It seems like we’re being bombarded on a daily basis with suggestive images everywhere we turn—TV commercials, magazine ads, mainstream websites, and online marketing. It’s hard to even watch a TV show without being confronted with images that border on pornography. One time, when a friend was watching TV with her husband and a Victoria’s Secret commercial came on, he said “I really shouldn’t be watching this”—and she blocked his view. Since then, whenever a commercial like that comes on she says “Don’t look!” and blocks their view. It’s become an in-joke and they laugh over it. But it’s effective—and seriously important.
Why? Because this man is separating himself from a visual cue so it doesn’t trigger a common visual male temptation in his mind—which means that he’s trying to love and honor his wife well. And I know he’s not alone. Many men are making an effort to fight back against the enticing images that appear in media of all kinds. What about your husband? Does he take steps to protect himself? If so, support him in those efforts—he’s truly fighting a battle because of specific challenges that men face in this area based on how their brain is wired.
Intrigued? I was too, when I first learned about the science that is at work in a man’s brain. Let’s get technical, then see how this information applies to your man’s mind… and heart.
Women should know some key information on how the male brain is wired.
To understand the challenges their man faces, women should know some important information about how the male brain is wired. In the back of the brain (the part that regulates breathing, digestion and the other stuff we don’t consciously think about), there’s a small center called the nucleus accumbens. This is the center that lights up when you’re famished and you see food across the room. You’re drawn to notice that food in a very gut-level way. The next thing that happens, though, is that the cortical (thinking) centers in your brain kick in and you can decide if you’re going to start eating immediately or wait until the rest of the dinner party arrives.
Part of a man’s brain creates an automatic temptation to look at suggestive images.
Clinical studies show the same process happens in a man’s brain when he sees a woman showing off her body. The nucleus accumbens in his brain lights up and he has an automatic, physical temptation to take in that image. But then his thoughts and his willpower kick in and he can decide whether he wants to continue taking in the image or pull his thoughts away. Many men try to honor their wives by forcing their thoughts and eyes away, but as long as the image is staring them in the face, the nucleus accumbens is being triggered. This temptation to look has nothing to do with your relationship or whether he finds you attractive or not; it’s purely a biological temptation that he has to fight.
Honor and support your husband as he seeks to honor you well.
My friend’s husband is trying to honor and love his wife well by securing her partnership in removing visual temptation instead of indulging it. She has a good man! And so do many of us wives. By making a conscious effort to look away from (or avoid altogether) suggestive images, our man is choosing to do the right thing. And the impact moves from the brain to the heart as he chooses to prioritize us and the health of our marriage. So if and when your husband asks for, or secures for himself, similar boundaries to temptation—thank him for being a good husband, be a supportive partner, and help him fight back against the visual temptations that are so prevalent in our culture today.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in Busy Life, focuses on a journey to rest even with life’s constant demands.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.