What do I think of Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross’s book published by Multnomah? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Years ago there was a movie released called What Women Want starring Mel Gibson who after an electrical accident found that he could hear what women were thinking. Finally a man was listening. Gibson’s character changed his life drastically seeing the way women think and what effect their inner lives was having on them. Of course, this is not a big surprise since frankly, men have always had a hard time understanding women and have been looking for a good resource that would help them understand them better.
Now I think a book has come out that really gets into the lives of men. For many women, men are simple. Give them sex and they’re happy. Okay. There’s a lot of truth to that, but why is that? What’s going on in the life of your man? Why is it that he struggles so much when he walks past the Victoria’s Secret store? If he looks at another women while he’s walking down the street, does that mean he doesn’t care about you? Why should you be more deliberate about thinking about the way that you dress yourself? And of course, why does a man get involved in porn and what can you do about it?
While there is a male co-author, I found the book definitely going inside of my own head which makes me think Feldhahn really does know what we men go through. It starts with the account of a man who gets up early and is thinking about how he was up late the night before but it was worth it. He hears his wife taking a shower and goes in the bathroom just in time to see her wrap a towel around herself to his regret and how even before heading out the door he tries to “cop a feel.” At work, there is the lady who is dressing and has her outfit unbuttoned to an extent that if he looks, his mind will wander. As he drives, he sees constant advertisements on the road with women and he has to deflect his eyes and pay attention for mile upon mile. Throughout the day, he strives to think of his wife and the fun that they had before. No. This man is not a pervert. He’s not a sex addict. He’s just a simple man trying to honor God and his wife and living in a world loaded with traps to lure him away. He’s walking through a sexual minefield as it were.
We men are just drawn to beautiful women. A woman can be beautiful to us without being overt in what she does. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a struggle still, but it makes it easier. Feldhahn and Gross go into great detail as to what happens in the brains of men when they see something sexually stimulating. This will be a shock to some people, but as it turns out men and women are very different. This includes the way they respond to visual stimuli and the way they interpret sexuality. To be fair, while I thought the book was thorough on how a man interprets the signals he receives, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more on why sex is so important to a man and what a role it plays in the worldview.
Nothing said in the book is also meant to justify bad behavior on the part of men. A man is visual so watching porn is a lot more likely for him, but it is certainly not justifiable! A God-honoring man might take a second look at that woman who walked by, but that does not justify it. There are a lot of behaviors men need to work on, but a book like this can help women to better understand just what is going on in the head of the man that they married or are dating, or even in the heads of the man that they are raising, so that they can better support them in whatever battle that they’re in. (Hint: Don’t be like the woman who responded to her husband’s porn addiction by withholding sex and gaining 150 pounds.)
An important insight also is that the way to connect to a man well is through his eyes. Believe it or not wives, your husband does want to see you naked and while you might be hesitant about your own body, he wants to see you period. In fact, if you are concerned about your body, this is also why you can consider that diet and exercise to take care of your body is one of the best ways to say “I love you” to your husband. Your body is a gift that you are giving him. If you were cooking a romantic dinner for him, you wouldn’t be haphazard. You’d make sure you were doing all you could to fix it right. You should do the same with something much more lasting, your body.
Respect is also central to your man in this regard. A husband does not want respect just when you think he deserves it or has earned it. He would be foolish to love you on the same grounds, and yet for most men respect is far more central than love. Men gravitate towards respect. Remember women that you married or you’re dating a man. He is not meant to be a woman and part of his masculinity is his sex drive and his being visually oriented. If you please him with his visual orientation, you can be certain that you will build up his love for you. (Of course, being a Christian, this is to be with sex done in the confines of marriage.) Too many times women try to make their men like one of their girlfriends. It will not happen. Accept that you have a man whose primary stimulation is visual and learn to love him that way, because God wired him to be visual.
The book also does go into detail on the problem of porn and what to do if your husband or son is struggling with pornography or you think he is. It ends with a helpful FAQ that I largely think comes from Craig Gross which covers a bit of everything, including questions like “What if I find out my son has been putting ‘big boobs’ into the search engine on the internet?” Gross in this section really holds nothing back and is just blunt. The writers also stress they have plenty of other resources available at the web site menarevisual.com.
In fact, if anything, men are more visual than Feldhahn and Gross point out. A man can hear a woman speaking on the radio or on the phone and already be speculating about what she looks like. Yeah. That’s not much to go on, but a man will wonder. That’s how much this means to us and when women work with that instead of opposing it, they will find a way to get more joy out of their relationships. That means watching how you take care of yourself and allowing him to delight in you by seeing you and that you might actually have to turn the lights on sometimes when you have sex. Men want their women to be beautiful, but at the same time women don’t need to be as extremely self-conscious as many of them are. Your man just wants to see you and he wants to be wanted by you.
This is an excellent book and it will not take you long to read. I read it in about a day’s time and I found it to be quite spot on. I hope Feldhahn and Gross come out with another book together in the future explaining not just how men are visual, but what exactly sex means to a man and why.