Archive for book review
What He’s Really Thinking: How to be a Relational Genius With the Man in Your Life, by Paula Rinehart
When I was in college, in the 1980s, it was fashionable – especially for those of us in the social sciences – to view all non-anatomical differences between the sexes as being caused by socialization, the different ways that parents and others treat boys and girls. Fast-forward twenty years, with all the advances in gender research, including brain scan technology, and it’s no longer considered sexist to acknowledge that men and women are different. This book, written for women about men, is about understanding those differences. It’s about men as Other. The book’s tone is that of viewing men’s qualities as God-given gifts without demeaning the qualities of women. The author is a female psychotherapist, and she peppers her observations with stories from her practice about the experiences of men and the women who love them. Although the book is mostly geared toward wives, the author frequently reminds the reader that the men women love and seek to understand also include the fathers, brothers, and friends of both married and single women. Some of Rinehart’s observations are old news to anyone who has ever read books or magazine articles about gender differences: It’s not exactly revolutionary to read that men are action-oriented or that they are less comfortable than women with the verbal expression of emotions. But many of her other points are more helpful. For example, in a chapter entitled “Expectations,” Rinehart accurately says that “expecting too little from a man may mean, unfortunately, that too little is what you get” (p. 85). Rinehart writes eloquently of relationships: “What feels like love between two human beings is mostly a string of moments in which you feel enjoyed” (p. 150). I have to admit, though, that the 1980′s-era social scientist in me feels uncomfortable with Rinehart’s depiction of the God-given strength of men, meant for women to lean upon. (Really? Didn’t God make women strong, too?) I think it’s more accurate in my own marriage to say that my husband and I are each the stronger at different times and each lean upon the other. But other than that, I found Rinehart’s book to be beautifully written and helpful. I would recommend this book in general to female readers but think that it might be particularly helpful to younger women, who are still exploring who men are and who they are in relation to the men in their lives.