mail" and Salon's marriage series.

By Salon Staff
Published December 10, 2003 8:46PM (EST)

[Read "Dr. Dean, Medicine Woman," by Rebecca Traister.]

I think your writer missed a very important point in Dr. Steinberg's story. As a husband to a physician I must tell you that medicine is a very jealous suitor. I'm sure that Howard Dean understands that, and Dr. Steinberg, as a very dedicated physician, understands it perfectly.

The doctor-patient relationship is more important to a dedicated physician than any external "rank" bestowed upon her, because it comes from something that is irreplaceable: a personal connection with people who intimately depend on you and you alone for their well-being. While living in that bubble of interdependency, there isn't much that can compete with it.

If you understand this, you realize that from her point of view, Steinberg is irrelevant to her husband's campaign and his campaign is irrelevant to her.

If Dean wins, there will be some very interesting times in their household.

-- Michael Miles

If Judy Steinberg Dean wants to raise her kids and treat her patients, I think she's already doing more than her share of public service. I think we should respect that.

In the meantime, we need to learn more about candidate Dean. We need to see him flesh out his policies. We need to see just how much he can energize Democrats. And we need to see just how big a defeat he can bring to George Bush and the politics of division, base emotions, fear and hatred.

-- Kevin Lyda

Rebecca Traister's article on Judy Steinberg Dean was well-written and interesting. However, her not-too-subtle dig at the religious right was uncalled for: "Those voters who do take issue with an interfaith couple likely won't be voting for Howard Dean anyway."

What the hell does that mean? Are you saying that those of us on the right can't handle a Jewish first lady or an interfaith couple? That's a load of crap if I ever heard one; almost all voters of one faith or another can respect faiths of all different kinds. Ms. Traister overestimates the import of that issue by several orders of magnitude.

Her statement is best rephrased: "Those voters bothered by their interfaith marriage are likely too ignorant to actually be voting."

-- Jim Tung

I am sick and tired of the idea that having housekeeping skills is somehow shameful. I am a smart, college-educated mother of three and I bake a mean batch of cookies. Plus I can my own salsa and jam. Apparently this means I'm some kind of pod person. I'm currently home full time, but when my kids are bigger I plan to enter local politics or government. Will anyone ask my husband for his cookie recipe? Doubtful. (Though he does make a mean baklava, if anyone asks!)

If I ran for a regional office, would anyone expect my husband to quit his job so he could stand behind me, hanging on my every word? He's an I.T. professional, and I'm sure the whole process would be torture for him. I think he would do his best, but I know it's just not his thing. Howard Dean seems to truly value his family, and respects their wishes. The ones who want to participate are doing so, and the ones who don't are sitting on the sidelines.

-- Meredith Seppanen

[Read "Mommy Mail," by Katy Read.]

I'm six months pregnant with my first child and it seems that I've been bombarded with "mommy mail" ever since friends and family found out I was expecting. Aside from being schmaltzy and glorifying a martyred view of motherhood, these e-mails underscore the attitude that my partner and I find most intimidating as we approach parenthood: the sense that we'll never enjoy any adult activities again. Our lives will be solely determined by our sacrifices, so we can forget going out for sushi or watching "The Shield" while having a second or third beer. (Of course, "mommy mail" would have us believe that we won't even miss our salmon-and-cucumber rolls.)

No doubt motherhood will bring joys and trials that we can't anticipate quite yet, but I for one fully intend to rail against such a reductionist view.

-- Kelley Smith

Katy Read's article on mommy mail had me nodding along with every line. Jokes and chain letters I automatically delete, but what is it about those treacly e-mails that gets me to read them?

Read described perfectly how they simultaneously convey reverence and disgust for mothers. And how they make you feel all creepy afterward.

-- Susan Ochs-Scher

I really enjoyed Katy Read's article about mommy mail. I am childfree by choice and maybe not fully in the loop as to the culture of moms. But it seems that instead of celebrating moms, our society, at some very deep, sick level, wants to make their jobs harder by making them think they are never good enough. I know great moms who feel guilty for going back to work after their kids are born and others who feel guilty for staying home. Ms. Read's piece should remind us not to be so hard on ourselves and each other.

-- S. Smith

[Read "The State of Your Unions."]

Ms. McGregor's essay on how she and her husband found their way back to their marriage was such a beautiful example of honesty and openness that it brought tears to my eyes.

I observed my own parents go through their own crisis and come through it to a stronger, healthier marriage. My own faith in the strength of my marriage, come what may, is derived from my parents' strength of commitment.

Bravo to Ms. McGregor and her husband, and to all couples who overcome hurt and disappointment to discover the love that lies beyond that.

-- Elizabeth

S. McGregor's incredibly powerful story touched me in ways that I didn't know that I could be touched. I recently went through a breakup with a woman that I dated for 18 months. I have been confused, hurt, indignant and lonely. Reading McGregor's poignant story made me realize just how lucky I am to be single again, as we broke up over relatively minor compatibility issues. By allowing us to sit in the counselor's office with her and sharing her innermost feelings, McGregor demonstrated a maturity and self-awareness that cut right through the sentimental fog that has enveloped me since I was unceremoniously dumped. Marriages (and long-term relationships) can be truly successful only when both parties take full responsibility for their actions and emotions and are willing to risk it all and tap into the love that brought them together in the first place.

-- Robert Dickson

Salon Staff

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