Monday, February 9, 2009

What are you thinking?!

Ever wondered what your husband (or wife) was thinking? When we got married in 1977, premarital counseling wasn’t in vogue. Christian couples assumed we’d marry for life like our parents did. You and your young lover knew it would be rough for a while and toughed it out. What we didn’t know was that marriage was like electric shock therapy: what didn’t kill the union hopefully made you wiser.

I was idealistic. The feminist movement was in full swing, with its radical idea of job sharing at home and elsewhere. My beau agreed: we’d go to school together, he knew how to cook a few meals and would help around the house. Marital intimacy not only meant great sex, but doing things together and talking. We’d share body and soul.

Like most brides of the era, I assumed wooing continues unabated. I was stunned to find that the fellow who had hotly pursued me by enjoying everything from shopping to tying my shoelaces disappeared overnight. Back when we married, husbands—having achieved their goal of winning the bride—went on to the next task of conquering jobs, education, and other challenges. Suddenly, I was a nag for wanting help in the house or kitchen.

That first year of marriage, we attended three marriage classes on or near campus. My husband went reluctantly. My enthusiasm for finding out what he was thinking and sharing our feelings was one-sided. Poor guy - he hated every minute and made it such a misery of non-cooperation that we haven’t gone to marriage retreats or marriage seminars since.

I realized I married a totally alien being one evening after twenty years of marriage. (It took me a while!) We were driving home from a visit to friends a few hours away. The kids were sleeping behind us in the seats of the minivan, but we hadn’t talked for a half hour. My mind was churning with things we’d heard and seen. Wondering if my husband also had pent-up or anxious feelings he was processing, I turned toward him and gently asked, “What are you thinking, hon?” He looked at me blankly. Puzzled. Relaxed. “Thinking? Nothing. Well, work? the car? the stereo I’m thinking of getting? I dunno. Nothing really.”

We have locked horns, wrestled through issues, and come to like a lot about the other. I looked at my husband a few years ago and thought, “He really is my Prince Charming!” Whew.

Things may have changed on the outside, but I bet many guys today would be just as happy never to be asked, “How do you feel about that, honey?” and to have their wife keep house and watch the kids. Society has changed, and expectations of perfect communication (women) and fantastic, frequent sex (men) are higher than ever. Even as the promises and insights of premarital counseling are absorbed into the routines and stresses of daily married life.

Enter Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. They studied at Harvard, married, have kids, volunteer at church, are national speakers… and still have had time to write an eye-opening pair of books on the inner life of spouses. Finally, here's the scoop, based on sound research and observation. They’ve sold over a million copies of For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men and For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the inner Lives of Women. The boxed set comes with a couple’s conversation starter.

I’ve got a new copy of the set to give away in time for Valentines. Let me know why your marriage could use it. Best reason (in the next 3 days) gets it.


  1. good for you!
    At CLA, another couple and Erik and I will be hosting LOVE AND RESPECT starting in March.
    I too was devastated by Erik's lack of interest in marriage seminars, and that almost made me want to quit the marriage around year 9. Year 31 is fabulous!

  2. Some great books for Valentines!
    I Do Again:
    Love As A Way Of Life Devo:
    For Couples Only:

  3. Hi Rosemarie,
    We have those books and absolutely love them!!! It completely changed our marriage, especially the chapter on what makes a husband feel respected/ disrespected. We go through them with couples in pre-marital counseling.