Recently, I heard a story about a guy who went on an anniversary vacation with his wife. They went to a beach location and the guy said, “I’m not gonna lie, I was looking. I was at a beach and my wife knows that guys look. She’s cool with it.”
To which my husband responded, “Really? How much better would she feel if you didn’t and focused only on her?”
The guy didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when spouses talk–even lust–out loud over someone other than their spouse. I cringe inside every single time, because it is such an unnecessary, hurtful thing to do. I cringe because there was a time when I had boyfriends who loudly and proudly ogled other women in my presence and it always made me feel the size of an ant. I never felt loved or special. In fact, my heart felt trampled and deflated.
Our spouses are entrusted to us and we are–along with God–the keepers of their hearts. It should be our goal, each and every day, to make our spouse feel and know our love. Will we always do this perfectly? No, of course not. However, I hear time and again people giving each other passes in the area of “checking out” other people.
The “boys will be boys” line doesn’t and shouldn’t fly. What a low bar of expectation. Yes, men are the more visual of the sexes, but this is not a free pass to dishonor one’s spouse at any moment. There is nothing more appealing than a man who knows how to discipline himself and who respects his wife by honoring her with this heart, mind and, yes, even his eyes. Ladies aren’t off the hook either. I’ve heard plenty of wives remark on their desire for this actor or that actor.
One common objection that I often hear is that one spouse will say, “Well, my spouse doesn’t really care if I look.”
Yes, they do. They care and they care deeply. There isn’t a spouse on earth that would rather their partner look and lust after someone other than them. They may say they don’t care, but they say this for three reasons.
- They’ve been yelled at about it. Whenever I would confront my boyfriends on their wandering eyes, they’d yell at me, berate me, and then do it all the more. I’d tell them that it hurt my feelings, but that mattered none. So, in time, I just stopped saying anything.
- They say this because they know that if they ask you to stop, you won’t. The pain of asking and be rejected feels worse than just simply going along and acting like “it doesn’t bother me.” It’s a defense response. It’s hard to tell your spouse that something they are doing is hurting you and they refuse to give it up. This doesn’t speak love at all.
- They are engaging in the same act and don’t want to stop. I’ve been around spouses where both of them will go on and on about their “dream sheet.” You know, the list of gorgeous people they would hook up with if they could. They say this right in front of each other and it almost becomes a contest to see who can out-ogle the other. I never walk away from those couples thinking, “Wow, there’s a solid, loving couple!”
When one “looks” (read checks out lustfully) at other people, especially when married, they are not looking because of a genuine interest in getting to know them as a person. They are doing just what that guy on his anniversary (ANNIVERSARY TRIP!) was doing–looking and imagining a sexual encounter with them. No one is saying, “Gee, I wonder if that guy enjoys reading mysterious novels or I wonder if she was a good student in high school?” Let’s not kid ourselves. When your spouse hears you speak openly about your desire for someone else, trust is broken, hearts are hurt, and desire leaves. In essence, you are telling your spouse, that they are not enough. Every spouse wants to be cherished, honored, and loved. It’s hard to look lovingly at your spouse when you are rubber-necking to try to get a look at the attractive person walking past.
So, your spouse tells you it’s okay. But, like my husband says, how much better would they feel if you told them that your eyes are only for them? They’d feel better. I assure you. If you are one of those spouses that says it’s okay, don’t give a pink slip to engage in this activity. It’s not okay and it flies in the face of marital love. Your kids don’t need to hear daddy talking about the “hotness” of the lady on the beach. Your kids don’t need to hear about how mom would jump in bed with Harrison Ford if given the chance. They need to see that love seeks to lift up the other. It doesn’t mean we have to walk around acting like everyone else but our spouses are hideous trolls. That’s unrealistic and silly. There’s a respectful way to comment on a person’s look when describing them and there’s a disrespectful way to do it where you come off like a hormonal teenager with no self-control.
Knowing that your spouse often checks out other people will quickly kill desire. All kinds of thoughts enter the mind.
“Am I good enough?”
“My body doesn’t look like hers. I’ve had three kids. When we are intimate does he think of her instead?”
“If they were left alone together would my wife be faithful?”
It’s natural to recognize a pretty or handsome face. It’s what we do once we see one that speaks a lot about the state of our heart. Do we entertain lustful thoughts? Or do we work to remove those thoughts and focus on our spouse and our love for them? My husband always says, “Our thoughts lead to words and our words lead to actions.”
I’ve been with guys that wounded me deeply by their roaming eyes. Their actions never felt okay to me; I always felt inadequate in their presence. My husband, from the moment I met him, has always assured me of his love, respected my dignity, and afforded me the gift of disciplining his eyes and casting them right back into mine. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to wonder if I’m enough for him.
If you struggle with this, I urge you to work to honor your spouse. They will thank you for it and you will notice how much more fruitful and loving your marriage will be.