Chapter OneLIGHTBULB ON!
How I Woke Up to What I Didn't
Know About Men
The other half of the people
on the planet already know what
you're going to read in this book.
As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Manhattan, and
like all New Yorkers we walked everywhere. But I quickly
noticed something strange. Quite often we'd be strolling
hand in hand and Jeff would abruptly jerk his head up and
away. We'd be watching in-line skaters in Central Park or
waiting to cross the street in a crowd, and he would suddenly
stare at the sky. I started to wonder, Is something going on at
the tops of these buildings?
Turns out, something was going on, but it wasn't up in
Have you ever been totally confused by something the
man in your life has said or done? Have you ever wondered,
looking at his rapidly departing back, Why did that make him
so angry? Have you ever been perplexed by your husband's
defensiveness when you ask him to stop working so much?
Yeah? Me too.
But now, after conducting spoken and written interviews
with more than one thousand men, I can tell you that the
answers to those and dozens of other common perplexities
are all related to what is going on in your man's inner life.
Most are things he wishes you knew but doesn't know how
to tell you. In some cases, they're things he has no idea you
don't know. This book will share those interviews and those
answers. But be careful, ladies. You might be slapping your
forehead a lot!
HOW IT ALL STARTED .
Let me tell you how I got here. It all started with the
research for my second novel, The Lights of Tenth Street. One
of the main characters was a man, a devoted, godly husband
and father. Because I wanted this character's thought life to
closely resemble what real men deal with, I interviewed my
husband, Jeff, and many other male friends to try to get
inside their heads. It took me a while to figure out how to
handle what I found.
You see, in the novel my character had a secret struggle: He
loved his wife and kids and was a devoted follower of Christ,
but he liked looking at women and had a constant battle with
his thought life. A constant hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute
battle with the temptations that beckoned from every corner
of our culture, from the secret traps of the Internet to the
overt appeal of the miniskirt walking down the street.
In short-and this is what was such a surprise to me-instead
of being unusual, my character was like almost
every man on the planet. Including the devoted Christian
husbands I was interviewing.
That revelation led to others, on a half-dozen other subjects,
and following those trails led to the hundreds of
personal and written interviews with men-including a
professional survey-that form the core of this book. I
interviewed close friends over dinner and strangers in the
grocery store, married fathers at church and the single student
sitting next to me on the airplane. I talked to CEOs,
attorneys, pastors, technology geeks, business managers, the
security guard at Costco, and the guys behind the counter
at Starbucks. I even interviewed a professional opera singer
and a former NFL offensive tackle with a Super Bowl ring.
No one was safe.
It turned out that these men shared some surprisingly common
inner wiring. At their secret inner core, many had
similar fears and concerns, feelings and needs.
I discovered that there were many things I thought I
understood about men-but really didn't. In several areas,
my understanding was purely surface-level. Once I got
below the surface and into specifics, everything changed. I
felt like a cartoon character who suddenly had a lightbulb
over my head.
Even better, it turned out that those revelations were
mostly about things that my own husband always wished I
knew but couldn't figure out how to explain. And that was
a common refrain from most of the men I talked to.
Although I still make many mistakes in my relationship
with my husband-and will continue to!-finally grasping
these things has hopefully helped me to better appreciate
and support him in the way that he needs.
I want that lightbulb to go on for you as well.
Why was this surprising?
In a way, I was surprised to be so . surprised. We women
think we know many things about a man's inner life. We all
know, for example, that "men are visual," but, well . what
exactly does that mean?
It turns out that what that means in practice is the key
thing-the specific insight that will help you be a better
wife, girlfriend, or mother. Using the "visual" example, the
difference is vast between having the vague notion that men
are visual and knowing that the sexy commercial he just
watched has become a mental time bomb that will rise up
and assault him the next day. The difference is vast between
helplessly wondering what is going on in his head and having
the insight of hundreds of men to help you understand
not only what is going on, but also how to support him.
Actually, there was a kind of double surprise in this
research. When I interviewed men and drew some conclusions,
they would often say, "But women already know
that . surely they know that." All too frequently, I found
myself replying, "Well, I didn't know that." I began to realize
that there's so much about men that we don't understand-and
that men don't even know we don't know.
And that sort of misunderstanding is the stuff that gives
birth to a lot of conflict.
So here are the revelations this book is going to cover-seven
translations from "surface level" to "in practice" that
you, like me, may not have realized before.
As with all of us, the inner life of a man is a package,
with these elements melded and wrapped up inside.
Whether you are relating to a husband, boyfriend, or son, it
is impossible to understand one part of his inner life in isolation.
Every area affects every other area, and I'm only
covering those few areas that I thought were the most
important or helpful.
Thankfully, these revelations are also backed up by evidence-a
groundbreaking professional survey of hundreds of men.
Since I found no survey data like this on the market,
two sets of experts, Chuck Cowan at Analytic Focus, the
former chief of survey design at the U.S. Census Bureau,
and Cindy Ford and the survey team at Decision Analyst,
came together to help me conduct this survey. The survey
was blind, done at random, and meticulously planned and
executed. Four hundred anonymous men across the country,
ranging in age from twenty-one to seventy-five, answered
two dozen questions about their lives and about how they
think, what they feel, and what they need. The survey
stressed that we weren't dealing with outward behavior as
much as with the inner thoughts and emotions that led to
Later, because the survey itself inevitably led to additional
revelations, I conducted a more informal follow-up
survey of another four hundred anonymous men-this
time, specifically churchgoers-to ask a few additional
questions (and some of the same ones). Amazingly, there
were very few differences.
After all the surveying, the results of my personal interviews
were confirmed. Not only had I heard the same
things over and over-quotes that I will include in the following
pages-but those anecdotal results were now backed
up by statistically valid evidence. I hadn't just happened to
interview the hundred weirdest men on the planet! (Since
I am an analyst and not a psychologist, and since my gradschool
statistics professor might politely question the
statistical skills of someone who needed a whole semester
to learn regression analysis, I was quite relieved that professional
statisticians confirmed my findings!)
In the end, the men I spoke with and surveyed appear to
have been extremely transparent and honest about some
very personal subjects. So, men-whoever you are-I
BEFORE WE START:
You're probably rarin' to turn the page, but before you get
to look inside the inner lives of men, here are some
First, if you are looking for male-bashing or proof
that your husband is indeed a cad, you won't find
it here. I honor the men who shared their hearts
with me, and I hope that by sharing their insight,
more women might come to understand and
appreciate the wonderful differences between us.
Second, this is not an equal treatment of male-female
differences, nor do I deal at all with how
your man can or should relate to you. Yes, we
women obviously also have needs, and many of the
truths discussed in these pages apply to us too. But
since the theme is the inner lives of men and my
space is limited, I'm focusing entirely on how we
relate to men, not the other way around. (That is
also why the survey did not poll gay men.)
Third, recognize that there are always exceptions
to every rule. When I say that "most men" appear
to think a certain way, realize that "most" means
exactly that-most, not all. I'm making generalizations
out of necessity, and inevitably there will be
exceptions. One reason I did the professional survey
was to determine what was an exception and
what was normal.
Fourth, I'm addressing what is normal inside men,
not necessarily what is right in their outward
behavior. And since these pages are not the place
for a lengthy exploration of any one issue, you can
always go to www.4-womenonly.com to explore
more resources, including the entire survey.
Fifth, I need to warn you that some of the enclosed
insight may be distressing because it affects our
view of the men in our lives and our view of ourselves.
It was tempting to exclude certain things,
but I realized that I was hearing things men often
weren't willing or able to say directly to their
spouses or girlfriends. So it was critical to include
these comments. But please realize that in most
cases, these comments have little to do with us-they
are just the way men are wired. And we
should celebrate that fact. After all, it is because he
is wired as a man that you love him.
Finally, and most important, I hope that this book
is not just about learning fascinating new secrets.
The more we understand the men in our lives, the
better we can support and love them in the way
they need to be loved. In other words, this revelation
is supposed to change and improve us.
So read on, ladies, and join me as we look into the inner
lives of men.