One Thing That Can Kill Your Sexual Confidence

Here in the United States, we have a tortuous ritual endured by most adolescents with varied degrees of horror. You’re shuffled into a concrete-walled room with long benches and hooks on the walls, forced to undress down to your skivvies, and then made to put on the exact same uniform everyone else is wearing. It’s called the Junior High Locker Room, and Physical Education classes have long required this soul-sucking nonsense.

At the very moment you are most self-conscious about your body, you discover where everyone else is at in this journey to womanhood. And, believe me, some girl in that room has something you don’t … but wish you did. Even once you have on the P.E. uniform, it’s obvious some girls fill out that fabric better than others.

And thus launches the moment of comparison.

Now, I told this from the female point of view. But I understand that men have similar issues with this experience — noting who has the muscles, chest hair, penis size, or whatever makes men feel more like men. (I won’t pretend to fully understand.) That Locker Room can be deadly to your teenage confidence.

But you’d think we’d grow out that trap — comparing ourselves to others and make conclusions about how we’re doing. After all, we get many other messages in life that we are special, valuable, one-of-a-kind. We certainly say all those things to others, believing them fully about those others. So why do we adults still struggle with believing it about ourselves?

one-thing-that-can-kill-your-sexual-confidence

I hear this all the time on my blog, and let me tell you: Comparison can kill your sexual confidence. Actually, it can kill your confidence, period. But in that place where we are most vulnerable, those feelings of not enough are heightened.

Here are some examples:

  • The wife who feels her physical appearance doesn’t measure up to the standards of beauty around her … so she doesn’t want to reveal her body to her husband for lovemaking.
  • The husband who questions whether his penis size is sufficient to pleasure his wife … and worries throughout the experience that he isn’t enough to satisfy.
  • The high-drive spouse who wonders if someone else would be a more willing sexual partner in marriage … thus comparing their mate to someone else.
  • The low-drive spouse who hears about less interested husbands/wives and wishes they had a lower-drive husband/wife like that.
  • The couple who compares the challenging sex life they have with young children in the house to what they had when first married … and feels cheated that sex isn’t more frequent.
  • The couple struggling in their marital bedroom and presuming others have it much better and easier, and then blaming themselves, God, their spouse for their circumstances.

That’s the tip of the iceberg really. Because we compare in all kinds of ways. I do it, you do it. Let’s not pretend we don’t.

I believe it’s one of those cases of us not always being able to control what pops into our heads — comparison — but we can control what we dwell on. Whenever a false or destructive thought wiggles its way into our brain, we can choose to invite it in and give it the cozy couch treatment or eject it with all the force of a 300-pound bouncer showing an out-of-line customer the door. Our choice.

This also includes any post you read on my site where you scroll down to the comments section. People tend to comment based on where they are in their sex lives, not where you are in your sex life. My problems are not your problems, but — rest assured — we all have problems.

And honestly, comparison can kill our sexual intimacy in both directions:

  1. Comparing our marital bedroom to someone else’s and feeling that we’re doing worse then we are.
  2. Comparing our marital bedroom to someone else’s and feeling that we’re doing better than we are.

The first can produce frustration and hopelessness; the second, smugness and complacency. Neither one is good for our marriage bed.

When I looked to the Bible to see what it had to say about comparison, most of the scriptures I found involved the message: No one compares to God. Amen! But I did find a few interesting passages.

In one place, comparison is actually invited by a follower of God. It’s Daniel, when he and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah (whom you likely know as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), were in captivity in Babylon. They were expected to eat from the king’s kitchen, foods sacrificed to idols and against Jewish law. Instead, they begged to be given a diet of vegetables. Daniel states: ” ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ “ He is granted this test, the four friends more than pass, and the diet is altered for all in training for the king’s service to one consistent with God’s laws.

So if you’re looking for a place where comparison is reasonable, I’d say this: Compare doing it God’s way to not doing it God’s way.

This is a comparison I often make when I state with absolute certainty that sex according to God’s design is far superior to the alternative perspective the world offers. I can even make that comparison in my own life: when I was sexually sinning vs. the intimacy I now have with my husband. That comparison only fuels my commitment to continue on God’s path.

I can’t think of another kind of comparison, however, that has done me any good in my life. Especially comparing myself to others, which is really coveting:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5:21).

“You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3).

Stop coveting your neighbor’s sex life or her body or whatever else you think someone else has got going that you want. Ask God for what you need, with the right motives, and keep your eyes fixed on Him. Comparison can kill your confidence, but God can restore it.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7).

80 thoughts on “One Thing That Can Kill Your Sexual Confidence

  1. Terry

    One thing I was shocked to learn from my husband just a few years ago (we’ve been married for 16+) was that when men do look at other women – in-person, on TV, in ads – they’re NOT comparing us to them or wishing we looked like them. What?? This is nonsensical to me and probably most other wives/girlfriends, maybe because when we look at men we likely ARE comparing how tall/chiseled/muscular/hairy/tanned they are compared to our own guys. But apparently men are capable of noting a woman’s physical appearance without making comparisons; possibly due to their compartmentalized way of thinking, for good or bad.

    I don’t suggest this as an excuse for voyeurism or the like, but in a sense it is comforting to consider that even though a man’s brain is wired to notice beauty, he can and often is content with his own lady because his brain also doesn’t connect who he has here with what he sees over there. I’m still getting my head around this concept, especially given my husband’s matter-of-fact statement that I’m not a “supermodel” but he still thinks I’m gorgeous (and that first example was sooo me for a long time). And the pressure from society to be perfect IS intense. But maybe this can offer some perspective to other wives who feel that they have to keep up with the lingerie models. Has anyone else been apprised of this non-comparison? Does it hold true in your own experience?

    Reply
    1. e2

      Terry,

      Your husband is right. I’ve mentioned before that my wife likes to watch Dancing with the Stars. Sometimes, in the middle of an episode in which larger breasts are prominently on display, she will apologize to me for her smaller chest. While I understand her insecurity, I am fully in love with her breasts and have told her many, many times, both with words and with touch. I simply do not compare her breast size to that of other women I see.

      Reply
    2. e2

      Terry wrote, “And the pressure from society to be perfect IS intense.”

      I often felt this as a man when I started balding in my 20s. I watched the commercials for hair clubs and treatments, which showed horny women lusting after men with thick heads of hair. I noticed that most cinematic heroes had full heads of hair and many who didn’t wore hairpieces to pretend they did. For a while I was bummed, and then I thought, “who is this ‘society’ pressuring me to have perfect hair?” It turned out that what I called “society” was just some business trying to sell a product.

      When I considered my real society, my friends and family, and the women I dated, I realized that *none* of them cared that my hair was thinning. After I started balding, I was never turned down for a date, and the women I dated for any length of time before meeting my wife all told me that my lack of hair was not a concern for them.

      I concluded that the pressure I felt from “society” was little more than the pressure I put on myself based on my own perceptions than any real or legitimate pressure from anyone I cared about.

      Reply
    3. a. nony

      “when we look at men we likely ARE comparing how tall/chiseled/muscular/hairy/tanned they are compared to our own guys”

      Uhhh… this is not remotely true for me. The thought of comparing another man’s body with my husband’s makes me feel a little sick, to be honest. And I have never heard of this from my married girlfriends.

      “Men are like X, women are like Y” things never hold up to examination, in my experience. People are just too different.

      Reply
      1. e2

        Actually, even as a man, I can understand Terry’s thoughts. Barring surgery, a woman’s breast or butt size are determined by her DNA, hardly anything worthy of comparison or admiration. However, a man’s muscular chest and arms and flat stomach are not the result of nature, but his perseverance in pursuing disciplined exercise. I can fully appreciate why those qualities might be attractive to a woman, especially one whose husband doesn’t share such discipline as evidenced by an expanding mid-section.

        Reply
      2. Terry

        Fair enough…but my statement was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, implying perhaps a guilty conscience? I don’t mean to state that ALL women are sizing up other men in comparison to their own husbands; just that people (including me) often unconsciously assume that everyone else sees the world the way they do. So…if Wife assumes that Husband is comparing another woman’s attributes to hers, it could be because she’s inclined to do that very thing (in reverse of course), even at an unconscious level. And I will stick to the generalization that women’s emotions are like spaghetti in that everything touches everything else – thus we have a natural inclination to compare, shop around, find the best deals, weigh our options ad nauseum. Rather than list men’s physical qualities however, I should have used more ethereal traits such as temperament, leadership ability, gentlemanliness, intelligence etc. as I also think women in general(!) are less affected by looks than men are. So even if a wife isn’t comparing her husband to other men physically, she could still be comparing his salary, his sense of humor and other things, assuming that her husband is doing the same on a physical level.

        If I might play “devil’s advocate” however, we all made comparisons in picking our spouses to begin with, and I would suggest that “comparison” by way of periodic reminders to ourselves that we did indeed make the right choice – the whole “package” considered – is a healthy exercise. It’s when we reach a different conclusion that we need to take a step back and review what brought us together to begin with. But from a physical OR emotional standpoint…as for “never hearing this from your married girlfriends”, allow me to quote the elder Rose Dawson in the film “Titanic” – “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean, full of secrets.”

        Reply
        1. a. nony

          Terry, I don’t think the problem is my personal ignorance, I think the problem is that human beings are created with such beautiful diversity from one person to another, that generalizations about the sexes are unhelpful and misleading if not rooted in scripture.

          “if Wife assumes that Husband is comparing another woman’s attributes to hers, it could be because she’s inclined to do that very thing (in reverse of course), even at an unconscious level.” I will agree with you here! Projection is a very real thing, and it happens often in all sorts of relationships we have. It’s definitely true that a woman who mentally accuses her husband of a comparing eye needs to search her heart to see if she is doing the same.

          Reply
  2. Ashley

    I think maybe another healthy way of comparison could be to learn from someone. For instance, noticing that a strong couple puts a higher priority on praying together, and thinking that if my husband and I can emulate that we can grow more in our relationship. But maybe comparison isn’t even the right word for that.

    Reply
  3. Bobthemusicguy

    A few comments from a man:

    ” they’re NOT comparing us to them or wishing we looked like them”

    Terry, I know that can be true (some men may be excusing wandering eyes). Even if I see a beautiful woman, I would rather have the woman I love and have the privilege of sexual intimacy with, than some fantasy-land woman who is in many ways not real. My ideal of beauty is my wife, and my ideal changes as she changes. We’re “seasoned citizens” now, but she is as beautiful as ever.

    “a man’s brain is wired to notice beauty”

    I think most women (and most men) way underestimate the depth of emotional sensitivity of men. We hide our feelings very well, but the depths of passion are there, and they can be brought forth by the woman a man loves. Think how much great beauty in the arts has been produced by men in love. An objective recognition of beauty in another woman is for many men just like noticing the beauty of a landscape or the passion of music. But what stirs me to my depths is my relationship with my wife.

    “I think maybe another healthy way of comparison could be to learn from someone. For instance, noticing that a strong couple puts a higher priority on praying together, and thinking that if my husband and I can emulate that we can grow more in our relationship. But maybe comparison isn’t even the right word for that.”

    Ashley, you’re right that “comparison isn’t the right word. My wife calls it a”holy jealousy” that spurs us to draw closer to God and seek His face. J’s original post celled comparison a form of coveting. I wholeheartedly agree. We recently heard a sermon series on the Ten Commandments. The preacher pointed out that the first nine commandments involve overt actions. The last one, about coveting, involves the “inner man.” We may be able to hide coveting from others, but we can’t hide it from God. But it’s right and good to have a kind of holy jealousy that makes us want to know God more and more. Now, don’t compare your “spirituality” (whatever that is) to others. We’re all at different places in our walk with God. But if we try to emulate those ahead of us, and help nurture those behind us, it’s a good thing.

    One last comment (sorry, but I ramble a lot!). Our sex life is better than ever, and we are learning more about each other each time we make love. Whether or not what we do would be “great sex” for someone else, I don’t know, nor do I care. God has brought us through some dark and difficult times, and He has given us a fresh “restart” in our marriage (36 years next Monday!). That’s all that matter to me.

    Reply
    1. Terry

      So…If men are capable of loving deeply and passionately (which I don’t doubt they are), and they spend so much time scratching their heads over what women want and how to woo them…why are men so averse to “chick-flicks”? Why don’t they sit up, pay attention and take notes? Do they not understand what it is about romantic films that makes us swoon? Or is it “beneath” a self-respecting man to emulate the Edward Ferrars and the Mr. Darcys?

      I do mean this to be tongue-in-cheek (partly, at least); and it’s a bit off-topic; but it’s something I had to wonder and couldn’t help but ask. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Bobthemusicguy

        Not off topic at all. It’s often about comparison, as well. Man watching “chick flick” and suddenly feels emotional stirring. Man thinks, “Uh-oh! I’m not being manly enough! What will the guys think?” Hence the ideas of being too “emo” or “losing a man card” if discovered. Man starts making snide comments about said flick in order to fend off (even hypothetical) criticism from “the guys.”

        Comparison can lead to all kinds of thoughts and actions, from the silly to the devastating. Comparison is at the root of covetousness. Only that comparison that spurs us on to a deeper walk with Christ is helpful. That kind of comparison is really following a role model. And our ultimate role model is Chrisy Himself.

        (By the way, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice several times. Hope the guys don’t read this, or I might lose a man card and get kicked out of the man cave!)

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Pride and Prejudice is awesome! Of course you should read it more than once. And if Tom Hanks admitted to reading P&P in You’ve Got Mail, why can’t every other guy?! 😀

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      2. e2

        I can only speak for myself, not other men. I actually enjoy watching chick flicks with my wife. What I don’t understand is why she enjoys them. Usually, the women in romantic movies enjoy being touched and kissed. They enjoy and desire sexual contact, and when the male lead offers it, they fall rapturously into his arms. When I try to emulate those actions, I don’t get the same response from my wife. She’s not mean spirited about it, nor does she intentionally reject me. It’s just that sexual intimacy is not very high on her list of priorities. That all said, she is making a concerted effort to understand my sexual needs and desires, which I *deeply* appreciate. But, chick flicks do very little to inspire her to desire sexual activity.

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        1. Terry

          I was pleasantly surprised when during the mini-series “War and Peace” which aired earlier this year, my husband was yelling at the TV for Andrei go and see Natasha after the fiasco in which another young man had tried to ruin her reputation. “Go to her!” He had always (and still does) only reluctantly watched Pride and Prejudice, The Notebook, and other films in this genre; but apparently this story struck a chord from the masculine side of the relationship. He also watches (in my opinion) all manner of depressing WWII documentaries; yet he won’t finish watching one (“Racing Extinction”) – which I myself could barely get through – on the imminent extinction of various animal species. “It’s too depressing!” So I am finding that men have an emotional side that can be aroused by the right triggers.

          As for chick flicks and sex, I don’t necessarily find a direct connection either – because the point is the ROMANCE – how I would feel in that situation – as an end in itself…..not a pit-stop on the way to the bedroom. So she likely enjoys them for different reasons than you. And I would wager that moving beyond the passionate kiss is more about how she feels than how well you emulate the manly moves on-screen. Is she emotionally safe? Does she feel protected? Does she feel desirable? Have you wooed her throughout the day? I can only speak from my own perspective, but for me there are multiple factors at play rather than it being just the one-and-done.

          But I’ve come to realize just recently that “emotion”, wanting to feel a certain way, can a stronghold in itself – especially in a woman’s thought life, and possibly just as addictive as sex is to a man. So I suppose even chick-flicks can be a source of making comparisons between the Mr. Darcys and how my own man tries to “romance” me. Just as men have to remember that the Miss Busties and the Brunette Bigbutts are fantasy women, we women have to realize that there is no “perfect” man (just consider what was likely going on in Mr. Darcy’s pants the whole time) and appreciate our husbands for who they are while being their helpmates to make them more like Christ.

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          1. e2

            Thank you for the feminine perspective on chick flicks. I’m not sure how much of it applies to my wife as, in many ways, she is not your typical woman. You mention feeling safe and protected. I hear that a lot from women. What does it look like? What does your husband do that makes you feel emotionally safe?

          2. Terry

            It’s a simple question, but a complicated answer…With my husband, I feel emotionally safe because I can simply be myself – make mistakes, express an opinion, confess insecurities, cry, lose my temper (though it’s never at him), and still receive affirmation – no making me feel stupid, incompetent, ugly etc. It’s a main part of the reason I married him. The last time I got a speeding ticket for example (and it’s been awhile, btw), I just told him – no temper tantrums or judgments; he even went online and paid it so I didn’t have to mess with it. In these instances he may even need to make me feel better and offer perspective on things that don’t have to be a big deal.

            I had to learn the hard way with certain men I’ve worked with over the years that opening up to them emotionally wasn’t a good idea because they were not trustworthy or a safe place. They might be nice to me one day and bite my head off the next, depending on the mood they were in. If I’m going to make an emotional investment, I need predictability. It seems to me from your other comments that you’re likely already providing this kind of environment, but I mentioned this as a general “ground rule”. Apparently some women are better equipped to handle Type A/choleric (i.e., temperamental) men as their own personalities are complementary; and more power to ’em, but I don’t need the guesswork.

            My husband would probably say that I’m not “typical” either – as most loving husbands would, I imagine. He knows I’m not a pink-wearing “girly” girl, and even though I like romantic movies I also enjoy kickboxing and the idea that I could fend for myself if I had to. But leadership is a very appealing, sexy quality to me (another reason I married him) and is very closely linked to that feeling of protection – emotional and physical – that I crave. I don’t know how important this is to your wife, but for me it’s key to moving past the screen romance and making the scenes you describe a reality. Again it appears that you’re the one taking the initiative here, so if leadership is important to her, maybe it’s in other areas; or maybe there’s some other emotion that those male leads evoke in her. Have you asked?

      3. Stephanie

        Maybe I have an “oddball” but my husband enjoys “chick flicks” about as much as I do and isn’t afraid to admit it and he’s a very “manly” man. I think for him, though, it comes down to his confidence and comfort in who he is, himself, as a man. Or, maybe, it’s that he has only sisters and now finds himself, once again, surrounded by females (myself and our two daughters) and never bothered with bothering to collect “man cards.” Lol! Either way I adore him.

        Reply
        1. Terry

          I’m sure there are exceptions; I just wondered why so many men are looking for the nearest door whenever their wives are getting out the Sense and Sensibility dvd. It may be that it’s not about self-confidence as you say, but simply what men identify with. I don’t care to watch the depressing WWII documentaries my husband likes; not because they threaten my “womanhood” but because there are other things I’d rather do with my time. But it sounds like your husband “gets it” or at least enjoys the romance for its own sake. Some men just have a wider romantic “streak” than others, I guess. My brother is not one you’d think to be very romantic to look at him; but he proposed to my sister-in-law in a suit of armor. Don’t know about his taste in movies, though.

          Reply
  4. A Blessed Husband

    Hi J. I am relatively new to this site and this is my first reply. It’s nice to see you posting again and condolences on the loss of your father.

    Jealousy was the ‘one thing’ that came to my mind after reading your catchy title. I was initially surprised you chose comparison, but it makes sense… and it can certainly lead to jealousy. My wonderful wife and I have been married 39 years and our marriage is undergoing a recent, God led change. I didn’t want another another woman but confess that at times I was envious of relationships others had – or as you aptly called it, coveting my neighbor’s sex life. Surrendering to God has changed my perspective. Our relationship is growing incredibly strong both in and out of the bedroom. Yes, there are still things I hope for regarding sexual intimacy, but I do my best to no longer compare or wish our marriage was like others. I am learning instead to rejoice in the beautiful bride that God has given me and how to serve her better. He has blessed our marriage and we now look upon our journey together as a delightful work in progress. The results have been amazing so and with his continued guidance, it is quite possible that every aspect of our marriage will be better than we ever hoped for.

    Your message is helpful because it reminds me to ‘stay on course’ and be pure in my thoughts and actions. Our goal is not to make our marriage the best ever (as you note somebody is always better) – rather make it what God wants it to be. And I am going to keep your 300 pound bouncer in mind next time comparison enters my mind!

    Thank you for your ministry and inspiring messages. God bless.

    Reply
  5. libl

    I recently discovered that my husband is watching videos of rock music set to videos of porn models wearing next to nothing gyrating sexually and fondling themselves and each other. I noticed several repeats he plays that feature a model that fits his fantasy ideal of beauty (which is not me). I am the affordable Ford, she is the fantasy Jag. He’ll never have a Jag, so he is content with his Ford, but indulges in fantasies for that Jag. I want to be his Jag. I don’t want to be her. I want ME to be enough. Is that coveting? Isn’t he coveting that Jag of a model squeezing her giant breasts for the camera instead of focusing his sexual attention on me?

    She and I may be in two different boxes in his brain. Maybe he isn’t coming home and squeezing my breasts and wishing they were bigger like hers. But it is still disgustingly wrong on so many levels.

    This is a repeat problem in our marriage. He goes back to his fantasy woman. I am sick of being second to his selfishness. Is it coveteousness to want better for our marriage? A part of me wishes I could give him everything his heart desires and be that Jag, but the rest of me realizes that I am everything he could want or need, he just chooses to look at greener pastures elsewhere instead of nurturing his own garden.

    Reply
    1. Terry

      This is not coveting; this is JEALOUSY – which you have a perfect RIGHT to as his wife. Just as he should rightfully expect that you keep your mind and body for him only, so you should expect him to focus his sexual desires and attention at YOU, his wife. Remember, God says “I am a JEALOUS God,” and God cannot sin! He rightfully desires our devotion above all else, and marriage was created to be a picture of Christ and the Church. He married YOU, he made a vow to be faithful to YOU, and the object of his lust should be YOU, and YOU only. I am not a marriage counselor and so I cannot suggest a course of action (other than prayer of course); but you should not be made to feel like his “Ford” or that your desire for him to forsake the “other woman” is wrong.

      There’s my rant; any additional thoughts, J? Disagreement?

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        My opinion? Of course a husband shouldn’t be seeking out images of other women. Sometimes I think women hear about this visual struggle for some men and encouragement that men don’t (typically) compare their wives to others and that husbands like to see their wives’ bodies, etc. … and it may sound like I don’t think lust is a sin. But it is. And what I try to do is explain that there’s a big difference between noticing a strawberry cheesecake and fantasizing about one, drooling over it, and devouring a piece. Not to mention enjoying your own strawberry cheesecake slice (go right ahead!) versus avoiding the cheesecake at home to eat strawberry cheesecake at a nearby restaurant.

        Okay, enough food metaphors. The point is that we are all responsible to keep our eyes and minds on our spouse as much as possible. That said, we shouldn’t imagine that our spouse noticing someone of the opposite sex means that they don’t like us, are comparing us to them, or that they’re something wrong with us. Your cheesecake is fine (couldn’t resist). But it’s quite reasonable to set boundaries and ask your husband not to look at sexualized images, because he shouldn’t be dwelling on those anyway. “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” (Proverbs 6:25).

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        1. J Post author

          Oh, and yes — jealousy is wanting something we don’t have a right to claim. God can be jealous for us, because we should be His. And it’s reasonable to be jealous for your spouse’s sexual desire.

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        2. libl

          Thanks. I have asked him not to, but he makes up excuses and continues. He sticks to gray areas he can excuse “I only listen to the music,” and then tells me that I am sexy, too. “I only bought Maxim for this article.” “I only watch Game of Thrones for the story.”

          The fact is his heart is hardened about it and I have yet to find a solid Christian male leader to “go there,” and some even condone his gray areas, saying seeing, even looking isn’t sinful and harming. Only lusting is. But I feel participating as a spectator to sexual immorality, even if he isn’t masturbating or attempting to not be aroused by it (ha) is still sin. If it isn’t, it certainly isn’t beneficial.

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          1. Bobthemusicguy

            This reminds me of the men who say they would read Playboy “for the articles.” What a bunch of bull! Same goes for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. It’s hard enough for a Christian man to keep his thoughts pure when we are constantly assaulted by images everywhere. Ads on TV, selling anything from cars to groceries, use sex to catch attention. And the endless parade of women and teenage girls flaunting their bodies practically in our faces. I, for one, am tired of the assault on my sexual purity, at all times and places, even in church when I see women inappropriately dressed. Whatever happened to the virtue of modesty?

            As Christians, we need to take a stand, but a consistent stand. I have heard Christians deplore certain performers who are practically baring it all, but they don’t seem to care when it’s a singer who sings the songs they like. I’ve heard so many adults talk about the R-rated films they watch. If it’s not appropriate for the kids because of sex on the screen, it’s not appropriate for anyone.

            No wonder kids get confused. We tell them to “grow up” and behave in a more mature manner, then we’re horrified when we see the results.

          2. J Post author

            You know, it’s been several years since I finally decided that I no longer wanted to watch R-rated movies. (Yes, there are a few exceptions when the R is for very unusual reasons, but…) I simply concluded that there are enough films of great quality that don’t show a bunch of skin, delve into unnecessary gore, or cuss at me for two hours; it might take more initiative on my part to find those great films, but it was worth the effort. I haven’t missed those R-rated movies. And no, I don’t miss the Mature Audience (MA) shows everyone talks about at the “water cooler” either.

    2. Janet

      Libl I’m really sorry to read this.

      I have seen you post these types of comments on this blog and another. Sometimes you seem happy and other times you write things like up above.

      Can I humbly suggest that because things just don’t seem to be getting better with your husband behaving the way he is, you need to take a firmer approach.

      My husband hid a porn addiction from me for 15 years. Except he was a lot more deceptive than what yours sounds. I found evidence, he lied about it for all those years.

      Eventually I left him for awhile. He needed a wake up call and it was only when I left that he was forced to come clean. I’ve another friend who did the same and I’ve read other women who’ve done similar.

      By staying with your husband you are enabling him to carry on in his behavior.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Sometimes leaving for a while is the right choice; sometimes we can set firmer boundaries in the same home. What I do reject is the go-along-to-get-along approach many wives tend toward (and certainly some husbands as well). I believe wholeheartedly in grace, but not enabling sin in any way in our homes. Not sure what the answer is for many particular situations, but there’s much for spouses in marital struggles to consider. Thanks for your comment.

        Reply
        1. libl

          I have sought counsel from two pastors and both do not believe it is “bad enough” for me to separate. For one thing we cannot fully know his motivation and actions surrounding these gray areas because they are gray. Some Christians believe watching Game of Thrones is a sin. Others do not. If he were clicking on xxx sites, it would be very different. Much more clear.

          And when confronted all we have is his word that he looks away, leaves the room, doesn’t lust after them, isn’t affected by it, etc.

          Also, I refuse to be labeled an enabler. An enabler makes the other think what they are doing is ok. I have made it clear I don’t like this and I feel it is a sin. He chooses to disagree with me. His more graphic rated r movie collection is removed from the house and made to stay in his man cave. He can choose to cloister himself away from us with a graphic movie or show or join us as a family. Much of his viewing is done when he is not at home at all….like when he travels for work. I have confronted him about this and gone to pastors, but because it isn’t outright porn, not much has been done about it.

          So, I leave it in God’s hands to do with it as He wishes. I step out of God’s way. Let the natural consequences fall where they may.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Fair enough. I definitely believe that you are the best person to understand the situation, and I respect how well you’ve thought this through and consulted others. Many blessings!

  6. Anonymous

    Wow, this article reminds the danger of reading/posting in Christian sex blogs too much. A few years ago, I frequently read/posted at another Christian sex forum. After a year or so of reading, I started to realize how deeply dysfunctional and unfulfilling my marriage bed was. Eventually jealousy started to creep into my life and I decided not to post anymore due to this problem (along with other problems too.)

    Thank you for reminding me of the danger of comparisons with our sex life.

    Reply
  7. B

    Interesting post. I read this yesterday, was going to comment, but decided not to. I do this, I know I do. I compare myself way too much to everyone else. Perhaps because I was compared to everyone else endlessly while growing up. I used to think it was normal.

    I admit I have a problem with comparison, and I always come out on the losing end. So I’m not conceited, per se, but it’s still very unhealthy. I read the post and the comments from Terry and e2, and I thought “hmmmm….maybe my husband isn’t comparing me to every single female he sees and finding me lacking. Maybe that’s why he gets frustrated when I offer to change myself in every way I can to make him attracted to me, the way I feel he is attracted to everyone else.”

    I was also thinking on the word picture of tossing thoughts of comparison out like a bouncer. And then….

    We went to a little league baseball game. He paid attention to the game and to me, as far as I knew, almost all night. Then when we (parents) were listening to the coach give his speech, my husband noticed another woman (with delight in his eyes). I was a little surprised because she was an average mom and a little on the heavy side. But she was wearing yoga pants and had a big round butt (and he notices butts and I KNOW no matter what he says he compares and he hates mine because it’s so little and I cannot make it grow, no matter how much I run or do squats, I just am physically unable to make my butt bigger. And when I asked to get butt implants he got so mad, so he doesn’t even think I’m worthy of looking as good as the women he finds attractive.) And of course she was a brunette, and he loves brunettes. But every time I offer to dye my hair, again, he gets mad. It’s like he thinks I’m not worthy of being attractive to him. Every time we take a step forward, we gotta take a step back. And he acts like he doesn’t even notice these people, but he stands a little straighter, and his eyes light up in a way they never do when he looks at me. Never. So I know he finds me lacking. Actions (or reactions) speak so much louder than any words he could ever say (which he says to try to cover he way he really feels) – and so the big jumbled mess continues. Then we get in the car to go home and as we are walking to the car he holds my hand and he’s all like “I love you” as we are getting in the car and he actually wonders why I don’t believe him? I just watched you notice, appreciate, desire and long for another woman right in front of me – notice her every positive point and compare it to my every flaw. And he wonders why I don’t believe he is attracted to me and why I think he finds me far inferior to every other woman out there?

    Maybe the problem is I do compare too much. Maybe the problem is I will never measure up. Maybe the problem is I bank too much of my worthiness on what my husband thinks, and not enough on what Jesus thinks. I think that’s the root problem, and I need to keep working on that.

    But as far as men. Or comparing their wives to every hottie they notice? Um…..not sure I’m buying it.

    Reply
    1. e2

      B,

      I’ve watched many movies in which a female character says something to the effect, “I saw the way you looked at her.” It’s become such a common line in movies that we’ve begun to accept a given way of looking as a valid indicator of a person’s heart. Whenever I hear that in a movie, I wonder, “what in the world does that mean anyway?” I guarantee that you could never, I mean ever, conclude anything reliable about the “way” I look at something or someone. You say your husband had “delight in his eyes.” May I humbly suggest that perhaps you perceived something that wasn’t there, perhaps due in part to possible confirmation bias based on your own concern for your butt size? As a man, I find yoga pants in general to be quite unattractive, especially if they are filled out by a large round butt.

      I dated five women over the years before meeting my wife and have had many female friends. The women I have known over the years were all FAR more concerned about their physical appearance than I ever was. Too tall, too short, wrong hair color, wrong breast size, wrong butt size. You name it, I’ve heard it. And with such insecurity, it was perfectly understandable that a woman who was dissatisfied with a certain body part would think I was looking a certain “way” at girls who didn’t share such “defects.”

      But, I have never compared my wife’s physical appearance with any of my former girlfriends, nor do I compare her physical appearance with any other women I see.

      I also want to clarify a nuance in one of your sentences. You wrote, speaking of your husband, “I just watched you notice, appreciate, desire and long for another woman…” Please, please, please understand that there is a vast difference between noticing another woman and longing for her. I will grant you that your husband has probably noticed and appreciated the beauty of other women. I know I have just as my wife has noticed and appreciated the handsomeness of other men. (I know this, not because of the “way” she looks, but because she verbally says, “he’s cute.”) But I can say without hesitation that I have never desired or longed for another woman that I may have seen, no matter how beautiful she may have been.

      Reply
      1. B

        @e2, your comment provokes thought. Because, believe it or not, it’s not my husband noticing and appreciating the beauty of other women that bothers me. It’s the way I feel he IS comparing me to each and every single one of them, noticing their good points and comparing them to my flaws and finding me lacking every. single. time. They win, every single time. They are the objects of his desire, while I never am. Why wouldn’t they be? I’m nothing compared to them. That is the refrain that plays through my head every time I see him enjoying the beauty of another woman.
        He repeatedly tells me “the woman I want is right here” while pointing to me. That’s sweet. But that gleam in his eye when he sees a better woman, which is often, tells me so much more. And that’s what hurts.
        Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m wrong, and he’s not desiring or longing for the better woman. But it sure feels that way to me. Something else for me to think on.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          It sounds like nothing he says can make you believe that he loves and wants you. And what you’re looking at is a “gleam in his eye.” That’s not very good evidence, and if he reassures you over and over, then not believing it feels like you’re calling him a liar. Does he say that’s how he feels? Because both of your feelings matter here. I’m just wondering.

          Reply
          1. Bobthemusicguy

            J, you have a very good point. Not personally knowing B or her husband, our comments are all just speculation. But it seems the man won’t ever be able to prove himself. Does he tell her he loves her, appreciates her, desires her? Does he do specific things that undermine such avowals of love and desire? Is he a Christian man? Does he acknowledge the authority of scripture in all areas, including marriage?

            Men often protest to women that “we aren’t mind readers.” I would add that at least some women think they ARE mind readers. A woman may know her husband very well, but I expect that if she could really read his mind, there would be some real surprises, many of them pleasant surprises. (I’m amused when a man honestly says he’s not really thinking about anything, and his wife doesn’t believe him. It’s true, we can really empty our minds. No jokes, please!)

            B, you do need to find your primary identity in Christ. But part of that identity know is as the wife of your husband. He may be a total rat, or he may be a great guy who is misunderstood by you. Whatever else may be going on, it seems to me that you two are miscommunicating. I hope and pray that this will be corrected and that you two will find full happiness and support with each other.

          2. B

            This may come off snarky, but it is totally not meant that way. I’m being sincere. I get that it’s me. Almost 100%. (Well, him noticing beautiful women adds to it, but again, I wouldn’t expect him not to notice.) It’s a lot of left over baggage from growing up and several years of our marriage when he had a staring issue. He has since changed and really tries to honor me by not staring. That’s all great, but it breaks my heart that he has to TRY to love me. I just love him, because I just do.
            It also hurts me that he seems to want to love me now, and I have such a hard time accepting it. I just kind of feel like if I wasn’t good enough then, how could I possibly be good enough now? I’m not getting younger.
            And, I love my husband and want him to be happy. I feel he deserves a beautiful woman, someone much better than me, someone I could never be. So a lot of the time when he notices a much better woman, I feel like “he deserves her, he doesn’t deserve to be stuck with someone as blah as me.” I don’t want him to leave me, but part of me feels like he missed out. He is a great guy and he deserves a 10, and he’s stuck with a 2. Maybe a 3 on a good day. So when a worthy woman crosses his path and he notices, it reminds me that he does appreciate beauty, deserves it, and is stuck with me because he’s a nice guy. I hate the thought of him spending the rest of his life longing for the beauty he deserves, and being stuck with blah.
            We met with a mentor couple and it went well. My husband said nice things that sure sounded like he loves me for his wife, but I have to wonder if they were real, or if he was saying what he thought he was “supposed” to say. I kinda think he was sincere. We will meet again. I’m thinking of asking if I could also meet alone with the woman, because I know I have some deeper stuff going on that needs to be worked on. The extremely poor self image stuff. I know it’s pride, negative pride, and I think I need to learn to use that “thought bouncer”.

        2. Sandi

          B,
          I read your comments on several other blogs and I wonder if you recognize the stronghold you seem to have with mind reading? You repeatedly tell your husband and others what he’s thinking and feeling. Can you imagine for minute how disrespected you would feel if your husband told you repeatedly that he knows you don’t love him because he sees the look on your face or he saw you notice something or someone and that proves he doesn’t love you? Isn’t it time to humble yourself and tear down that stronghold? I’m not scolding or judging you here. I’m speaking truth in love here because I’m pretty sure we’ve known each other from a few years ago and hate to see you continue to harm yourself and your marriage this way.

          Love in Christ,
          Sandi

          Reply
        3. e2

          B,

          There’s no denying your feelings. They are real and painful. My suggestion is that they are not based on objective truth. I believe you’re relying too much on facial expressions (which are really easy to misinterpret) and not enough on direct words (which can be clearer). My wife complains that that people constantly misread her facial expressions. A co-worker once asked her, “Oh my gosh, what’s wrong? You look so sick,” when in fact she was quite well and content on the inside.

          May I suggest that the gleam you perceive in your husband’s eye when Miss Brunette Bigbutt walks by is more your perception caused by your fears. But, even if he does have such a gleam, maybe it’s because he’s thinking about something totally unrelated to Miss Bigbutt. My mind races a mile a minute and it is rare that I’m actually thinking about what my eyes are looking at. I can look straight at a large breasted woman (my wife has a smaller chest) and be thinking about that 20 foot putt I sank on the 9th hole earlier that day. Now, if my wife suggested that any pleasant look on my face was due to my longing after Miss Bigchest, I (like your husband) would react very angrily.

          So, yes, your feelings are real. But I don’t let yourself believe they are a reliable indicator of actual truth.

          Reply
          1. Terry

            “Miss Brunette Bigbutt”…love it….:)

            I can certainly identify with my facial expressions being misinterpreted. I smile more than I used to, but even when my expression is “relaxed” it apparently appears to some that I’m scowling or that I look confused. In most cases I’m just concentrating – which I do a lot as left-brained, introverted, task-oriented pessimist. In the same way, when B’s husband “lights up” at the sight of Ms. Bigbutt, he may in fact be suppressing laughter at how ridiculous she looks in her yoga pants – or be thinking of something entirely different as e2 suggests. There’s just no way to know unless you ASK – and then believe what he tells you.

          2. e2

            A funny, but true, story about misreading a person’s facial expressions. One year, about a month before Christmas, my wife and I were in an art store. As we turned the corner of one aisle, she looked straight at a piece of art and audibly gasped. Such an outward expression was very unusual for her. She said nothing else, but the way she looked at it and gasped said it all. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. I filed that gasp away in my mind and later bought it for her as a present. On Christmas morning, she opened her gift and asked, “Why did you buy this?” I tried to remind her of her very obvious and visible reaction to this piece of art in the store, and she just didn’t remember. She had no great love for the piece. I’ll never know what was on her mind when she gasped.

            My dear B, no matter how obvious the look on his face may seem, you just never know what your husband is thinking unless you ask, and then believe him when he tells you.

    2. Terry

      In response to B:

      And here I’ve always wished for a shapely backside that is more in proportion to my upper body, i.e., smaller; but instead of marrying a man who notices “boody”, I married a man who likes breasts – which I have but not in abundance. He does like my body but it’s uncanny that people can be self-conscious of the exact same parts of their bodies, but for polar opposite reasons.

      One other thing my husband has said (in addition to the non-comparison) is that looks are merely the “bait”, whereas the personality is the “hook”. So, in his words, “If a girl can catch a guy with no bait, she’s GOT him.” This is not to say that you have no “bait,” but regardless your husband married you for a reason, so it could well be that you don’t give yourself enough credit. He saw (and probably still sees) something in you that made him choose you over all those other women, looks or no. (Consider that my husband likely notices larger breasts but he married ME.) Have you told him the things you just told us? Maybe he’s not really thinking what you think he’s thinking about other women vs. you. And it could be that he doesn’t get “mad” per se; my husband has the most even-keel personality in the world, and sometimes I think he’s mad when he isn’t – if anything he’s frustrated because he thinks I’m putting myself down, or he’s mad “for” me not “at” me. But mostly what I perceive as “mad” isn’t mad. I doubt it’s a question of your “worthiness”; he may well be frustrated that you think you have to change yourself so much in order for him to love you.

      Again I’m trying to “fix” things and I don’t know how helpful the above might be. I do echo J’s wish that these issues were addressed in church or at the very least in men’s ministries. But without communication your assumptions will not change.

      Reply
      1. e2

        I absolutely hate it, HATE IT, when my wife puts down her appearance and, like your husband, I get angry “for” her. I tell her she’s beautiful and express my desire for her. She thanks me but then says she’s learned to accept that she’s not beautiful. It makes my blood boil.

        Reply
        1. B

          I honestly wonder why this is. I, too, have accepted the fact that I am not beautiful. My husband, like you, gets angry at me just for being realistic. His anger makes me feel like not only am I not worthy of his love, admiration, or desire – but now I’m not even worthy of having an opinion or an emotion? I don’t get it. I truly wish I did.

          His anger makes me feel like “not only are you not attractive, and nowhere near as good enough as the pretty girls, but you also annoy me.” Gee, thanks. And he wonders why I won’t believe him when he says he loves me.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Because “beautiful” isn’t an objective thing. Okay, I know that studies have shown that attractiveness can be measured by symmetry of features, and we have certain societal expectations about body shape, and so on. But a lot of what we find beautiful is subjective. I could demonstrate this with a few examples from my own life:

            1. There’s a sculpture in Houston created by artist Jean Dubuffet, which I think is amazing…and my mother thinks is awful. Is someone right, or is it just a matter of taste?
            2. Opera. If you polled America, I bet the majority would say that opera is not something they ever want to listen to. But I think it’s gorgeous, and I’m eager to attend more opera productions. So is opera beautiful? Depends on who you ask.
            3. And a person example: Enrico Colantoni. I think that actor is attractive, despite being not particularly tall, well-built, and lacking hair. I’m not pining for Enrico or anything, but among celebs I could see why a woman would go out with him. He’s not the standard of handsome, but he is appealing.

            Look, the point is simply that we don’t all like the same things. Which — I think =- is why God made so many variations. And we can appreciate them for various reasons. Why not choose to believe that your husband appreciates your beauty, whether you see it or not? It seems like you’re comparing yourself to an (unrealistic) standard of beauty, while completing ignoring your husband’s taste in women — that is, his assurance that he wants and desires you. You’re his opera, sweetheart! Accept it and enjoy it.

          2. e2

            To your husband, you are NOT being realistic when you accept the “fact” that you’re not beautiful. He sees you as beautiful and it is absolutely maddening to him that you refuse to accept that FACT. Sure, you can have your opinion, but when you hold it as objective fact, you are contradicting him, and that hurts.

          3. a. nony

            “My husband, like you, gets angry at me just for being realistic.”

            Let me rephrase that for you, dear sister.

            “My husband, like you, gets angry at me because I am essentially calling him a liar when I refuse his compliments, as well as blind, stupid and insensible for daring to disagree with my own self-assessment, which is more cruel and hateful, and therefore, in my mind, more ‘realistic.'”

            You’re so convinced that you’re right about how ugly, terrible, and worthless you are, that you’re willing to essentially call your husband a blind, stupid liar. I’m 100% sure that wasn’t in your marriage vows! 😉

            What I hear in all of this is you believing you know your husband’s OWN MIND better than he knows it himself — sure, he SAYS he loves you, wants you, thinks you’re desirable and worthy, but he doesn’t DO exactly what you want him to do, and sometimes he even NOTICES other women in a way you somehow psychically just KNOW makes you come off worse. If there’s anything I hated when I was in the depths of my worst depression, it was someone telling me what I was thinking or feeling. “Well, you’re doing X, so you MUST be feeling Y.” Often I didn’t even have the energy to argue, but it filled me with such frustration, because it was a false accusation!

            I’m praying for you right now, B, that you would learn to trust your husband’s words, to assume the best about him, and most of all to find your worth in Christ.

          4. J Post author

            I agree with the notion that it’s really irritating for someone to insist they know what you think, especially when that’s not at all what you think. I’ve had that happen too, and it’s one of my pet peeves.

        2. libl

          I accept that I am not beautiful….at least not by cover model standards. I accept that I am ugly….Some people think so. But I also accept that I am uniquely beautiful, gorgeous even, a classic beauty, cute, and anything else I have been called. It is so subjective. Sometimes a gal pal will post a guy pic on fbook and drool over him and I am like “ew” or just indifferent because frankly his attractiveness is none of my business. But sometimes there are people who are just that aesthetically beautiful that we can’t help but notice.

          The problem is two-fold, though when it comes to how women feel about men noticing other women:

          1. Can a man find a woman attractive without going into his sex box? I can find a hundred men very attractive but never once even remotely think about anything sexual about him.

          2. Is a person’s attractiveness level really any of our business? I don’t mean this on a first glace of noticing someone’s attractiveness. It is about the second thought of analysis. I HATE when I feel like I am being judged by other men. I actually HATE having to deal with hubby’s work crew because they do look at me and judge and then report back to hubby how f-worthy I am. Frankly, it is none of their business!! Hubby thinks I should take it as a compliment that men find me f-worthy. He thinks it means I have worth. I think it means they find me worthless of the dignity of humanity.

          One time I had to reach to get something. My coat covered my butt, but when I reached, it exposed my butt in jeans and they all turned and got a look. I later learned they discussed about whether or not I ever received anal in “that a**.”

          This is from grown men!! And it is largely my experience and the experience of other women I know. One friend had a co-worker masturbate while watching her work. These are regular Joe guys! It seems gentlemen are getting fewer and farther between.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Okay, that behavior from men is just horrible. I would encourage your husband to tell them he won’t tolerate them talking about his wife that way. Frankly, good men should stand up in such circumstances and insist that women are not talked about that way. And I’d personally make every effort not to be around that crew. I’d be likely to say to my husband, “I will not come by your work anymore because every time I do, I am sexually harassed by their looks and comments.” Totally reasonable boundary, in my opinion.

          2. e2

            “Can a man find a woman attractive without going into his sex box?”

            Absolutely. I do it all the time. Just speaking for myself, physical beauty does not equal sexy. The two are very separate for me. To me, sexy is a heart attitude. A so-called “ugly” woman who sincerely enjoys and desires sex is far sexier than a so-called “beautiful” woman who has little sexual interest.

          3. Bobthemusicguy

            One problem I see is with the very word “attractive.” How about calling a woman pretty or beautiful, or a man handsome? When we use the word “attractive,” the usual implication is that WE find someone personally attractive. This way I can even refer to another man as “good looking” without any personal connection.

            So yes, a man can see a beautiful woman without “going into his sex box” and making a personal connection. But if that man is married, he needs to watch his mind, so that it doesn’t move beyond that. And needs to watch his words and actions, so the impression is not given that he has a personal interest.

            And these “grown men” you mention, they aren’t men. They’re male wth the male equipment, but they’re not men in any sense of the word. At best, they’re overgrown adolescents. And even that’s a stretch. Most boys I’m familiar with (I taught high school for 32 years) aren’t that crass. Your husband needs to step up and set boundaries. If he won’t, you must.

  8. Eliza

    I had a little giggle when I found this post today. Just this morning my son (and I!) have been learning about the meaning of ‘compare’ vs ‘contrast’? I didn’t know that ‘compare’ actually means discussing the SIMILARITIES between two things, while CONTRAST means discussing the DIFFERENCES. This is, literally, an elementary definition, but it might be helpful when we find ourselves looking at others and finding ourselves lacking, we could instead try to find the ways we are the same. And from there find empathy with another person!

    Not really sure where I’m going with that, it just seemed like too much of a coincidence not to comment!

    Reply
    1. B

      @Eliza, good point!

      So when men say they aren’t “comparing” the beautiful woman to their wives, they ARE telling the truth. They are actually “contrasting” the two women, and in my case, I’m the one who comes out lacking. I know this because I do not have the physical traits that my husband admires in the better woman. But, it is what it is, and I need to get over myself and learn to count my blessings.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        “Better woman”? WHAT?! No. Just no, sweetheart. You’re letting your bad thoughts take charge here, and you’ve got to pray for a new perspective and then let the Holy Spirit do His work. Why do you listen to that little voice in your head that causes so many doubts when so many people have encouraged you otherwise, including your husband? Grab that bouncer, and make him do his job!

        Reply
  9. Charlie O.

    Whenever we superimpose our gender’s way of thinking on the actions of the other gender we are on exceedingly shaky ground. Men and women often use different definitions for the same words, so we often don’t even understand each other when we TALK. To assume that you know what your mate is THINKING is really risky, and almost certainly wrong.

    As someone that has been saved since the early 1960’s, let me make a suggestion that is a form of renewing your mind (Rom. 12:2). Recognize that God gave you the body that he meant for you to have. You don’t do this once, you do it thousands of times if necessary. Thank him for the characteristics of the part(s) that bother you. Do it every time you have a negative thought. No person’s body is “perfect.” I remember reading an interview with a beautiful starlet and she was unhappy with some particular of her body.

    When you are tempted to envy someone else, remember that they are probably struggling with something. You think someone’s marriage is great–you might be surprised. No one really knows what someone else’s private life is like. They may be putting on a monstrous front.

    Reply
  10. M

    I don’t visit this blog that often, and rarely comment, but I remember replying to B on an older post. In case you didn’t see my comment there B, I’ll post it again here. I think it still might help.

    B,

    I just want to say that I feel like I can relate to what you’re going through.. My husband and I waited until marriage to have sex, and I was super excited for it. To me it seemed like, let’s do this all day, every day! And he was much less enthusiastic. He rarely told me I was beautiful and when he did, just like you, I didn’t believe him. If he really thought that- he’d desire me more- right? I even posted somewhere on this site about my frustration.

    Anyway, I think the first thing I needed to do was find that my beauty and worth came from God, not my husband. That way, I could have peace and joy, even in the struggle of his lack of desire.
    And then I chose to believe him, and try to understand him. I stopped ignoring his compliments, and complaining how he should have got himself some blonde cheerleader girl instead of me (I’m more plain, he looks like a model!).
    My husband told me that if he didn’t desire me, he wouldn’t have married me, and I chosee to believee him.
    He told me sometimes he was tired, and sometimes his body just couldn’t keep up with my sex drive, and I chosee to believee him.
    I also chose to be less selfish. I don’t think my husband should have to have sex with me everyy single time I wanted it. I decided that maybe we could come to a happy medium.
    And most importantly, I decided to have peace and joy in God, keep praying to Him and showing my husband love, even if nothing would ever change.

    I just want to praise God and say He’s done so much in our marriage! I think we both feel so much more love and respect and intimacy. We’re now at about 3 times a week and I’m good with that, so is he. I could do more, and sometimes we do. And he could do less, and sometimes we do. But the point is that we work to please the other person.
    Also, I struggled with him not being very excited about sex. He made no noise, no expression. It felt like he didn’t even like it. And I learned how to kindly share my concern. Turns out, he’s always kinda felt like guys shouldn’t have emotion, so he worked at not showing any. When he truly learned my sincere desire to see him enjoying himself when we make love, he started working on letting his guard down, and it drives me crazy seeing his pleasure.. He’s not loud or anything, but I feel his pleasure in his heavy breathing, or soft groan.. Every once in awhile he’ll let out a gasp or pant- that does wonders to my heart!
    We’ve really had to work on communication, love, selflessness, and trustt. But I can say God has turned our marriage bed into a beautiful thing. And we are both so happy with how far we’ve come. God is good.

    Please don’t give up.
    I praise God that I didn’t.
    M

    The only thing I’ll add is, my insecurity hurt our relationship so much. I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. I know how it feels to crave a look of desire from your husband. To feel so low when you don’t get it. His words seem empty when he says he loves you because you don’t feellll it. You don’t seeee it.
    Maybe your husband is attracted to brunettes and big butts, but that’s not the only attractive type of women. I think my husband is unbelievably sexy as a blonde hair/green eyed man. But I’ve also seen handsome guys that have brown hair, or red hair, or that are really strong, or that aren’t. Tall- not so tall. Beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes. Even if he prefers big butts, you can be beautiful without having a big butt. Heee can think you’re beautiful even if you don’t have a big butt. My point is if you really want to please your husband, be the most beautiful you that you can be (ignore how cheesy that sounds). Grow your inner beauty by having a gentle spirit, as scripture says. Change your mind and heart. I would give you this challenge because I’ve noticed you frustrated over this issue for a really long time now: FORGET YOUR APPEARANCE and ignore your husband’s wandering eyes. Choose to believeee his words and trusttt him, and choose to focus on positive things and grow in Christ. Memorize scripture that tells you how valuable and loved you are. It’s not easy, but do those things for one month and see if you don’t start to notice a change. I’d bet you money that you will see change, because it’s biblical, and it’s what I did and my marriage is soooo much better because of it.

    I’m praying for you, and it’s awesome that you have a mentor to help you out now. Don’t give up!

    Reply
  11. B

    Thank you everyone for your comments, suggestions and prayers. As always, you’ve given me much to think about. I’m also hoping our mentor couple can help us work through these issues.

    @Bobthemusicguy, just a little background info. I’m 40, he’s 45. Married almost 22 years. Both Christians. Came to Christ after we were married (so we had no pre-marital counseling and no Christian upbringing). I got saved at age 24, he got saved about ten years after I did. We spent many years in an unhealthy, legalistic church where I felt my salvation was constantly questioned based on my works, esp. because I didn’t wear a long skirt every day (it wasn’t a personal conviction for me). That stuff added to my feelings of never being good enough, and I think adds to my confused feelings of never being a “good enough Christian.”

    My husband is discerning and led us out of that church a few years back, and we are in a much, much healthier church now. We have sons, and the oldest just left for college – and we miss him a lot. 🙂 The brothers all miss each other a lot, too.

    About six years ago, we suffered the loss of 8 friends and very close family members in a stretch of about six months. I understood my husbands feelings of extreme sadness, and although he continued his daily responsibilities, he became depressed and withdrawn. I stuck by him, prayed for him, and did my very best to support him during this awful time. I obviously didn’t do a good enough job. It was a few months into this, that he started pushing me away, and I noticed how often his gaze would linger for a long time on women he obviously found much more appealing and much, much better than me. I tried to ignore it at first, but being pushed away and made to feel so much less than took a tremendous toll. After a couple years, he began healing, but by then I had been beaten down (metaphorically).

    We are also complete opposite personalities. He is INTJ, and I am ESFP. Makes communication even more interesting. 😊

    Reply
    1. e2

      B,

      This explains sooo much. Depression will kill a libido every time. Also, when I was depressed, I spent a lot of time gazing. Someone looking at me would swear I was staring. Not so. I was just too emotionally exhausted to move my eyes. I wasn’t gazing or looking *at* anything.

      Reply
    2. Bobthemusicguy

      B, isn’t it tragic how much damage has been done by Christians in the name of Christ? Such churches bring shame on His name. A friend of mine refers to this as “beating the sheep.” I really think that most churches, rightly horrified by the perversion of godly married sex that the world has given us, have done little to teach the Biblical truth about marriage and sex. This vacuum of sound teaching has left a lot of damage in its wake.

      A Christian upbringing is not the panacea many think. I was raised by Christian parents and grew up in the church, but I was a total mess, especially in the area of sex. I brought a lot of sexual baggage into my marriage, and it was not until recently that the last vestiges of that mess were cleared away.

      One thing that helped us was to verbally list, even write down, all the good things about our marriage. We realized that there was a lot more good than bad, and we had a lot more solid foundation than we knew. We had just been getting assaulted from all sides for many years and emotionally shutting down. By counting our blessings, we were able to become so much more close. There is always more to work on in our marriage and in life in general, but we’re now a team.

      We have been blessed that after many years of marriage, (36 years on Monday), our love is deeper, our relationship is stronger, our sex is better, our conversation is more communicative. The only down side is aging joints when we make love. (Youth is wasted on the young. Sigh!)

      We are living testimony to the transforming power of God. I pray that you will find the same power in your marriage.

      By the way, what are INTJ and ESFP?

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Godly sex is essentially about Jesus. Whenever we, the Church, are not representing the core message of Christ and how it affects every part of our lives, including the marriage bed, we’ve stepped away from our mission. We do great sometimes, mediocre sometimes, and terrible sometimes. Thankfully, I do believe that Christians approaching sex with a godly mindset has become more prevalent.

        And INTJ and ESFP are personality types from the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI). That assessment measures your propensity for certain personality traits on four different scales: Extraversion-Introversion, Sensing-iNtuitive, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving. Where you fall on each of those determines a four-letter type, like I’m an INFP, while Spock is an INTP. It helps in marriage to understand personality differences so you don’t attribute wrong motives or thoughts to your beloved based on your own tendencies.

        Reply
  12. Eric Wiggin

    Chiming in late on this, but I need to express appreciation to Terry, who seems, as a wife, to have figured out something important about what men see when they look at a woman not their wife. She wrote, “a man’s brain is wired to notice beauty,”

    I’m working on a book with a female co-author, in which I deal briefly with pornography, and I’m faced with the truth that simply noticing an attractive female is not of itself wicked, and this needs to be said to balance warnings about lust and porn. In researching for writing I ran across a long, online essay by a Christian painter, Anna Rose Bain, in which she masterfully discusses painting nudes, and makes the same conclusion as Terry. Anna Bain includes this observation from Paul, in Romans 14:1-8, which reads in part, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean . . .” She notes that a man can paint a nude woman, or enjoy looking at one (in the flesh or on canvas), with appreciation yet with zero lust, and without comparing her beauty to his wife.

    My thoughts exactly. Whether it’s the blonde 3-year-old, curly headed cute twin girls I saw in a restaurant yesterday, or a well-built girl of 23 in shorts (I have granddaughters who might fit this category), I can notice that the female is attractive, but my noticing in no way infringes on my love and appreciation for my wife, or causes me to desire her sexually. And may I say (with Anna Rose Bain), this is true even if she’s nude (David’s lust for Bathsheba notwithstanding).

    So when is this a problem? For the man, when it becomes an obsession. For the wife, when she’s insecure about her own attractiveness.
    Eric

    Reply
    1. e2

      I wonder if we deceive ourselves when we focus on nudity in defining pornography. I personally define porn by the effect an image has on my sexual hormones. Some of the most sexually arousing movie scenes I’ve ever seen have involved fully clothed participants in what would never be described as “pornographic.” Yet, to me, they are more pornographic in terms of their effect on me than the sight of a graphic nude orgy, which would do nothing to me.

      Reply
    2. libl

      I buy this….and I don’t.

      If hubby and I go to an art gallery, I am aware that nudity is likely to be present in artistic form. And even the artistic can be erotic. And the female form is more often depicted and exposed and sexualized than the male form. In such a case I would hope he would be able to view it without lust, or look away or leave if it became a problem.

      But casually browsing an art gallery is one thing.

      Hubby appreciates the cheeky, retro beauty of pin ups. So do i, for that matter, but it bothers me when he seeks it out and REALLY looks at it. Seeing nose art on an old plane at an air show is one thing. Buying Vargas books and oogling page upon page of pinups is another.

      Also, watching, observing, or being entertained by blatant sinfulness is a problem. Just because one wouldn’t find an orgy lustful doesn’t mean they should casually indulge in watching it.

      Pole acrobatics has become an art form in and of itself away from the sleeze of seedy strip clubs. I, personally, find it beautiful and fascinating because of the amazing strength and skill needed. These women are athletes in their own right. I do avoid the routines that are overtly sexual and prefer the more acro-ballet ones. However, I would never considered going to a strip joint to watch someone known for their skills on a pole. Even though I don’t lust after it I believe we are to avoid these dangerous, edgy, provocative, sinful situations. That includes watching shows like Game of Thrones where women are regularly exploited by the makers of the show…Even beyond the storyline…to increase entertainment and shock value and take in more money. There is absolutely no reason the sexual situations have to be so overtly filmed. Implication is sufficient.

      Frankly, I do notice a difference when hubby has watched such shows. It invades something private, personal, and sacred between us. There is something very special in being the ONE woman he gets to see naked instead of just being another gal in the line up of hundreds of not thousands of other nude women.

      If the tables were turned and men were exploited sexually just as much as women are, I think feelings would be different.

      I honestly don’t think God intended for men to see so many naked women…especially one kind (very young and fit). I get that we are artistically beautiful creations, but I believe that God meant that so we can be treasured by our husband….not by everyone else’s husband.

      Reply
      1. e2

        ” Just because one wouldn’t find an orgy lustful doesn’t mean they should casually indulge in watching it.”

        I fully agree. My point in saying that a graphic nude orgy would do nothing for me wasn’t to justify watching it. Far from it. I fully agree that my wife is the only nude woman I should be looking at. My point was that there is MORE that has pornographic affect — and should therefore be avoided — than just nude bodies.

        Reply
        1. libl

          I agree. As mentioned above my husband has taken to watching music videos set to videos done by Playboy and other porn outlets featuring barely legal girls. I won’t go into details for your sake, but the girls’ are presented VERY sexually, but never show the “important bits”. They show everything but, but not full nudity. So, it becomes more “justified.” A gray area. But now that he is REPEATEDLY watching these videos…leaving for work a little early and using that time to watch these videos…I call it porn to him. He actually isn’t into graphic gynecology-porn, as I call it. He is more turned on by the tease and peek, suggestion, striptease, and flirtation than hardcore stuff. To him that means that he is justified. It is more decent and thus allowable. But the soft core does the same to him as the hardcore does to another man, so what us the difference? None.

          Once he bought a Maxim magazine and the guy at the checkout called him out on it. Hubby replied, “I am buying this because I don’t buy Playboy or Penthouse.” In his mind, so long as he doesn’t go for the actual porn, he is ok.

          Poor, deceived man. Never mind that he has a young, in shape, sexually eager and adventerous wife right here. He has everything right here to fill and fulfill him sexually, but he chooses the harlot.

          Reply
          1. e2

            Libl wrote, “But the soft core does the same to him as the hardcore does to another man, so what us the difference? None.”

            My point exactly, but I confess it places me in a dilemma. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that sexual arousal feels good, and I’ll also admit that sexy images are arousing. Those sexy images need not be what we typically consider to be “porn.” My wife has admitted the same to me. I have enjoyed the fruit of her arousal after watching a particularly sexy scene on network TV, and I’ll confess I didn’t object. But, if we watch those images in order to feel aroused, how is that different from watching an XXX internet video to get aroused? I’m not trying to justify XXX porn sites, only trying to recognize that porn is literally all around us and nearly impossible to avoid. And, yet, if I hold to such a standard, am I not condemning nearly every human on the planet, including myself, who has found themselves stimulated by a make-out scene in a PG chick-flick?

            I wrestle with this as I’ve known men who have lost their jobs, families, and respect by viewing Internet porn, while others enjoy the same arousing effects by watching network TV love scenes without suffering any negative consequences.

          2. J Post author

            So for the partaker, maybe it’s not so different. But I would argue that porn is far worse in destroying lives because of the sex trafficking surrounding this industry now, the violence perpetuated and encouraged against women, the entire focus on the physical without regard to any relationship. Yes, sin is sin and all affect our souls, but the here-and-now consequences of sin can depend on degree. Does that make sense?

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