Would you leave your husband because he looks at other women?

“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.

Ellie’s 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:

  1. Ellie admitted that she reacted in sinful anger toward her husband for his behavior of staring at other women.
  2. Ellie separated from her husband because of this continued behavior.
  3. Ellie’s husband had an affair with a woman at his church.
  4. 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).

Ellie’s sin

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:

  1. You have always felt insecure about your beauty even before you ever met your husband.
  2. You are feeling insecure about your body due to weight gain or natural aging.
  3. You are worried that your husband will cheat on you or leave you for another woman.
  4. 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?

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85 thoughts on “Would you leave your husband because he looks at other women?

  1. Alex,

    I second that notion – we as men hate the guessing game with our wives. We don’t like to guess why they are mad and we don’t like it when they get made at us for being quiet. Men want DIRECT communication not subtle and indirect communication.

  2. Alex,

    I do tell my wife on a regular basis that I love her. I also understand that this is something pleasing to most women. I also tell my wife that she is beautiful but certainly not a daily basis. We have actually had a few fights because she wore some new dress for church and I did not notice because it looked really similar to another dress she had. That kind of expectation can be annoying to us as men. I think it should be something we as husbands do from time to time(complements, affirmations like “I love you”) but it should not be something that is expected at exact intervals and if we miss a “compliment slot” we are getting in trouble.

  3. Alex,

    Also I would add that I usually do not tell my wife “I love you” when she is being mean an angry towards me. It does not mean I don’t love her in the agape sense or that I am thinking of leaving. But I view that as a token of affection and that comes when we have settled our differences and are doing better. I realize some will argue that you should still continue to affirm your love even in these times when a wife is acting belligerent but I see no Scriptural support for that. I made a covenant to her and I plan to keep unless she does something that God says may break the covenant.

    Occasionally when I have told my wife I love her during tense times it is in effort to show her that while my commitment to our covenant remains unchanged my affection for her is not there at the moment. I have said something my father said to my mother many times growing up “I love you but I am just not feeling it right now” – that means the affection is not there. This statement is highly offensive to my wife and she mentioned it a while back to our pastor and his wife (who we have been friends with for many years) and they thought I was wrong for saying that. At first I conceded that maybe that was wrong to say. But as I thought about it over time I realized it is not wrong to say. I have explained to her many times what that means. My commitment remains firm but the feelings of affection are simply not there at the moment and she needs to work on rebuilding my affection toward her – in essence she needs earn back my affection by behaving right toward me. He and I don’t always agree on things and this is one we won’t agree on.

  4. @BGR,

    “We have actually had a few fights because she wore some new dress for church and I did not notice because it looked really similar to another dress she had.”

    I think that women do need to realize that men will probably not remember everything in their wardrobe and won’t always be blown away by how they’re dressed, even if these men are content with their wives’ style. I also think that it helps to take pleasure in how you look as a woman and enjoy wearing nice clothes for the sake of looking good and feeling happy with your appearance rather than for the sake of impressing your husband. Not because you shouldn’t try to please him visually, but because he probably won’t care as much about your specific fashion choices as you will.

    “That kind of expectation can be annoying to us as men. I think it should be something we as husbands do from time to time(complements, affirmations like “I love you”) but it should not be something that is expected at exact intervals and if we miss a “compliment slot” we are getting in trouble.”

    I agree. I realize that what I said could be interpreted as asking men to give compliments on a rotating schedule, and that’s not what I think. Like I said, I was describing it more as feedback, and that’s why I don’t mind asking, “Hey, do you like this dress?” or “I tried out a new recipe for dinner. What do you think?” And even then, it’s not fishing for a compliment. It stems from a desire to know if I’m doing things right.

    On the other hand, I’ve learned over time that I don’t need to ask for feedback frequently because my husband is generally happy with the way that I dress and will eat anything and probably enjoy to at least some extent. I still put effort into making sure that the food tastes good and to use ingredients that I know that he likes a lot, but I also don’t continuously worry about if he liked the meal or not. So, now I only ask for feedback on something if it’s really new or if I’m looking for new ideas on how to please him sexually or visually.

  5. @BGR,

    “Also I would add that I usually do not tell my wife “I love you” when she is being mean an angry towards me. It does not mean I don’t love her in the agape sense or that I am thinking of leaving. But I view that as a token of affection and that comes when we have settled our differences and are doing better. I realize some will argue that you should still continue to affirm your love even in these times when a wife is acting belligerent but I see no Scriptural support for that. I made a covenant to her and I plan to keep unless she does something that God says may break the covenant.”

    I’d agree that saying, “I love you,” is more of a gesture of an affection rather than expression of agape love and commitment. It’s definitely not something that you’d typically say to someone when they’re being mean to you. It also makes sense to say, “I love you,” once you’ve settled your differences and you’ve both felt that rush of relief and renewed affection.

    “Occasionally when I have told my wife I love her during tense times it is in effort to show her that while my commitment to our covenant remains unchanged my affection for her is not there at the moment. I have said something my father said to my mother many times growing up “I love you but I am just not feeling it right now” – that means the affection is not there. This statement is highly offensive to my wife and she mentioned it a while back to our pastor and his wife (who we have been friends with for many years) and they thought I was wrong for saying that. At first I conceded that maybe that was wrong to say. But as I thought about it over time I realized it is not wrong to say. I have explained to her many times what that means. My commitment remains firm but the feelings of affection are simply not there at the moment and she needs to work on rebuilding my affection toward her – in essence she needs earn back my affection by behaving right toward me. He and I don’t always agree on things and this is one we won’t agree on.”

    I understand your reasoning for saying that, honestly. Husbands and wives are only human and are going to run into disagreements and even fights. That’s not God’s ideal, but it does happen. During those times, it’s hard for them to feel that affection for one another. It’s perfectly natural that you, as a man, wouldn’t feel affectionate toward your wife if she were being mean or disrespectful to you. However, it also makes sense to remind her that, as bad as this fight might be getting, you’re still committed to her and you don’t want to leave, in spite of how you’re feeling about her in that moment. You’re also letting her know that she can make things up to you and win your affection back because, however upset with her you are, you still want to be her husband. I could see how that upsets her, but I imagine that other women would find that oddly comforting, especially if they’re afraid that you’re going to leave them over what they did.

    Granted, my feelings as a woman are going to be different from your feelings as a man, but I have had sort of similar feelings when I’m upset with my husband about something. In addition to controlling my anger and trying to see his perspective, I also remind myself that I’m not less committed to him or in love with him, in spite of my feelings at the moment. Now, I don’t think in those circumstances that he has to earn my affection back–gender differences and all–but I do acknowledge to myself that it will come back soon.

  6. Oh! I should clarify that I don’t say anything to him like, “I love you, but I’m not feeling it right now.” I just acknowledge those feelings to myself because it helps remind me that I don’t want to leave him or loose him and that I will soon feel affection for him again.

  7. A lot of fantastic comments on here! I’d be careful using the phrase ‘compete for’ and the ideas of showing love, respect, and submission to one’s husband interchangeably. I do not feel like I have to compete for my husband’s affections (there were times I subconsciously felt I had to and that never ended up working well and he would ask me to calm down and relax and remind me that I didn’t need to compete for him). He had chosen to marry me. If I said a rude word to him or showed disrespect in some area, I should definitely apologize for it, but I shouldn’t have to worry that some smiling women across the street is going to steal him away. I think there is a huge amount of middle ground between competing for a husband and sitting around expecting him to wait on you hand and foot. I definitely see the latter in our society and I condemn it as wholeheartedly as I see others doing so here, but I don’t think replacing it with the former is accurate.

    I think some women almost try to trick their husbands into accidentally not complimenting them so they can make a problem about something. And I think that is wrong. But there are times when extra effort was obviously made and I think that should be recognized. A few days ago, my husband had his entrance exams for an out-of-state school and I had a last-minute inspiration to buy a nice dress and show up for his lunch break to encourage him. Thanks to being third trimester, and not having my closet or geographical knowledge of the area, this took 3 stores and the better part of 3 hours to find a nice dress that was inexpensive and fit relatively well (I did have to lower my expectations in the latter category a bit as I couldn’t find a single maternity dress for less than $50). When I did show up, in a room full of men testing, I was the only wife present and my husband felt extremely honored and supported. The Dean actually commented on it to my husband later. But after my morning of dashing around, I definitely appreciated my husband showing his appreciation and I think I would have been temporarily hurt if he didn’t. BUT, the important thing to then remember is what was I trying to do? Was I doing that for the compliment or was I doing that to support him? Because even though I did get a compliment this time, I and other women need to remember that even when that does not happen, we can still say we have accomplished our goal and have pleased our husband and Jesus and that should be enough if we are not behaving selfishly. I am sure that sometimes I will have to settle for my husband’s delighted smile and be content with that. Many women (including myself at times) lose focus in this area too quickly.

  8. “I’d be careful using the phrase ‘compete for’ and the ideas of showing love, respect, and submission to one’s husband interchangeably. I do not feel like I have to compete for my husband’s affections (there were times I subconsciously felt I had to and that never ended up working well and he would ask me to calm down and relax and remind me that I didn’t need to compete for him). He had chosen to marry me. If I said a rude word to him or showed disrespect in some area, I should definitely apologize for it, but I shouldn’t have to worry that some smiling women across the street is going to steal him away. I think there is a huge amount of middle ground between competing for a husband and sitting around expecting him to wait on you hand and foot. I definitely see the latter in our society and I condemn it as wholeheartedly as I see others doing so here, but I don’t think replacing it with the former is accurate.”

    I think that this is a good point. The idea of earning extra affection is one thing. Of course you’re not going to get affectionate treatment if you’re being mean or rude. The idea of having to compete for it with other women is another. Feeling as though you’re in competition with other women is only going to lead you to mistrust other women and your husband and to constantly compare yourself negatively or positively to others rather than simply trying to improve yourself and focusing on what you’re doing rather than what other women are doing.

  9. “I think some women almost try to trick their husbands into accidentally not complimenting them so they can make a problem about something.”

    Drama = Crack for many women

  10. I started thinking about this after I typed up the last response. Some may not want to hear this, but some Manosphere sites actually promote causing intentional drama with your wife/girlfriend because they recognize that some women MUST have drama. If you don’t provide it in controlled doses, she will generate a firestorm of it on her own. I know it’s not true for all women, but I personally know some of my wife’s friends are definitely like this. Heck, all one really has to do is think of their own family members and you would likely be able to find at least one woman who thrives on the drama. Personally my wife doesn’t seem to be the dramatic type, but she has her moments. I sometimes rile her up with some good natured, grade school harassment and that seems to get the job done. I don’t know if I would have the patience to deal with an excessive drama queen at this point in my life. I know too much and have too much other stuff to do.

  11. @Snapper,

    I honestly think that that’s terrible advice on the manosphere’s part. Playing mind games is horrible and wrong, whichever gender does it. I also don’t think that they should be encouraging men to pander to women who are twisted enough to enjoy creating drama and conflict.

  12. I didn’t write it, I just report it. I don’t think I’m enough of a ‘playa’ to handle juggling that chainsaw. Minor harassment is as far as I go, but I can see their point. At least on their part it’s controlled drama, rather than a pent up rampage of who knows what. I haven’t had to deal with a woman like that, so I don’t know. If they are talking about it, it must work for some of them.

  13. I’m not sure if their wives or girlfriends would agree that it works. Honestly, I think that those men who claim that creating drama is the best way to have a relationship are just blaming women for their own bad behavior and their own twisted desires. Even if they are being truthful and only doing it to deal with their wives, then they shouldn’t be with those women. At the very least, they shouldn’t be giving in and doing wrong in an attempt to make a right.

  14. Alex,

    Your Statement:

    “I understand your reasoning for saying that, honestly. Husbands and wives are only human and are going to run into disagreements and even fights. That’s not God’s ideal, but it does happen. During those times, it’s hard for them to feel that affection for one another. It’s perfectly natural that you, as a man, wouldn’t feel affectionate toward your wife if she were being mean or disrespectful to you. However, it also makes sense to remind her that, as bad as this fight might be getting, you’re still committed to her and you don’t want to leave, in spite of how you’re feeling about her in that moment. You’re also letting her know that she can make things up to you and win your affection back because, however upset with her you are, you still want to be her husband. I could see how that upsets her, but I imagine that other women would find that oddly comforting, especially if they’re afraid that you’re going to leave them over what they did.”

    My mother told me that she also found comfort in those words from my father – that he would never leave her that he would always be there for her even when he was not “feeling it”. She simply took that as a sign that she needed to figure out where the tension was between them or what she had stopped doing for him and start to do the right things toward him again. For her it was simply a wake up call – like a red light blinking on the dashboard of your car.

    It is ironic that women often say they want to know what their husbands are feeling whether good or bad, but when we share it even in a what we think is a respectful but honest way sometimes women simply don’t want to hear certain things.

  15. “Personally my wife doesn’t seem to be the dramatic type, but she has her moments. I sometimes rile her up with some good natured, grade school harassment and that seems to get the job done.”

    *rolling my eyes with a smile* cause my husband does this to me all.the.time! and we always end up laughing.

    BUT … the really cool thing is that he began ‘getting me riled up’ in the beginning of our relationship b/c he wanted me to know we could be angry with each other and he would not hurt me … b/c my first husband abused me. after almost 7 years of marriage, i sometimes forget that’s how it got started b/c we now have this fun ‘dance’ we do with all that.

    ***

    i think i understand what they’re doing in the manosphere about creating drama. i see it as creating opportunities for their wives to let off steam b/f the whole engine blows up. this is actually a loving thing for tightly wired women.

  16. “It is ironic that women often say they want to know what their husbands are feeling whether good or bad, but when we share it even in a what we think is a respectful but honest way sometimes women simply don’t want to hear certain things.”

    i love asking my husband what he’s thinking b/c he always honestly tells me exactly what he’s thinking … and i would never have been able to figure it out. i, for one, like his honesty even if it’s not what i want to hear b/c my first husband lied to me all the time. also, i just like knowing what’s going on in my man’s head.

    … well … except for the time when he told me it looked like i had more gray hairs on my head! 🙂 … it was still funny, though, and i’m still glad he was honest … and, he did tell the truth. ugh.

  17. @AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “A lot of fantastic comments on here! I’d be careful using the phrase ‘compete for’ and the ideas of showing love, respect, and submission to one’s husband interchangeably. I do not feel like I have to compete for my husband’s affections (there were times I subconsciously felt I had to and that never ended up working well and he would ask me to calm down and relax and remind me that I didn’t need to compete for him). He had chosen to marry me. If I said a rude word to him or showed disrespect in some area, I should definitely apologize for it, but I shouldn’t have to worry that some smiling women across the street is going to steal him away.”

    When I think of a woman competing for or earning her husbands affection on a daily basis I am not thinking like the red pill folks that teach men to make their wives think they will cheat if they don’t do everything just right. I am not talking about you worrying he will run out on you. But Biblically speaking there is a love is unconditional and there is a love that is conditional. In our modern english this would could use the words “love” and “affection” to help us distinguish those two things.

    It really is the same with our salvation. We don’t earn our salvation – that is the unconditional gift of God’s love to all who believe on his Son. But do have to earn his rewards and his affection by how we serve him in this life. Marriage is no different. Your husband like God in the salvation made an unconditional commitment of love to you when he married you. You never have to earn that love. But you do have to earn his affection. Now you may feel that you don’t have to earn his affection and that he just freely gives it to you no matter what you do.

    But I think you mentioned on a comment here or on DragonFly’s blog that your husband had mentioned some frustration with you and his needs not being met in some areas for a time. I wonder was he as affectionate during that period as he always is? If he was not that would not be wrong of him. That is a signal to you that you are no longer earning his affection.

  18. @BGR,

    “It is ironic that women often say they want to know what their husbands are feeling whether good or bad, but when we share it even in a what we think is a respectful but honest way sometimes women simply don’t want to hear certain things.”

    Yeah, they do say that the truth hurts, and sometimes it does. But like your mother, I’d rather see the emergency light going off in the engine rather than going along not realizing that I’m sabotaging things. It’s also easier for me to figure out what I need to fix if I get honest answers when I ask questions.

    @Ame,

    “BUT … the really cool thing is that he began ‘getting me riled up’ in the beginning of our relationship b/c he wanted me to know we could be angry with each other and he would not hurt me … b/c my first husband abused me. after almost 7 years of marriage, i sometimes forget that’s how it got started b/c we now have this fun ‘dance’ we do with all that.”

    Ah, fair enough. Your example has made me see why this could work for some women. I stand corrected.

    My problem with it is that I know that it wouldn’t work for me. I can handle light teasing–even enjoy it–and return it in a good natured way, but I don’t take well to more than that. I don’t get angry or riled up. I just end up feeling like I’m actually back in middle school, which isn’t a pleasant feeling, or I end up breaking down in tears and going on about how stupid and useless I think that I am in that moment because I believe that it’s true. So, when I see the manospherians arguing for that as a good thing, I see it as them arguing for creating painful, unnecessary conflict and hurting themselves and their wives.

  19. the differentiation between love and affection makes sense.

    this should not be a shock to women as women, in general, want their husbands to ‘earn’ their affection. if they think of it like that, they should not have any problem with it (although i know they do … just sayin they shouldn’t).

  20. @Snapper,

    I have heard of such games of playing with your wife’s head. But I am not into mind games. I just like to shoot straight. If I am upset my wife it is not because I am playing a game. It might be because I was crabby(bad day at work) which is my fault. If that is the case I will come back and give her a hug and tell her I am sorry for taking out my work frustrations on her.

    If it is because I have to confront her for speaking to me disrespectfully or being belligerent in some way then she will get no apology from me because I have done nothing wrong. In fact not to confront her would be wrong.

  21. Alex,

    Your Statement:

    “I honestly think that that’s terrible advice on the manosphere’s part. Playing mind games is horrible and wrong, whichever gender does it. I also don’t think that they should be encouraging men to pander to women who are twisted enough to enjoy creating drama and conflict.”

    I agree 100%. I have never agreed with the mind games of that red pill and other manosphere folks suggest men use on their wives. You won’t see that ever prescribed by me here on this blog.

    Now I get accused of “manipulative” tactics and mind games when I talk about husbands withdrawing affection from rebellious wives or husbands using things like my “8 steps” method to confronting sexual refusal or ways to discipline your wife. But these are not mind games – they are discipline and there is no playing around with these things.

  22. @Ame,

    Your statement:
    “BUT … the really cool thing is that he began ‘getting me riled up’ in the beginning of our relationship b/c he wanted me to know we could be angry with each other and he would not hurt me … b/c my first husband abused me. after almost 7 years of marriage, i sometimes forget that’s how it got started b/c we now have this fun ‘dance’ we do with all that.

    ***

    i think i understand what they’re doing in the manosphere about creating drama. i see it as creating opportunities for their wives to let off steam b/f the whole engine blows up. this is actually a loving thing for tightly wired women.”

    I suppose this may work with some women such as yourself. I just can’t recommended it because I know I would not be comfortable doing that with my wife.

  23. @BGR,

    “I have heard of such games of playing with your wife’s head. But I am not into mind games. I just like to shoot straight. If I am upset my wife it is not because I am playing a game. It might be because I was crabby(bad day at work) which is my fault. If that is the case I will come back and give her a hug and tell her I am sorry for taking out my work frustrations on her.

    If it is because I have to confront her for speaking to me disrespectfully or being belligerent in some way then she will get no apology from me because I have done nothing wrong. In fact not to confront her would be wrong.”

    Wow! That’s 100% how I like my man to act, and I’m glad that he does. I really prefer straight-shooting. Then I can remain calm, apologize, ask questions to get a better understanding of what I need to work on going forward, and then make up, which is how my husband likes me to handle things. He doesn’t like it if I get so wrapped up in apologizing and beating myself up verbally that I can’t hear him out and he ends up feeling bad for bringing it up in the first place. So I don’t because I don’t want to be unintentionally manipulative or make him fee like he can’t confront me. It takes self-discipline sometimes, but as I’ve done what he’s asked of me, I’ve realized how much more smoothly it makes everything go. It’s definitely allowed us to have important conversations that have transformed our union for the better.

    So, basically, I’d advise women to get better about listening to hard truths. It’s better for you if your husband feels comfortable being honest with you and doesn’t feel like he has to play mind games.

  24. Alex – i think with everything here, we have to sift out what actually works in our own marriages. absolutely, there are some things in here that are basic and foundational, but there are others that simply won’t work with different personalities.

    for example, i have two daughters two years apart. but i don’t parent them the same because they are not the same person. however, there are some things that are set in stone, and they know that if anyone in my house crosses that line, it’s not gonna be pretty. so there are foundational things that are true for everyone, and there are personal things that are true for each personality and person. not so much anymore b/c they’re 18 and 16, but they used to whine it wasn’t fair that i did/didn’t do the same/different for their sister. i’d just look and them and ask, “Do you REALLY want me to parent you like your sister?!” ummm … no.

    i read some of this stuff to my husband – he’s not into blogs or fb even, and sometimes he’s like, “Yeah, that’s right,” and others he’s like, “Nope.” so i go with my husband.

    i think another way to look at it is … no man cares how another woman personally caters to *her* husband, he wants his wife to cater to *him*. can’t you see a group of women sitting around talking about what they do for their husbands, and one thinks, “Hey, I should try that with mine.” she plans it all out and tries that thing with her husband, and his response is, “What the heck are you doing?” she goes all weepy and crying b/c she put all this effort into pleasing her husband b/c she just knew that’s what he wanted b/c another woman’s husband did.

    i think it’s hard for us women to read manosphere blogs and not to take it personally, but we must step back and not take it all personally. they’re telling their personal experiences, not yours or mine. but it would be wise for us to sift through it, run things by our husbands, and see if we need to adjust/change/adapt some things.

  25. @Ame,

    “i think with everything here, we have to sift out what actually works in our own marriages. absolutely, there are some things in here that are basic and foundational, but there are others that simply won’t work with different personalities.”

    I think that that is fair, and if I read something that makes me wonder if I should make some changes with regards to my husband, I definitely talk it over with him first. I tell him about what I read, show it to him, and then discuss it with him. I think that there are some good universal maxims that we can use as guiding principles, but ultimately, you need to know what best pleases your own husband.

  26. @Ame,

    “for example, i have two daughters two years apart. but i don’t parent them the same because they are not the same person. however, there are some things that are set in stone, and they know that if anyone in my house crosses that line, it’s not gonna be pretty. so there are foundational things that are true for everyone, and there are personal things that are true for each personality and person. not so much anymore b/c they’re 18 and 16, but they used to whine it wasn’t fair that i did/didn’t do the same/different for their sister. i’d just look and them and ask, “Do you REALLY want me to parent you like your sister?!” ummm … no.”

    That is funny that you mentioned different parenting styles with each of your kids. I just had that exact conversation with my 18 year old son last night. He was complaining that I was handling some things differently with his 16 year old brother than I did with him at that age. I told him pretty much what you said to your daughters “You are each different and you each have different strengths and weakness. What works to get you in line and what works to get him in line are two different things. I tried doing things the same with him as I did with you and it was not working – when we as a parent see something is not working we need to look for a different approach”. And by the way my different approach with his brother is FINALLY working. The cookie cutter approach to parenting does not work.

  27. @BGR

    “I suppose this may work with some women such as yourself. I just can’t recommended it because I know I would not be comfortable doing that with my wife.”

    i think here we might be talking about two different things. my husband calls it “pickin'” … sort of nice teasing … not necessarily to get me ‘angry,’ but to get a reaction. he’s never manipulative (although i do read that in the manosphere). to be honest, there are times i’m not up for it … and i tell him … and he backs off. he likes to make me laugh. and he likes me to know it’s okay for me to have strong feelings about something without him hurting me. he likes to try to get that shock factor from me.

    obviously from this, my first husband was pretty abusive, and i never knew how i should react to something b/c he was never consistent – one moment i’d be safe; the next i’d not be. with the man i’m married to now, i have learned that, even if it’s not a reaction he likes, it is okay. he is not going to hurt me. i am safe.

    it’s also okay for me to be angry with him without being fearful of him hurting me. he’s actually amazing when i’m going nuts about something (don’t over-analyze nuts!).

  28. 16 and 18 – isn’t if fun! my step son is also 18, but my daughter is 2 months older, so she was okay w/us getting married as she didn’t want to have to give up being the oldest! thankfully, my ss didn’t care.

    cookie cutters are for cookies, not for people. thankfully, for all of us, i learned that very early with my first daughter. the parenting books didn’t address her medical issues. i was freaking out b/c i couldn’t find the right way to do it. a friend of mine w/3 kids at the time told me that the parenting books were not the bible. it clicked. i ditched the parenting books except to use as reference guides, and took up extra prayer. God made them, and He has been quite capable of directing me on parenting them, even when it felt like i was screwing everything up.

  29. BGR, my husband was not so much frustrated at me as he was frustrated with a situation that we were in. Most of the frustration presented itself in what he called “feeling demoralized”. So he was not upset or withdrawn from me. He would just be less excited about being intimate and less happy afterwards. But we’re actually doing a lot better in that regard and I’m honestly not sure what all changed (I have done my very best to be as engaged I can and he says that has made a difference). I’m not sure that he would agree with you as to whether his withdrawal of affection in that instance (which did not happen as far as I can remember) would be justified.

    I guess when you use the word ‘compete’, I’m wondering what the woman is competing with. Is this other women? Some sort of standard as to how she should treat her husband? Trying to be better than she was yesterday? Cuz if she’s competing for affection, it follows that she is competing with something or someone, and that’s probably where we might have a disagreement.

  30. @AnnaMS,

    When I think of the word “compete” in regard to a wife competing for her husband’s affection(as opposed to his agape love that is unconditional) I am talking about it in the same way that Paul spoke about the Christian race. We do not run for our salvation – that is given to us freely and unconditionally by God when we believe much in the same way your husband pledged his unconditional love to you on the day you exchanged marriage vows and entered into that sacred covenant before God.

    The race we run in this life is not a race against other Christians. In fact God gives us each our own race to run. As I said in a previous post – while some rules of this race are the same for all of us(both men and women), there are some different responsibilities and obstacles that God has given to men and women depending on their gender. When we run this race we are competing for God’s affection and for his reward but not for his love.

    In the same way when a woman competes for her husband’s affection, it is not a competition against other women but it is a competition FOR her husband’s affection as opposed to his love which she does not have to compete or earn.

    I realize this is a difficult subject because of the culture we have been brought up – even for men because the faulty view of love we have been taught. They believe that affection is as unconditional as love but it truly is not. In fact I believe many men do their wives and their children a great disservice when when they show them affection in the face of bad behavior or neglectful behavior.

    For instance if my son is being lazy and not doing the chores I have given him should I still just unconditionally tell him “Son you are such a great worker and I am so proud of you”? Of course not. That compliment – that affection is earned by him doing what I have given him to do.

    If my wife is cold to my sexual responses should I tell her what a great lover she is? Of course not. That type of affection is earned – it is not conditional.
    If I come home work and my wife is sitting on the couch watching TV and the house is a wreck and there is no dinner made am I going to rave about what a good house keeper she is? Of course not. This is earned affection.

    I good go on with a bunch of examples but you get my point. So when this competition is not against others but really it is with herself for her husband’s affection. I would use words like “win”, “compete” and “earn” in this sense and I think they would all be right.

    Really this works the same way with respect when it comes to men. We deeply value our wife’s respect. But there are two kinds of respect – one that is unconditionally owed by the command of God and one that is earned by a man’s life and his actions toward his wife and family. This is respect of position verse the respect of the person.

    I think most of us as men understand that difference. Our position as husband, father and head of the home must be respected and reverenced by our wives and children – this is unconditional. But we earn our wife and children’s respect as person(apart from our position) by how we provide for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our family. We earn it by how we go and make an impact on our world. We earn it by our integrity. We earn by carving out time for our family and showing them our love.

  31. @AnnaMS,

    The best and most concise answer to what I am talking about by a woman competing for her husband’s affection was given by Alex:

    “@BGR,

    By earning or competing for his affection, do you mean being kind and generous to your husband in every sense of the words (sexually and emotionally, for starters) and behaving in a loving and respectful manner toward him?”

    I confirmed for her that is what I meant.

  32. @BGR

    “But there are two kinds of respect – one that is unconditionally owed by the command of God and one that is earned by a man’s life and his actions toward his wife and family. This is respect of position verse the respect of the person.

    I think most of us as men understand that difference. Our position as husband, father and head of the home must be respected and reverenced by our wives and children – this is unconditional. But we earn our wife and children’s respect as person(apart from our position) by how we provide for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our family. We earn it by how we go and make an impact on our world. We earn it by our integrity. We earn by carving out time for our family and showing them our love.”

    this makes my heart weep. i’m learning that ‘most’ men do understand this difference. abusive men do not. my first husband, who was abusive, demanded respect in everything while abusing me and our girls. it’s so warped. he used the word ‘respect’ as a dagger. he would stab me with it and then expect me to understand how he wanted to be respected. my dad, too, but in different ways.

    but ‘healthy’ men do know the difference. and there are a lot of good men out there.

  33. I’ll just guess at this, but I bet he pays the mortgage etc. my wife told me to get out ONCE. I told her I pay the mortgage, the insurance, maintenance, food, clothing, entertainment, her trips, her makeup, her hair doos…. She needed to get out.

    That is his first mistake. I will also bet she does’t make herself up for him and has let herself go physically. That is disrespectful to him. Comparing him is dispicable.

    I also bet she refuses sex.

  34. Considering they’re separated, I’m pretty sure that her refusing sex is a safe bet to make. As far as who should leave and who stays, I don’t see that logic either way. While I am sorry that your wife said that to you, if you get to keep the results of what you spend your day doing, than every SAHM who becomes divorced or separated should automatically get full custody of the kids. Most men don’t want that to work both ways (and to be fair, I’m sure a ton of women would rather it not as well, so i’m not making a dig at men here…more pointing out that that position seems to be a lapse in logic). I don’t really see the sense of either spouse trying to tell the other to leave. The ultimate decision and authority will not rest with either of them if it goes to divorce court.

    As to whether or not she dresses up for him or not, I have no idea. I imagine it can be frustrating to put effort into her appearance if he was ogling at other women (and I do mean ‘if’. I have no idea if he was actually doing that or if she was over-reacting.)

    Ultimately, I don’t see the point at making assumptions about things we have no idea about to defend one’s gender. Some people have been scarred in relationships, but turning it into men vs women is a mistake. My favorite person in the world is my husband and my son is my second….both people of the opposite gender as myself. That will never change (outside of my son sharing that spot with future siblings) regardless of whatever sob story a woman tells me or whatever stupid thing I read in the manosphere.

  35. Jeff,

    If your wife is still sexually denying you, it sounds like you should get divorced, as it’s gone on too long. If she’s stopped sexually denying you but you’re still bitter about the past, then it may be best for you to try to find joy in life outside of your marriage rather than dwelling on a past that can’t be changed. I’ll grant that I only see your comments on this blog and don’t know how you conduct yourself in your daily life, but it does seem as though you’re dwelling on your bitterness and your hurt to the point where it’s hurting you far more than it could hurt your wife and depriving you of joy that you could find in other areas, like with your children, your work, your friends, or your hobbies.

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