New York Times bestselling author M. Gary Neuman is a practicing licensed counselor and ordained rabbi who offers a caring, no-nonsense approach to issues in marriage, family, and personal growth. He has appeared many times on Today, the View, NPR and many other programs. Oprah referred to Gary as, "One of the best psychotherapists in the world," on his final (11th) appearance on her show.

ISBN: 978-0-470-49156-0
John Wiley & Sons Hardcover
272 pages
$25.95 US / $30.95 C
Available 1/11/11
Buy the Book

Connect to Love

Table of Contents & Excerpt

Acknowledgments ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1

Part One: Understanding What Women Want

  1. The Connection Questionnaire 17
  2. Veronica’s Story: It’s Complicated 25
  3. Why Are Women Dissatisfied? 33
  4. Appreciation = Value 57
  5. The Need to Be Understood 75
  6. Sex: Women Want to Be Desired 103

Part Two: Improve Your Relationship Now

  1. Turn Back Time and Just Have Fun 147
  2. The Two-Week Reconnection Program 155
  3. Institute a No-Lie Policy 167

Part Three: Putting into Practice What Women Want

  1. How Loving Partners Can Make Real Changes That Last 175
  2. For Women: Getting Men to Hear You after You Hear Yourself 203
  3. For Men: Decide to Have a Great Relationship and Make Her Happy 219

Epilogue: Make Your Partner Feel Like Your Top Priority 233

Appendix A. Happy Women and Therapy 239

Appendix B. Keeping Yourself and Your Relationship Safe at Work 241

Appendix C. Portrait of a Female Cheater 245

Index 253

This is a book for couples about what women want in their relationships. It is not a book about women and cheating. I do hope to help couples prevent infidelity, but my main goal here is to share what I’ve learned from the courageous women, happy and sad, who’ve revealed their highly personal thoughts and feelings. Through listening to the collective voice of these women, every couple can discover meaningful, practical changes that are sure to make their love relationships far more loving, romantic, and intimate. Women and men will gain a deeper insight into what a woman needs from love and what both partners can do to make their relationship great.

You are about to hear the voices of over five hundred women. Through exhaustive research, I have worked to bring you a clearer, deeper understanding about women and love. As you’ll soon learn in greater detail, the vast majority of women are profoundly unhappy in their relationships. Both men and women have a great deal to learn about love. By writing this book, I wanted to help everyone understand what women want from their love relationships so that we can work to diminish this intense unhappiness.

It’s time to throw away preconceived notions. Sadly, 39 percent of the women in my study have reported physically cheating, and the majority of them have never admitted it to their mates. Equally surprising is that over half of the faithful women in my research said they had seriously considered separation or divorce within the past year. Only 30 percent of women were both faithful and happy in their relationships.

The common thinking is that men cheat far more than women. Clearly, everyone may be willing to consider that female cheating is on the rise, but most still think it doesn’t happen that often. I suppose we believe that compared to men, women are more dedicated partners, have less of a sex drive, or surely don’t want sex for the sake of sex. Some assume that women are simply conditioned to follow the role of wife and mother, even if that role isn’t bringing them much happiness.

My last book refuted many myths about men and their cheating patterns. Of the two hundred men I studied, a hundred had cheated on their wives and a hundred had remained faithful. When I asked the unfaithful men about the reasons they were dissatisfied in their marriages at the time of their affairs, I expected sexual dissatisfaction to either top the list or be way up there. When only 8 percent reported that factor to have been the problem, compared to 48 percent who declared emotional dissatisfaction to have been the primary issue, I was dumbfounded. What about the idea that men are pigs who seek as much sex as possible? Clearly, men have far more emotional needs than most assume. But the idea that many men cheat seems to be a given.

When I began this study about women, everyone around me had definite opinions as well. It seemed almost unanimous that when women cheat, it’s not for the sex. And many thought that women don’t really cheat much at all. But a few told me that women cheat much more than everyone thinks, and they were almost indignant that people think of cheating as primarily a male activity. Statements such as “We need sex too” seemed to proclaim a desire for equality by many women who were tired of books that focus on what women should be thinking about in a marriage while men are given a free ride.

I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find enough female cheaters to have a good sample. I wanted at least one hundred cheaters. But it soon became apparent that this wouldn’t be a problem. The 39 percent rate of cheating was so high and so far beyond my expectations, I became concerned that people wouldn’t believe it. I redid my study twice in smaller form with different populations, and only felt completely comfortable when all three studies yielded similar results. In all, my three studies combined included 505 women.

One recent University of Washington study reported that 28 percent of men cheat and only 15 percent of women cheat. It claimed that female cheating was up from 5 percent twenty years ago. Of course, there have been other studies that showed male cheating to be much higher than 28 percent, so there seems to be a lot of wiggle room with these numbers.

Why do people mistakenly think women rarely cheat? Perhaps the answer is, as the Rutgers anthropologist Helen Fisher has explained, “Men want to think women don’t cheat, and women want men to think they don’t cheat. Therefore, the sexes have been playing a little psychological game with each other.” Or as David C. Atkins, PhD, a University of Washington research associate professor, said when evaluating his own university statistics, “Women underreport affairs in face-to-face studies, so real numbers are likely three times higher.” My own research shows that he’s right.

A further part of my research ultimately gave me my answer. Thirty-eight percent of the cheaters said that their husbands had never questioned them about their cheating and they had never told their husbands about their infidelity. Twenty-four percent stated that they had lied to their husbands even after their husbands had discovered some evidence of a relationship but not hard evidence of actual sex. In other words, 62 percent of husbands who have cheating wives either have never even discussed it or have been flatly told that their suspicions are wrong. That’s why everyone thinks women cheat much less than they do. Whatever percentage you thought was accurate for cheating women, just add in all of those women whose men haven’t a clue or at least have never brought it up. Suddenly 39 percent becomes credible.

When an unfortunate double standard became apparent during the study, I discovered another reason for the secrecy surrounding female infidelity. I began putting together a list of women who had been unfaithful and would be willing to discuss their experiences in the media, and it became increasingly difficult to find them. Each one had an understandable reason for not sharing their story in public, such as “My husband would be mortified and shamed” or “I work as a teacher/in radio/as an executive and it would threaten my job.” Yet, in the past, when I had looked for unfaithful men to discuss their infidelity, there wasn’t any shortage of men willing to be open about their experiences.

In fact, many men admitted that their business associates were familiar with their indiscretions. Evidently, the world is a significantly harsher judge of female infidelity. Sadly, this societal gag order has led women to silence their public voice, forgoing their right to express their deep need for genuine loving connections in their marriages and how painful it is when their needs aren’t being met.

The fact that more than half of faithful women are so unhappy in their relationships tells us there is significant work to be done to improve our love relationships. Regardless of how you view the research, the message is clear: many, many women are unhappy and feel lonely in their relationships. How can we address these issues in the most effective way? That is the question I intend to answer in the pages that follow.

The Truth about Female Cheating and Unhappiness
Faithful and unfaithful women who believed they’d never cheat: 85%
Faithful women who have seriously considered separation or divorce in the last year: 51%
Women who have cheated: 39%
Cheating women who have never been asked about it or have lied even after there was some evidence: 62%

I’ll also reveal some crucial facts about women who are happy in their relationships—like how they spend twice as much time talking daily with their mates and have twice as much sex than women who are faithful but profoundly dissatisfied in their relationships.

When I asked happily married women why they think they haven’t cheated, the number one answer (75 percent) was that they work hard on their marriage and feel close to their husbands. Clearly, chances for a happy relationship seriously increase when both spouses are tending to it.

Most women, when they start out in a serious love relationship, never dream of getting to a place where they want to exit the relationship or cheat on the man they once loved. Yet most women have been there. This book is committed to helping women never get to that point again.

Women and What Women Want

We all enjoy hearing from others like ourselves about their experiences. It helps us to develop deeper insights into why we feel the way we do, and to learn from one another how we can communicate the changes we want to see in our love relationships. This book seeks to meet that need by offering women 505 female voices to listen to that provide details never touched on before.

Many of the women in my study reported that they were so lost in their relationships that they couldn’t begin to properly break down the problems in order to start fixing them. They had difficulty identifying, evaluating, and articulating the specific issues that were bothering them. Others admitted to hiding from much of the sadness they felt, since they had no way of knowing how to deal with it. These women appreciated participating in the research because it helped them identify the specific details of what they were feeling, which they needed to fully understand in order to make things better.

Both women who were faithful but unhappy and women who were unfaithful said they wished they could better communicate their needs to their husbands. They lamented that they were not clear enough inside themselves about exactly what was making them so sad. And they felt unable to get their points across to their husbands so that their husbands would understand and join them in making changes. Rather than talking with their husbands using a healthy “here are the serious issues” approach, they admitted to shouting complaints at their husbands or acting them out emotionally. They didn’t have the clarity to outline their issues and to calmly discuss how they and their husbands might change their behavior toward each other.

There could be many reasons for having difficulty communicating. But I know it always helps convince a man when he hears many other people saying the same thing his wife is saying. Many women complain that their opinions are not taken as seriously by their husbands until someone else gives the same opinion. I’m not suggesting this is the right attitude. It’s not, and by discussing it here I hope to help husbands change. But for now, introducing them to the hundreds of women internationally who are speaking in one voice will have a greater impact and give them more inspiration to listen up and consider how to make their wives happier.

This book will help women identify their unique needs and show them how to get these needs met by their husbands. Chapter 1 contains a questionnaire that will help you evaluate how your relationship is going and identify what the specific problems might be. Later chapters will show you how to bring these matters to your husband so that he is more likely to listen, consider changes, and follow through.

Men and What Women Want

If you are a man, congratulations on picking up this book (even if your wife read it through first and gave it to you). It is a well-known fact that most men do not read self-help relationship books. Unfortunately, this causes a vicious cycle: fewer books are written for men, which leads to less help offered to men, ultimately supporting the claim that men are less skilled than women at creating healthy relationships.

Indeed, men are commonly thought to lag far behind women in the Knowing How to Make a Relationship Great department. We tend to focus on many things other than our wives. Business and money might top the list for many, followed by kids and sports mixed in there somewhere. The simple question you want to ask yourself is, “Where does my partner fit into my personal life picture?”

If a woman is asked to describe herself, likely the first or second thing she’ll say whether if she is a wife or a mother. If you ask a man the same question, he’s likely to start off describing his job title or saying he’s a dad. But it’s unlikely he will mention he’s a husband first or second. That fact may not even make the short list. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for women to wonder who they’ll marry one day, and how many children they’ll have, while men tend to wonder what job they’ll have, how much money they’ll make, and how they will enjoy themselves.

It’s no wonder the cliché developed that women are the driving force behind a marriage, while men don’t get the whole relationship thing. It’s not because men don’t care about their wives. Not at all. If there is one thing I learned from my study of men, it is that they desperately want to feel like winners at home and please their wives. They are willing to make changes and diligently work toward making their relationships better and their wives happier. But that doesn’t mean they’re actively searching for the ways to make that happen. Whether because of their genes or their social conditioning, they are not easily attuned to considering how to improve their relationships. Men seem far more attuned to jokes about the amount of sex they’re not getting with their wives, how business is going, and talk about cars and sports teams.

I hope this book will speak to that inner part of every man that does want to be a winner at home and have a loving, passionate relationship. I wanted to speak as clearly to men as to women, and help you become willing and accountable participants in creating great relationships with your wives. Men will find that this book offers researched, concise answers about how to improve their love relationships.

Some had suggested to me that I consider writing a book aimed solely at women. I thought, a study about women and what they need, written just for women? Huh. Curious. I couldn’t help but agree with what I perceived as the question of every woman walking the face of the earth: “Aren’t men ever going to be held accountable for their part in relationships?”

There’s a joke about a husband who believes his wife is cheating on him. He hires a private investigator, and within a day the PI calls to set up a meeting; he already has information. He shows his client photos of his wife with another man. There they are cheering in the stands at a baseball game. A second photo shows the two of them playing pool later the same day in a sports bar. A third photo shows them dancing on the table of a club late that same night.

“I can’t believe it,” the husband spits out.

“Many men are shocked that their wives are cheating.”

To which the husband responds, “No, I’m not surprised she’s cheating . . . I just didn’t know she could have so much fun.”

This joke is poignant, because while none of us finds cheating excusable, we recognize that we behave differently with different people. It takes two to make a relationship great or lousy. Each of us should consider our role in creating a wonderful or a disconnected relationship. We hope this husband wonders what the other man is doing that makes his wife so happy.

My study of women showed that, although 16 percent of unfaithful women felt there was nothing their husbands could have done to stop them from cheating, 84 percent felt otherwise. Consider as well the many faithful women who are extremely dissatisfied in their marriages. There are definitely things husbands can do to change the state of the marriage for the better. If you choose not to make changes to help your relationship, you still don’t deserve to be cheated on. But don’t be shocked to hear that she’s having a wonderful time with somebody else or that she wants a separation or a divorce.

It is every man’s role to do his part in creating a successful relationship. Love relationships, like business and sports, may not always be successful, but without good energy and focus there is no chance of success. I appeal to every man who is in a relationship to consider my message. Men have incredible capabilities in the area of love and emotions, and now is a time of great change. In one generation, men have become more nurturing fathers than ever before. Men have shown that they can step away from stereotypes and care deeply about their loved ones, regardless of how they were brought up. You must now make a decision to take the steps to become a man who is truly invested in making his relationship great. As you read through this book, I hope you will follow its practical suggestions and see solid, positive changes in your relationship. Be open to the possibilities that exist for you and the woman you love.

This Book Will Help You Change Your Relationship

Change is the most beautiful part of our being human. It is not simply that our ability to adapt makes us wonderful, but that our willingness to look within to improve who we are truly makes us unique individuals. There is a taste of spirituality in the will and determination to better who we are and to love those around us. It is the shining trait of the human spirit.

Ideally, couples will gain from reading this book simultaneously, but one partner alone can also learn and dramatically make his or her relationship better by following its practical ideas. I’m a big believer in people taking control of themselves and using their sole actions to change the energy in their relationships. Each of us can affect any relationship for better or for worse, so we don’t have to wait for our spouse to see the light to begin making significant changes. I’ve addressed certain distinct male and female issues in two separate chapters for men and women, as well as in various sections throughout the book, in order to empower you to begin to make real changes to benefit your couplehood. Whether you are reading this as a couple or as an individual, you can make the difference.

This Book Is for Anyone Who Wants to Connect to Love

Though the discussion refers primarily to husbands and wives and the marital relationship, the information in this book is relevant to men and women in all committed relationships. When you conduct research, maintaining clarity is crucial to the validity of the study. For example, if women who had never been married said they once cheated, you’d rightfully question whether their version of cheating would match with your personal perspective. Were the women in “committed” relationships and what would define a “commitment”? To avoid this confusion, my study focused on the experiences of married women so that we’d all agree on the definition of fidelity. However, what we learned from married women naturally applies to all couples in serious relationships. The deep feelings and desires and relationship dynamics discussed here apply to everyone. I chose to commonly use “husband,” “wife,” or “spouse” throughout this book in order to avoid the confusion by constantly switching between terms like lover, boyfriend, and girlfriend. This book is ultimately for all of us who genuinely search for meaningful love in our couplehood.

The Stories

Throughout the book are personal stories that women shared with me during the interviews I conducted as part of my research. Identifying facts have been altered to protect their privacy, but the feelings and issues described are very much accurate. You will also read about many women who informally shared their own stories about their marriages, some who knew their husbands had cheated on them, as well. Beyond these real stories, there are some that have been created as composites. I do not share stories of clients who see me therapeutically, so any similarity between the stories in this book and people I have counseled is purely coincidental

Let’s Say It Right Now: I’m Not Assessing Blame

Perhaps you saw the frustration expressed by some women on The Oprah Winfrey Show about my earlier book The Truth about Cheating. Some women felt they were being blamed for the fact that men cheat, although others felt empowered by having the information offered in the book. As in that book, my intention here is only to open a genuine discussion about what individual feel and how they experience their love relationships. The discussion must be open before I can suggest practical steps to help couples create wonderful relationships.

The Two-Week Reconnection Program

I’ve spent over twenty-three years helping couples turn their relationships around. One of the programs I’ve developed is a “marriage turnaround day,” in which I work with a couple intensely for hours over a day or two, seeing them both together and individually. It’s hard to imagine that dramatic change can occur in such a short time, but it does. Through my work as a clinician, I’ve heard a clear, collective voice expressing what couples want and where they can focus their energy to get the most positive results. I’ve taken some parts of this process and developed them into a two-week program couples can do on their own to help them make dramatic, positive changes in their relationships. Love is like atomic energy, unbelievably powerful. The trick is learning how to release that energy. Anyone can do that in a very short period of time.

Place Your Loving Energy Where It Counts Most

There are tons of marriage books out there, and most of them are helpful in some way or another. The problem is that most authors tell you their opinions. Often, an author’s opinion is based on his or her professional, and sometimes personal, experiences. But it doesn’t represent a collective voice, so what is suggested may work for some but not be representative of many people.

In this book, you are not reading my singular view of women and marriage. You are learning from 505 women who are or have been married and have a lot of very clear things to say about what every couple needs to know about women. My suggestions are based on this understanding, so that you are asked to put energy into areas that are the most likely to bring you great success in your relationship. I’ve worked to scale things down to the primary issues so that you will get the most results from your effort. No one can do it all, but now you no longer have to. Follow the few steps in this book, and your relationship and life will positively change dramatically and quickly.

Copyright 2010 M. Gary Neuman

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