Best-selling author, For Women Only Revised and Updated (2013)
Masters, Public Policy, Harvard
Bachelors, Government and Economics, Williams and Mary
Husband: Jeff, 18 years
Revealing the Inner Lives of Men
THINKING TO TALK
Shaunti was doing research for her second novel in 2004. She asked her husband, Jeff, and other male collegues and friends to help her develop one of the main characters who was a devoted husband and father. What she heard from them was stunning. These weren’t just surface thoughts she was learning about; Shaunti says what she heard over and over were deep fundamental needs and fears. The men said they had deep feelings but couldn’t articulate them to the women in their lives. “I was shocked by what the guys were thinking,” says Shaunti. She discovered that these revelations were common in most men, even Christians and devoted husbands. After compiling what she learned in her first edition of For Women Only, Shaunti says she is grateful to see how many women she has helped over the years.
Years later, as Jeff and Shaunti shared their insight with women in conferences and seminars, they realized much of the new information they discovered over the last 9 years wasn’t in the book. “There has been so much research done on the brain and with advances in neuroscience, we needed to update the book,” she says.
One of the more recent findings shows the way in which men process and talk about thoughts and emotions. Women’s brains are wired in such a way that they need to talk it out in order to process what they are feeling or thinking. There are many connections between the left and right brains which allow for fast, surface-level processing. Women can process many thoughts and feelings at one time. For men, their brains are wired in such a way that they can’t. Men’s connections are fewer and deeper and they designed to go through one thing deeply at a time. “They cannot easily think it through AND talk about it,” says Shaunti. “They need to go underground and they need time to process these deep connections.” A shallow thought process in a woman can pass through her brain instantly. This same signal can take 7 hours in a man because he goes deep. Shaunti reminds us that what we hear in most relationship seminars is that it is important to communicate through conflict to get to a resolution right away. This is difficult to do for men. Men want to communicate with the women they love, but how they need to go about it is likely to be different becuase he'll need to think about it first. Understanding this difference offers great promises for relationships.
LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH
Women need to feel loved by the men in their lives. Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected. “The funny thing is, most of us do respect the men in our lives,” says Shaunti. “But sometimes our actions convey exactly the opposite.” In relationship conflict, crying is often a woman’s response to feeling unloved. When men feel disrespected, they get angry. Men usually won’t articulate that they are feeling disrespect, but Shaunti says that there is a good chance when he shows anger that he is feeling the pain or humiliation of disrespect. She reminds us that women need to show respect to the men in their lives unconditionally, just like women need the men in their lives to love them unconditionally. Men need to hear, “Thank you,” “I trust you,” and “I’m proud of you.”
Shaunti says it’s important for women to do the following: 1. Respect his judgment. A man doesn’t like to feel that he is “stupid.” 2. Respect his abilities. Choose to honor your spouse in public, even when you think he may not deserve it. 3. Respect what he has accomplished. “You are such a great dad,” is more important for a man to hear than “I love you.” Shaunti says 7 out of 10 men in a survey said if their wives simply noticed something and said thank you, it had a big impact on their happiness level. 4. Respect in communication. Teasing is considered disrespectful, especially in public in front of other men. 5. Respect in our assumptions. Assume your spouse has good intentions towards you. Shaunti and Jeff remind women of their incredible power to build up or tear down. For 30 days, find something daily for which you can verbally thank your husband. “This is Philippians 4 in action,” she says. Men have an underlying insecurity. “Figure out how to avoid it,” says Shaunti. There is nothing more powerful than to notice something good that he did. Pray for him and for yourself. Encourage and appreciate him.
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