Her Multiple Windows are … Open!April 18, 2006
Today on the broadcast, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn joins her husband, Jeff, an entrepreneur and president of World2one tech company, to discuss a woman's uncanny ability to multi-task.
Today on the broadcast, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn joins her husband, Jeff, an entrepreneur and president of World2one tech company, to discuss a woman's uncanny ability to multi-task.
Bob: Guys, have you ever had this experience with your wife where something is going on, and you're thinking, "Why is she reacting like that? What's happening here?" Here is Jeff Feldhahn.
Jeff: I just thought she's emotional as a result of her emotions kind of running haywire at times; they create all of these other issues.
Shaunti: If, in the middle of a conflict, a husband will just say a few words, it will make everything better, and those words are something like, "Honey, I'm angry, but I want you to know we're okay."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, April 18th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. And, guys, we're going to help you get inside the heart and the head of your wife today, and it's not that scary. Come on, you can do it.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I did not mean "defective." That was not the word I meant to pick when I was talking about how women think. I think the word I was …
Dennis: What was the word you were thinking of, Bob?
Bob: I think the word was "unique."
Dennis: How about the word "different."
Bob: Different, yeah, that will work, too.
Bob: Women think differently than men, and …
Dennis: … and different is not wrong …
Bob: … it's just different.
Dennis: It's just different.
Bob: But, see, there's still something that keeps coming back. Do you remember Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady?"
Dennis: Yes, yes.
Bob: He had this song, "Why Can't a Woman be More Like a Man?" Men are so logical, they're so this, they're so that – why can't a woman be more like a man? And haven't you ever found yourself just wondering why can't you just think more like me?
Dennis: You know, we marry our wives because they are different, and after we marry them, we then go about the process of changing them, all right, to try to make them into more like us. And if they did, they would lose their mystery.
Bob: Well, you know, the wedding ceremony is actually set up to predispose us to want to change our wives, you know that, right? It's set up this way. It starts off with the bride standing at the end of the aisle, and then she walks up to the altar, and while she's doing that, someone is singing a hymn and, in the groom's mind, there is this whole idea, "I'll alter him, I'll alter him." I guess that's in the bride's mind. Never mind.
Dennis: Let's get on with our guests – it is a bad joke. We have a couple of guests who join us again on FamilyLife Today – Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. Welcome back, Jeff and Shaunti.
Dennis: Glad to have you back. They have written a book called "For Men Only, A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women." And Jeff is an attorney so this book is well crafted. The words are well shaped to communicate to men so they can better understand their wives.
Bob: This is your closing argument, right?
Jeff: And there is a legal disclaimer at the end of the book.
Bob: What I liked about the book – did you notice it, right there at the front – the Quick Start Guide?
Dennis: Oh, yeah, absolutely. That is where mine is open right now.
Bob: You can read the first, what, seven or eight pages of this book, you've got the whole thing, right? I mean, in man terms, you've got the whole thing.
Jeff: Absolutely right.
Bob: In woman terms, you don't have the feeling, you don't have the experience, you don't have all the nuances, but, for a guy, you've got it, right?
Jeff: Well, we had to realize that most guys don't read books like this. So how can we get it to them in bite-sized pieces so that they can digest it and learn something?
Bob: It's a great part of the book.
Dennis: It is.
Bob: Great feature.
Dennis: And what they've done in the book, is they've really revealed the result of focus groups, research of more than 3,000 respondents around the country where they've talked to women about helping men better understand them. And yesterday we talked about the first result of six findings that you came up with, and that's that the deal is not closed, the deal isn't done.
Bob: And the idea there is that in the heart of a woman there is a longing to be reassured that the love that a husband has expressed to his wife is for real, and it's going to continue, and it's permanent. And, Shaunti, you've said that when there's conflict or when there is withdrawal or stress or preoccupation, it raises doubts in the hearts of a wife.
Shaunti: It really does, and it's – we know that it's probably not particularly logical, but we also just feel it. Honestly, even the most secure woman can have this feeling rise up – does he still love me? Are we still okay? And so the thing that Jeff and I, one of the magic bullets that we like telling guys, because they're all about – just tell me what to do, what do I do about it? And, honestly, the thing that really helped Jeff the most was learning – and the survey, by the way, backed us up – that if, in the middle of a conflict, a husband will just say a few words, it will make everything better, and those words are something like, "Honey, I’m angry, and I need my space, but I want you to know we're okay." And then it makes it so much easier for us, as a wife, to give him the space that he needs because that one statement has reassured us.
Bob: You know what that makes me think of, hearing them say that, at the Weekend to Remember conference where we're talking with couples about conflict and how things get locked up, to recognize that in the midst of conflict, it's not just the two of you who are involved, but there is an enemy who wants your marriage to dissolve. And so we've counseled a lot of couples to look at each other in the midst of conflict and say, "You are not my enemy." And the other one will say, "You are not my enemy." And there is something about that that lets some of the pressure out of the balloon, and you can move to resolution a whole lot quicker.
Dennis: And the phrase, "We're okay," really takes care of what is in the soul of a woman. She wants to know that she is secure.
Shaunti: Yes, and, apparently, according to Jeff and the other guys, they don't realize that that's even in doubt. They don't realize that that's what's rising up in her.
Bob: Jeff, did you realize, as you were doing the research and starting to go through this – did you realize that your wife and most women are multitaskers?
Jeff: I realized that I was confused oftentimes by conversations that we'd have; by things that we would do together; and I didn't know what to attribute it to. I just thought, "She's emotional," and as a result of her emotions kind of running haywire at times, they create all of these other issues.
Bob: We guys tend to be pretty focused on whatever the task at hand is, but for our wives, whatever the task at hand is, there are three or four other things that are kind of swirling around all at the same time.
Dennis: Well, it's what's happened all day. I mean, it's the context of her life – her children, her place of work, her home, her relationships with her parents, with her friends, her family members. You're smiling, Shaunti.
Shaunti: I'm sorry – we tell guys in the book that women have all these Windows open, you know, we're like a computer desktop with 20 windows open at once, and as you were talking, Dennis, I'm like, "Oh, man, I hope so-and-so remember to pick the kids up from school today."
Bob: Jeff's been here thinking about the radio program, and that's all you – you hadn't even thought about the kids in the last hour, have you?
Jeff: Not a bit, unfortunately, I hate to say it. And the fact is, I would have thought about the kids at some point, but I would have done it sequentially.
Bob: What is it with this 20 Windows open at the same time thing? What's going on?
Shaunti: Well, the analogy we use in the book is like guys being like a computer with one Window open at a time. You work on whatever you're working on, you click the little "x" and you close it, and you move on to the next spot or the next emotion or the next task, whatever it is. And we women, we have seven, eight, 20, whatever it is, Windows open, and we're bouncing back and forth between them. And the difference, really, for most of us, is that we can't just – when something is really bothering us, we can't just click the "x" and make it go away.
Jeff: Just not think about it.
Shaunti: And just not think about it, yeah. Jeff would always – you know, it was one of these things that guys often say, "Just don't let it bother you, Sweetheart," and we're clicking the "x" and all it's doing is maybe minimizing it, but it's, like, spyware or something on your computer. It will just pop back up again.
Dennis: I've got a great illustration of it. Barbara and I watched a popular show the other night – "24." So here is Jack Bauer, who is conquering the world every two-and-a-half minutes, and one of the characters in there besides Jack was – in this particular episode we were watching, was his wife, and she was in trouble. And, of course, the episode is over, and we move on with life, and we're doing something, and about two and a half hours later, we're getting ready to go to bed, and Barbara is preoccupied. I'm saying, "What wrong, sweetheart?" She goes, "Well, I'm just concerned about Jack's wife."
I'm going, "Jack's wife?" But here's the thing I've learned about my wife.
Bob: Now, "24" fans will know he was watching Season 1, because Jack's wife – I'm not going any farther than that.
Dennis: Don't give it away, Bob, don't give it away. But the point is that my wife is visual, and through here eye gate, she is collecting data, and it's why we can be having a conversation around something, and I'm totally focused on her, and she's looking up at the corner at the wallpaper where we're having our meal, and she's going, "You know, the house needs to be fixed." And so that Window pops open. You're nodding, Jeff, you've been in that conversation – not with my wife.
Jeff: Numerous times.
Dennis: Yeah, but we don't realize that they can have all these Windows, and you call them "pop-ups" that cloud the screen, and you wonder how any communication occurs, but a wife, a woman, has that capability.
Shaunti: But, see, here's the thing is guys, you guys, no offense, you think of it as clouding the screen, and for us it's just us. I mean, this is just everyday life.
Dennis: For a man, though, it does cloud the screen.
Shaunti: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Dennis: We don't minimize the one Window, we make it big, and it's the total focus of the deal at that point.
Dennis: So we're talking to our wives, and here's all these things, and so we filter that through ours, and we have to remember how we began this broadcast – different is not wrong, it's just different.
Jeff: And I think the shock, to me, during all of the research, was the frequency that they would have this experience; that it was ongoing. It wasn't just a one-time thing in the magnitude of the feeling of it. For a guy, he can experience this to a degree. He's had a bad day at work, something is wrong with his industry, he's worried whether he's going to be able to provide for his family in the future. That's a thought that comes back, and he may be doing other things with his family during that night, but away from work he has that recurring thought coming back time and time again.
So we understand it, but it's usually reserved for those big events.
Bob: Right, you were having dinner with a couple, and a wife had a pop-up in the middle of dinner, and nobody knew it until her husband kind of intuitively picked up on it, right?
Jeff: That's right. I was visiting with a colleague, having dinner, and the husband, when I arrived, was doing some work in the living room with one of those little firestarter gadgets.
Jeff: Got done with that, walked into the dining room where dinner was laid out, we sat down, and the wife said, "Bob, what did you do with the firestarter?" He said, "Well, I left it in the living room." She said, "But the kids are in there." And he said, "Don't worry, they can't do anything with it. It's got that safety mechanism on it. They're not strong enough. Nothing will happen." And she said, "But" – okay, so we started dinner. I, having just done the research for this particular chapter said, "You know this reminds me of" – and I explained the whole issue of an open Window. She said, "That's it," and immediately got up, got the firestarter, set it in the kitchen out of the kids' reach and said, "Okay, now I can enjoy dinner."
Shaunti: And the thing to me that's so interesting that if a guy is – both Jeff and his friend realized is if she hadn't been encouraged to take what was really a 10-second action, she wouldn't have been able to enjoy the next two hours of dinner, and the thing, honestly, that I tell guys now when we're talking to groups of maybe men and women, is "Think about it, guys. You have a couple of options here. You can either say, 'Just don't let it bother you,' and you know what? If the Window is open, remember, she can't necessarily close it. It's not the way we're wired.
Dennis: It's not a matter of just saying to her, "Just minimize it or click it and take it away."
Shaunti: Yeah, because we just don't often have the capacity to be able to do that. It just keeps popping up. So you can either do that or you can say, "Okay, go ahead and get it. I know it's going to be bother you." Or, even better, is actually say, "You know what? I can tell this is going to be bothering you. Let me go get it for you." And it's funny, I was just a few weekends ago talking to a mixed group of men and women, and when I said that, all the women stood up and started clapping, and you could see all the guys looking at them in utter shock, like, "What?" And think how simple that is, but, oh, it makes the woman feel absolutely adored and understood, and it's such a simple thing. So, guys, anytime you find yourself saying, "Don't think about it," change that to thinking, "Hm, I could earn some brownie points here."
Dennis: Okay, here's the question, Shaunti, and I'm very sensitive to the fact that there are three men in this studio with one woman. We asked Barbara to come in, but she had some other matters she had to attend to, and she couldn't come in. But she would laugh at this question – there seems to be an event in the lives of every married couple where it's not just that there are a few Windows open for a woman, it's, like, all of a sudden, the Windows are open all over the place, and the man literally does not know what to do. It seems like when a woman lays down in bed and has a few moments to finally unwind at the end of the day, pewww, pewww, pewww.
Shaunti: Well, it's because you're finally able to sort of put everything else you were doing that was taking your brain aside and, all of a sudden, now, your Windows have a chance to filter through all these other things.
Dennis: So what would you advise a man to do with those Windows at that point?
Shaunti: Well, let me tell you, here's the thing – honestly, that is so hard, Jeff tells me, for guys – but, honestly, to be able to say, to resolve them, the easiest way to resolve them is just to let her talk through them, even if it's just for a couple of minutes.
I'm seeing all these, like, deer-in-the-headlights faces.
Bob: It's never a couple of minutes, Shaunti, come on, let's be real.
Shaunti: Okay, could I tell you that – okay, could I tell you, then, the secret bullet to this one.
Bob: Yeah, please.
Shaunti: All right, guys, here is what you need, okay? You ask her how her day was way before bedtime. You ask her over dinner, you ask her at 7:00 at night when you get home, and you let her work through those things. Guess what? They won't need to be worked through later.
Bob: So you're saying if you can somehow get those windows dealt with earlier, they won't be there?
Shaunti: That's right, because all it is is a matter of what we need to resolve them, which, in most cases – not all – but in most cases is just to talk about them.
Bob: Okay, but you know what I'm talking about here where you're cuddling a little bit, and you're nuzzling a little bit, and all of a sudden your wife will say, "I've been thinking about this summer" – and you go, "Thinking about this summer?"
Shaunti: That's not what I what I think you would be thinking about right now.
Bob: And it's just kind of, like, what do you do? As a guy, there, you go, "Well, let's talk about that, sweetheart, for a few minutes, huh?"
Shaunti: Okay, I will admit, that is correct. That is not the right time, but you can say, "Let's talk about that a little bit later."
Bob: Okay, now that we're …
Shaunti: She knows that you're not trying to avoid it.
Shaunti: There you go.
Bob: That's good.
Dennis: So the way you help your wife close a Window is, as a man, you click on it, and you maximize it, and you focus on that Window with her and allow her to kind of unpack what's in the window, and then you kind of help her shut it down, and then you move to the next one, right, and you maximize it.
Bob: Are we getting this? Is this the way you do this?
Jeff: You have to, also, as a guy, come to it with a point of "I'm not going to be defensive about this, too," because, quite frankly, some of the Windows, the most important Windows that are popping up in her head perhaps involve you or your relationship, and, as a man, perhaps when the wife wants to talk about the relationship, that's when we become, perhaps, even the most defensive.
Dennis: Give us an illustration from your marriage, Jeff.
Jeff: Shaunti, can you do it?
Bob: You got an open Window on this one, Shaunti?
Anything popping up for you right here?
Shaunti: You know, honestly, for me, it comes out as one of the subjects we were already talking about this week, which is that there could be something in my head that got triggered. Sort of that, "Oh, man, is our relationship okay?" You know, and that may not have been resolved just because maybe he's angry or he's still a little quiet – that's a big one – and so, honestly, being able to just say, you know, "I'm sorry." This is something that Jeff does all the time, because now he knows. He's, like, "Oh, man, you've got another Window open, don't you?" "Yup."
And he'll do this great thing now that he knows he needs to where he'll actually say, "You know what? I know that I've been a little withdrawn," or "I know I've been a little grouch, and I'm sorry." And that's really all it takes.
Bob: Window closed?
Shaunti: Window closed, yeah. This is, again, part of the theme that we've been saying all the way through this book is guys think understanding women is impossible, and it's really not rocket science. This stuff is really simple. It's just maybe you haven't been used to it.
Dennis: It does work, but the thing I want to caution men with right now, because this would be the mistake, I would think – "Okay, this is real simple. I'm going to go home, and I'm going to click on a couple of Windows and check that off." Well, if you haven't been doing this, there may be a number of Windows open. In fact, as you click off one, there maybe a pop-up that occurs behind it that is the result of neglect …
Shaunti: Yeah, it's a really good point.
Dennis: In terms of not depositing love in the life of your wife over a period of weeks, months, or even years.
Bob: It may take more than just a "Gee, I'm sorry, I've been a little grouchy lately," and the Window closed, right?
Dennis: It may take a "You know, sweetheart, as I listen to this, I'm sorry. It is clear that I have not been the husband I need to be, and I want to be there for you, and if we have to take the next few days or few weeks and begin to open some Windows and talk about them and interact around them, I'm committed to you. I want to express my love to you, because I want us to go the distance."
Jeff: Every guy is motivated by wanting peace in his household, and these are ways that he can achieve that. So it may take some work. You didn't start running a marathon the very first time you decided to do it. It took a little effort, it took a little work, but Scripture commands us that we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church.
Bob: Is there not something Microsoft or Google could do to help you guys view women. You know, what I'm thinking? Something we could upload that just would fix this whole problem? That's what I'm looking for, and we have it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. The new device that will help your wife close all her Windows instantly. We'd sell a lot of those.
Dennis: We would, I'm telling you, and guys would glaze over. But, number one, it's focus. It's looking her in the eyes and listening. Number two, it's handling as many of those Windows as she wants to let you into and talk about and being patient with her and, as we'll talk about later on this week, as Shaunti and Jeff write about their book, it means you don't always try to fix what's in the Window. Because, as a man, we move toward being Mr. Fix-It when the Window pops open when our wives, first and foremost, just need us to focus and listen.
Bob: Yes, you really have to have a fundamental commitment to doing what the Bible talks about in 1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 7 that you've made reference to this week, and that is to live with our wives in an understanding way. If we're going to do that as husbands we have to first get some understanding, and that's where the book the two of you have written is very helpful. It's called "For Men Only," and it gives us a look inside what's going on in the heart and the mind of most women based on the survey data you've gotten back from hundreds of women that you've talked to.
We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and I know many of our listeners appreciated the book, "For Women Only," where you took the same approach to understand what's going on in a man's heart and mind. We have that book in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well. Now they're going to want to get the book "For Men Only," and guys are going to want to read this so they can do a better job of loving their wives well.
Go to our website, FamilyLife.com. In the middle of the screen you'll see a button that says "Go." You click on that button, it will take you right to a page where you can get more information about how you can order a copy of this book and have it sent to you. There are other resources on that page that you may want to consider like the book "For Women Only." That's available from our FamilyLife Resource Center as well.
And we've got some books that many husbands and wives have told us that they have found very helpful. They are books that have romantic tips – just ideas, things you can do to express your love and your affection for your husband or for your wife. For example, on the "Tips for Romancing Your Wife," one of them is to take $10 over to the Dollar Store and buy her 10 fun gifts that remind her of you, and over dinner give them one at a time and tell her why you bought each one and why it reminds you of her. We've got ideas like that in these books, and if you're interested in getting those along with Jeff and Shaunti's book, "For Men Only," we can send you along at no additional cost the two CDs that feature this week's conversation with Jeff and Shaunti on the book "For Men Only," and you can either review the material yourself or pass it on to someone else who might benefit from listening to it.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com. Just go there and click the "Go" button in the middle of the screen. That will take you right to the page where you can get more information about these resources or order online, if you'd like, or call us at 1-800-358-6329; 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll make sure that we can get these things out to you.
Tomorrow Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn are going to be back, and we want to talk about safety and security and why that's so important to a wife, and why men don't really understand exactly what that means and what's going on in a wife's heart when she is feeling insecure. We're going to talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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