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Wifey Wednesday: Should We Be Upset when Our Husbands Are Tempted?
It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!
I received an email recently from a woman who is engaged. She was absolutely flabbergasted and stunned when her fiance admitted to her that he is tempted to look at other women (even though he turns away and really tries not to). How could she marry someone who thought other women were attractive?
I think this is a common concern, and so I thought today in Wifey Wednesday I'd try to give us a way to look at how we should react when men admit that they're temped to gaze at attractive women.
First, I totally understand how hurt most women are when they find out their guys are tempted by porn, or even just a pretty woman--even if they don't do anything about it. It's totally natural to be upset because it feels like he doesn't think we're enough. But I think the reason that we women often get hurt over things like this is that we honestly don't understand men.
Their sex drives are just completely different from ours (I'm in the middle of writing a book about this right now!). They really are primarily visual. If a man sees a pretty woman, his body automatically starts to respond, in the same way that if you were to walk in the front door, even if you weren't hungry, and you smelled chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven, your mouth would start to water, whether you really wanted them or not. Even if you weren't seeking it out, you respond. There's nothing wrong with that.
It's just a temptation. It doesn't mean that he's going to do anything (and, in fact, if your hubby or fiance is talking to you about it I'd say you were luckier than 90% of women, because he's being honest and open). If he's noticing that a woman is attractive, and then he's pulling his eyes away, he's only being tempted. He's not sinning. He hasn't decided to do anything; in fact, he's decided to turn from the temptation, which is exactly what he should be doing.
I would be concerned if he's actually into pornography, because that's a huge issue for so many guys today. Every married woman should make sure there are controls on the computer. But what you don't want to do is make him feel so badly that he can't come to you when he's struggling, or that he feels like you really don't understand him.
We women have our own weaknesses that we struggle with, just in a different way. We're far more likely to gossip/bad mouth our mates to other women, thinking that we're just being helpful. We're far more likely to judge and to nag. We're far more likely to be selfish in the sexual realm, rather than giving and open as wives, mostly because we don't understand men.
If you're married or engaged to a man who really loves God, who is trying to follow Him, who is aware of his own natural weaknesses, who loves you and is trying to be accountable, and is committed to purity, then celebrate! You can't expect him not to notice an attractive woman, though, any more than you can expect yourself not to water at chocolate chip cookies. But if he doesn't stare, if he turns away, if he closes his eyes during certain scenes in movies, then he is being pure.
The temptation is not the sin; entertaining the temptation is.
On the other hand, if you're married to someone who is tempted and gives into that temptation--by staring at random strangers, or by looking at porn--then you do need to talk to him. We shouldn't tolerate our husbands watching porn, because it will jus get worse, and it will likely affect his sex drive for the worse, too. It will make real intimacy during sex that much harder to achieve. But even if he doesn't use porn, if he looks at other women, or comments on them, that's hurtful.
Tell him how you feel. Tell him you understand the temptation, but that he promised to love you and you alone. You're worth it.
And then act like a woman who is worth it! Be confident. Dress attractively. Give him something to look at! Buy lingerie and let him see it sometimes. It's hard to demand that men not look at other women if we simultaneously never really encourage them to look at us. No, you shouldn't put up with him staring at other women or lusting after other women. But if it's just a temptation, don't blow at him. And make sure that you are feeding his visual side at times, too!
I'd love to hear from women who have struggled in their marriages with this. Leave a comment (anonymously if you want) to let me know how you've dealt with this. Or, do you have something else to tell us to encourage us in our marriages today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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At 8:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Dear Sheila & Readers:
I write this out of direct experience with how men get tangled in the "looking" temptation. My husband cheated on me when I was pregnant with our 2nd child. It was not a drawn out affair, rather one that would fall in the "one night stand" category. I won't go into all the details but I will say this: it brought to light his struggle with internet porn, that I had known nothing about. At the time, I was also not giving him much to look at, and I was for all intents & purposes withholding from him. Thankfully, neither he nor I contracted any STD's out of this and our baby was born just fine. However, we had a heck of a year dealing with the fallout from this. We are fine now, and our marriage is stronger because of this. Neither of us would want to do it over again, or have that happen, but neither would we change it for the world.
My husband will not ever say that he's delivered and has total victory over this...he would say he's "recovering." However, God has removed that temptation from him, and he's not fallen again. We talk regularly about stuff related to this, and our conversations are now much more deep than they used to be. Out of this came an understanding, deeper, of how his mind is wired. We listened to the audio book of Every Man's Battle together, and I learned so much from that. I now, for the most part, take more care with my appearance, and try and give him something to look at. I try and dress in clothing that he finds attractive but modest, and I wear things for him at home from time to time so I can get the wolf whistle from him! :) We have a wonderful sex life, and I love that I can "do that" to him after 2 kids and 12 years of marriage.
My husband would say it's not the gorgeous woman that's there that he notices, that's the problem. The problem is what he chooses to do with it: indulge in looking and that will inevitably lead to fantasizing...or will he acknowledge that there is a gorgeous woman there, and just leave it at that? I could write so much more about this, but I will leave this be for now.


At 8:47 AM , Blogger TStrickland said…

My husband has been very open with it. He became addicted to porn after many years of turning to that as a teen and a young man. We have went through counciling seperate and together. We discovered exactly what this article says. I had to learn that it wasn't personal that he struggled with an addiction and be open to hear about his struggles. It was the hardest thing we have went through in our marriage but by listening and loving him through it and forgiving him because I knew he was trying, we have gotten through it. He now can look at other women and appreciate their beauty then turn away, and not let his mind go further. He has worked really hard at this and we have had many tears through it all. He knew he was doing the wrong thing but needed to learn how to control it. Many men have this issue but I have been fortunate enough to have mine admit it and work it through. Don't get me wrong there are days where he still struggles but what counts is he tells me and we talk about why he thinks it was a struggle for him, then we move on and I don't hold it against him. We have agreed that we wouldn't keep it a secret from our friends or even strangers because through this we may be able to help others. I am very proud of him, for being able to do that, as that is making himself very vulnerable.


At 9:12 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Anonymous: thanks so much for sharing your story! Internet porn is just such a huge issue for most men. In the survey I did for my book, 66% admitted seeking it out at some point.

The problem, as you said, is what he chooses to do with the gorgeous women he notices. Temptation is never the sin; indulging in it is. And far too many of us have husbands who indulge!


At 9:13 AM , Blogger Sheila said…


That must have been so hard when your husband admitted that to you, but by listening you probably helped him so much! It is hard when they admit difficult things, isn't it? But when we're strong and we listen, then we create a safe place for healing to occur.


At 10:16 AM , Blogger Lori Alexander said…

I keep my husband accountable by asking him almost everyday "No hint?". Knowing I am going to ask him keeps him from junk much better. The Bible says we must confess our sins and pray for each other, expose our sin to the light. This is what we have done and it has helped so much in any struggles each of us has.


At 10:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Noticing and appreciating beauty is normal. I notice attractive men. I do not mind when my husband notices an attractive woman. What matters, as you stated is his response to it.

I will add the warning here that ABSOLUTELY NO PORNOGRAPHY OF ANY KIND should ever be tolerated. Ever. Never ever. A lot of talk happens about internet porn, but there is still the standard viedo/magazine porn rampant out there.

I found out about the really bad stuff first (an addiction to prostitutes) and then through counseling learned that this all started years ago in his teens with "normal" exposure to pornography.......and not even really racy stuff. This addiction is like any other and builds a tolerance that must be broken over and over again to reach the "high". By the time my husband was in his early 20s (way before I knew him....we married when he was 30) he was already visiting massage parlors to reach the same high a magazine had given him in his adolescence.

He thought it was because of sooooo many things. He assumed that God didnt love him anymore. He askwd God over and over agaon to take this away from him. He'd makes excuses with himself. "Oh, it's because my wife doesn't like sex" (his first wife) He thought he would never keep doing this once he married me. I loved sex. We had sex all the time. It was intimate and wonderful. I was thin and good looking and had a great figure. He later told me he thought he would never have a reason to go back to that other stuff after he met me.

He was shocked when he fell right back in a few months after we married.

It is an addiction. It is awful. And it has not a damn thing to do with us - just them.

He is now 37. The fallout happened when he was 33. The first year was the most awful year of my life. It is interesting to me to hear other woman say, "I wouldn't change a thing." Hmmm. I am ok where we are now. My husband is doing great. He is stronger and a better person and truly understands God's love and forgiveness. He is totally dedicated to our family and to me.

However, *I* still have really rough days. Thy are not as often or as many as time goes by. I accept the cross that God has placed in my life. But......I would totally trade back all of that heartbreak in a second. I would trade back the awful dreams I have every few weeks (just last night in fact) where I find porn again but this time I know why and realize it will never end (in the dream) and then wake up and have to remember it's been 4 years and that is not how it is now, to have remind myself out loud that my husband finds me attractive (he does, even though we've had 3 babies in the last 5 years and I DO NOT have a smoking body at all anymore), that he is not hiding things from me and my neurosis at this point is nothing. (It was *something* then.....but now there is nothing). It is awful. I know it is really hard for him too to see me still suffering what I call "aftershocks".


Sorry for the lengthy comment. And sorry it's anonymous. He is open to friends about our experience but doesn't want to go public on my blog.


At 11:10 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

To the last Anonymous:

Thanks so much for sharing your story! And I totally agree with you: NO PORN!!!

I like how you call what you go through now "aftershocks". Isn't that true? We don't really get over things like this entirely. God's healing is there, but the scars are still there, too. I'm glad God has brought you both together and that He has helped your husband, and I pray that you will both reach an even greater level of intimacy!

Thanks for encouraging us, too, that a husband CAN get over this. It takes openness and willingness to change, and a recognition that porn is harmful. But when he is willing to admit that, God can definitely help!


At 1:00 PM , Blogger priest's wife said…

great post...while everyone is responsible for their own sin, we wives can help our husbands on the path of goodness


At 1:08 PM , Anonymous cyndi said…

I don't think we should be upset when men are tempted to look at another woman. Scripture clearly tells us that we will be tempted. As the wife of a Christian man and a Pastor, I feel it my responsibility and honor to regularly pray for my husband so when times of temptation come, and they will, he will resist. No one can pray for a husband like his wife.

I also am very careful how I dress when I am in public, because most women dress so that they look good. Underlying that is need or desire to be noticed! So we can, unknowingly maybe, cause other women's husbands to be tempted by the way we dress. I also think that there is no difference between a man looking at a woman and thinking she is attractive from a woman staring at a chick flick and allowing her emotions to run, leaving the t.v. with "Oh I wish my hubby was like that attitude."

And if your husband has a weakness in this area, don't feel betrayed. Most of the time, it really has nothing to do with your shortcomings. It only has to do with the inclination toward certain sins that was born in him. My best friend's husband had a long battle with pornography. Now, he calls her at certain times of the day to check in and check up. If he feels tempted, he calls her and they pray together for his strengthening. He is doing great!

And giving your husband something to look at is important, not that we have to be Victoria SEcret models. But if we are willing and available and inviting, our husbands will be more prone to not want to look at other women. But more importantly, it is the inner woman that is most important. If your inner woman is beautiful, your husband will think your outer woman more attractive. I had 3 10-lb babies in 3 years. My body just isn't the same as it used to be. My hubby was really buff when I married him, but all that buffness has traveled south and settled around his belly, but to me he gets more attractive everyday and I don't even care about his outer appearance!


At 3:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

*I* notice if a woman or a man is very attractive and I'm not that visually stimulated. How can I get mad if my husband notices too? But, like you said, it is what he does with that noticing.
My husband used to have a problem with porn- before we married. Following the birth of our daughter something in him changed (his words), I guess the "protective father" came out in him! Not that I don't pray for him still.
Last, just wanted to share one "kudos to my hubby" incident. We were at a restaurant (to watch a basketball game- special treat since we don't have tv at home) and right in his line of sight was a lady with presumably her parents, wearing a see-through tank top with a black bra underneath. I didn't notice but he did and admitted it was distracting. We were able to talk about whether we wanted to switch places or not and then joke about asking her to please cover up. I think the honesty on his part in telling me that helped him and me.


At 10:57 AM , Blogger Tara said…

Okay well I just want to leave a comment to PRAISE my husband. After reading this story and the other comments it made me realize just how lucky I trulely am. I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen my husband, not even when we were dating, look and long after another woman. Of course he notices when one has her breasts exposed, or short shorts, exc. I mean, dont we ALL? We usually notice at the same time, and then I see him look down or away. always. Ive tested this a few times to make sure and pretended I didnt notice, and Ive come to find that he still adverts his eyes. Why? because he knows that he is accountable to GOD first, THEN to me. What I dont see, God still does. This has always made me feel so loved, and even more loved then I thought I was. We need to pray for our men, husbands, pastors, and sons...this world is rough and we should help them in their struggles just as they help us. :)


At 8:20 PM , OpenID wuliinge said…

What a great resource!


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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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