I am in route, driving across the country to Arizona. We started in Pennsylvania (where it was freezing and snowing), drove through West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, (where I am right now). Then on to Texas, New Mexico and finally Arizona. We hope to arrive today just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family. Our POD will be delivered on Saturday and then the fun/work begins.
Moving gives you a reason to throw out a whole lot of unnecessary stuff, but I suspect that we will discover a lot more stuff that still needs to be tossed, gifted, or sold once we try to get settled in our new home. Some of the things I didn’t let go of are good things, but I suspect I will discover that many of them are unnecessary for me to keep any longer in this new home. Purging is good. But it takes focused attention and tons of time.
The same can be said of things in our inner life. Inside we let things accumulate – old hurts, resentments, anger that has never been resolved, lies that we haven’t identified or challenged, habits that block our future growth, and character traits that are unbecoming to the person we want to be. We’re caught in today’s busyness and seldom take time to stop and reflect, to sort and sift through what is no longer useful so we can let it go.
In the next few months, I will have more to say on sifting and sorting and letting go. Moving has been a metaphor for me to travel a little lighter, both in my outer life and in my inner life.
Question: My husband and I have a 30 year old, good marriage in most aspects. But one area has needled me from the first days of our marriage. My husband enjoys looking at attractive women. It doesn't matter where we go…to a restaurant, the airport, church, you name it, if there is a young/pretty lady present, my husbands eyes will repeatedly look at her as long as she is present.
I have expressed my hurt about this but he says he doesn't do it and I am crazy. I no longer say anything but it still cuts my heart. I ask myself if I'm the crazy one. Do all men do this?
From what I can observe, not many of the single or married man friends in our circles do this. I don't even want to go socially go out with my husband anymore because it hurts too much. I don't communicate it to him because he thinks I have a serious mental problem. My husband is attractive and women have always been drawn to him and his personality. I haven't shared this with anyone because I am embarrassed about my insecurity.
Answer: First, let me answer your questions. You are not crazy and you are not uniquely insecure. All women find it uncomfortable and disrespectful to see their husband admiring or staring at a beautiful woman, especially after she has told him that it bothers her when he does it. And yes, most men do notice beautiful women. Probably most women notice beautiful women and men also. The human eye admires beauty. However, men who respect and value their relationship with their wives, do not keep looking, they purposefully turn away, even if they do notice.
But I’d like to ask you a question. I’m curious about what you said in your first paragraph. You said that you and your spouse share a mostly good, 30 year marriage. Without knowing more of what you mean, I don’t understand how it feels good for you when your husband thinks you have a serious mental problem, he doesn’t respect your feelings about this issue, and as a result, you feel more and more insecure as a woman and wife?
I would think that a good marriage would reflect the opposite. When a woman feels loved and cherished by her man, she feels more secure, not more insecure. (Click to tweet)
Also, in a good relationship when you repeatedly see your spouse doing something hurtful or offensive to you, and tell him, he listens and reflects on his own behaviors. He would stop doing his behavior instead of telling you that you had serious mental issues and it’s all in your head.
I don’t think what you observe is all in your head. I don’t think you think so either. The question you didn’t ask, but I’d like to answer is, now what? Do you challenge your husband’s denial and blame shifting and set some boundaries for yourself, or do you continue to live with the humiliation of how he treats you in public and the accusations of craziness in private?
If you choose option #1, whatever has been amicable in your marriage will get worse. If you choose option # 2, you may find yourself actually feeling you are going crazy as you continue to pretend things are better than they are. The choice of course, is always yours, but for your own mental health as well as your God given dignity, I’d encourage you to think about option #1.
What would that look like? It might be that you speak up firmly when you observe him checking out other women. You might say, “You’re disrespecting me” “You’re doing it right now.” When he claims it’s all in your imagination, you might say, “We both know exactly what you are doing and I will not allow you to make this look like I’m imagining things.” He may not back down, but by you stating this out loud, at least you will be speaking the truth to your own self so that you don’t get confused and start to doubt your own perceptions. If he refuses to stop, you might choose to leave the social event, even if you have to call UBER to get home.
Second, if he chooses not to change his behaviors, you can set a boundary. For example you could say, “I’m not going to that dinner with you. I’m sorry but it is humiliating and disrespectful to me when you repeatedly stare at pretty women and I won't put myself through that anymore. Until you are willing to see what you are doing and stop, I choose not to go out with you socially anymore.”
I know that will put a real crimp on your marriage the way it is and that is a huge risk. But the alternative is to just “endure” and that may not be a wise option either. There is no perfect path forward or sure-fire sentence that you can say that will wake him up to his behavior, but I would ask you to think about what glorifies God more? Is it to just smile silently at his side while he disrespects you and other women? Or is it speak up, set boundaries and hope that through those actions and consequences, your husband may come to respect and value you as the helpmate God gave him?
Friend, when your husband repeatedly looked at pretty women, what did you do?