This is a guest post from my lovely wife. I’m including it in my series of reviews of books for married men since it is the original book from which For Men Only was derived. I will say that the book (which I haven’t read yet) has helped me a ton, since it’s helped my wife love me, and a loving wife is the most precious gift God has given me aside from salvation.
If you’re a married guy, and your wife hasn’t read this book, I’d recommend picking it up today and taking it home. If you’re a wife, here’s a brief rundown of what’s in the book - read this, and then go read the book. If you prayerfully take it to heart, it can make quite a difference in your marriage!
For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men by Shaunti Feldhahn was a gift from my father before Stick and I got married as well as one of the books used for our premarital counseling. It contains a lot of surprising information (surprising to me, at least; guys seem to think that we already know it) and has helped me understand my husband’s actions much more since I read it. It discusses six areas which women need to understand about their husbands. These areas are discussed briefly below.
- “Respect” - This chapter coincides to some degree with the book Love and Respect. It challenges women to give their man unconditional respect in the same way that they desire unconditional love from him. But this chapter gives a list of areas where we as women can disrespect our husbands daily without realizing it.
- Respect his judgment. Don’t shoot down his opinions, question his knowledge in a given subject, or argue with his decisions.
- Respect his abilities. Shaunti puts it this way, “The next time your husband stubbornly drives in circles, ask yourself what is more important: being on time to the party or his feeling trusted. No contest.” [Stick’s note: Men, if you are driving around in circles, man up and ask for directions. You can even just call Google.]
- Respect him in your communication. The next time he forgets something, think about this before you start nagging - “Inherent in her reminder [of what I haven’t done] is a statement of disappointment. For me as a man, that is saying that I failed. I hate to fail. It’s not the statement that bothers me; it’s the implications of the statement.”
- Respect your husband in public. You need to be your husband’s biggest cheerleader. If you build your husband up to other people, he will feel just as loved as you would if he surprised you with roses, a fancy dinner, and a weekend getaway somewhere romantic. [Men - do the same for your wives! Never break her down in front of anyone!]
- Respect your husband in your assumptions. Don’t assume he needs to be reminded about something - his priorities may have just placed that task below where it is for you. Assume that he’s got the best of intentions and your marriage will be the stronger for it.
“The Imposter” - Men, according to the book, always feel like they are an imposter. They are terrified that someone will find out. This is why our teasing can hurt so much - men spend all their time and energy keeping up that confident exterior and so any mention of his weaknesses to other people will be like a knife into his heart. This is easy to solve - affirm him. Tell him that he can do anything, that he is your hero, that you are proud of him.
“The Burden” - Men feel weighed down by the need to provide for their families, but that they wouldn’t change it if they could. Providing can be a strong way that men try to show love to their wives. Now contrast that with how women usually act when the man is working long hours - “he doesn’t love me because he works so much.” Think of it this way - if you want him to reaffirm that he loves you all the time, why shouldn’t you affirm him for his provisions for your family?
“Sex Changes Everything: Why sex unlocks a Man’s Emotions” - There is a relationship between a man’s “imposter” feelings and sex - namely that your desiring him relieves the feelings of inadequacy, gives him confidence, and makes him feel loved. The message of this chapter is clear: 1 Cor 7:5.
“The Visual Rolodex” - Most men have unwanted visual images (mainly sexual ones) that pop up in their brains at the most inopportune times and that are very hard to be rid of. This shouldn’t be that hard for a woman to understand - most of us have unwanted memories/things to do that act the same for us. It’s not that your husband doesn’t love you, it’s how his brain works. If he loves you, he’ll stop himself from looking at or thinking about unholy things (other women, sex with someone other than you, etc.) as soon as he realizes it, but realize that he is fighting this battle and cut him some slack every once in a while. If you want to erase that ‘visual rolodex,’ why not try to fill it up with ‘pictures’ of you?
“Chocolate, Flowers, Bait Fishing” - Men do want romance in their relationships, but are unsure of themselves when making the romantic move. They don’t want to fail at this most important thing, and any side comment from you about something that didn’t work quite right will send them running for the hills (and they won’t come back, romantically speaking, for a VERY long time). So when your husband tries to set up a romantic evening, don’t point out the things that didn’t go right…he already has been beating himself up over it. Instead, give him positive feedback - what did you love about it? Keep in mind, however, that the male idea of romance doesn’t quite mesh up with yours - he wants your undivided attention at ANYTHING - playing catch or putt-putt can be romantic for him because you are completely focused on having fun with him. He has all your attention and that is the ultimate of romance. Finally, when men plan a romantic evening, they usually have an idea of their desired end: sex. “It is hard for men to delineate romance without sex. It’s all part of it. If men are romantic, they want sex,” one frustrated husband said.
“The Truth About The Way You Look” - Looking your best for him shows him your love. This seems like a no-brainer, but how many times have we taken our husband’s fidelity for granted? He tries his hardest to do everything for you, so why not try to look your best for him? We know that he’s a visual creature, so why not fill that visual rolodex with pictures of you looking great?
All in all, this book was very eye-opening for me about how my husband’s brain works and why he does what he does. I highly recommend it to anyone who genuinely wants to understand men. It’s helped me out plenty, and it can help you too!