Takeaway: Women and men are different. Using interviews and surveys can show some differences, only conversation will work them out in your life.
I first heard about For Women Only when I saw an interview with Shaunti Feldhahn when that book first came out. All the women in the audience received a copy. So I read my wife’s copy to see if it was any good and then highly recommended that she read it.
A couple years later Shaunti and her husband Jeff co-wrote a men’s version of the book. Both books take fairly large surveys of men or women and a lot of focus group data to try to build a case for the important differences between men and women. There is no discussion about nature vs. nurture, just that these are the real differences that actually exist between men and women right now in the US.
Both books are fairly short (around 180 small pages) and only have 8 or 9 chapter. I have now read the men’s version three or four times and most recently read it for discussion in the newly married small group that my wife and I lead.
This is a good book for small group discussion. Obviously there are a lot of stereotypes (both positive and negative) in books that are based on survey data. What I have found is that stereotypes, when honestly approached, can be a good place for real discussion to get to deeper matters.
It is interesting that after 15 years of marriage, and reading this book 3 or 4 times and having long discussions with my wife at least two of those times, there is still more subject areas to mine. Books like this are useful in and of themselves. You can gain insight into your spouse by understanding that they perceive things differently than you do. But it takes the actual spouse to show how their mind is different from all other minds of the same gender. So I think the most important thing is not the book, but the discussion that the book brings up.
I was reminded as part of this discussion that just three years ago, that in a group we were discussing making beds and how to tuck in the sheets. I hate my feet constrained with tucked in sheets. My wife likes hers tucked in. Up until this time she thought I just didn’t know how to properly make the bed, and I thought she just didn’t care that I kicked the sheet out as soon as we got in bed. It was simply because we are different and had never talked about it. It is not a big issue, we never got into an argument about it. It is just simply that we had never talked about it, and therefore did not realize that our perceptions of the other were wrong. It is that type of mis-perceiving the other that can be so dangerous in a marriage and why books that try to interpret the other can be so helpful.
This made a very good discussion book for newly marrieds, but I think would be useful for those that have been married for a while as well. (We split into separate genders for the book discussion.) The accompanying discussion guide was useful as well.
Best deal is the For Couples Only (that has both For Men Only/For Women Only for about 30% less than the two books individually)