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.
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.
Michelle: Men like to feel as if they are a priority.
Eva: What are the 20 things you say a man will notice by simply looking at a woman?
Michelle: There's 20? (laughs)
Eva: (Laughs with her) Okay, give us the top of the list.
Michelle: Eyes. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, so those eyes need to be full of light. You can wear eye makeup but it won't hide bitterness. You gotta work on the inside if you want a man to see your beauty.
Eva: Do you think that's the first thing a man looks at; a woman's eyes?
Michelle: Upon approaching and talking, yes. The eyes, the lips...do they invite with a smile? Of course he checks out her figure and each one likes a different part. Some are leg men and some are wing men.
(Eva & Michelle laugh)
Michelle: The hair. Is it soft? Touchable? Hands. How do you shake his hand? Don't break his hand...
Eva: But I also find that men don't like shaking hands with a fish.
Michelle: No. They don't like weak. They want to feel as though they are shaking a woman's hand.
Eva: That leads me to the next question. You say that "a woman's touch goes beyond the mere physical." Explain that.
Michelle: Her touch in the home. The very presence of a woman is a touch. When a woman walks into the room she adds a touch to the room. We have to be cognizant of the attitude we bring into the room.
Eva: Michelle, you are reminding me of how much my husband loves me! He says, "I love what happens when you walk into a room." But I have to be honest with you, walking into a people-filled room is the most difficult thing I do. Even as a speaker...if I'm supposed to be there...it's the most difficult. But my husband says he likes the way people respond when I walk into the room. Michelle, I always ask fellow authors to pray with me. Would you pray for our women and the men whose lives they will touch.
Michelle: Heavenly Father, I pray that you will help us all as women to rediscover the beauty you've placed in all of us. Within the simple things. Within the things that come naturally to us. I pray, Father, that you will give us wisdom. That as women who know you, Lord, that we will not hide behind your skirt in order to shirk the responsibility of the ministry you've given us to men. That we would not over-spiritualize what should be to us as natural. Help us to find the joy in listening, in looking and feeling our best, of making a house a home, of serving--not just food, but ourselves. Lord I ask that you would teach us the joys of intimacy. Help us to rediscover those secret joys. That as we minister to the men in our lives as unto you that our families will be strengthened and we will be a glory and a testament to who you are. Amen.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and the recently released and highly anticipated Shadows of Light. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings by clicking here.