In Defense of Shaunti Feldhahn

Does Shaunti Feldhahn encourage men to use pornography? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, Christian author Shaunti Feldhahn posted on her Facebook page about how her and Craig Gross have negative reviews for Through A Man’s Eyes, and how apparently Shaunti is saying that it’s okay for men to watch porn and women need to accept that this is how men are. Of course, most every book will get some negative reviews and points will be misunderstood. This is one point I think there is no way someone could misunderstand her on.

My first entry into Shaunti’s books was to read For Women Only. A woman actually recommended I read it to understand my relationships with women better and this was long before my wife Allie came into my life. The next after that was For Men Only and at this point, I was not married yet so I laughed some at the thought of men reading it to get more sex, but not as much as I do now. (Wait a second. That is what it said isn’t it? Maybe I should see if I can find my copy around here somewhere….) Finally, I read Through A Man’s Eyes and thought that the book was practically a biography of my own walk.

If anything I suspect is behind this, it is that many women don’t really want to accept what was said in that last book. They don’t like the thought that most husbands out there struggle with lust. They don’t like realizing that most husbands out there really do think about sex that much. Feminism has come around with an effort to try to tame masculinity. Men are hideous and shameful just because they are men.

The story starts with a man who goes off to work and in the morning, he’s thinking about the love making he and his wife had last night. As he goes throughout the day, he is surrounded by advertisements of beautiful women and real beautiful women at the office. He works to avoid temptation all day long. Then he gets home to the one woman he can delight in and lo and behold, she wants to hide herself from him as if it would be just awful if he saw her body.

If a woman thinks this is something far from the truth, then she is just wrong. I have written about this on a post about a man’s world. I urge women to think about being on a diet and then passing through the ice cream or the candy or cookies section of the grocery store. That is the only thing I can think of comparable to what we men go through.

Why do we go through it? We go through it because we love God and we love the women in our lives. This includes those of us who are single. The only female body I delight in is my wife’s. One cannot say other women are not beautiful, but their beauty is not for me. Why would I chase after and wonder about another woman’s body? My wife’s body is blessing enough for me.

Despite saying that, I realize that is a battle I face every day. Shaunti was quite right when she spoke about it being hard on a pastor even in a church when a lady in the front row is wearing a top that is more revealing than she probably realizes. This isn’t saying women need to go around wearing burkas or something of the sort, but there does need to be a mutual understanding. Men are very visual and they need to be aware of that.

Are men for the most part visual? Yes. Does that justify it? No. As someone with Aspergers married to someone with Aspergers, I have a saying about why we do what we do because of our Aspergers. It is an explanation, but it is not a justification. Why are men tempted with porn and looking at other women? Because we are visual. Is that an explanation? Yes. Does that justify it? Not on your life.

Many men watch porn because their sexuality is so much of who they are. It is where they find their identity. If they can feel like a man and feel appealing to a woman, then they are the man. That’s the bad news. It is a constant battle. Here is the good news. Their wives can know how to best reach them. Don’t let an unknown woman on a screen have a love affair with your husband. You do it.

Nowhere in Shaunti’s writings does she endorse or approve of porn. Nowhere. It is unequivocally wrong. What is realized is why men do it, and that is part of the solution. One of the steps to knowing how to deal with it is to know why men do it to begin with.

If you are a woman condemning what you read about, try and talk to your husband and ask him if the description in the book is accurate. Of course, some men are vastly different. Sometimes it is the woman with the higher drive in a relationship. Their wives just can’t get enough of it. (And as Mark Gungor says, if you are one of those men, then I think I speak on behalf of all men when I say “We hate you.”) Many men are like this and keep in mind, Shaunti wrote this with someone who is a man who runs a ministry to help people stop using pornography.

Some of you may have critiques of Shaunti on other grounds such as her methodology and such. I cannot speak to that. Those are issues I am sure Shaunti takes seriously. This is one area there should be no misunderstanding on. I find the notion that Shaunti is fine with pornography use completely groundless. I instead happily recommend her material and think many marriages would be better if we would learn from it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Through A Man’s Eyes

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.

How To Understand Women

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

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.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Power of Flirting

Can those tiny little gestures make an impact? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, Shaunti Feldhahn wrote an article answering a question from a wife talking about a lackluster sex life. What’s to be done about it? Her answer to this wife was to be a flirt. Even if you don’t feel like it, you can change the mood of your husband immediately. I can say from my experience that a little bit of flirting has changed my mood immediately. The message that a husband gets is that you find him interesting. Actually, there’s a dark side to this. I should say the message that a man gets is that a woman finds him interesting.

What is dark about that? As I wrote earlier in describing a man’s world, a man lives in a world of constant temptation. Like it or not, the average man is thinking about sex a whole lot more than you realize and if he’s not actively thinking about it, it is right there on the backburner and it is ready to be brought up again immediately. If you have a good and godly husband, he would like it to be only with you, but unfortunately, it is not. Your husband will start thinking sexually at the sight of most any woman and it is important that he learns how to handle it.

Your flirting is a good way to help your husband be able to handle this. Your husband will be much less tempted when he knows that you find him interesting. Without that, he will not find much reason to think that. After all, if you are interested in something, you pursue it. If you are interested in learning, you pursue learning. If you are interested in health, you watch what you eat and exercise. If you are interested in football, you follow your favorite team or teams and watch what they do. If you are interested in a TV show, you try to watch it regularly and find any nuances that you might be missing.

And if you are interested in your spouse, you pursue them. If a man does not feel pursued, he does not feel like he is interesting any more and ladies, it can be most any little thing. Still, you will get out what you put in. The more you give, the more you will get back. Shaunti gives one example.

I gave that same advice to a woman at one of my events, and she emailed me later to say it took courage but she started flirting like this – and saw a change almost immediately. She started by texting her husband about some homework they had to do with the kids that evening and finished her text with, “And if we get done with homework in time to get the kids in bed at a good hour, you can get started on your homework later.” Her husband came in the door that evening with a huge smile, hugged the kids, and grinned at his wife as he told them ‘homework time!’

Yes. Ladies. Most every man on the planet can understand this. As soon as the possibility of sex is hinted at, the way a man thinks is changed immediately and he’ll do things he normally wouldn’t dare do. Again, that is a great power you hold. You can use it in a wrong way to manipulate your man and get the things you want from him, or you can use it in a way to empower man and instill more confidence in him that he needs.

To get back to the danger, the great danger is that if you don’t do this, someone else will, and in fact, it might not even be something intentional. How many men have thought before a woman was flirting with them only to find out that she wasn’t. Still, if he thinks she is, then that is where he will often go. Men tend to go where the respect is and where they can feel like a man. This is one reason pornography is such a draw for men. Porn can give a man the feeling of being a man, such as arousal and intense sexual desire, without any of the effort of being a man, such as working to please a woman so much she wants to give her body to him.

It’s been said that women need to have a love affair with their husbands or someone else will. How deep does this run with a man? Well….

Most of us men would say we’d do all of the above and then some!

Yes. This runs deep.

Now what are some suggestions for how this can be done?

One piece of advice I’d say to take, and one that my wife and I both do, is try to make your Facebook sizzle if you and your wife are both on there. Facebook can be a disaster for many marriages as it can be a breeding ground for divorce since you can get so caught up in a conversation with the opposite sex. I do hold that a husband and wife should be able to access the pages their spouse holds, but when you’re not doing that, make sure everyone on Facebook knows who the priority is for you. I try to post every day, except for Sunday when I don’t post, a loving image for my wife. I Love My Wife is the page I go to, while often my wife goes to the Happy Wives Club. It should ideally be that everyone who knows you on Facebook knows you have a deep love for your spouse.

Then for the wife who wants to learn how to flirt, find a way to speak your husband’s language and get into the world. Be interested in what he’s interested in and this should go both ways. Yesterday, I took my wife to see the new Dragon Ball movie. Do I really get into this as much? Not as much as her certainly, but I can enjoy it. I try to pay attention and learn what’s going on so that it’s something Allie and I can discuss together. For those who want to know how far that goes, I really knew nothing about Dragon Ball before Allie and I married. Now she’d probably say I can do a good job in a discussion.

Your husband will speak in a language. For instance, my wife and I missed watching some of our shows for a time. Then we got back into the Flash again and watched the recorded episodes we had, which was a great experience, and now we have other series to go through together. I also plan on taking her through Final Fantasy VI, which is actually one game that you can set up with two controllers so you can do it two player.

Some men are easily tempted by food. Allie knows this isn’t the best way for me, although I am interested in her fixing peanut butter cupcakes for me soon. If food is the key though, fix your husband his favorite meal one night. In fact, if you want to go all out, have him come home and have a candlelit atmosphere at the dinner table, maybe let him know the kids are at grandma’s, tell him you got a new outfit and you want to see how he thinks you look in it, or even better out of it, and decorate the bedroom perhaps with candles or something of the sort with some very romantic music playing.

If your husband goes to work the next day, he will be incredibly productive and walking with his head held much higher.

If there’s one thing your husband is interested in however, it’s you. That’s why he likes you to take care of yourself and he likes to see you regardless. You might not be crazy about how you look, but you look wonderful to your husband. It’s hard for a husband to explain, but the biggest thing he wants is you. He is still asking constantly if he’s your man. He doesn’t care if he was when you married him or if he was last week. He wants to know if he is still the #1 man in your life and the loudest way you say that is by giving him yourself. It is a way of saying “There are no boundaries at all between us.”

Remember ladies, men are often pursuers, but they like even more to be pursued. We like it when you take the initiative. We like knowing that you are interested in us the way that we are interested in you. We like being desired. This is the kind of advice I’d give to any married couple. Never stop chasing. Never stop pursuing. Never take the other person for granted. When we know that you are interested in us, we will live our lives totally differently.

Go ahead then. Send a flirty text to your husband. If he comes behind you and touches you, don’t brush him away or get angry with him. Let him be for a little bit. If you can’t at the moment, I recommend saying something like “Honey. I really can’t right now, but tell you what. You do what you need to do today and I’ll do what I need to do today and I’ll be thinking about you and if you do a really pleasing job today, I’m sure I can do a really pleasing job tonight.”

I don’t care what kind of day your husband is having. I don’t care what’s going on in his life. Barring some huge huge huge disaster, that kind of message will instantly put a spring in his step and change the mood. No matter how bad our day is going on, even thinking there’s a good possibility of sex can change that. Making it a regular reality can make it even better.

Having a marriage is like taking two sticks and realizing when you keep putting them together that a flame appears. Flirting is one of the gases that you can pour on the fire to keep it going.

In Christ,
Nick Peters