How I Woke Up to What I Didn't Know About Men
The other half of the people on the planet already know what you're
going to read in this book.
As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Manhattan, and like all New
Yorkers we walked everywhere. But I quickly noticed something strange.
Quite often we'd be strolling hand in hand and Jeff would abruptly jerk
his head up and away. We'd be watching in-line skaters in Central Park
or waiting to cross the street in a crowd, and he would suddenly stare
at the sky. I started to wonder, Is something going on at the tops of
Turns out, something was going on, but it wasn't up in the
Have you ever been totally confused by something the man in your life
has said or done? Have you ever wondered, looking at his rapidly
departing back, Why did that make him so angry? Have you ever
been perplexed by your husband's defensiveness when you ask him to stop
working so much? Yeah? Me too.
But now, after conducting spoken and written interviews with more than
one thousand men, I can tell you that the answers to those and dozens of
other common perplexities are all related to what is going on in your
man's inner life. Most are things he wishes you knew but doesn't know
how to tell you. In some cases, they're things he has no idea you don't
know. This book will share those interviews and those answers. But be
careful, ladies. You might be slapping your forehead a lot!
HOW IT ALL STARTED ...
Let me tell you how I got here. It all started with the research for my
second novel, The Lights of Tenth Street. One of the main
characters was a man, a devoted, godly husband and father. Because I
wanted this character's thought life to closely resemble what real men
deal with, I interviewed my husband, Jeff, and many other male friends
to try to get inside their heads. It took me a while to figure out how
to handle what I found.
You see, in the novel my character had a secret struggle: He loved his
wife and kids and was a devoted follower of Christ, but he liked looking
at women and had a constant battle with his thought life. A constant
hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute battle with the temptations that beckoned
from every corner of our culture, from the secret traps of the Internet
to the overt appeal of the miniskirt walking down the street.
In short-and this is what was such a surprise to me-instead of being
unusual, my character was like almost every man on the planet. Including
the devoted Christian husbands I was interviewing.
That revelation led to others, on a half-dozen other subjects, and
following those trails led to the hundreds of personal and written
interviews with men-including a professional survey-that form the core
of this book. I interviewed close friends over dinner and strangers in
the grocery store, married fathers at church and the single student
sitting next to me on the airplane. I talked to CEOs, attorneys,
pastors, technology geeks, business managers, the security guard at
Costco, and the guys behind the counter at Starbucks. I even interviewed
a professional opera singer and a former NFL offensive tackle with a
Super Bowl ring. No one was safe.
It turned out that these men shared some surprisingly common inner
wiring. At their secret inner core, many had similar fears and concerns,
feelings and needs.
I discovered that there were many things I thought I understood about
men-but really didn't. In several areas, my understanding was purely
surface-level. Once I got below the surface and into specifics,
everything changed. I felt like a cartoon character who suddenly had a
lightbulb over my head.
Even better, it turned out that those revelations were mostly about
things that my own husband always wished I knew but couldn't figure out
how to explain. And that was a common refrain from most of the men I
talked to. Although I still make many mistakes in my relationship with
my husband-and will continue to!-finally grasping these things has
hopefully helped me to better appreciate and support him in the way that
I want that lightbulb to go on for you as well.
Why was this surprising?
In a way, I was surprised to be so ... surprised. We women think we know
many things about a man's inner life. We all know, for example, that
"men are visual," but, well ... what exactly does that mean?
It turns out that what that means in practice is the key
thing-the specific insight that will help you be a better wife,
girlfriend, or mother. Using the "visual" example, the difference is
vast between having the vague notion that men are visual and knowing
that the sexy commercial he just watched has become a mental time bomb
that will rise up and assault him the next day. The difference is vast
between helplessly wondering what is going on in his head and having the
insight of hundreds of men to help you understand not only what is going
on, but also how to support him.
Actually, there was a kind of double surprise in this research. When I
interviewed men and drew some conclusions, they would often say, "But
women already know that ... surely they know that." All too
frequently, I found myself replying, "Well, I didn't know that."
I began to realize that there's so much about men that we don't
understand-and that men don't even know we don't know. And that sort of
misunderstanding is the stuff that gives birth to a lot of conflict.
So here are the revelations this book is going to cover-seven
translations from "surface level" to "in practice" that you, like me,
may not have realized before.
As with all of us, the inner life of a man is a package, with these
elements melded and wrapped up inside. Whether you are relating to a
husband, boyfriend, or son, it is impossible to understand one part of
his inner life in isolation. Every area affects every other area, and
I'm only covering those few areas that I thought were the most important
Thankfully, these revelations are also backed up by evidence-a
groundbreaking professional survey of hundreds of men.
Since I found no survey data like this on the market, two sets of
experts, Chuck Cowan at Analytic Focus, the former chief of survey
design at the U.S. Census Bureau, and Cindy Ford and the survey team at
Decision Analyst, came together to help me conduct this survey. The
survey was blind, done at random, and meticulously planned and executed.
Four hundred anonymous men across the country, ranging in age from
twenty-one to seventy-five, answered two dozen questions about their
lives and about how they think, what they feel, and what they need. The
survey stressed that we weren't dealing with outward behavior as much as
with the inner thoughts and emotions that led to their behavior.
Later, because the survey itself inevitably led to additional
revelations, I conducted a more informal follow-up survey of another
four hundred anonymous men-this time, specifically churchgoers-to ask a
few additional questions (and some of the same ones). Amazingly, there
were very few differences.
After all the surveying, the results of my personal interviews were
confirmed. Not only had I heard the same things over and over-quotes
that I will include in the following pages-but those anecdotal results
were now backed up by statistically valid evidence. I hadn't just
happened to interview the hundred weirdest men on the planet! (Since I
am an analyst and not a psychologist, and since my gradschool statistics
professor might politely question the statistical skills of someone who
needed a whole semester to learn regression analysis, I was quite
relieved that professional statisticians confirmed my findings!)
In the end, the men I spoke with and surveyed appear to have been
extremely transparent and honest about some very personal subjects. So,
men-whoever you are-I thank you.
BEFORE WE START: GROUND RULES
You're probably rarin' to turn the page, but before you get to look
inside the inner lives of men, here are some ground rules:
First, if you are looking for male-bashing or proof that your husband is
indeed a cad, you won't find it here. I honor the men who shared their
hearts with me, and I hope that by sharing their insight, more women
might come to understand and appreciate the wonderful differences
Second, this is not an equal treatment of male-female differences, nor
do I deal at all with how your man can or should relate to you.
Yes, we women obviously also have needs, and many of the truths
discussed in these pages apply to us too. But since the theme is the
inner lives of men and my space is limited, I'm focusing entirely
on how we relate to men, not the other way around. (That is also why the
survey did not poll gay men.)
Third, recognize that there are always exceptions to every rule. When I
say that "most men" appear to think a certain way, realize that "most"
means exactly that-most, not all. I'm making generalizations out of
necessity, and inevitably there will be exceptions. One reason I did the
professional survey was to determine what was an exception and what was
Fourth, I'm addressing what is normal inside men, not necessarily
what is right in their outward behavior. And since these pages are not
the place for a lengthy exploration of any one issue, you can always go
to www.4-womenonly.com to explore more resources, including the entire
Fifth, I need to warn you that some of the enclosed insight may be
distressing because it affects our view of the men in our lives and our
view of ourselves. It was tempting to exclude certain things, but I
realized that I was hearing things men often weren't willing or able to
say directly to their spouses or girlfriends. So it was critical to
include these comments. But please realize that in most cases, these
comments have little to do with us-they are just the way men are
wired. And we should celebrate that fact. After all, it is because he
is wired as a man that you love him.
Finally, and most important, I hope that this book is not just about
learning fascinating new secrets. The more we understand the men in our
lives, the better we can support and love them in the way they need to
be loved. In other words, this revelation is supposed to change and
So read on, ladies, and join me as we look into the inner lives of men.
Excerpted from "For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men" by Shaunti Feldhahn. Copyright © 2004 by Shaunti Feldhahn. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.