Book Review of FOR WOMEN ONLY by Shaunti Feldhahn

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn (Multnomah Books 2004), 189 pages.

This small book is a discussion of a survey of 1000 men that Shaunti Feldhahn conducted.  Her original survey of 300 men was scientifically conducted and yielded unexpected results, so she refined a few questions and polled several hundred more men.  Here is a sample of seven of the eighteen survey questions she covers in this book.

1.  Think about what these two negative experiences would be like to feel alone and unloved in the world OR to feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone.  If you were forced to choose one, which would you prefer?  Would you rather feel:

  • Alone and unloved                                  74%
  • Inadequate and disrespected                    26%

2.  Regardless of how successful you are in your current job, which statement most closely describes your feelings about your work life?

  • I try to perform well and look as competent as possible, when inside I sometimes feel insecure and am concerned about other’s opinion of me and my abilities.                                       71.7%
  • I always feel secure in my abilities and rarely consider what others think of me.                                                   29.3%

3.  Men who are taking risks and progressing in their careers will inevitably face many situations that are somewhat unfamiliar and challenging.  Think back over several situations like that in your career.  Which one of these feelings were you most likely to experience?  (Choose one answer.)

  • I can handle it, no problem.                                                        26.7%
  • I’m somewhat out of my depth here, and I hope it doesn’t show.   60.7%
  • I feel a bit like an imposter;  I’m not fully qualified to do this and I hope no one finds out.                                                                               14.7%

4.  Suppose your wife/significant other earned enough to support your family’s lifestyle.  Would you still feel a compulsion to provide for your family?  (Choose one answer.)

  • Yes                                     78%
  • No                                     22%

5.  Under what circumstances do you think about your responsibility to provide for your family?  (Choose one answer.)

  • Never                                                                                       3%
  • Only when I’m unemployed or facing financial challenges.           6%
  • It’s occasionally in the back of my mind.                                    20%
  • It’s often                                                                                 21%
  • It’s something I’m conscious of most of the time.                        50%

6.  Suppose you had to plan an anniversary event for your wife/significant other.  Do you know how to put together a romantic event that you know your partner would enjoy?  (Choose one answer.)

  • Yes, I can do it with style.                                                    54%
  • Yes, but I’m not sure that I would do a very good job.              34%
  • No, she may not like what I did.                                            8%
  • No, I really don’t have a clue.                                               4%

7.  Is this statement true or false?  “I want my wife/significant other to look good and feel energetic.  It is not as important that she look just like she did the day we met.  It is more important that she make the effort to take care of herself for me now.”  (Choose one answer.)

  • True                                                                           83%
  • False                                                                          17%

Finally, Shaunti asked the men what was the most important thing they wanted their wives to know.  Thirtytwo percent of the respondents said they wished their wives knew how much they loved her.  For Women Only discusses the results of this survey.  Shaunti offers ideas and anecdotes from participants as to why the men responded as they did.  Shaunti Feldhahn conducted further surveys of women and teenagers to write the companion books For Men Only, For Parents Only, For Young Women Only, and For Young Men Only.  The survey and further information is available at http://www.forwomenonlybook.com/.

The book review of For Women Only originally appeared on jaynechaseloseke.com on March 20, 2014.

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Book Review of THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE by Timothy Keller

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller (Dutton 2011), 283 pages.

This book furthers our national discussion about marriage.  The Kellers look at marriage from historical, biblical, contemporary and philosophical perspectives.  This book has 24 pages of end notes.  It is a deep look at marriage and it took me all of my library renewals to read this book, but it was worth the time.

The conclusions the authors arrive at are that marriage is universal, has always been a part of known societies, and will probably always be a part of society.  Furthermore, Dr. Keller claims marriage is a spiritual journey of friendship whose true purpose is to help two married partners mature into their true selves.  Rev. Keller believes this can only be done with massive help from God.

Here are four of my favorite passages from The Meaning of Marriage:

  1. “How do we love each other so that our marriage goes on from strength to strength rather than stalling out in repetitive arguments that end in fruitless silence?  The basic answer is that you must speak the truth in love with the power of God’s grace.”  p. 136.
  2. “Marriage by its very nature has the ‘power of truth’—the power to show you the truth about who you are.  People are appalled when they get sharp, far-reaching criticism from their spouses.  They immediately begin to think they married the wrong person.  But you must realize that it isn’t ultimately your spouse who is exposing the sinfulness of your heart—it’s marriage itself.  Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself.  Marriage shows you a realistic unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it.  This may sound discouraging, but it is really the road to liberation.  Counselors will tell you that the only flaws that can enslave you are the ones that you are blind to. If you are in denial about some feature of your character, that feature will control you.  But marriage blows the lid off, turns the light on.  Now there is hope. Finally you can begin dealing with the real you.  Don’t resist this power that marriage has.  Give your spouse the right to talk to you about what is wrong with you.  Paul talks about how Jesus “washes” and “cleanses” us of stains and blemishes.  Give your spouse the right to do that.”  p. 140.
  3. “The Bible does not counsel sexual abstinence before marriage because it has such a low view of sex but because it has such a lofty one.  The biblical view implies that sex outside of marriage is not just morally wrong but also personally harmful.  If sex is designed to be part of making a covenant and experience that covenant’s renewal, then we should think of sex as an emotional ‘commitment apparatus.’  If sex is a method that God invented to do ‘whole life entrustment’ and self-giving, it should not surprise us that sex makes us feel deeply connected to the other person, even when used wrongly.  Unless you deliberately disable it, or through practice you numb the original impulse, sex makes you feel personally interwoven and joined to another human being, as you are literally physically joined.  In the midst of sexual passion, you naturally want to say extravagant things such as ‘I’ll always love you.’  Even if you are not legally married, you may find yourself very quickly feeling marriage-like ties, feeling that the other person has an obligation to you.  But that other person has no legal, social, or moral responsibility even to call you back in the morning.  This incongruity leads to jealously and hurt feelings and obsessiveness if two people are having sex but are not married.  It makes breaking up vastly harder than it should be.  It leads many people to stay trapped in relationships that are not good because of a feeling of having (somehow) connected themselves.  Therefore, if you have sex outside marriage, you will have to steel yourself against sex’s power to soften your heart toward another person and make you more trusting.  The problem is that eventually, sex will lose its covenant-making power for you, even if you one day do get married. Ironically, then, sex outside of marriage eventually works backwards, making you less able to commit and trust another person.”  Pp. 226-227.
  4.  Note #52, p. 253.  “…the human race cannot remember a time in which marriage did not exist.  There have been some efforts to make the case that this or that remote culture or small ethnic group has existed without marriage, but none of these efforts are widely regarded as successful.  One example is the argument some have made regarding the Mosuo (or the “Na People”), a small ethnic population in Southern China.  In this society, marriage partners do not live together in the same home.  Brothers and sisters live together in households and raise the children of their sisters.  Men are held most responsible to support and raise their sisters’ children—their nieces and nephews, not their biological children.  This family arrangement is highly unusual, but that does not mean that marriage and family mores are not in existence and, indeed, they are strongly enforced.  Fathers are definitely part of their children’s lives even though they do not live in the same household.  Women form long-term relationships with their partners.  Some married couples practice cohabitation as well.  See Tami Blumenthal’s 2009 report, The Na of Southwest China’s.  Debunking the Myths, at web.pdx.edu/~tblu2/Na/myths.pdf.”

 

Dr. Keller references the book Premarital Sex in America:  How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying.  (Oxford 2011)  by Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker as a source for much of the research claims in The Meaning of Marriage.

 

The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller (Dutton 2011).

The book review of The Meaning of Marriage originally appeared on jaynechaseloseke.com on December 26, 2013.