Why you need a new map
of the female universe
Like some guys I know, you might be tempted to skip this
introduction and jump right to the sex chapter. And if
you’re chuckling right now, it probably means you already did
it. Or were about to.
It’s not a bad choice, actually. Just a little self-defeating.
If you’ve been in a committed relationship with a woman
for more than, say, a day, you know that going just for what
you want isn’t actually going to get you what you want for
A week, maybe?
But let’s be honest....one of the main reasons you’re looking
at this book is that you are trying to get something you
want. Not sex (well, not just sex), but a more fulfilling, harmonious
relationship with your wife, one that isn’t quite so
hard or confusing. And the back cover gave you the wild
idea that understanding her might actually be possible.
Either that, or for some reason, the woman in question
just handed you this book.
Well, either way, take a look at the revelations we’ve
uncovered. We think you’ll be convinced. Each chapter
explains things about the woman you love that may have
often left you feeling helpless, confused, or just plain angry.
Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions. The only
genius required is that you make a decision up front that
you’re willing to think differently. This is a short book, but
if you read it cover to cover, you’ll walk away with your eyes
opened to things you may have never before understood
about your wife or girlfriend.
That’s what happened with me....Jeff. And I’m just your
average, semi-confused guy. (Actually, sometimes totally confused
is more accurate.) And since us average, semi-confused
guys have to stick together, that’s why, even though Shaunti
and I are both authoring this book, I’ll be the one doing most
of the talking.
First, Some Background
In 2004 Shaunti published For Women
Only: What You Need
to Know About the Inner Lives of Men, which quickly became
a bestseller. Based on a nationally representative survey,
scores of focus groups, and other research, it opened
women’s eyes to things that most of us guys had always
wished our wives knew. Things like, most of us need to feel
respected even more than loved. Or besides just getting
enough sex, men also have a huge need to feel sexually
desired by our wives.
I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were
shocked. To me, those revelations seemed obvious. But by
the flood of letters from around the country....from both
women and their grateful husbands....we’ve seen how much
good can come when the opposite sex finally has their eyes
opened to things they simply didn’t understand before.
In this book, the shock is on the other foot. Now it’s
been Shaunti’s turn to say, over and over, “I can’t believe
you didn’t already know that!”
When Shaunti’s publisher first approached us about
doing a companion to For Women Only to help men understand
women, I had two major concerns. First, I didn’t think
guys would read a “relationship” book since, for most of us,
the last relationship book we read was in premarital counseling....
and then only because we were forced to. But more to
the point, I doubted that a woman could ever be understood.
Compared to other complex matters....like the tides,
say, or how to figure a baseball player’s ERA....women
seemed unknowable. Random even.
I explained my skepticism to one early focus group of
Jeff: Guys tend to think that women are random. We
think, I pulled this lever last week and got a certain reaction.
But when I pulled that same lever this week, I got
a totally different reaction. That’s random!
Woman in group: But we aren’t random! If you pull the
lever and get a different reaction, either you’re
pulling a different lever, or you’re pulling it in a different
Shaunti: What men need is a sort of map to their wives.
Because we can be mapped. We can be known and
Jeff: See, guys think of a woman as a swamp: You can’t
see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you
just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand.
And the more you struggle to get free, the deeper you
get sucked in. So every guy on the planet knows that
the best thing to do is just shut down and hope
somebody comes along to rescue you.
When I came to, Shaunti and the other women in the
focus group assured me....and I have since seen for myself....
that guys don’t have to live in a swamp. That realization led
us to the eventual subtitle of this book: “A Straightforward
Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.”
The Seven Revelations
The most important key to “de-swamping” the woman in
your life is to realize that some of your basic assumptions
about her may be either too simplistic or flat wrong. By simplistic,
I mean that we tend to operate with a partial or
surface understanding of our wife or girlfriend. And to make
matters worse, most guys have no idea how to make their
limited understanding work in actual practice.
For example, most guys have heard that women want
security. Okay....but what does that mean, exactly? A regular
paycheck? A big house? A growing retirement fund? It’s
a huge shocker to talk to hundreds of women and find that
while financial security is nice, it isn’t nearly as important to
them as feeling emotionally secure....feeling close and confident
that you will be there for her no matter what. And
believe it or not, ensuring emotional security turns out to be a
lot easier than ensuring the financial security you are probably
busting your tail to provide.
For Men Only will help you move from surface understandings
to the all-important recognition of what those
things mean in everyday life with your woman. Once you
start testing out these findings, I think you’ll be amazed at
the difference it makes for both of you.
The book is organized around six major findings outlined
on the next page. Some of these will be surprises to you.
Some won’t, at least to begin with. (But that’s the thing
about “swamps”....what you see is rarely what is really there.)
How We Found Out: Our Methodology
For nearly a year, Shaunti and I worked to identify inner
“map terrain” areas that are common to most women but
that most guys tend not to understand. Besides conducting
hundreds of in-person interviews, we gathered huge amounts
of anecdotal information at dozens of women’s events where
Shaunti was presenting materials from For Women Only. I
spoke with stay-at-home moms, business owners, and secretaries;
on airplanes, in focus groups, and over Shaunti’s book
table as she was mobbed after women’s conferences. And I
sifted through hundreds of e-mails and forum postings from
Shaunti’s 4-womenonly.com website.
In all these venues, I was really just the “embedded
male.” Like the reporters who rode with the armored cavalry
divisions at the opening of the Iraqi war, I kept my helmet
on, my head down, and my notebook handy.
After all that research, we did a scientific national survey.
As Shaunti had done for her previous book, we worked
with survey-design expert Chuck Cowan, former chief of
census design for the U.S. Census Bureau, and professional
survey company Decision Analyst. They came together to
help us design and conduct a groundbreaking, representative
survey of four hundred women all over the country. In the
end, between interviews, surveys, events, and other input,
we estimate that well over three thousand women provided
input for this book.
I know you’ll be fascinated by the results. While some of
the findings may be challenging or difficult to accept, most
men have been surprised by how helpful many of these
truths are and how simple they are to implement for a better,
The Map Key
Before we tackle each of the findings, some pointers on reading
The Thing to Do Next
- This book holds to a biblical world view. Our
aim is to be relevant and revealing, no matter
what your worldview is. But because Shaunti and
I view life through our Christian faith, we have
seen that these findings are consistent with biblical
principles. We believe that relationships are
most fulfilling when both people have a common
commitment to serving Jesus Christ. We do not
quote very heavily from Scripture, but we do draw
from and reference it as the only truly dependable
guidebook for relationships. For example, our
starting-point assumption is that husbands need
to love their wives just as Jesus does us....which
means to love, serve, and be willing to sacrifice
everything for her good, even above our own.
- This is not a comprehensive marriage book.
There are already plenty of marriage books on the
market....including many terrific ones from
Christian experts. So we stay away from wellcovered
topics and areas that guys already tend
to have a handle on, and we leave the heavy-duty
theological discussions for those books. (If you
want to investigate those further, we list several
recommended resources at our website,
www.formenonlybook.com.) Also, while we are
writing more for married men, these insights will
be helpful for anyone in a committed male-female
relationship. That said, if your relationship is
seriously on the rocks, this little book will probably
open your eyes in some important areas, but it is
not designed to cover a real crisis situation. We
encourage you to get the kind of counsel and support
your marriage deserves.
- This is not an equal treatment. Just as For
Women Only was purposefully one-sided....and if
your wife read it, you may have benefited from
that fact....so is this book. Yes, you have needs
too, and there certainly may be relationship issues
arising because she doesn’t understand you. But
For Women Only addresses many of those, and
this book is not about them. This is only about
the inner lives of women, and we’re focusing
entirely on how men relate to women, not the
other way around. (That is also why the survey
only polled heterosexual women.)
- There are exceptions to every rule. Recognize
that when I say “most women” appear to think a
certain way, “most” does not mean all. We make
generalizations out of necessity to be helpful in
the widest number of circumstances possible.
Inevitably there will be exceptions.
- Our findings may not be politically correct, but
we try to be true to the evidence. As a newspaper
columnist on women’s issues, Shaunti sometimes
receives e-mails from women complaining that she
is doing exactly what we intend to do in this
book....making generalizations about women. Add
the fact that I, as a guy, am daring to make those
generalizations, and we recognize the potential for
controversy. We don’t quite know how to get
around that, so we decided to just report what we
learned. (For any woman sneaking a peak: We do
not intend to be offensive; we just want to speak
frankly to men, from a man’s viewpoint, about
you. Our sole intention is to help your man understand
and love you better. Even if we have to poke
fun at the male preoccupation with sex to do it.)
We think in the pages ahead you’re going to receive a lot of
very promising invitations to try some new things. Most are
incredibly simple, but they may not come naturally. At least
at first. Of course, if all you read about here is already instinctive
to you, you wouldn’t be troubled by randomness,
confusion, frustration…and did I mention swamps?
My encouragement to you: Give the process time as you
retrain years of incorrect assumptions and counterproductive
reactions. Bring a humble attitude. Be willing to
practice. Believe it can be done.
Because I’ve learned that it can be. After several months
of being the embedded male, I was watching a movie with
Shaunti one night. Halfway through, I casually mentioned
that I didn’t like the way one female character treated
another. Shaunti sat up on the couch, grinned, and said,
“You’re thinking like a girl!”
Now, she meant it as high praise, but in the small Midwest
town where I grew up, that kind of talk could get a guy
slugged. But then I realized: Maybe I had learned a valuable
thing or two about the female universe, just by listening in.
Here’s hoping that you do, too.