Book Review: For Men Only: a straightforward guide to the inner lives of women

Submitted by jroos on Tue, 02/15/2011 - 20:30

Continuing the theme and success of “For Women Only” which aimed to help women better understand and relate to their husbands, “For Men Only” by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn seeks to return the favor to wives.

While the differences between men and women are what make marriages work, they can also be stumbling blocks to those very same relationships. Through interviews, focus groups and a detailed survey Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn attempt to explain what makes most women tick. Using six key findings, the book sets out to help men understand and love their wives better.

The six key findings presented in the book are:

  • Women need to feel loved - women are likely to have insecurity about whether they’re loved and need to be reassured
  • Women are emotional - while men can put past experiences aside, they’re always there for women and they can use your help to lay them to rest
  • Women want security - not just financial security, they will often endure financial hardship to get emotional security
  • She doesn’t want you to fix it; she just wants you to listen - we tend to fix problems, but for women the problem is often that we won’t just listen
  • She doesn’t want much sex; she must not want me - women generally have a lower physical drive for sex and it’s usually not your lack of manliness
  • She wants to look attractive - she needs to know you think she’s beautiful and that she’s the only one for you

Along with each finding the authors present guidance on how to meet your wife’s needs and love her better. The recommendations are not necessarily quick and easy. If emotional security is an issue, you may be facing something as drastic as a career change and downsizing your lifestyle. If it’s a listening issue, you’ll have to learn to filter out the problem she’s presenting and focus on the feelings that go with the problem. She’ll need to have her feelings acknowledged before you get to flip into fix-it mode.

While the authors proclaim a biblical world view they immediately acknowledge that they won’t be quoting or referencing much scripture. I would have appreciated being shown how their research findings relate to the truth of the Bible.

Some of the findings and recommendations were very disappointing to me. I was indeed hoping for some easy answers, magic phrases, etc. Admittedly, that’s foolish for a man who has been married nearly 10 years.


One of the particularly difficult recommendations for me will be “if she needs to talk about the relationship, do your best to listen without becoming defensive.” I don’t know about most men, but when the relationship discussion comes up it’s fight or flight time baby. Since I almost never flee (physically anyway) that means we’re in for a fight. The recommendation here is to view the relationship discussion as a “joint problem-solving session instead of an attack on you.” If this book is worth it’s research, the women are nodding with the book quotes and the men are nodding with me.

I think the book has a wealth of good insight about what is going on in women’s minds. The copy I have includes a “Quick Start Guide” and when my wife reviewed it she agreed with most of the findings and ideas expressed in the book.

I see myself having two problems carrying out the recommendations. First, I probably won’t remember all of these things for very long. Not every one of the findings requires daily attention. This book is best kept on hand as a reference.

Second, some of them are hard. To put this knowledge to work is going to require some work and for a generation of lazy men (of which I am a member) it’s going to take a commitment to serving and loving our wives.

That being said, there are few greater calls on our lives than the call to “love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25), so I will set out to do just that.

Hopefully in return my wife will pickup “For Women Only” and return the favor.

Update: She did and the review is up.

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