Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Understanding Men (for Women)

Books that help women understand the strange world of men. (This post will grow as I add books over time. Check back often.)

To begin with, "For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men" by Shaunti Feldhahn should be required reading for every woman who is either married or is in a season of life where marriage is a possibility.

"Married But Not Engaged: Why Men Check Out and What You Can Do to Create the Intimacy You Desire" by Paul and Sandy Coughlin. Another book by Paul Caughlin, this time joined by his wife. It is directed primarily toward women and is useful for both the married woman with a disengaged husband, and a single woman who wants to avoid ending up with a disengaged husband. It builds on many of the principles of "No More Christian Nice Guy" (see my Manly Men list).

"The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Be prepared to be challenged about everything you thought you knew (or your mother or girlfriends have told you) about having a happy relationship with your man.

"The Man Whisperer: Speaking Your Man's Language To Bring Out His Best" by Rick Johnson. Picking up where "For Women Only" leaves off, this book provides even greater insight into the inner lives of men: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It also offers great tips on how to influence (which does not necessarily mean "change") your man to be all he can be.

"In Search of the Proverbs 31 Man: The One God Approves and a Woman Wants" by Michelle Mckinney Hammond. Do you want to get past all the nice guy vs. bad guy hype - this is a great start.


For full disclosure, I should note that there are two general issues around which I disagree with the solutions proposed by almost all authors I have read. Those issues are confrontation (with bullies, primarily) and the priority of female attractiveness in relationships.

Specifically, I do not agree with the proactive, violent, thrashing out approach most authors support as the "manly" response to bullying, physical threats, and protection of the weak. I truly believe that such an approach returns evil for evil and violates the "turn the other cheek" directive of Christ. That does not mean that I don't think men should exhert their power physically in those situations if required. But my personal approach is always a defensive and negotiative one, not an offensive one.

And although I agree with most authors in the reality that physical attractiveness is a priority for men, I don't believe that it has to be or that such a priority is godly. As such, I bristle at any suggestion that maintaining attractiveness is some kind of requirement for a woman to be godly or that there is any justification for men to discard their women because they don't maintain some standard of beauty. Scripture makes it clear not only that beauty does not last forever (Proverbs 31:30) but that we are to adore and be captivated (to turn an Eldredge phrase) by our wives at all times, regardless of the natural degradation that time, gravity, and physiology inflict on their bodies (Proverbs 5:19)

I just had to add that lest one think that I agree with absolutely everything every author writes. But by and large, these are really excellent books and these few quibbles do not prevent me from recommending them highly.

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