I love being a woman...and so does my friend Michelle McKinney Hammond. Her ministry is called HeartWing Ministries, geared toward the complete woman, both single and married. God has given her a heart and passion for "matters of the heart." Recently we chatted over a cup of coffee, talking about how we obtain and maintain relationships with the men in our lives. Her book 101 Ways to Get and Keep His Attention (Harvest House 2003) was birthed out of her concern for women in the church who are hiding behind God in their relationships. We began our conversation with Michelle's hard-hitting line, "I think that marriage is the one career that no one trains for. We go to school for everything else, but we don't have anything for teaching men and women to prepare for marriage."

Eva: You are exactly right! Or, we give a young couple one six-week course, one night a week with a group. How is that going to train anyone for the career of his or her lifetime?

Michelle: Exactly. And I'm concerned about that. So, I chose an easy read, quick, "in-your-face hits, but I think sometimes you have to have bite-size chews. And not get into such a long discussions that by the time you finish talking about it the person listening has convinced themselves otherwise and then come up with excuses. I spend a lot of time on the road, speaking at women's conferences, just addressing these issues.

Eva: That brings me to my next point: you're a girl.

Michelle:  MmmHmm.

Eva: How do you know so much about how to keep a man's attention?

Michelle: I asked men. Strangers, people that I knew. Wherever I was, I asked men what was important to them. What got their attention? What made them want to stay where they were? And their answers were interesting...far more basic than I expected. The things that were important to them are not the things that women think are important to them.

Eva: As you know, I'm married. Been married for many, many years. I still work very hard on my physical appearance. I have to say, Michelle, that 98 percent of it is still for my husband. I put on make-up and get dressed for my husband. So, I found it interesting that you began your book with the physical. Why did you choose to do that?

Michelle: Men are moved by what they see and women are moved by what they hear. However, within the context of that, I think we've all been led to believe that all men want a size-two woman with six-pack abs. That's not necessarily true.What a man wants is a healthy woman who enjoys her body and likes herself. From there the size can vary. But if she is embarrassed by her body, that is what he does not like.

Eva: The next section is the vocal. I was immediately reminded of Eliza Doolittle; lovely to look upon...but....OH! when she opened...

Eva & Michelle: ...her mouth!

EVA: How can a woman keep a relationship strong with the wonder of words?

Michelle: First by examining those words. Are they negative? Critical? This leaves a lot to be desired where a man is concerned. Do your words make them feel good? Remember that a man's heart is shaped just like God's and it seeks honor, respect, praise, and encouragement. The woman is basically the period on the end of a man's sentence. The finisher. We have a lot to do with how they turn out in life by our responses to them. Remember that behind the heart of every man is a little boy waiting to be nurtured. Also, remember to listen. They want to know they've been heard just as women do.

Eva: My husband says to me, "Speak to me like you are speaking to one of your friends." On those days when I'm having a tough time, it's a reminder that I should love him greater than all others.