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FelForw 07-09-97

For Women Only

What you need to know about the inner lives of men


Shaunti Feldhahn

Multnomah Publishers, 2004, 189 pp., ISBN 1-59052-317-2



For Women Only

When my wife kept reading me paragraphs from the book, they were so intriguing I read it myself.  She suggested it was inappropriate for me to write notes on a book for women only, but I explained the notes would be "for women only."


Shaunti is an author, columnist, and public policy analyst.  She and her husband Jeff lead a home group in their church.  He has written a companion book, For Men Only.  This book shares the results of hundreds of personal and written interviews with men, including a professional survey.  "But be careful, ladies.  You might be slapping your forehead a lot!" (10)


There is a great deal women don't understand about men--and men don't even know we don't know. (14)  Here are seven key revelations to help understand the inner life of men:  [This is just the way they are wired!] (15)

1.      Men need respect - even more than love!

2.      Men are insecure - even if they look 'in control'

3.      Men are providers - and feel the burden even if you make plenty

4.      Men want more sex - Your desire for him profoundly affects his sense of well being

5.      Men are visual - and struggle with live and recollected images of other women

6.      Men seem like unromantic clods - but they do enjoy romance  

7.      Men care about your appearance - taking care of yourself means a lot to him 


Men generally struggle with inner thoughts and images and emotions even more than with outward behavior. (16)


Three out of four men would rather feel unloved rather than disrespected or inadequate. (22)  If he feels disrespected, he feels unloved.  If you want him to know you love him, then you must be sure he feels your respect.  Often, we don't realize that our actions convey the opposite! (23)


In a relationship, the woman cries: the man gets angry.  When a man shows anger in your relationship, it most often means he feels disrespected.  (24)


He needs you to show respect for him, whether or not he is meeting your expectations at the moment!  This is unconditional respect. (26)  "Feeling respect for our husbands but not overtly showing it is the same as their feeling love for us but not showing it!" (28)


Respect his knowledge, opinions, and decisions - his judgment. (29)  Trust his decision-making abilities.  Otherwise he hears you say, "You're stupid." (30)  Men like to figure things out for themselves.  Then they feel like they have conquered something.  Let them. (31)


"Put yourself in a man's shoes and listen to this phrase: 'Honey, can we please just stop and ask for directions?' He's out to conquer Everest, and you're telling him you don't believe he can do it." (31)


"Women hold an incredible power in the way we communicate with our men (both husbands and sons) to build them up or to tear them down, to encourage or to exasperate.  Some things just push a man's buttons." (35)


"No matter what we think we are saying, in the end, what matters is what the guy is hearing." (39)


"My wife says things about me in public that she considers teasing.  I consider them torture."  "What is at stake isn't his pride as much as his secret feelings of inadequacy as a man." (41)


"I have become incredibly sensitive to how often we might talk negatively about them behind their backs." (44)


"…he will think you are the most wonderful woman in the world if you publicly build him up."  "It simply means taking those little opportunities to honestly praise him or to ask his opinion in front of others." (45)


"There is something unique in how a man approaches the world that makes his inner, home-fired feelings of personal adequacy absolutely foundational to everything else." (49)  "If a man's wife is supportive and believes in him, he can conquer the world--or at least his little corner of it." (50)


"Despite their 'in control' exterior, men often feel like impostors and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered." (53)  "This inner uncertainty leaves even the most confident-seeming man dreading the moment when he will be exposed for who he really is--or at least believes himself to be." (54) [Hence the huge market in management and leadership books. dlm]


"The idea of someone thinking he can't cut it is humiliating--a feeling every man wants to avoid at all costs.  So he puts up a good front…." (56)


"The inner insecurity I've described has an interesting partner--the feeling of wanting a challenge, wanting to take on something new and exciting.  These two feelings may seem contradictory, but they are all part of the male package." (60)


Men have an incredible anxiety over where they stand at work. (61)  "Many men feel just as inadequate at home.' (65)  "Not surprisingly, men say they judge themselves--and feel that others judge them--based on the happiness and respect of their wives." (65)


"Affirmation is everything."  If a man is not affirmed, he will, consciously or unconsciously, seek out places where he receives affirmation. (67) 


"If a man knows that his wife believes in him, he is empowered to do better in every area of his life." (67)  "A husband can slay dragons, climb mountains, and win great victories if he believes his wife believes that he can." (68)


Men want to be providers.  It is a burden that won't let up. (76)  It is at the core of their identity, the center of their personal significance.  It is a central way of expressing his love to his wife. Men constantly worry about failure at work.  (79-80)


"Every day, providers can feel a strange tension between wanting to be depended on and feeling trapped by that responsibility." (84)


"Several men have told me that, most of all, the best thing their mate can do is to show that she realizes how tight things are by refusing to spend money unnecessarily." (87)


"Thank him regularly for providing.  He forgets quickly." (90)


"For your husband, sex is more than just a physical need.  Lack of sex is as emotionally serious to him as, say, his sudden silence would be to you, were he simply to stop communicating with you.  It is just as wounding to him, just as much a legitimate grievance--and just as dangerous to your marriage." (92)


"In a very deep way, your man often feels isolated and burdened by secret feelings of inadequacy.  Making love with you assures him that you find him desirable, salves a deep sense of loneliness, and gives him the strength and well-being necessary to face the world with confidence.  And, of course, sex also makes him feel loved--in fact, he can't feel completely loved without it." (92-3)


"Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women." (109)


"First, a woman with a great body is an 'eye magnet' that is incredibly difficult to avoid, and even if a man forces himself not to look, he is acutely aware of her presence.  Second, even when no such eye magnet is present, each man has a 'mental Rolodex' of stored images that can intrude into his thought without warning or can be called up at will."  "A man can't not want to look." (112-12)


"We also may not recognize that in our sex-saturated culture, the very act of living is a minefield of possible triggers and potential images that could be recalled days or years later.  To use a common example, prime-time television commercials often flash sensual two-second images--say, of a woman undressing--that are up on the screen and gone before the man can look away.  Nothing he can do.  Boom, it's added to the mental Rolodex, whether he wants it or not." (118)


"Let's face it, women who are totally clueless about this problem can also thoughtlessly contribute to it.  After all, the images in a man's mental Rolodex come from somewhere--and it's not just from pictures.  The eye magnets on the street [and in church! dlm] are choosing to dress the way they do." (133)


"It used to be that a man had to seek out visual temptations.  Today, they are impossible to avoid." (135)


"Most married men don't want to abandon their wife to do guy things.  They want to do 'guy things' with their wife.  They want her to be their playmate.  It's no different from when they were dating.  For a guy, a big part of the thrill was doing fun things together.  The woman who is having fun with her husband is incredibly attractive." (147)


"Keep it fresh--give him something to pursue.  Go hiking with him, play golf with him.  Give him space when he needs it--and intimate attention when he needs that!    Make yourself the kind of friend and lover he constantly wants to pursue." (153)


"The effort you put into your appearance is extremely high on his priority list.  Yet the chances that you know his true feelings are extremely low." (156)  "It is about showing our man that we're willing to make the effort to address something that is very important to him."  "Almost every man cares if his wife is out of shape and doesn't make a true effort to change." (160)


To the question, "What is the one thing that you wish your wife/significant other knew, but you feel you can't explain to her or tell her?" the number one answer was "How much I love her." (179)



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