Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Paula Rinehart's book, What's He Really Thinking?: How to Be a Relational Genius with the Man in Your Life, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).

The men in your life - fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, employees, friends - aren't just women with big feet and beards.  They're completely different from women, and understanding them can often be a challenge.  But once you get to know the male psyche, you can start enjoying mutually fulfilling relationships with them.

Here's how you can better understand the men in your life:

Recognize your influence with men.  As a woman, you have significant power to inspire men to become the best people they can be.  Much of what they realize about themselves comes only as they work at relationships with women.  If you focus on encouraging the men in your life, it'll be like holding up a mirror to them so they can see who they are and who they can become.  If you recognize men's potential, your encouragement can motivate men to claim their potential for themselves.

Understand what men do.  Pray for the perspective you need to see and appreciate what each man uniquely does in the world and in your life.  Get to know men's missions and how they try to live out those missions every day in their work - both paid work through their jobs, and volunteer work through their relationships and service. 

Show them respect for working hard to overcome the challenges they face in their work. Keep in mind that men often communicate that they care about you by taking action on tasks (such as mowing the lawn) than by using lots of words (such as writing an eloquent love note). Thank them for the ways they try to communicate love to you - even when they do so in ways that aren't as meaningful to you as they are to them. Let men know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

Understand why men hurt. Men most often feel hurt when they don't think that others are respecting them. They've been wired with a deep sense of needing to affirm their adequacy. So let men know that you believe they have what it takes to face the world and do well. Be aware that men's confidence is tied to their sexuality; so if you're married, your positive responsiveness to your husband will powerfully increase his confidence level. Get to know the life stories of the men in your life to come to realize how their prior experiences (such as distant relationships with their fathers) may have contributed to the hurt they feel now. 

Talk and pray with the men you're close to about their fears. Respect their particular challenges. Be patient with them without excusing bad behavior. When men are irritable or withdrawn, don't take it personally because it may not be about you. Support the men in your life, and discuss your own struggles and loses with them so they can better connect to you. Ask God to use your relationships with the hurting men in your life to help them along the healing process.

Understand how men change. It's often through their relationships with women that men connect their heads with their hearts so they can best make positive changes in their lives.  When you're concerned about a particular issue, speak up about it - without getting upset - and discuss it rationally, holding your ground about what's important to you.  Say "no" to a man in your life when: you believe that your relationship with him will suffer because you're putting up with something that's harmful to you both, or when you sense that your "no" could open a door in his growth that probably won't open if you just continue to go along.