FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Deal is Never Closed

with Jeff Feldhahn, Shaunti Feldhahn | April 17, 2006
Play Pause

On today's broadcast, husband and wife team, Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, explain why women need to be continually reassured that their marital relationship is doing okay.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • On today's broadcast, husband and wife team, Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, explain why women need to be continually reassured that their marital relationship is doing okay.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn explain why women need to be reassured that their marital relationship is doing okay.

MP3 Download Transcript

The Deal is Never Closed

With Jeff Feldhahn, Shaunti Feldh...more
April 17, 2006
| Download Transcript PDF


Bob: Women – they're not so mysterious, are they?  Not so hard to understand?  Every guy who is listening right now is thinking, "What got slipped into his oatmeal?"  Here is author Shaunti Feldhahn.

Shaunti: I hadn't realized that you guys think that we're so hard to understand, and it's really untrue.

Jeff: Most men, I hate to break it to you, will take the opinion that you guys are swamps and, unfortunately, at some point you know that there is quicksand out there.

Shaunti: You're going to get sucked in.

Jeff: And every guy knows that once that happens, the best thing you can do is just to shut down and hope someone comes to rescue you.

[musical transition]

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 17th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine, and if you are a clueless man when it comes to loving your wife, we've got some clues for you today.  Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  This is probably going to get me in trouble, but I'm just being honest here, okay?

Dennis: Our listeners – our regular listeners, especially, Bob, are used to hearing you get in trouble.

Bob: Well, I was thinking about today's program, and I was thinking about the fact that at some point just about every guy looks at his wife or at a woman he knows, and he asks the question – what were you thinking, you know?  And then it seems like it goes from there to "Were you thinking, and how do you think" – it seems – it's a mystery for men, and we wind up scratching our heads and think something is defective in there and needs to be fixed, you know what what I mean?  Haven't you ever felt that way?  Now, be honest – haven't you ever wondered if God didn't just somehow wire things wrong …

Dennis: In my wife?

Bob: I'm not saying in your wife specifically, I'm saying in the way …

Dennis: You are in trouble.

Bob: I am in trouble.  Maybe we should start the whole program – can you bail me out of this?

Dennis: Well, we are different, you know, and, Bob, what you're talking about there is when you get married you find out how really different you are, and I think we spent the first decade of our marriage finding out that different is not wrong, it's just different.  And I wish we'd had some training along the lines of helping us, as a man and a woman, understand one another and how we think, because we do think not only differently as male and female, but – well, the Scriptures – let me just read something from the Scriptures that catches on here.  1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 7, Peter exhorts husbands.  He says, "You husbands likewise live with your wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel.  Since she is a woman and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life so that your prayers may not be hindered."

 And, Bob, there is one word in that passage, 1 Peter 3:7, I want to circle, and I want to spend the next few days just unpacking.  It's the word …

Bob: "Understanding," right?

Dennis: Understanding.

Bob: Yes, because that's back to what I was talking about – it's hard sometimes to understand how the other half is thinking.  I'm sure it's hard for the other half to understand how I'm thinking sometimes, right?

Dennis: I think so.  You can think that they're defective.  I mean, that's …

Bob: That's probably not the nicest way to say it.  I want to retract defective – can we strike that from the record, please?  Defective was not what I meant.

Dennis: But the reality is when we think about it from our own perspective, and we think we're right, and he's wrong or she's wrong, we need some help, and so we have some guests here on FamilyLife Today who are going to help us – Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn.  Jeff, I want to welcome you for the first time and, Shaunti, I want to welcome you back.  Welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Jeff: Thanks, Dennis.

Shaunti: Great to be with you.

Dennis: Jeff and Shaunti are from Atlanta, Georgia.  They have a couple of children and a great writing ministry and a budding speaking ministry in addition to Jeff being an attorney and Shaunti being a writer for – what's the name of the little paper you write for there in – a little local paper.

Shaunti: A little local, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, yeah.

Dennis: Yeah, a little local paper, but some of our listeners are going to remember Shaunti's name from an interview we did with her – a series of interviews – called "For Women Only, What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men."  In fact, Shaunti, I received an e-mail from a listener, her name is Cynthia, and Cynthia wrote us a few days after your series of interviews with us, and basically she said, "The reason I'm writing is I'm interested to know why, during this week when you interviewed Shaunti, recommending her book, 'For Women Only,' that you have not once mentioned or recommended any book for the men to read to get to know their wife's heart."  And she goes on to say, "What's up with that?  I mean, it was a one-sided conversation."  Well, there's a reason for that, wasn't there, Shaunti?

Shaunti: There was, and it was supposed to be one-sided so we can spend a little bit of time being focused on our men.

Dennis: And so what you and Jeff did is you did another research project, and this time you did it for me to help them understand their wives, and you interviewed and researched with how many people – like, 3,000, Jeff?

Jeff: It was in that ballpark.

Dennis: And so you came up with a second book, "For Men Only."  The discoveries – the seven things women want their husbands to know about them, right?

Shaunti: We had to be fair, Dennis.


 We have to do both sides of the story, don't we?

Dennis: We do.

Bob: And we need to mention here you not only had the research, but you've had years of making mistakes about one another that you've shared with us in this book, right?  I mean, you've learned along the way that you guys are different, right?

Jeff: Absolutely.  I think the biggest thing that most men struggle with is the actual concept that women could be understood – just what we were talking about earlier.

Bob: So you would validate what I was saying?

Jeff: It was my biggest hesitation was actually trying to write this book with Shaunti.

Dennis: So the Scriptures over in 1 Peter 3:7, when it commands husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way are really on target.  The Scriptures, once again …

Jeff: … absolutely right ..

Dennis: … know it …

Jeff: Absolutely.

Dennis: Now, you compare a woman after all these interviews – I found this interesting, and this may even be as delicate a word as "defective," all right?  But you compare women to …

Jeff: A swamp.

Dennis: You said it, I didn't.

Jeff: Shaunti had made the comment early on that …

Dennis: … a woman is a swamp.

Jeff: Let me explain, please, please, and Bob might have to bail me out on this one.

Bob: Thanks for joining me here in the dog pound, I appreciate it.

Jeff: Shaunti had said that, really, we're not random.  We can be mapped.  We are understandable terrain, and I said, "Well, you know, most men, I hate to break it to you, will take the opinion that you guys are swamps and, quite frankly, you can't see the ground where you're walking, where you're going to step, and, unfortunately, at some point you know that there is quicksand out there, and you're going to step in it.

Shaunti: You're going to get sucked in.

Jeff: And every guy knows that once that happens, the best thing you can do is just to shut down and hope someone comes to rescue you.

Bob: Shaunti, were you being serious when you said that women are – can be mapped, and it's understandable terrain?

Shaunti: Absolutely.  That is one of the things that has been the biggest surprise for Jeff, and I hope he'll back me up on this, is that when I started talking to him about, you know – we've really got to be fair about this.  We've got to do both sides of the story.  We've got to do a book for men about how we're wired and just like, "Well, but, you're random.  You can't be understood."  And he says, you know, when I picked myself up off the ground, you know, it really did come down to, though, I hadn't realized that you guys think that we're so hard to understand and, absolutely, we women can be systemized and understood just like you all can.  It's really untrue that we are random.  You've just got to know what the truths are.

Bob: Okay, you're going to have to prove this out to me this week.

Shaunti: We will.

Bob: I think there is still – and would you say your opinion on this has changed since you started writing this book?

Jeff: It has changed considerably, yet I still struggle with certain findings that we've come up with.

Dennis: I just want to add my voice to yours, all right?  Because, Shaunti, you may say you can be mapped, but we have Barbara here in this studio with a statement saying, "You men want to reduce us to an equation – A+B+C=D.  And we, as women, do not want to be reduced to an equation.  We want to be a mystery; we want you to pursue us.  We don't want you to figure us out and have us totally understood, because that would mean the chase is over and the mystery is solved. 

Shaunti: One of the things we're actually saying in the book is that one of the subjects that needs to be understood is how much women want to be pursued, but it doesn't mean that once you understand her that the pursuit has to be over.  In fact, hopefully, you understand that actually she needs that pursuit, and that's one of the things that can be systemized enough.

Bob: I'm just thinking every few days or maybe every few weeks something – a woman decides, "I'm going to rewire today.  I'm just going to rewire the whole circuit board, and we'll start something fresh and new."

Dennis: Maybe this is why the "defective" word comes in.

Bob: Maybe that's where it came from.  One of the chief findings that you found is that women – there's almost a universal, bottomless void in the heart of a woman, wondering, "Do you still love me?"  And you can do everything you can do as a husband to try to send that message, and you may pour some water into the bottomless hole, but it never gets filled up, and it's a constant need, right?

Jeff: It is, and it is surprising to me, and I think it's surprising to most men that most of us view our wives as being confident.  Women who know what they're doing, are assured of themselves in the marketplace, raising the kids as a wife, but yet what we've found is that even within each of those confident, self-assured women is this latent insecurity that asks the question – "Do you still love me?"  And usually that arises when something triggers it.

 Shaunti and I were talking about this – we came up with an analogy, and how we can explain it so that guys understand it.  The analogy we came up with is a guy at work.  For most guys, they'll probably be honest, and they'll say, you know, "Do you ever feel permanently secure in your job?"  If you ask them that question, and they'll say, "Oh, not permanently.  In fact, probably could be three or four mistakes away from losing my job.  The industry could take a hiccup, and I could be out of work.  So I need to keep in the forefront of my mind, how am I going to provide for my family?"

Bob: You've got to keep the resume up to date and keep [inaudible] open.  You never know what's going to happen.

Jeff: Absolutely.  We ran that analogy past several women in our focus group and later with other women, and they said similar.

Bob: That's how they feel about marriage.

Jeff: "We feel that we could be three or four disagreements, conflicts, away from things going really bad."

Dennis: As in divorce?

Jeff: Just really bad.

Shaunti: Even if it's not divorce – even the thought of three or four bad blowups away from losing your love, even if I know you'd never divorce me, that doesn't mean that you might not be completely distant emotionally and sort of be stuck there.  Honestly, we heard, verbatim, the same, exact sentence from multiple women, and I've felt this myself, which is, "What happens if he doesn't snap out of it this time?"  I mean, that truly is …

Dennis: Snap out of what?

Shaunti: Whatever his funk is, his upsetness with her.

Bob: Whatever has taken his eye away from the captivation of marriage.

Shaunti: Yes, sort of that idea of he's upset with me, and maybe he's disappointed with me, maybe he's withdrawn, whatever it is, and it's kind of this, "What happens if he doesn't snap out of it this time?"

 Obviously, I know when Jeff is upset, and he needs his space, I know that he is going to come back at some point.  I mean, he's a great husband, he tries to do things that make me feel loved, but it doesn't change the fact that I am wired with this insecurity, even as a confident, secure woman, that when it rises up, I do kind of think, you know, it really doesn't feel – nothing is right with the world until this between us is resolved.  He can go off to work and put it out of his mind – I can't.

Bob: We were talking earlier about your love for the University of Michigan football, and on those Saturdays when The Blue would lose, you would drift off into an emotional funk, right?

Jeff: Absolutely.  It was the way I was raised.

Bob: And when that happened, did that create insecurity in your end of marriage?

Shaunti: Oh, yeah.

Bob: I mean, you knew why he was upset – because his team lost, right?

Shaunti: Yeah, but, I think, you know, "Golly, do I mean" – and this sounds silly, but especially early on in our marriage, I'd kind of think, you know, "Do I mean so little to him that he would allow this football game to get in the way of him being the loving husband that he knows that I need," and, you know, I just didn't understand at that point what was going on.  But this points out that I think guys don't understand – that your wife never feels permanently loved.  It is something that you do have to be pouring in – great analogy – pouring in the water and because it truly will – the things of life will drain it away and, really, the focus, the really narrow focus of the chapter is that nothing will drain it quicker than that sense that you guys are in conflict; that he is displeased with you.  It sounds real old-fashioned, honestly, it doesn't sound like a strong, liberated woman should be thinking this way but, truly, that's where it comes up.  One woman said, "I know it sounds old-fashioned, but a lot of desperate feelings arise for me when I think that he is displeased with me."

Jeff: Could we talk about the pouring in?

Bob: Yes.

Jeff: Because for most guys that is the overwhelming thought.

Bob: Well, and that's what I wanted to know – I mean, now that you know this about Shaunti …

Jeff: … right …

Bob: … now that you know that there is some insecurity and that that's all – even with what you see, what are you doing differently, how are you making this work?

Jeff: What I've learned is if – most guys would probably say the pouring in involves some Herculean tasks, and that is I have to plan this romantic meal for every two weeks or plan some romantic getaway or whatever it is …

Bob: … flowers, greeting cards, phone calls …

Jeff: It's a lot of work.

Bob: Oh, man …

Jeff: … a whole lot of work.

Bob: I'm getting worn out here when you talk about that.

Dennis: I just want to stop you there, Jeff, because the way we think as men – we want to make this Herculean task you're talking about an event.

Bob: We've been making a deposit that gets us off the hook the next couple of weeks. 

Dennis: It's a checklist, it's a checklist, so it's done, it's back to done, and the reality is it's not an event.  You're not married to an event, we're married to a person who happens to be a wooomann.

Jeff: With different needs than what we have.

Dennis: Exactly.

Jeff: And what I've found, and the – I'll tell you, the happy news in all of this is that it really is the small things, but it's consistency.  It's the small things such as taking her hand in the parking lot when you're walking from one store to the next; giving her a little voice mail on her phone when you know she's not going to pick up – 30 seconds that tells her how much you appreciate her; sending her an e-mail – little things that take so little time in our day but deposit in her the sense that "He's there for me; he loves me."

Bob: I called Mary Ann one day in the middle of work, and she answered and said hello, and …

Dennis: Did you have my permission to make that phone call, by the way?

Bob: I was on a break.


 I called, and I said, "I was just calling to see how your day is going; just thinking about you."  And she said, "No, really, what?"  And I said, "I was thinking about you."  And she said, "No, really, what were you calling about?"  And I realized when she said that I have not done this often enough.  She knows the only time I call her is when I've got some agenda item, and I need to be calling a little more often to say, "I was just thinking about you, what's going on with you?"

Shaunti: You know something real interesting about that?  That we – as we were doing the research is that we found that, in general, most guys – and the ladies out here listening to this will be surprised by this – most guys actually think about their wives throughout the day.  Even if it's just a little flash, you know, a little two-second, "Oh, how much I appreciate her," that they think about their wives 10, 15 times during the day or more sometimes, but they never actually do anything with it.  And that's fine, but it's – the women don't realize, really, he is thinking about you.  And so Jeff, what he's realized is – you know what?  Even once training yourself that when it flashes across your mind, picking up the phone, leaving a 20-second voice mail – that makes me feel so loved. 

And I actually asked a bunch of these women as I was doing some of these interviews – I said, "Has your husband ever done this?"  And this one woman said, "You know what?  He did this two months ago.  I came home, and there was a voice mail on my answering machine, and he said how much he loved me and appreciated me and, oh, my goodness, I can still remember every word he said," and she went on and on and on for, like three or four minutes about this, and I thought, "That probably took the guy 20 seconds, and she can still remember it two months later and remember exactly what he said.  Guys who are listening to this – see how simple that is?  It's such a huge return.

Bob: Can we wrap this up, because I need to go make a phone call.


 You know what I mean?

Dennis: I just have a very simple assignment for every man listening who is married, all right?  From this multiple-choice question, pick one of the following to execute with your wife in the next 24 hours.

Bob: All right.

Dennis: Number one, a handwritten note that you leave for her either at the beginning of the day or you leave on her pillow before you leave for a trip – just find a way to write a handwritten note.  Secondly, open the door for her the next time you go somewhere together – to church, to go out to eat – open the door, give her your arm, and take her by the hand, and walk her to the restaurant and have your cell phone handy to call …

Bob: 911.

Dennis: 911.

Bob: I did this.  I opened the door for Mary Ann after you and I had been out to dinner – you and Barbara and Mary Ann and I had been out to dinner recently, and I went around and opened the door, and she said, "Oh, sure, your boss is here, and so you open the door for me."

Dennis: Yeah, you got no points for that.

Bob: No points.

Dennis: Number three – now, this is going to sound to some of the guys a little Herculean, in Jeff's words, but this is very simple – but I'm going to tell you something – this is a huge payoff.  Ask your wife at the beginning of the day that when you come home at the end of the evening, you would like to have a discussion with her either over dinner or after the kids are in bed of what her top three needs are.  She can think about it all day long, write down her top three needs and, I promise you, you don't have to meet those needs to win.  All you have to do is interact with her and talk with her about those needs.  Just to affirm what we're saying, Shaunti is nodding her head.  Right, Shaunti?

Shaunti: Absolutely.  Even though I can see how a guy would think it would be Herculean, but just listening, which we will talk about later in this week, will make a huge impact on her.

Dennis: And I just have to say, whatever you do, guys, if you do this – do not tell your wife that you were hanging around Bob or me or listening to Jeff or Shaunti here on FamilyLife.


 You get no points for that, either.

Bob: Let me suggest a fourth item, and that is that guys get a copy of the book that Jeff and Shaunti have written that is called "For Men Only."  We've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Of course, we have Shaunti's book "For Women Only" as well, and there may be some wives who haven't gotten that yet, and they want to get a copy of that book.  Go to our website,, and click the "Go" button that you see in the middle of the screen, and that will take you right to the page where you can get more information about the book, "For Men Only."  You can order it online, if you'd like.  There is also information there about a couple of books that FamilyLife has published that a lot of husbands and wives have found very helpful – books called "Simply Romantic Tips to Romance Your Husband," or the book, "Simply Romantic Tips to Romance Your Wife."  You may want to get ahold of those books as well so that you can do a better job, a more effective job, of communicating what's really in your heart to your spouse. 

 Again, our website is, click the "Go" button in the middle of the screen.  You'll find more information on that page about Shaunti and Jeff's book, "For Men Only."  Other resources available from us here at FamilyLife, and if you want Jeff and Shaunti's book along with the Romantic Tips books, we'll send you at no additional cost the CD audio of our week-long visit with the Feldhahns.  You can review these programs or pass them along to someone else who might benefit from hearing them.

 Again, the website,, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY; that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team will let you know how you can get any of these resources sent to you.

 I think one reason why husbands are sometimes confused about what's going on in a wife's heart is because we live in a confusing culture for both husbands and wives.  I think there are wives who are confused about what God's priority for them, as a wife, is.  A number of months ago we had Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock on our program, and we talked about a book they've written called "Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God," and a number of our listeners contacted us asking for the CDs of those programs.  This month we wanted to make those CDs available to any of our listeners who can help make a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We're listener-supported, and so those donations are what keep us on the air in this city and in cities all across the country. 

And if you are able to help with a donation this month, we'd like to invite to request this two-CD series called "Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God."  You can make your donation online, and if you do, as you fill out the donation form, just type the two letters "CD" in the box where it calls for the keycode.  Or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation just mention that you'd like the CDs you heard us talking about, and our team will be happy to send those out to you.  And thanks, again, for your financial support of this ministry.  We appreciate your partnership with us.

Well, tomorrow Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn are going to be back with us, and we're going to talk about what is often very confusing for husbands, and that is when our wives are feeling emotional and expressing those emotions, and we're wondering why they're feeling them as intensely as they are or why they are expressing them the way they are, and we're not sure what to do, as men.  We're going to talk about that tomorrow, and I hope you can be back 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 here next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would  you consider donating today to help defray the costs? 

Copyright © FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.