When I was writing my book For Women Only, one of the subjects I struggled with the most was what I was learning about men’s visual nature, and the fact that even the most godly, devoted husband had an automatic temptation to notice when an attractive woman who was showing off her figure walked by. Of course, we all hope the man will honor his wife and the Lord and try his hardest not to give into the temptation to look – but how should a wife handle it if he does?
In discussing the findings with Jeff, he had a few things to say about visual temptation.
1) Just because men are indeed visually wired to notice a woman who is showing off her figure, that doesn’t mean they are wired to gawk at her. Every man has a choice! But some men unfortunately do give into the temptation to privately stare. They tend to justify it by thinking it is no big deal – it’s just a second glance. Or a third glance.
2) It is easy for men to tell themselves it is no big deal, but they need to know that for many women it feels like a very big deal. In our research of thousands of women, it was surprising the number of wives who said it tore them up inside when they noticed their husband trying to take a second glance. Especially if it was something he did on a regular basis.
The message to the guys is: I know you love your wife and don’t want to hurt her. Many men have told me they don’t understand why a “second glance” might indeed be hurtful. Guys have said, “She knows it’s just a guy thing – that I don’t care about this other woman at all.” But most women don’t get that. There is something inside every woman that says “where his eyes are going is an indication of where his heart would like to go.”
And the Bible actually agrees with that. As Jesus put it, “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) They haven’t been physically intimate with another woman, but according to the Word, giving into the temptation to visually linger on another woman is a form of unfaithfulness.
And ladies, if this is something you see, and it hurts you, this is something you absolutely can and should address. But before you do, please remember that most men really don’t want to have this visual temptation or to be hammered by all that they see every day in this culture. Most men love and want to honor their wives, and need their wife to understand just how exhausting it is to live in this sexually-explicit culture and to be confronted with these images every day.
But that said, if he has justified a pattern of “second glances”, it is totally fine for you to tell him that it is hurting your feelings. If he doesn’t understand why, it may help for you to calmly explain what you feel like when he displays that pattern of behavior.
Every guy wants to be his wife’s hero. Let him know that you totally understand just how visually tempting this culture is – but that it doesn’t change the fact that it hurts when he gives in. Tell him that when he summons the strength to look away from the temptation that it makes you feel cared for and protected. Because being the protector of his wife is the thing every man wants to be.