“My Christian marriage is now “no more” because of the “staring” at other females that was going on in it.” This was part of a comment I received from a woman named Ellie in reaction to a series I wrote entitled “How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women?”
Here is Ellie’s full story.
“My Christian marriage is now “no more” because of the “staring” at other females that was going on in it. In my opinion it is about one thing and one thing only…RESPECT…or lack of. I made my needs very clear.” Please stop doing that. I don’t like it because I don’t know what you are thinking when you are doing it.” We had prayer, promises, lengthy discussions lots of hurt and mistrust and anger (sin on my part) and after 18 months of more of the same.
I unceremoniously asked him to go.
A woman at our church who always showed an unhealthy interest in him showed him sympathy and then came the adultery. Oh joy. His excuse was that I threw him out and left him for dead.
Enough said. So as you can see. It is a very sore point with me.
Before my husband I met a lovely man but I chose not to marry him as he didn’t know the Lord. He did however know how to respect me in that I never once saw him looking or even glancing at other women. He may have done when alone but not when with me. He wasn’t asexual or homosexual or bi-sexual or similar. What he was, was RESPECTFUL.
I am currently separated from my husband but still married on paper. It’s a complete mess and it all started with staring. I am adjusting to life alone now. Being with a man who has such a lack of self-control just led me into sin. Anger suspicion bitterness resentment. I am more effective for God as a single woman I feel. I was very aware that my husband had body image issues and felt unhappy and I would never openly stare or glance at another guy as I know that it would fuel his insecurities. It’s a shame he couldn’t have the same awareness and respect.
I prefer to stay alone that be with any man who does this.
There you have it. Thank you for your article.”
My Response to Ellie and other Christian women who may face this situation
Based on this story from Ellie these 4 things happened:
- Ellie admitted that she reacted in sinful anger toward her husband for his behavior of staring at other women.
- Ellie separated from her husband because of this continued behavior.
- Ellie’s husband had an affair with a woman at his church.
- Ellie has resolved to remain single rather than going back to her husband.
Ellie’s husband’s sin
Before we tackle Ellie’s behavior in this situation we must will first acknowledge her husband’s sin.
On the issue of staring at other women – was he actually gawking or glancing? For some women a man taking quick glances of the women around him qualifies as “staring” when it really is not. So was he really staring or just glancing at women? We may never know for sure.
But let’s assume the worst case and he was actually standing around gawking at women. If he did then this could have been considered rude and thus sinful behavior on his part. As we have discussed often on this site there is no sin in a man simply looking at other women. It is when men act rudely in how they do this that it can become sin. Even if they are not gawking if they their looking turns into lust (sexual covetousness) then it can also be sin as well.
See my posts on “What does the Bible say about lust?” and my series on ““How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women?” for more on this topic of men looking at women from a Biblical perspective.
Certainly what her husband did in having an affair with a woman at their church after she kicked him out was sin. Even if her husband felt abandoned by his wife this did not justify his whore-mongering (having sex with a woman outside of marriage).
By her own admission Ellie admits that she was driven to sinful anger over her husband’s staring at other women.
But the truth is there is much more to Ellie’s sin that this. Even if her husband was truly standing around gawking at other women and acting in rude ways she is NOT his authority and he is not accountable to her for this. He is accountable to God.
The Bible does not say “Christian wives when your husband does sinful things – badger him about it continually and demand that he stop whatever the offending behavior is.” In fact the Bible says just the opposite in regard to wives dealing with husbands who are disobedient to God’s Word:
“1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)
This passage from I Peter goes completely and utterly against the sinful nature of most women if they are honest.
Even for women who acknowledge this Biblical truth it is a constant battle with the flesh. A wife’s sinful nature wants her to try and control her husband’s behavior but God has said “His disobedience is my domain – not yours.”
The Bible does not tell a wife to nag her husband into holy living. It does not tell her to threaten to divorce him if he does not stop his rude behavior. It tells her to try and win him to God’s ways by practicing God’s ways herself! It tells her to win him “without a word” by her pure and respectful behavior toward him.
Now I just want to add one note. I am not saying a wife should stay or keep her children in a situation with a physically abusive husband or a lazy husband who refuses to work and provide food and shelter for his family. I have addressed these topics in my posts “Does God allow divorce for abuse?” and “Does God allow a woman to divorce her husband for failure to provide?”
But the fact is ladies – Biblically speaking if your husband is having sex with you, providing for you and your children and is not placing you or your children in physical harm you have absolutely NO right to send him away or separate from him. Rather if he is doing all these things for you then you have a God given obligation to place yourself in complete subjection to him and you are to behave in a pure and respectful manner toward him – despite his many failings.
The second sin Ellie committed against her husband was in separating from her husband for unbiblical reasons as a result of her believing it was her right to try and change her husband’s disobedient behavior.
The third sin Ellie committed probably for most of her marriage to her husband was in comparing him to a previous man she had dated. Here she was condemning her husband for looking at other women when she was comparing him to another man the entire time! This is the height of hypocrisy!
Sin leads to sin
“13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” – James 1:13-14 (KJV)
The Bible is clear that we are all responsible for our own sin. We cannot blame our circumstances and we cannot blame others for our own sinful behavior. But that does not mean that we are not responsible for sometimes putting people in tempting positions. This is what happened with Ellie and her husband.
His rude and sinful behavior of staring at other women touched on her insecurities and jealousy.
She reacted to his sin with more sin in lashing out at him in anger and in her failed attempts to reform her husband and control her husband. This completely went against God’s prescribed method for wives to deal with disobedient husbands.
She compounded her sinful reaction to him by ultimately sending her husband away without just cause which then put her husband in a tempting position.
Her husband reacted to his wife’s sin of unjustly kicking him out by sinning even more by engaging in whore-mongering with a woman at church when he should have kept his distance from that woman.
At each point both Ellie and her husband had a chance to stop the escalation of sin in their marriage and neither one chose to do so. Ellie’s husband could have chosen to stop staring at other women. Even if he did not stop staring Ellie could have chosen to practice the I Peter 3:1-2 principle and given her husband over to God while continuing to faithfully serve him. That would have also required her to give her insecurities and jealousy of her husband over to God. Her husband could have chosen to stay away from that woman at church even after his wife had kicked him out.
An alternate theory of events
Up to this point we have just accepted the fact that Ellie’s husband was actually staring or gawking at women in some kind of rude and noticeable manner. But I believe based on Ellie’s story and this statement by her that the situation might have been different:
“We had prayer, promises, lengthy discussions lots of hurt and mistrust and anger (sin on my part) and after 18 months of more of the same.”
Notice the key word “promises”. This indicates to me that her husband had made some commitments to her to stop whatever this offending behavior was. Yet he continued to do it.
A man can promise not to stare or gawk at women and actually accomplish this change. This is very doable for us as men. But if we are made to promise not to look or even glance at another woman this is impossible for most men and I would argue even many women. We are naturally drawn to beauty as human beings. Men are even more visually wired then women and we can be drawn into the beauty of a woman without even consciously realizing it. Even for the men that seem not to even glance at other women – a feat she says her previous boyfriend accomplished – often these men are simply very good at hiding their glances to where a woman would never notice.
But if this was the case that she was asking her husband to not even look at other women as opposed to staring and gawking at them then it was Ellie and not her husband that began this spiral of sinful behavior with her insecurities and jealousy.
What to do if you are faced with this situation as a wife
If you find yourself feeling bothered by your husband looking at other women you first need to ask yourself these questions.
How long is he looking at women around you? Is it just for second and then he looks in another direction or toward you?
If this is the case then this is by definition a “glance” and not the act of staring. Even if he repeats his glances at a woman this is still not staring. Staring is a prolonged look and most people would agree that it takes longer than a second for someone to stare.
So if he is not staring you as a woman need to look inward. The truth you must face if you realize your husband is not staring but simply glancing at an attractive woman is you are bothered by the fact that he finds another woman attractive.
These are the reasons you may be bothered by your husband glancing (as opposed to staring) at other women:
- You have always felt insecure about your beauty even before you ever met your husband.
- You are feeling insecure about your body due to weight gain or natural aging.
- You are worried that your husband will cheat on you or leave you for another woman.
- You are not insecure about your beauty, in fact you feel that you are gorgeous. But you believe your womanly beauty is the only beauty your husband should take pleasure in.
Now let’s explore each of these reasons that your husband glancing at other women bothers you.
You have always felt insecure about your beauty even before you ever met your husband.
Realize this has nothing to do with your husband and everything to do with you. Men don’t typically marry women they don’t find attractive. Most men think their wives are beautiful but there feelings don’t make through their mouth. Just know that your husband thinks you are beautiful unless he tells you otherwise and just because he finds another woman attractive does not mean he does not find you attractive.
You are feeling insecure about your body due to weight gain or natural aging.
Many women felt beautiful when they were younger but as they have children and age and their body changes they no longer feel beautiful. Again husbands should attempt to verbally compliment their wives and assure them but the fact is many men struggle in this area to put their feelings into words. Realize that your husband most likely still finds you beautiful. He has aged with you. He may have even gained some weight with you.
So here is what is happening if your primary insecurity is over your weight gain. Every time your husband looks at another women, especially a woman closer to her optimal weight it is a painful reminder to you of the weight you have gained. But realize the problem is not with him appreciating the beauty of those women – the problem is with you and your weight. The answer to your problem is not tell your husband he can no longer look at another women because it makes you realize how much weight you have gained. The answer is to lose weight! Go on a diet and exercise. But realize even then he is still going to notice the beauty of other women but you won’t feel bad anymore.
You are worried that your husband will have sex with other women or leave you for another woman.
This is an insecurity that many women have regarding their husbands looking at other women and in most cases there is no logical reason a woman to have this fear. For most men – if their wives are keeping them well feed in the sexual area with regular and enthusiastic sexual relations they are not going to go around sleeping with other women.
But if you are not keeping your husband well feed in the sexual arena you have every reason to fear that your husband in a moment of weakness may give into his sinful nature and engage in sexual relations with another woman. If this is the source for your fear you can fix this issue! Have regular sexual relations with your husband! Keep him well feed in the area of sex.
It makes my head spin how many emails I get from men who tell me their wives won’t have regular sex with them but then they also get angry whenever they look at another woman. This is utterly senseless on the part of women who do this!
You are not insecure about your beauty, in fact you feel that you are gorgeous. But you believe your womanly beauty is the only beauty your husband should take pleasure in.
This attitude that some women have comes from one thing and one thing only – pride. All women want to feel beautiful and this is a natural desire they have been given by God. But there is a difference in a woman wanting to feel beautiful and a woman wanting her beauty to be her husband’s idol. That he must appreciate her beauty and her beauty alone.
If you find yourself feeling this way as a wife you need to confess this sin of pride to God. Realize you are not the only beautiful woman in the world and that it is natural and normal for your husband appreciate the beauty of other women.
For more on how to process you husband looking at other women in a way that honors God and your husband’s God given male nature please see my series “How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women?“