This is the third review in a series of posts about books for married men.
For Men Only (and the counterpart For Women Only) by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn were required reading when Emma and I went through our marriage counseling. They’re quick reads - but they were also some of the most helpful books we read.
For Men Only is really a guide to understanding why women do certain things. It’s broken down into six categories - “Key Findings About Women” - that were noted handily in a “Quick Start Guide” right inside the front cover. The six areas are outlined briefly below.
Reassurance: Shaunti, speaking with a woman’s perspective, writes “It’s irrelevant whether she should ‘know logically’ that she’s loved. If she doesn’t feel loved, it’s the same for her as if she isn’t loved.” So what do we do for our wives to combat this? The key is “Even after you’ve caught her, continue to pursue her.”
Emotions: Women, the book says, multitask in their thoughts much more than men - and often on subjects or topics that they don’t want to! They often struggle to move past thoughts about insecurities or uncertainties, rather than being able to put things off to deal with later. What can we do about it? Not much. But it helps a lot to recognize that if your wife seems overly caught on something or nags, it’s how she’s made, biologically.
Security: Not financial security. Relationship security. See Closeness and Loyalty in Love and Respect - it seems that the Feldhans called women’s focus on the relationship Security, while Dr. Eggreichs broke it into the two categories Closeness and Loyalty. What does a man do to make his woman feel more secure? Give more time, effort, and thought to her than you do to your job.
Listening: It is the solution. For emotional problems, at least. Women, a lot of the time, don’t actually want something fixed. They don’t want you to tell them how to deal. They know how - they just have to talk about it. You just have to listen and ask intelligent questions (this proves you’re really listening). Remember, the facts don’t matter nearly as much as how she feels about them.
Sex: “While you want to be genuinely desired by your wife, her lower level of desire for sex probably has nothing to do with your desirability.” The Feldhahns describe five reasons why women just don’t want sex as much, and none of them have anything to do with us dudes not being hunks. They also mention that working on the other five key findings is likely to improve this one. So get on it.
Beauty: “Even if a woman knows in her head that her husband finds her beautiful, she still needs to hear it.” Imagine your wife as a four or five or six year old girl, emotionally, wearing a ‘whirly dress’ as my wife calls them, twirling in the living room for her father. She wants to hear that she is beautiful. If someone tells her that, sincerely and often, she’ll know that they love her. That is your job. Tell her, sincerely and often, how beautiful she is.
Those six things are covered pretty deeply, and boy does it help! The book won’t give you answers to why God made women so blasted hard to understand, and it may not even give you much success in understanding them, but having a way to react and a little more knowledge of how a woman thinks makes things all the more harmonious. There’s a little surprise for husbands in the end of the book, and it’s a good one, but I won’t spoil it here. Go read the book!