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Weekend Reading: For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

November 11, 2011

The Book: This is the second installment in a three-part series. Last week I took a look at Shaunti Feldhahn’s For Women Only. Today I will offer a few thoughts on the follow-up written with her husband, Jeff. For Men Only (2006, Multnomah Books) claims to offer a guide to the inner lives of women. It largely lives up to that claim. The target reader is men who are married or in a relationship leading toward marriage. Unlike last week, this book was written for me, and I must add that I was much more comfortable reading it.

Like the companion book for women, the research that went into the book was pretty extensive. There was a professionally conducted survey of women. There was a follow-up survey of more women, specifically church-goers. There were numerous focus groups. There were scores of individual interviews. There were easily well over a thousand women who participated in the research for the book.

Again, the Feldhahns do a good job of letting the research guide the book instead of the other way around. It would be easy to start with their own preconceived notions and let that form the basis of the findings, but they avoid this.

The Point: One of the first things the authors do is lay out the ground rules for the work. I appreciate this. The reader knows from the beginning why they address some things and leaves others alone. While there is some similarity to the ground rule in For Women Only, there are differences as well. The ground rules could be summarized as:

  1. This book holds to a biblical world view. They do not quote heavily from Scripture, but their starting point and the lens they view everything through is decidedly Christian.

  2. This is not a comprehensive marriage book. There are plenty of those already on the market (and more being written on a regular basis). They recommend some on their website.

  3. This is not an equal treatment. It is intentionally one-sided. It is written for men to better understand and relate to the women in their lives.

  4. There are exceptions to every rule. When they say “most women” they mean “most” not all. They use generalizations and there will be exceptions.

  5. The findings may not be politically correct, but they try to be true to the evidence. They do not intend to be offensive; they are speaking frankly to men, from a man’s viewpoint, about women. The goal is to help men understand their wives and better love them. (List summarized from pages 19-22.)

The book is organized around six major findings (outlined below) from the research. They then used the research to move beyond a surface understanding to what they mean in practice. After listing these in the first chapter, they write a chapter for each of the findings to further unpack the meaning and application of the truth.

Surface Understanding

What That Means in Practice

Women need to feel loved.

Even if your relationship is great, your mate likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love—and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured.

Women are emotional.

Women deal with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time—and these can’t be easily dismissed.

Women want security—in other words, financial security.

Your woman needs emotional security and closeness with you so much that she will endure financial insecurity to get it.

She doesn’t want you to fix it; she just wants you to listen.

When she is sharing an emotional problem, her feelings and her desire to be heard are much more important than the problem itself.

She doesn’t want much sex; she must not want me.

Physically, women tend to crave sex less often than men do—and it is usually not related to your desirability.

She wants to look attractive.

Inside your smart, secure wife lives a little girl who deeply needs to know that you find her beautiful—and that you only have eyes for her.

(Information in table taken from page 17.)

The Result: While I suspect the Feldhahns’ research findings are generally true, I am not sure they are a totally true reflection of She Who Must Be Obeyed. As I think about it, the fact that I call her that may have something to do with that. I will not go into any detail about that; it is a little too personal. I’m sure you understand. There are definitely some insights in the book that will be helpful in understanding SWMBO and improving our relationship. As a preacher and teacher, and doing a little pastoral counseling in the process, the research is helpful in further understanding the differences between men and women.

The author maintains a website related to the book (http://formenonlybook.com). There are also a number of associated products such as a discussion guide, a copy of the survey they conducted, and responses from women.

I would generally recommend For Men Only for women who are married or in relationships that are leading toward marriage. I would also recommend it for individuals who, like me, are preachers and teachers who might do a little pastoral counseling.

Thoughts?

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From → Book Reviews

3 Comments
  1. Thank you for the reviews of these books. My 31 yr old son and his wife are leaders of the young adult group at their church and they have studied these books in their ladies’ and men’s groups, and highly recommend them.

  2. wjcollier3 permalink

    I am glad you enjoyed and appreciated the reviews. Next Friday is For Parents Only. Be sure to have them check that post out. I think parents should find it helpful. I appreciate you reading at commenting at my site!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Weekend Reading: For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice « Life and Ministry

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