Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Delighting in Marriage

Leslie Basham: Some women spend lots of time in front of the mirror. Shaunti Feldhahn wants to know, Are you making an effort to look attractive for your husband? 

Shaunti Feldhahn: We say it’s what is on the inside that matters. We’ve come to this idea that what’s on the outside doesn’t matter, and instead, we just need to deal with reality on this and recognize that to our husband it does. Thankfully, it’s about them seeing us willing to make the effort.

Leslie: This if Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, July 4.

Happy Independence Day! All week we’ve heard from Shaunti Feldhahn. Ten years ago, she published a book called For Women Only. When she appeared on Revive Our Hearts to talk about it, it's safe to say that interview got a lot of attention from our listeners.

Shaunti has just released an updated version of For Women Only. Later onin today's program we’ll hear about some of that new material and find out what Shaunti’s discovered since writing the first edition.

First, we’ll hear part of that original interview. It does include some mature topics, so you need be aware of that if you have younger children with you.

And I’ll also mention: Whenever we talk about marriage, we can’t address every specific situation. We know your story is unique. So ask the Lord to show you how today’s discussion may apply to you. We do encourage you to get some help from older women in your church who can help you with your specific questions.

Here’s Nancy to get us started.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’ve been having a great discussion over the past several days with two women who have a heart for the Lord, a heart for their husbands, and a heart to help other women have the kind of marriage and relationship with men that God intended them to have.

Barbara Rainey has been a longtime friend; she’s the wife of Dennis Rainey. Together they founded FamilyLife Ministries—heard on many of the same stations that air Revive Our Hearts. They’re a partner ministry of ours.

Barbara, you’re a sweet friend, and you’re an author, a mother, a grandmother—a lot of roles that you have at this season of your life. Thank you for taking time out to come and talk with us about some of these really important subjects.

Barbara Rainey: You are welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Nancy: Shaunti Feldhahn is a new friend. She’s written a book called, For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. We stated earlier in the series, but I want to say it again, that none of us are experts on men—certainly not I—and we’re not claiming to be.

There is a lot more that we don’t know than we do, and we want to say that from the outset. But Shaunti did some research and asked in different ways, in verbal and written interviews, over a thousand men to help women understand what they want us to get about them that sometimes we don’t get.

Shaunti, thank you for writing this book; thank you for joining us here on Revive Our Hearts.

Shaunti: It’s a pleasure.

Nancy: Before we jump into this, I want to just lay a biblical foundation. I was reading in my quiet time this morning from the book of the Song of Solomon, which is the biblical handbook on physical intimacy in marriage. It reminds us that the marriage relationship, and even the physical part of that, is intended to be a picture of the redemptive relationship that Christ has with His Church. We don’t want to lose sight of the mystery of all this.

It’s not just about sex. It’s not just about your marriage. It’s not just about your issues. It’s about something God wants to communicate to the world about His relationship with His people.

As I was reading in Song of Solomon, I see this very open, free expression of love between this husband and this wife. I see a woman who is delighting in her husband and a husband who senses and is grateful for the delight that she feels. Just the very opening of that book she says, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;” she says to her husband (Song of Solomon 1:2). Then she says, “Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers” (Song of Solomon 1:4).

Right from the get-go, she’s saying, "I cherish our physical relationship. I cherish your body. I cherish you as my husband, and I delight to give myself to you."

That is a really different sense about physical intimacy than you get when you talk to a lot of wives today.

Barbara: That is really true, because the attitude today is not that gracious; it’s not that giving; it’s not that kind. So often it is begrudging and negative, and I think in the last generation, women have changed their perspective. They’re looking at marriage as, “What’s in it for me?” not “How can I serve my husband and love him?”

We need to do some mental shifting in the way that we think about our husbands. The Song of Solomon would be a good place to start as we think about the whole area of physical intimacy in marriage.

Shaunti: I think also that for us to recognize that delight in this relationship is exactly what our husbands need to feel from us—that sense that we want to be with them in that way, we delight in it, we desire them. It was such a surprise when I found out that this was not just a physical need, as we talked about yesterday, but that our delight built our husbands up in a sense of well-being in other areas of their life.

One man said,

I can be having a terrible time at work; I can be having a terrible time in my industry; the house can be a wreck, and the kids can be disobedient. But if I know that my wife desires me and she affirms me in bed, I have a sense that I can conquer the rest of my life with no problem. But if I get that same sense from her that, "You don’t measure up, don’t touch me,” that will devastate me worse than anything else in my life.

Barbara: It really does create rejection in the heart of a man that goes perhaps deeper than any other kind of rejection he can experience.

Shaunti: The other thing that I discovered, that really was a surprise to me, was that so many men go through their day feeling isolated. One guy said, “I feel like I go out in the ring every day, and I fight the good fight, and it’s really lonely.”

Nancy: That can be true of even men who are very outgoing and who have a lot of friends.

Barbara: Oh, yes.

Shaunti: Yes, absolutely.

Nancy: It’s an inner loneliness that you’re talking about.

Barbara: That’s right.

Shaunti: Absolutely. It’s an inner loneliness that they have. One man said, well, let me actually just read this quote. He said,

 A man really does feel isolated, even with his wife, but in making love, there is one other person in this world that you can be completely vulnerable with and be totally accepted and non-judged. It is a solace that goes very deep into the heart of a man.

Barbara: That is so good.

Shaunti: Isn’t that beautiful?

Barbara: It really is.

Shaunti: What a joy to be able to recognize that. And instead of feeling, “Well, it’s my duty,” or “It’s my burden,”—no! You have an opportunity to salve this deep sense of loneliness that your husband feels.

Nancy: I want to encourage our married listeners in particular to go and read the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. It’s a book you don’t hear preached on very often in church. It’s a book not many Christians take time to dig into, but just read the exchange—the verbal exchange, the physical exchange between this husband and his wife.

Read the things that she says. It’s intriguing to me how often she initiates the physical relationship with her husband. She says, “Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon” (1:7).

Shaunti: “Where can I find you?”

Nancy: She’s saying, “Where can I find you?” Then she says, “Behold, the voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills” (2:8). A lot of women are thinking, “Yes, I know what he wants!” But she is welcoming him. She knows what he wants, but she invites him; she welcomes him, receives him into her life, and that’s really what a man wants from his wife.

Shaunti: Let me tell you—I’ll be very transparent here. When I started learning this: how much, just initiating, made such an enormous difference to this feeling in my husband’s life that, she does desire me; she does delight. I started getting kind of bad. I would send my husband a little text message on his phone when he was in the middle of a meeting that just said something about, can’t wait for you to get home. He would just be like, oh man, that fills me up. I can just . . .

Nancy: He forgot all about the meeting!

Shaunti: Yes, probably. But what a joy for us to be able to have that secret delight in each other. For the women out there who feel, “Well, I just don’t—I’m tired. I don’t know if I’m ready for that, if I don’t feel that.” If you will take that first step, I bet you will find that your feelings follow your actions.

Leslie: That’s Shaunti Feldhahn. Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Barbara Rainey have been talking with Shaunti about her book, For Women Only, released a decade ago. Revive Our Hearts listeners first heard that interview not long after the book was released, and so many have told us what a difference it’s made in their lives.

Shaunti has just released an updated version of For Women Only, reflecting new research into how men think. Our team caught up with Shaunti not long ago and asked why she decided to update the book.

Shaunti: The research we've done on how men think, and really, all the research I've done for all the different studies, has been ongoing ever since 2004. It's been nine years.

My husband and I do a lot of marriage conferences. We stepped off stage after a marriage conference and looked at each other and said, "A third of what we just said isn't even in the books." We learned so much since they first came out.

That's why we said, "Alright, it's time to update it with all the stuff we've learned." There's been a lot of brain science developments in the last five or six years. We used to say, "This is what men think," but I wouldn't be able to say why. Now I can often say, "Here's the way God wired the male brain, and this is way they think a certain way." So some of that stuff I thought was really important to put in."

Leslie: One of those new insights sheds light on the way men process information and make decisions.

Shaunti: One of the big ah-ha moments . . . We often will say to ourselves or somebody else, "What was he thinking?" The translation of that is, "He wasn't thinking."

I realized somewhere along the way after the original edition came out, men think about everything. They just do it differently than we as women do. If we women are thinking about something, you know about it because we are verbal processors. We'll think it through; we'll talk it through.

Men are completely different. The way that God wired the male brain . . . I've actually seen the brain scans how the male brain is physically different than the female brain. Literally, because of the brain structure, it's actually difficult for a man to think something through while he's talking it through. He has to stop talking about it and process.

It's like he's going underground and doing this internal chess match. His brain structure is wired to do this very deep processing of one thing at a time—which I know is probably not a surprise to most women.

But what it means is that you haven't heard his thought process. You have no idea. It pops out the other end as a decision—"I think we should do this." We're thinking, What was he thinking? We don't realize he had this whole big, long string of reasoning.

If you stop yourself and say to yourself, "He had a reason." And you say to him, "Help me to understand." You'll hear this big, long string of reasoning. And you'll think, Oh, I'm so glad I didn't jump all over him.

It's funny, I was in another state doing a women's conference in the winter. I called back. I had been gone for three days, and it was the last night. I called, and because of the time difference, my husband Jeff had already put the kids to bed. Our little boy was five at the time.

He said, "I let him sleep without his pajama top." For me as a mom, I'm like, Are you kidding me? It's winter! He's going to get freezing cold. I almost said, "What!?" I almost went off on him. I literally thought to myself, Respect. Remember the respect chapter. He had a reason. He hasn't explained it yet, but he has a reason.

So I sad, "Won't he get cold?"

He's like, "Oh, yes, he's going to get cold. He's been asking to sleep without his pajama top for several nights now, and I kept saying, 'No, no, you're going to get cold.' But he kept wanting to do it so I thought, Okay, I'll let him do it. I'll have him sleep in bed with me so when he inevitably wakes up in the middle of the night freezing cold, I can put his pajama top on, and he will learn not to do that again."

I thought, Oh my, this was like a strategic parenting decision, and I almost went off on him because of it without realizing.

That's a silly example, but that's the kind of stuff we women do all the time. We need to realize guys need this processing time. You may not hear their thought process, but it is there.

Leslie: Shuanti Feldhahn has been giving us insight into the way men process information. While researching the updated edition of For Women Only, she’s been identifying the unspoken questions men and women are always asking themselves.

Shaunti: For girls and for women, our big insecurity is, "Am I loveable? Am I special? Am I beautiful? Am I worthy of being loved for who I am on the inside?" That's why we need to feel loved and cherished.

But for a man, they guys we talked to are like, "Psst. That stuff is nice, but it's not a big deal." For them, they have a totally different question; it's, "Am I able? Am I adequate? Am I any good at what I do on the outside?"

As a result, that one little distinction, for us as women, "Am I worthy of being loved for who I am on the inside?" For guys it's, "Am I any good at what I do on the outside?" That's their big heartcry question. It changes how you approach your man. It changes how you approach your son.

You start recognizing that what he is most wondering is, "Is anyone noticing? Am I any good at what I do?" Suddenly, you find yourself saying, "Thank you" for things. This is one of the things that came out on a later survey. I can't remember the number, but it was like 97% of men said they were powerfully touched just by hearing "thank you." Like, "Thank you for mowing the lawn when it was so hot outside." "Thank you for putting the trash cans back without me asking."

For a guy it's this huge deal to hear that. For us as women, we don't realize, because for us it's nice, but it's not like, "This is oxygen." For a guy, that's oxygen. That sense of appreciation is huge.

So that's another thing we realized. We hadn't put it together that noticing and commenting on what he does, what he accomplishes, is such a big deal.

Leslie: Shaunti Feldhahn been talking about some of the differences between men and women that she writes about in the newly-revised edition of For Women Only. Shaunti hopes God will use this new edition in powerful ways in women’s lives.

Shaunti: We obviously hope that people will get the new one. My hope is that they'll get the new one and give it away, pass it on. I've been so touched by these last few years that one of the reasons this has had such an impact is truly because people have shared this information with others. It's just so touching to me.

We really hope that will continue, where most people aren't buying the book necessarily for themselves, they are buying it because they want to give it to a young couple getting married, or they have someone struggling in marriage, or they have a young woman who is just starting out in the world and doesn't understand guys and is wanting to have a healthy dating relationship and doesn't know how.

My prayer is that these will always be resources that will help women understand men and men understand women. It's universal. It's the way God wired us. We have found that some of these things are just so simple, but we just didn't know them before. But when you know them, they are little things that have a really big impact.

Leslie: We’d like to send you a copy of Shaunti Feldhahn’s book when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you the updated version of For Women Only. 

Along with that book we'll also send you a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. This booklet will lead you through the challenge Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been giving all week. That challenge is: For thirty days don’t say anything negative about your husband, and at the same time, say one positive thing about him each day.

Shaunti Feldhahn heard Nancy Leigh DeMoss give this challenge the first time they recorded an interview. And Shaunti started sharing this challenge with other women.

Shaunti: I was at a group in Texas. There was a woman who was probably married about ten years, she hadn't been married that long, but she was just so ready to give up. I think they had four little children. They had a lot of little young lives that would be impacted if the couple split up.

She asked this question in this big group. I know that she had legitmate heartache. There was some issues that she raised that were really truly a concern. So I shared this, I said I "stole" this from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I said, "Come talk to me afterward."

It's interesting. She is just one of countless examples. She said she had been so focused on the stuff that had been legitimate problems, that for years she hadn't been able to see anything positive. I said, "Tell me one thing." I looked in her eyes and said, "Tell me one thing positive about him." 

She said, "Well, he works really hard to try and support the family. He's never around, but he works really hard."

I said, "I know you can feel unloved, but that's pretty important."

And she said, "Yeah."

So I said, "What do you think that says about his feelings for you?"

"He feels a sense of responsibility."

I said, "So that's two."

So we kept going.

I asked the women's director at this church weeks later how they were doing. And she said, "It's been phenomenal. Yes, they have these very real issues and some addictions and some other real problems, but she feels like she's been given the strength to actually keep going and deal with the real issues rather than giving up entirely.

The thirty day challenge that Nancy developed is so anointed. It's basically just a practical working out of Philippians 4.

I tell women all the time. Paul says in Philippians 4, "Rejoice. And I say it again, rejoice." What I tell these women is, "You are asking me, 'How do I rejoice in this icky situation.'"

I'll say, "How could Paul say that? He was in prison. He was chained to a wall." The prescription, the how is what comes in Philippians 4:8. That's where he says you have to think on whatever is lovely and true and excellent and praiseworthy and the good stuff.

It really is that the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. It is tremendous. It makes a tremendous difference.

Leslie: When you hear Shaunti Feldhahn describe the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge, does it make you feel nervous? What if your husband responds by taking advantage of you?

Shaunti: I understand the fear. As you might be able to tell, I am this fairly strong, opinionated personality. I come from a background growing up where I was very feminist oriented myself. But it is just that; it is a  fear. Like so many other fears, if someone will take it and be oppressive and abusive . . . but in most cases, not all, it is just fear.

In most cases, most men just want to be their wife's hero. They just want to make her happy. They want to love her in the way she needs. They don't always know how. It's very easy for a man who's feeling disrespected and inadequate and controlled to just back off and become passive and kind of check out.

So when you do these things, even though you're scared to death, and you say, "This is hard for me, but I'll try it." What happens is you see this incredible response. You see him light up. You see him become more tender and caring and involved and engaged because he's feeling like the man he always wanted to be. You've helped build him up to be that man that's he's always wanted to be.

So I know it's scary, but I can tell you from my own experience and from these now hundreds of thousands of women I've spoken to in these groups across the country and the ones who have read the book and the stories we've gotten . . . just try it. I think you'll get great, great, great feedback and great incentive to continue.

Leslie: Shaunti Feldhahn has been describing the challenge laid out in the booklet, 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband.

We’d like to send you a copy, along with Shaunti’s book, For Women Only. It’s our way of saying thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

Ask for 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband and For Women Only when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Shaunti Feldhahn will be back tomorrow with Barbara Rainey and our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss. They’ll talk about the ways women process visual information and the way men process it. You’ll find out why that difference matters in the way you dress and the way you relate to your husband. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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