The Rolodex “Lie”

December 18, 2015

in Uncategorized

In a comment on my Help Me Explain Your Sexuality to Him someone brought up the Rolodex analogy used by Shaunti Feldhahn in her book For Women Only. Others expressed frustration with this analogy.

“I agree with the visual “Rolodex” thing. I wish that “Christian” author had never written about it. I guess she thought she was being helpful? But I was much happier not knowing about it, not having that constant thought in my head. Now my poor husband wonders why I (who used to love sex with him and being sexy, etc.) isn’t really into it so much anymore.” ~ “Me”

To be fair to Shaunti, I think some have taken this way beyond what she intended. (I put a couple of posts about this by Shaunti at the bottom.) It’s an imperfect attempt to explain something inherently male to those who are not male, and as such it’s imperfect. I’m going to try to make it a bit less murky.

I think the way many see this only applies to men who are happy to indulge their sinful natural self. As with all such things, we should resist and do better. At first doing better may just change our outward actions, but ongoing efforts result in true inner changes. Doesn’t the Bible promise us this kind of change in general? Why should this be any different?

I’ve noticed a change in this in my life, and I’ve talked to other men who say the same. 

Sorting sex images © Style-Photography |

Rather than a Rolodex, let’s talk about a computer folder. My mental folder of sexual images is 99% images of my wife – and this has been the case for a very long time. Yes, lovely Lori has been generous in providing me with things to put in the folder; without this, I couldn’t have a mental file full of her sexy body. But it takes more – I’ve actively moved all other content to the bottom of the pile. Much of it lived there for a time, eventually dying a quiet death unnoticed. There’s only so much room in the folder, and files which haven’t been accessed for a long time are marked for removal when new files come in. A few images not of Lori remain, but I don’t see these images in my mind unless I go looking for them – which I don’t do. 

Another thing to understand is the power of being your husband’s lover. He’s having sex with you, not the waitress in the short skirt, not the half-naked lady on a women’s magazine cover, and not some girlfriend from long ago. Because he’s having sex with you, the mental images of you get favourited. This moves those images to the top, making them the first one’s he sees when his mind goes into the file. New images move down quickly, soon getting too far down to see on a casual browsing of the folder. This demotion of images of other women happens automatically if he’s got a good sex life with you. Additionally, he can choose to push images down. This is the continuation of looking away when he sees something inappropriate, and it can move a new image off the “front page” right away.

If he goes to his mental nudity folder while he’s having sex with you (and he may not) he’s going to look at what’s at the top. There are probably images in there of other women, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see them or does see them.

If your husband is a decent guy he’s not interested in seeing other women naked either in reality or in his mind. Avoiding it in his mind is actually easier than doing it in reality.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I make all the room possible for my wife in my sexual image folder.

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Rolodex posts by Shaunti Feldhahn:

Ladies, do you know how to support your normal, visually-wired husband in this abnormal culture? 4 actions that matter.
Give Him Reason to Gawk at You So He Doesn’t Gawk at Google

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Me December 18, 2015 at 9:55 am

Ok Paul, I’ve read and re-read this post and its a good one. You present a totally different view than what I got from her book (which I took as ‘you’re not good enough, he’s going to see way better women everywhere, he will then dwell on them, think on them, and replace you with them in his mind when he is using you as nothing more than a sex doll. But he wants to keep you around so you need to learn to get over it.’ – not a direct quote, of course, but that’s what I got out of her book. And it really damaged our sex life as well as my already fragile self esteem.)

But let’s say you’re right. Your explanation is much clearer and much more similar to what my husband has tried to tell me. Although he’s way more shy than you and doesn’t always get his point across, especially on these sensitive issues. Here is my issue…

How can I, when I have a mirror, believe what either of you is saying? If we’re being honest, the images he sees, even unwillingly, are WAY BETTER than his aging wife. The images are perfection. Most younger, scantily clad women, are very near perfection. My body is somewhat fit, but it’s had a couple babies, things have moved and stretched. Even when you work out, things don’t spring back the way they used to be. So we are kidding ourselves if I try to believe that my body even comes close to competing with all the perfection around us. It. Is. Not. Possible. Why would he be more, or even equally attracted to me than he would be to the younger and the firmer? It’s very hard to believe he’d want to see me instead. I think he tolerates seeing me.

I did ask him, that I had heard and is it true, that a good man wants to fill his head with images of his wife in order to help push out the images he wishes he didn’t see? And he responded ABSOLUTELY. But how do I know he’s not just saying that? He’s pretty smart. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to say, “no that’s not true.”

And even if he doesn’t want to see these images, let’s face it. You can’t turn on the TV, drive down the highway, or even walk into a store without being bombarded. So even if it’s involuntary, it feels like everyday wives don’t have a chance. It’s all so sad.

But thanks for giving me another way to look at this. I’m curious what other men think of all of this.


Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 10:28 am

@Me – What you see in the mirror is not what he sees when he looks at you. Yes, he sees the middle-aged body, but that’s only part of what he sees. He sees the woman he loves. He sees the mother of his children. He sees the woman who thrilled him in bed. All of those are far more important to him than how your body looks, and those things make your body sexy to him.
Let me put it this way. The Bible says Lori is the only woman I “get to have sex with.” This, however, is irrelevant because Lori is the only woman I WANT to have sex with. I don’t want to have sex with her because of how her body looks; her body turns me on because I want to have sex with HER.
If you flip the cause and effect, it all makes sense.
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Me December 18, 2015 at 11:16 am

I hear what you’re saying, and I’m really trying to understand. But according to the author and her book, I’m NOT the woman who thrilled him in bed. According to her, it’s the images of the perfect women in his visual Rolodex that thrill him in bed, and we wives just need to suck it up and deal with it. That’s the part that feels unfair, and hard to accept.

I wish I could believe my husband. I wish the author had never shared what she says is the truth. I know I sound difficult, but this is really, really painful for me and a lot of women. I can’t read his mind, so how do I know if he ever thinks of me, or if he just says he does. According to the author, he’s just saying it. Trying to love me because he knows he “should”. That’s sad.


Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 1:48 pm

@Me – What you describe has never been my experience.

When I was young I was always “horny”. This was partly my age and partly the infrequency of sex back then. Certain things I saw did bring my desire into focus, and might increase my pressing to have sex, but it was not causing anything. And if I did then have sex with my wife, she was the only thing in my mind.

Now I am not always horny – a combination of my age and plenty of sex. This means I can have the wonderful experience of getting turned on by seeing my wife. She’s not 20, and she does not look like a porn star (and I’m glad for both of those things) but she does turn me on.

For me it’s never been about should, it’s what I want. Even when sex was maddeningly rare, all I wanted was to be with Lori. I was never tempted to go after any other woman, nor did I think porn was a good idea. I was not just looking for sex, I was looking for sex WITH MY WONDERFUL WIFE.
Of course, I did see women showing far tot much, and it did add to my arousal. Early on I secretly enjoyed it even as I tried to limit it, but I quickly came to see it for the lie it was. For a very long time, I’ve seen it as an intrusion. I’d actually call it a form of sexual assault. I realise that runs the risk of downplaying the horrible reality of what we usually think of as sexual assault, and I do not mean to do that. However, I’d place it on the continuum.
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Nathan December 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I agree with the point about “sexual assault”. At times, I have considered it within the workplace to be a very frustrating form of sexual harassment. How awkward would it be to say something about it?

I have incredibly high regard for beautiful sisters in Christ who show modesty. It helps in unseen mental battle. Arousal is automatic, but lust is a choice for me. Mental recall can be automatic, so it always leaves me a choice to refocus on mental images of my wife.


A.C December 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm

From what I understand after reading your comments, it all comes down to this: insecurity. I believe, I may be wrong, but I believe that it is your insecurity that stops you from trusting your husband because in the end the problem isn’t in him but with your insecuritys. I am not saying that you are doing something wrong but it can be that even if your husband says your the only one for me your insecuritys says no it’s not possible, you are not beautiful enough. And to be honest , even if you would look like a model and you would have insecuritys I believe you wouldn’t trust your husband anyways because the problem lies in your hart. Again, I’m not saying your the problem but you insecurities are. I know because I as a man also have insecurities. For me it’s not my looks but who am I and how I am. And even if my wife says she loves me like j am sometimes the thoughts comes: you are not a man enough. Look at your flaws and so on. The only one who can heal that is Jesus. Because it’s a heart problem. Your husband can say and show you Ina thousand ways that you are beautiful and etc. but in the end it wouldn’t fix the real problem. I know because when I was younger I also had insecurities about my looks, and one of the main reasons to those disappearing was Jesus love for me. I am not saying that it is ok for your husband to look at other women and that you shouldn’t care of course you should care but if your insecurities are damaging your marriage you need to ask the Lord to heal those insecurities because His love is the only one that can do that. That has been my experience. I hope something I have said will help you. God bless you!


Paul Byerly December 22, 2015 at 7:01 pm

@A.C – Many of the bad things we do to our spouses come down to insecurity, and I see men do it too.
So I agree with you – we all need to deal with our stuff. Of course being loving and understanding about our spouse’s struggles is a loving way to go…
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Stephen Howe December 18, 2015 at 11:20 am

If we’re going with the “other people look better”, then by that logic you’d never want to eat what’s in front of you because the pictures in the ads look sooooooo much better then what you have.

My wife says the same thing. She doesn’t believe me either. I find that a big insult: you say you trust me, you married me, you say you love me, BUT you don’t believe me when I say I find you attractive.

I think it’s because of male/female stereotypes put out there by Satan: there’s always something better. Isn’t that why people choose to NOT believe Jesus is the way to heaven, because there MUST be something better?


IntimacySeeker December 18, 2015 at 1:43 pm

“My wife says the same thing. She doesn’t believe me either. I find that a big insult: you say you trust me, you married me, you say you love me, BUT you don’t believe me when I say I find you attractive.”

I think the issue is that regardless of our husbands finding us attractive, they still have images of other women in their minds. Even with Paul’s explanation of how those images are pushed to the bottom of the file or tossed out completely, it’s a bit insulting to be charged with that responsibility: “Honey, I have all these images of other women in my mind and I need you to have wild, passionate sex with me and a lot of it so that I can get rid of them.” I think that’s what many wives are hearing.


Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 2:03 pm

@IntimacySeeker – I see what Lori does for me in this area as a wonderful gift.
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IntimacySeeker December 21, 2015 at 5:26 am

I think it feels insulting if we see this as being used to clean up our husband’s mess. He should get his house in order before getting married. He should learn to view women as mothers, sisters, daughters.


Paul Byerly December 21, 2015 at 9:09 am

@IntimacySeeker – I’m all for growing up as much as possible before we marry, but if we all did as you suggest we’d all die single. (And by all, I mean men and women!)
That said, I’d like to see young men taught A LOT MORE on this.
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IntimacySeeker December 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

I agree. I’m still cleaning up my messes. I wonder, though, if some women visualize being mixed in with all the others in their husbands’ minds in the process of the weeding out. Sort of like the clothes going around in a front load washing machine.

In all fairness, my mind is not yet clear of abuse memories and such, which can surface anytime including while having sex with my husband. He does not appreciate being mixed in with that mess either. However, I take full responsibility for my mess and don’t expect or ask him to clean it up for me.


Paul Byerly December 21, 2015 at 4:38 pm

@IntimacySeeker – An interesting analogy. Some men would see other women in their minds as similarly invasive and undesired.
And while it is your mess and your job to deal with it, I’d tell your husband to be loving and gentle and do all he can to make it easier.
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Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 1:49 pm

@Stephen Howe – It took me many years to get Lori to believe me. It did feel a bit insulting, but I understand how huge the lie is, so I didn’t take it personally. She was as much a victim of this as I was.
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CSL December 18, 2015 at 11:45 am

Hi, Paul,

I don’t know about the “Rolodex file” and think that that is kind of far-fetched. I don’t think guys are ogling with the intent to “frame it for later use.” Instead, I think it’s just an extension of the trigger that both you and Shaunti talk of, the hard-wired BOING reaction.

What I compare it to is the same reaction that lets you catch a fish by presenting a fly or lure. If you look at a hand-tied fly or a spinner/popper lure (for large-mouth bass), they really don’t look like the fly or small fish that they supposedly mimic. Instead, the dry-fly is presented on top of the water in a way that a real fly would settle on the surface. That triggers the trout to rise before whatever it is can fly away. Senor Trout doesn’t take time to survey the menu and decide; he sees the landing and is triggered by what he sees. The same with the bass. My best lure was a silver-finished, treble-hooked stickbait that, when jerked while in the water, mimicked the flash of an escaping minnow.

Both lures work by triggering a hard-wired instinct in fish that they don’t have real control over. They notice, they strike! I’ve noticed that, for me, flesh-tone is a trigger, and I’m betting that for most men, it’s the same. Just as the silver lure triggers a response in the bass, flesh-tone pulls my eye. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t have to develop that particular response; I think it’s autonomic.

But the difference between me and the bass is that I know my trigger, and I know what to do to avoid it. In my case, I have been to the beach in decades! :)
Another difference is that although my eye is caught, I don’t have to linger and savor. As the old saying goes, “a bird may fly into your hair, but you don’t have to let him build a nest.”

While the trigger is there, I don’t think that a Rolodex file is a logical extension.


Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm

@CSL – Excellent analogy!
I have no doubt some guys are jerks, and they collect images in their minds for future lust. I also know some women are gold diggers. I don’t think either is common, especially in Christina marriages. If we decide either is the norm we are going to believe all kinds of wrong things about the average husband or wife.

I suppose part of the problem is women don’t function as we do, so they can’t understand it. They hear we can’t help seeing a half-naked woman, but they don’t understand we can choose to set the image aside – landing vs nest building as you said.
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CSL December 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Argh! That’s supposed to read “I HAVEN’T been to the beach in years.”
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DC December 18, 2015 at 1:06 pm

How ironic! I was just thinking about that Rolodex thing because I randomly read an excerpt of that book recently. I felt the same way as that poor commenter. I don’t know if the author realized how horrible she made women feel about their husbands, but I definitely think it did some damage – at least to me. It’s like, how can we possibly measure up to a 20-yr-old he could see walking out of Starbucks? We can’t even compete with our own bodies from 10 years ago! So what’s left for us wives – just give up and accept being a hole? It’s the worst feeling ever when you think of it like she presents it! So I for one appreciate you shedding some light on the male mind. It’s presented so much better! Thanks!


IntimacySeeker December 18, 2015 at 1:27 pm

What I used to say about this issue:
No wife wants to be the one for whom her husband settles.
I’d rather be alone than inadequate.
The game is rigged: regardless of my efforts, I can never look good enough to prevent my husband from noticing other women.
I check my heart at the bedroom door; why would I take my heart into the minefield that is the bedroom.
Someone should have explained this to me before I married. I was hoodwinked. I feel trapped.
If I ever meet Shaunti Feldhahn face to face I’m going to take her out!

What I say now:
My husband loves my body because he loves me.
My body is a gift to care for and share.
My body is amazing because of what I can DO.
I have better things to do with my time and energy than worry about what my husband thinks about my body.
I am enough for ME.
What others think of me is none of my business.
My husband’s visual image file is his responsibility, not mine.

@Me I feel your pain. If I can let this go and move on, you can too. Invest your time and energy in activities and relationships that make you feel valued and respected. Find your mojo!


Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

@IntimacySeeker – I love the changes and growth in your understanding of both your husband and yourself.

For the record, Lori is not the woman I’ve settled for. I thank God daily she said yes 31 years ago. What a blessing this woman is to me every single day.
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Rico December 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm

“My husband’s visual image file is his responsibility, not mine”

While I agree with that on one hand, on the other hand it is the wife’s responsibility to give him enough material to fill up the Rolodex. That means not running into the bathroom to change at night, not turning off the lights for sexy time, not shaming him through words or actions when he gives you the “meat stare”, actually putting on lingerie rather than leaving it in the back of the drawer, etc. Men are visual creatures – if that’s not getting fed by you, the temptation to fill it elsewhere is much, much greater


Paul Byerly December 18, 2015 at 2:01 pm

@Rico – You are right, but this is easily taken too far. I’m not saying you did so, but some men use this as an excuse for their sins.
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IntimacySeeker December 18, 2015 at 2:01 pm

@Rico I hear you, but as stated in my comment to Stephen above, if wives hear they must bare themselves in order to help their husband get rid of the other images by filling the image file, they are likely to feel insulted and degraded. It can come across as a threat rather than an invitation.


Anonymous December 18, 2015 at 2:03 pm

I find it disheartening that men are wired like this. 99% of the time he probably isn’t thinking about other women in a sexual way? Why does he constantly notice other women if there are no sexual thoughts whatsoever that accompany them?
I hate being one of many options. Don’t know if I will ever be okay with it.


Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 9:29 am

@Anonymous – Noticing and desiring are two entirely different things. I realise that makes no sense to most women, but it’s the truth.
My wife is not one of many options for me, she is the only one I want. This how I feel, and no amount of other images is going to change that.
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So hurt December 21, 2015 at 7:41 pm

I agree with you! Even if he’s not thinking sexual thoughts, he is interested! And that feels like the biggest betrayal. I know he loves me to death and is very loving and touchy and has been working really hard on the looking, but the minute we walk out of our house or the minute he turns the tv on, I’m in a constant state of anxiety about this and often have anxiety attacks. I’m not comfortable at all going out with him or with him watching tv. I ended up getting PTSD after finding out about his porn use 2 1/2 years ago and it destroyed me! I don’t know how I can ever get over this. We went to a very busy mall yesterday and it was awful. It was like there were hundreds of conveyer belts all pointing towards us with every beautiful women at the mall walking towards us, sneering, taunting and laughing at me to watch them turn my husbands head and catch his eye. Their bouncing boobs and tight butts in yoga pants, beautiful long hair and high heels! Of course he saw all those images. And to top it off, he has low testosterone and desire so lovemaking is once a week if that where I could do it daily. That morning we laid in bed and I was naked (it had been 5 days since we made love) and we were spooning and he was touching me all over, yet nothing as far as making love. Then we go to the mall and he sees all these images and of course wants to make love that night! How am I suppose to feel? Like he needed all those images to get turned on to make love to me? Is his low desire because he’s not allowed to look at those images anymore so he’s not getting turned on? And if we didn’t make love last night, would it have been because he saw all those beauties and he is disgusted with how I look and can’t make love to me? It’s just so confusing and second guessing every move he makes! This has totally destroyed my life! I love the beach so much, it is my therapy, but now it is hell and torture to go there. We love to ride bikes, but I feel sick the whole time because there are always women jogging, same with hiking! I can’t go anywhere or do anything anymore without feeling ill! Ive gone to a wonderful counselor but I don’t see this ever getting better.


Paul Byerly December 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

@So hurt – What you describe is beyond what you are going to be able to cope with yourself, and it’s beyond being made better by anything your husband could do. I urge you to find some help for yourself, and for your marriage.
BTW, this in no way absolved your husband of anything he has or is doing wrong, that’s a completely separate issue.
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K December 23, 2015 at 11:27 am

@SoHurt Paul is right. Have you heard about New Life Ministries and their Women in the Battle Workshop? I haven’t attended it, but their video resources have really helped me. More than any other resource I’ve encountered, they seem to truly understand how wives are impacted by this betrayal. Some of their videos address exactly what you describe and give hope that these feelings can be overcome. My situation is a bit unique in regards to cause/effect of my husband’s porn use, but resources like Paul’s blogs and New Life Ministries along with regular counseling have really helped me. After learning of the porn use and addressing our long-term sexless marriage (husband’s choice) about 11 months ago, I’m beginning to gain back trust and security. Things are not completely there yet, but the pain is diminishing. I’m also now able to believe again that my husband is attracted to me. And, the positive thoughts are starting to outweigh the negative thoughts. Hopefully, your husband will help you through the process by being open, understanding of your needs and changing his behavior. Praying you find the right help and can begin to feel safe again.


So hurt December 27, 2015 at 12:57 pm

@K thank you so much for your reply. Is it a video series that you purchase? Do you have a picture of it or an exact name? Could I possibly Facebook message or email you?


Paul Byerly December 28, 2015 at 9:29 am

@So Hurt – In case K does not see this, you will find the resource she mentioned at
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Ed December 18, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Men are primarily visual and women are primarily emotional. Have you heard that evangelical Christian lie/stereotype before? Visual rolodex? Does that mean that women have an “emotional rolodex”?

This notion has being been making more and more headway into contemporary Christian thought over the years and it has culminated into a new book by Shaunti Feldhahn called “Through A Man’s Eyes”. I don’t entirely disagree with Shaunti on every point that she makes about gender differences (even a broken clock is right once a day), but her underlying premise is flawed.

Men are not primarily visual and women are not primarily emotional. Here’s what is true: men and women are both primarily relational.

My wife is 11 years older than me and she tells me that one of the predominant reasons why she married me was my youthful appearance and “younger man energy”. She wanted to marry a man who was not balding and did not look like her father (I won’t go into that now). Women are strongly visual too and it is doing a disservice to women everywhere to say that they are not visual just as it is to say that men are not strongly emotional (are you kidding — men not emotional?).

Enough of the church stereotyping men and women into one dimensional freaks! We are all holistically visual, emotional and spiritual. When we starkly separate each other by these supposed gender differences, we take away some of the wonderful mystery that we experience with the opposite sex. Even worse, by promulgating stereotypes about gender differences, then we set up self-fulfilling prophecies like:

“I’m a man and I have eyes therefore I must preserve images in my mind” or “I’m a woman and I have emotions therefore I must emote and wear my emotions on my sleeve”. If you want to swallow someone else’s philosophy and “facts”, then you’re also going to be boxed in by it as well.

I’ll say this about men’s supposed visual nature:

It is only because of Christian evangelical teachers pushing law and condemnation that makes men hyper-focus on their “super visuality”. The more that we feel condemned by something, the more we hyper-focus on it — that’s how the mind works.

For an excellent discussion on the topic of male and female sex drives, check out the link to this video blog:


Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 9:32 am

@Ed – And yet there is truth in the visual vs emotional – as stated by the video you shared. I agree it’s not all there is, but it is a factor. The key is putting it on its proper place, neither making too much nor too little of it.
The Rolodex was an attempt to explain a part of men’s reality to women. I fear some have taken it well beyond what was ever intended, and at that point, it fails to be a help.
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libl December 19, 2015 at 10:24 am

Yeah. Maybe women do have an emotional rolodex. Any time hubby and I are at adds, I can choose to go to that file in my mind and pull out any myriad paperwork stored on how he has hurt me in the past, and I can remember it in clarity and detail.

However, when he repents and treats me like a lady, like his wife, those rolidex files disappear.

I have to make a point to bury the hatchet and not let those memories come to my frontal cortex.


Me December 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Oh my! So I logged on to see if there had been any further discussion and boy was I surprised!

@DC, I agree. Paul presents this MUCH better. I also agree that the book author did a lot of damage. I don’t think she did it on purpose. I don’t think she thought it through, that there are a lot of women that think differently than she does, and she based it all on how she took it, and not how others might see things. She damaged a lot of hearts and a lot of marriages. if she knew the pain and distrust she caused, she would probably feel sad.

I think there’s a HUGE misunderstanding between husbands and wives here. We wives know we are not 20 anymore, our post baby bodies are different, and we feel like we can’t “compete” – or even attract or arouse our own husbands anymore. This is “confirmed” in our minds by a somewhat respected author. So we feel shame (some of us, NOT all women) – but I am one – and so we do our best to conceal our bodies from our husbands. We don’t want to gross him out with our imperfections. We don’t want to let him see us in reality so that he can be angry or disgusted that we no longer look smokin’ hot. We don’t wear lingerie because we feel we no longer deserve to wear it. We are embarrassed, and trying to cope with knowing he settled and is now stuck.

He, on the other hand, may not be seeing thingslike that at all. Maybe he really is seeing beauty. But because we can’t see it, we are sure he doesn’t see it. He thinks we are being selfish or stingy by not letting him see us naked, when in reality we are trying to protect his eyes from our major flaws, our perceived ugliness, as well as protecting our own fragile hearts. We are not being “difficult”, we are HURTING.

@IntimacySeeker, I agree, it has always bothered me that I am the woman my husband settled for. I always dreamed of being somebody’s desire, his true love. And Paul, your comment about not settling for Lori, is beautiful, and it also makes me wonder if that is why my husband seems to get so offended when I apologize that he had to settle for me, and due to his faithfulness, is now stuck.

The good news is, although it may not sound like it, my husband and I are making a lot of progress in this area, and a lot of that is due to these discussions. So, thank you!


libl December 19, 2015 at 6:53 am

Young, fit, and perky do NOT have a monopoly on beauty and sex appeal. And we ladies need to stop feeding that lie by acting like it does. There was a time when teenagehood wasn’t considered sexual for older men, but rather grown, mature WOMEN were. Curves, softness, poise, maturity. The whole Lolita culture is a twisted perversion brought on by the porn industry.

I, too, didn’t like Shaunti’s rolodex analogy. I took it as every bit of flesh my husband sees is seered into his mind and those images flash unbidden constantly and he is pretty much God-created to not be able to overcome it, so accept it and live with it.

I am thankful for Paul’s explanation.


Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 10:51 am

@libl – “Young, fit, and perky do NOT have a monopoly on beauty and sex appeal. And we ladies need to stop feeding that lie by acting like it does. There was a time when teenagehood wasn’t considered sexual for older men, but rather grown, mature WOMEN were. ”


If sex were about the physical, about the bodies, then I can see a man wanting a teenage girl. Such men do exist, but I think they are a small minority. Most of us get a lot smarter and more mature as we move past the hormone infused teens and early 20’s. We figure out real sex, good sex, sex worth having, happens in a relationship. A relationship requires being able to connect on a deep, intimate level. A 30-year-old man can’t have such a connection with a teenager.

There will always be a few men who chase girls and young women, just as there will be a few women who chase boys and young men. These emotionally immature folks are not the majority, and we should not pretend they are.
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Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 9:42 am

@Me – Lori does not have to compete to be the focus of my sexual universe because the competition is long since over and SHE WON! For her to feel she needs to keep competing would be like someone elected president for life thinking they need to keep running for office. The election was held, a winner declared, and that is that, period.

“Maybe he really is seeing beauty. But because we can’t see it, we are sure he doesn’t see it.”

YES! Exactly

“He thinks we are being selfish or stingy by not letting him see us naked, when in reality we are trying to protect his eyes from our major flaws, our perceived ugliness,”

Protecting him from this he does not see, things he can’t see.

“as well as protecting our own fragile hearts.”

I think this is the big issue. A man who has a clue understands this and works to show his wife the truth he sees.


So Been There December 19, 2015 at 5:42 am

Paul, I’ve never posted on this site before, but hope you will let me. I’ve never read the “Rolodex” book, but what some of the posters have shared could have come out of my mouth not that long ago. For different reasons I have felt the very same thing. The things that helped me I really hope may help someone else. My husband is another of those really smart men and in my mind is incredibly handsome. We were never intimate before we were married, but the attraction and chemistry was there. There were many years I wasted listening to Satan and my insecurities rather than my husband. He is an honest man and loves God and me. I had to “take every thought captive to Christ” and CHOOSE to believe him. It was not instant or easy. I still have to beat back the “not enough” or “not what he really wants” thoughts occasionally, but it is easier now. I have decided to believe my honest, sweet, caring husband and it has improved every aspect of our marriage and has helped me give myself to him in every way as well. I only share this with the hope that someone may read this, try it and have success that will bring them more joy in their marriage.


Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 9:46 am

@So Been There – It is a problem when we are confronted by our reality and the suppose reality of our spouse which is very different. Are we wrong, or is our spouse lying to us? It’s easy to assume our spouse is lying, even if we generally see them as honest. This is the power of the lies sown in our minds.
So glad you are beating the lies!
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Kay December 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I can’t help but wonder if some readers are attacking what they *think* Shaunti meant versus what she actually said. I read the original version of her book that talks about the visual rolodex, which is why I am familiar with the analogy, but I now have the updated version of the book, and the funny thing, the chapter is now titled “Keeper of the Photo Files.” Sound familiar to Paul’s analogy here? She writes that men have “a mental photo file of sensual images” that “have been involuntarily burned in their brains” and “can arise without warning.” What kinds of images? “Apparently just about anything: the memory of an intimate time with you (good) or a memory from Playboy magazine (bad).”

But Shaunti does not stop there!! She includes several things that are precisely what we’ve discussed here: “Every man can make a choice–to dwell on the images and thoughts or to dismiss them,” saying that this is the distinction between temptation and sin. She writes, “The men I talked to make rigorous decisions to avoid unwanted visual invitations.”

Shaunti also provides the following reassurances for concerned wives:
“1. He probably wishes he could reserve his visual nature just for you.”
“2. He can see a beautiful woman without the sexual temptation.”
“3. Every man is different–and discipline makes a difference!”
“4. It’s not because of you.”
“5. This doesn’t impact his feelings for you.”

This sounds very much like what you have written here, Paul. No? Am I missing something?

But anyway, I guess I am highly disappointed by some of the comments above because I do find them insulting to our husbands. It shows a complete lack of trust in their ability to control their thought life, but most importantly (in my opinion), I feel as if these women above are reducing sexual attraction to MERELY the physical. Male sexuality is SO much more than the physical! As Paul says here, he is sexually attracted to Lori simply because she is his wife! As my husband tells me, he doesn’t just want sex, he wants sex WITH ME. He finds my body sexy because IT’S MINE, and he loves ME. He doesn’t love those other women, even if he notices they have a great body. He is sexually attracted to me now despite having three babies, and he will be sexually attracted to me when I am 70, BECAUSE I AM HIS WIFE, WHOM HE LOVES. Gives our husbands some credit, ladies! He is not comparing us to those picture perfect women out there; WE ARE. We are the ones comparing ourselves, finding ourselves wanting, and then pawning off our own insecurities off on our husbands. NOT COOL. It’s time to grow up, ladies. Your husband just wants YOU. Only you. If you don’t believe him, that is YOUR PROBLEM, not his.


Kay December 19, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I think “Me” hits on exactly what I am getting at with this paragraph in her comment above: “He, on the other hand, may not be seeing things like that at all. Maybe he really is seeing beauty. But because we can’t see it, we are sure he doesn’t see it. He thinks we are being selfish or stingy by not letting him see us naked, when in reality we are trying to protect his eyes from our major flaws, our perceived ugliness, as well as protecting our own fragile hearts. We are not being “difficult”, we are HURTING.”

But I am reminded of one of your previous posts, Paul (not sure if it was XY Code or Gen Husband) where you talk about how our hurts are much more about OUR immaturities, not our spouses. I think this is the case here. We are hurting, and as a result we are projecting our hurts onto him with this visual rolodex conversation above.

My husband has been very open and honest about his struggle with “pop up” images in his brain, but he let me know that the longer we’ve been married the easier it has gotten–both because of discipline, practice, and filling the files with so many images of me that squeeze out the ones he wish he didn’t have. Wishing he didn’t have them is enough for me. Turning away when he sees something sexual is enough for me. My husband is enough for me, and I, for one, trust him completely when he says he finds me sexy and beautiful and that I am the only woman he wants. We have an entire life together. A life that can never, ever compete with any unwanted image that pops up into his mind.

I don’t mean to be snotty, so I apologize if it comes off this way. As I reflect on the condition of my own heart, I suppose I am so disappointed by the comments above because that used to be me, and now on the other side I see how insulting it is to the men we love and claim to trust.


libl December 19, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Not all of us have husbands who have made a covenant with their eyes and take every thought captive. My own husband has seen hundreds, if not thousands of naked women, and even went to a strip club after we married.

There was a time he was so self indulgent in not guarding his eyes that he no longer found me attractive and blamed my recent weight loss and baby weaning from breast feeding shrinking my breasts. I decided that I was indeed beautiful and enough and it was up to him to accept it.

I can’t compete with actresses. I can’t walk around photoshopped. Nor should I. I am flesh and blood real.

I do not trust my husband fully in this area because evidence has proved otherwise throughout our marriage. That is not being disrespectful, that is just how it is.


Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 6:45 pm

@libl – I’m so sorry for the choice he’s made and how they affect you and your marriage. I’m glad you have figured out his choices do not define YOU. As you suggest, no one can compete with what your husband has chosen to put in his mind. Even the women he looked at can’t match the images he has seen.
All that said, I find your husband to be in the minority.
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Kay December 20, 2015 at 6:24 am

I agree, libl, that is not disrespectful to say when your husband is making a choice to dishonor you and sin against you, his own body, and God. I am so sorry for the choices he is making and how hurtful they must be. I am so proud of you for finding and embracing your own beauty independent of your husband. I think that shows a maturity we should all strive for, where it doesn’t matter what our husbands think; all that matters is that WE know we are beautiful because God made us so.

It is not disrespectful to combat a lie with truth (as in your case) but I do think it is disrespect to combat truth with a lie, as is the case in many of the comments above. Many of these women have said so many things in their comments that show their husbands do find them beautiful and they reject it. Ouch. That is like saying to him, “You are a liar, and I don’t trust your judgment.” If my reassurances were met with that kind of assault, I would stop offering them.


Me December 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Kay, it’s wonderful for you that you are such a confident woman. I think this is easier for you because you are beautiful and you seem to know it and embrace it. It s much harder for those of us who are not beautiful and can not see themselves as beautiful. I’d rather be realistic, even when it hurts.


Henri December 21, 2015 at 7:18 pm

I think this probably is the nail on the head, why so many of us freaked out with what Shaunti wrote, myself included.

“not all of us have husbands who have made a covenant with their eyes……” I would add, or even walk with God, despite profession of salvation.

Disclaimer: I only ever read her first book. It caused so much devastation and grief, that even the thought of reading an updated version is causing slight panic attacks.

And yes, I know, God can still work. Life is hard sometimes.


Me December 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm

@Henri, I won’t even read her second bok. I know it will just damage my marriage. I read the first chapter. In it, she describes a typical day of a supposedly upstanding, married Christian man. It starts off with him wondering why his wife won’t run around naked (I imagine it’s because she knows she can’t compete with the perfect women he’s fantasizing about.) then he goes off to work. He dreams about shacking up with the hot co-worker, the girls on the billboards, some girls at a pool, and he seems relieved that the next woman he sees is crazy hot, but fairly modest. It is insanely upsetting! I seriously do not get what on earth these authors were thinking. I have no idea how writing entire books that say “hey ladies! Your men are seeing way hotter women everywhere, they want them badly, they desire these women far more than they desire you, and you need to accept it. If you’re lucky and he’s a good guy, he won’t cheat on you, he’ll just replace you with her in his mind.” HOW ON EARTH DOES TELLING WOMEN SUCH THINGS HELP A MARRIAGE? I don’t get it. It’s hurtful and cruel. It makes you wonder, why do men even get married if loving and desiring just your wife is such a terribly difficult thing to do? Makes no sense.


Paul Byerly December 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm

@Henri – I realise some men think it’s fine to lust after any and every woman. Certainly this is more likely with men who are not following the Lord, but honestly basic maturity also tends to reduce this.
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Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 6:42 pm

@Kay – I’ve not seen the new version of the book. I was aware she had made a change because she realised a lot of folks have no idea what a Rolodex is. Sounds like she has also addressed many of the issues being brought up here, and from what you say she is saying much what I have said.

I think part of the problem is we have allowed a caricature stereotype far too much of a place in our thinking. Just because a few men are that way does not mean it’s how all men think. It’s like assuming all women are airheads because a very few do act that way. Sadly these lies and exaggerations continue to be spread as truth. This is why some women struggle so much when their husbands say what most men actually think and feel.
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So hurt December 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I do not see any men turning their heads away from beautiful women. I see them all indulging! And believe me, I notice!


K December 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm

I haven’t read the book referenced, but I’d guess her intention was likely to bring awareness to our husband’s natural wiring not to make us feel inadequate. Knowing how his brain works lets me understand him better. As his wife, I want to know him completely and this is a part of who he is. But, I have to remember it’s only a part of him and his sexuality. And, most importantly, he CHOSE me to share his life and become one with.

I’ve always viewed my husband’s love of me as a whole package. He doesn’t love me because of my appearance. If he did that would be shallow, and frankly, an insult to me. It would also be something I could never live up to. We share a history together that no one else can ever duplicate or even understand. We have been through good times and hardships together. We know each other better than anyone else ever has or ever could and, after many years, we still seek to learn more about each other. We support each other, we dream together, we experience all aspects of life together. We speak hard truth to each other when the situation calls for it. We share mutual respect for each other. We set and achieve goals together. All of these things deepen our love and bond us together.

Because of our history together, my personality, how I treat him, how I treat others, the intimacy we share in all areas, etc., my husband finds me attractive and sexy. It’s not because I weigh a certain amount, have a certain hair color, have nice legs or tits. He loves me as whole person and he chose me because I am the right for him.

My husband has also been my safe place because I know he loves and accepts me just as I am. I’ve been skinny and fat. He doesn’t care. He wants me to be healthy and not compare myself to others. In his eyes, I am a beautiful person. He is the one person I feel safe exposing myself to. I won’t even go clothes shopping with a friend because I’m not comfortable with my body. But, when I’m being intimate with my husband and he caresses me I feel sexy because I believe he thinks I am.

Mutual trust and communication are key in helping with the issue of his stored mental images. I have to trust that he is being honest with me about his present and past struggles with this and he has to trust that he can be honest with me about it without it sending me into an undesired state of mind about myself or creating an aggression against him. I want my husband to feel safe to tell me when and how images affect him. I realize that if I constantly discredit when he tells me I’m attractive, I am not providing him with a safe place for complete honesty. It hasn’t always been (and still isn’t totally) without struggle, but I do believe my husband when he tells me that the majority of his mental images are of me. And, I absolutely believe that he only wants to have sex with me. Like Paul said about Lori, I believe that I won that contest long ago. I wish all of the women posting could believe this.

Husbands need to understand that their words and actions need to be congruent. If he is gawking at women in front of his wife, watching porn or inappropriate TV shows, making inappropriate comments about women, etc. and then telling his wife that she is beautiful and sexy and she’s the only one he wants, it will be extremely difficult for her to believe.


Paul Byerly December 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm

@K – Shared history is huge!
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Ed December 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

Here’s a novel thought:

Maybe both men and women visual and emotional rolodexes in their brains — not just one or the other. That would make Shaunti’s analogy easier to understand.

For instance, I’ve read on the pages of Paul and Lori’s blogs and many other Christian marriage blogs, countless testimonies of women who, during the course of sexual intimacy with their husbands, fantasized about someone else, an “imaginary lover” conjured up by romance novels, so-called female erotica, or just their own raw imagination.

How is that not accessing a visual or emotional rolodex? Why is the focus always on male habits and proclivities?

In my mind, I have stored memories of visual images and emotional thoughts and memories that can be summoned or can manifest unconsciously even without my deliberate recall.

In this regard, is my wife really any different than I am?


Paul Byerly December 20, 2015 at 7:18 pm

@Ed – “Why is the focus always on male habits and proclivities?”

This blog is about “Decoding the male mind” so here that is the focus by design.
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Kay December 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm

I simply can’t read this any more. It breaks my heart. My husband has told me some very difficult truths. I am 51, he is 53. He never really found me attractive, other women are his fantasy, I’m his reality. And fantasy is perfect. That’s what makes it fantasy – reality can never compete. He was addicted to porn. I’ve bought lingerie and worn it and he’s told me he liked it. Now he says he likes it “but it depends on the person” and tells me I don’t need to wear it. He likes glamorous make-up but not on me. He admitted that probably 50-75% of the time we are together in public, his eyes and mind are on other women. And I don’t exist then – it’s about him and her. He freezes and “zones out” when a beautiful young girl comes on the TV screen, and then denies it. He called himself a sex addict. These “revelations” were 2 years ago. Now he says he doesn’t need that stuff anymore, that he is attracted to me (6 months ago he told me that I hadn’t been able to “light his pilot light” since we were dating, so I’m confused). He will tell me I look great, or hot, but simply refuses to use the word beautiful. He told me recently that I was for love, “they” are for sex. I asked him what sex meant to him in our marriage, he said “it’s a physical thing”. He has asked me not to initiate sex because it puts too much pressure on him. I can’t dress sexy or act sexy, because it reminds him of “them” and he doesn’t want to think about them. If we do have sex, it’s when he wants it (since he doesn’t want me to pursue him), and it’s a quick kiss, he does his thing and it’s over. I feel dead sexually. I opened up a lot when I discovered the porn – I mistakenly thought that I needed to act like them. But I did discover a lot about myself and how much I truly enjoy sex. And now i have to put all of that away again. I am rambling. But it hurts so much. I want to believe him when he says he likes my body, when he says he loves me – when he says he doesn’t want them anymore – but how can I?


Henri December 21, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Paul – thank you for expanding the “Rolodex” issue, and clarifying a few things for me. It has helped me finally to put to rest some lies that have been haunting me for years. While I am sure they will keep trying to creep back in, it is nice to know that there is a chance that I am sitting in the top file. It was also refreshing to learn, that in many instances, files become inactive and slowly just disappear, without ever being realized.

When I first read Shaunti’s book, my husband was not walking with the Lord, he was out partying, into porn, and out of town working more then he was home, and I was home with a handful of children. Despite the fact that God is slowly changing him, and that its been a decade or more since I read her book, I have been haunted by the “Rolodex”, and can’t seem to let it go. Now I feel like I actually have a chance, and its a great feeling to have.

I don’t think Shaunti wrote her book to blow so many of our minds/hearts. I know of at least 3 women who have read her original book, and didn’t think twice about it. And their guys weren’t fairing much better then mine. I think some of us are just a little more sensitive then others. I am happy to hear that she has a newer version that clarifies it a bit more. But I can assure you, I will not be reading it.


Paul Byerly December 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

@Henri – I find it interesting so many women were hurt by this. I need to go back and read it and try to understand what happened. I suspect what was heard by most of these women was not what was intended. Of course if a woman’s husband is all about lust I can see how the information would have hurt.
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Me December 22, 2015 at 8:09 pm

@Paul, I would like to believe she never intended to hurt women so deeply and ruin sex lives. However, perhaps it would have been a good idea for her to run her book through some focus groups before selling it to the general public.

For example, tonight my husband and I were having a great time, flirting, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate something. We weren’t there long before my feelings turned sour. Hot hostess, hot waitress, hot other diners, and all I could think was “why even try?” My desire to continue the celebration once we got home disappeared in a flash. All I could think of was what the book says. That I will never be the woman of my husbands dreams – not as long as I have to compete with every woman on the planet. So now our plans have changed. I’m sitting here typing this, and he’s asleep. Happy day. I just wish I’d never read the stupid book. I was happier being naive.


Paul Byerly December 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

@Me – The thing is you are allowing your marriage to be controlled by this, and it almost certainly is not as you think it is. Regardless of who and why you think these things, you, your husband, and your marriage are being held hostage by them.
So how do you get free? That’s what I want you, and so many other women to learn.
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IntimacySeeker December 23, 2015 at 6:15 am

@Paul I think the depth of hurt felt by some women might have something to do with the way our minds work. As Shaunti describes, all the “windows” are open all the time. We don’t do well separating things. Everything is connected and interdependent. We see ourselves, naked and vulnerable, mixed in with myriad women in our husbands’ minds, and we feel trapped and threatened.

Men tend to think about one thing at a time, and therefore, perhaps they see this visual temptation thing as not such a big deal, and they certainly see it as separate from their wives, their relationship with their wives, and their love for their wives.

As you know, my hubby was an ogler. He thought it went hand in hand with being a heterosexual male, and that since it was such a natural behavior, there was nothing wrong with it. He was surprised to learn I was troubled by this behavior, because in his perception, it had nothing to do with me. He also didn’t know that Scripture spoke against it, and once he learned that, made significant and impressive changes in his behavior.

Another reason this might be so hurtful for some women is our tendency for codependent behavior and our need to control. I know that what I have learned in Alanon has been immensely helpful in my ability to detach from this behavior and see myself separately.


Paul Byerly December 23, 2015 at 11:57 am

@IntimacySeeker – So both husband and wife are judging the other as if they were the same gender?
Husband’s and wives both should make some accommodation for how their spouse things, but both also have a responsibility to not paint the other with their way of seeing and thinking. The detachment you mention is a big part of this.
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Me December 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

You know what else is upsetting me? My husband tells me he loves me. He tells me he thinks I’m beautiful. He does not have a porn issue. Of course he notices beautiful women, but I was starting to get past this and believe him. I mean believe him when he says he loves ME and he finds me attractive. And then this “respected” author tells me he’s just lying. That he can’t truly be intimate with me, because his brain is filled with images of better women. No one sees why this is hurtful? I don’t mind him noticing an attractive woman, but when this “expert” author tells me he then can’t get that woman out of his mind and he replaces me with her, yes, that is upsetting. It’s like I’m worthless now. I’m no better than a rubber doll.
And what’s even sadder, I bought some pretty lingerie for Christmas Eve, and now I can’t even wear it, because according to these “great, helpful books” the minute he sees me he will be imagining a younger, hotter woman standing there, vulnerable, in her Christmas lingerie. So why bother? Why even try? Why try to give him a gift that according to this “expert”, he doesn’t want?


IntimacySeeker December 22, 2015 at 7:48 am

@Me Feeling that I walked in your shoes not long ago, I have some suggestions:

1. Counseling. I struggled with this issue fiercely because it triggered anxiety around unresolved trauma. It was very helpful to put those pieces together, to connect the dots. I know myself better and have peace of mind. The same could be true for you.

2. DO something else with your time and energy. Take a class, finish a degree, join a choir, start a new ministry, etc. Find something that fulfills you and makes you feel alive.

This I know from my own personal experience: YOU. CAN .HEAL.


Me December 22, 2015 at 9:33 am

IS, thank you for the suggestions.

Sadly, it is too late for me to take a class or finish my degree, or even start a new ministry. I just had my birthday and I’m now “officially” over 40. I think that’s part of what’s bothering me. The being old and washed up. I could join the choir, but I’m not sure if that would actually make me feel any better.

I just think I need to make peace with the harsh facts this author felt led to share with us. I doubt her intention was to ruin my sex life and my happiness, but if that was her intention, she wins.


libl December 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Wow. Unless you are 98 and making funeral arrangements in hospice, you are not old and washed up. Get up and do something!


BJ December 28, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Sister! At 40 your life is just going to get better! I turned 42 and it is just getting better. I too used to think life was over at 40, but what is reality is our ATTITUDE about what our life is going to be like. Sure, there will be rough patches, but over all I would take my 40’s over 20’s any day. And, just to be clear..this year has been one of the very hardest years of our marriage. A teen run away, and working through some very serious marriage issues have made it an incredibly growing year.
Hang in there…learn something new! Have fun..enjoy life. Please get counseling if you can’t do this on your own…you sound like you may be battling with depression. Hugs to you.


cameytrs December 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm

This post really caught my attention because I understand or have felt many of the things described. The rolodex thing was very hard to read years ago, but I am, however, a stickler for knowing the truth. I don’t want to be deceived or fooled. I knew at that time that my husband was occasionally struggling with porn and sexual images and it felt awful. But it was good to learn that it really wasn’t because of me or my inadequacies. As disappointed as I have felt that the fairy tale version of love/sex/marriage that I bought into isn’t real, I do want to know the real deal. It is also true that I have major problems with my self-image apart from anything my husband has done or could ever do to hurt me, so some of these “truths” have led me to realize that first and foremost my problem is within–my body image, my self-esteem. I can’t control my husband. I can pray for him, ask him good questions, tell him what builds trust and intimacy–but I can’t control him. That’s God’s job. I’m still struggling with how I feel about myself. I really hate my body a lot of the time. But I have to say that even I am discouraged by how some of the commenters have thrown in the towel and feel that their lives are ruined. This is not God’s will for you. It sounds like marital happiness—as good as it is–has become an idol. Here’s the deal–if you are a follower of Christ, your first allegiance is to God–loving him first, obeying him, and loving your neighbors. If he were to ask you why you were always angry with your husband, withholding sexually, withholding your nudity, withholding emotionally, treating him with paranoid suspicion, or why your happiness was ruined and your joy was robbed–do you think it would be acceptable to say, “well, my husband is a flawed man and he had bad thoughts or he looked at porn so it was OK that I treated him badly and did not hold up my end of the marriage covenant…”? I don’t think that would be an acceptable answer. When I am tempted to withhold and love him conditionally I try to remember that my first allegiance is to the Lord, and I can’t obey him fully if I bail on my marriage and treat my marriage relationship as a tit-for-tat game. It’s really hard, and I say that as a person who struggles to accept myself. I mean, I have issues. But it’s not an excuse to just sin further and build a wall between me and my husband. God has forgiven us for everything–we have to have courage and show grace to our husbands (yes, I know there are boundaries to this but I’m talking about a basically faithful marriage.) So for those of you who think life is over because your husband is flawed, I think that is just as bad as what he may or may not be thinking/doing.


Me December 22, 2015 at 8:00 pm

@cameytrs, in some ways you’re right. Perhaps my negative feelings are as bad as what I think he’s thinking. However, you misunderstand me. I do not withold myself from my husband sexually. It’s just that I used to enjoy being with him so much, and now I just kind of tolerate it. It’s hard to feel like you’re made love to when, according to the author, it’s not you he’s making love to, but the women he’s been fantasizing about all day. That’s a really bitter pill to swallow.

I wish I didn’t feel this way, but the book pretty much shoves it down your throat. It is what it is, I guess. But you’ve given me some stuff to ponder, so thank you.


Henri December 24, 2015 at 5:23 am

@ME – I can only tell you what my counselor (female) told me – the book is NOT an absolute for all men. There are of course some truths to the struggles, but not all men struggle the same. For instance, one man can go to the beach and have not a single problem, another the thought of going to the beach is a problem.
I will confess to not fully understanding it myself, but it does help me to know that there is a chance that my guy is the one that has no problem going to the beach (btw he HATES the beach, too much sand and sand and sand).
So maybe, you are like I was, and are making it worse for yourself.


Anonymous December 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm

I used to believe my husband found me beautiful & attractive. Yet he told me he doesn’t like lingerie, but spent much time looking at lingerie and bikini clad women online. He always notices the same body type. It is very different from mine. He has at times stopped talking mid-sentence when noticing another woman. I used to walk around naked; he barely noticed and spoke to me as though I was fully clothed–looking at my face, seemingly not noticing. Yet he will go out of his way to watch the body type he is attracted to as long as possible when we are out.
He loves me, yes. But I don’t believe he finds me attractive, and wonder if he uses the images of women he visually chases after when we are intimate. I no longer believe I am beautiful to him physically at all. Learning to live with this is difficult. Other men notice me (I wish they would just focus on the woman they are with instead), and I am consider ed attractive by many. But I will never be enough for the one person I wish to be.


A wife March 3, 2016 at 7:34 am

I did not find Shaunti’s books helpful but rather unsettling and ultimately harmful. I think wise counsel with mentors who understand the workings of the female mind would have been a good starting place before delivering information to woman about male sexuality.
The basic message in the book:
– Husbands have needs that must be met to make him happy and fulfilled in marriage
– a big need is to be sexually fulfilled, it builds his masculinity and makes him feel like a man
– sex is a main way of husbands connecting and bonding with their wife
– this ties in with him feeling respected (another important need)
– his primary sexual stimulation is visual so to help him be sexually fulfilled he needs to be visually fulfilled
– a visually attractive wife is important to him to fulfil his visual/sexual needs
– husbands receive chemical high rewards to their brain when they see ‘attractive women’ and ‘struggle’ to pull away from the magnet, these images of attractive women are stored unwillingly
– a magnet is typically a ‘hot twenty something’ or ‘pretty twenty something’ or woman with a ‘good’ or ‘sexy’ body
– wives need to support their husbands from falling into temptation to lust after these magnets by providing sexy visually appealing images of herself for him to dwell on when faced with magnets
– wives shouldn’t worry that they are not loved because they are more than an image

Where to begin…
So, if a wife wants to connect to her husband through meeting his deepest need of sex to connect she now knows she needs to be hot enough to compete with these magnets. Magnet females produce addictive brain chemical rushes of pleasure which reward the visual pursuit of them. If a wife is not in the category of the ‘magnet’ or chocolate desert (an appetite related apology used) even though she tries she will become discouraged as she cannot compete for the visual pleasure which is the primary vehicle of male sexual arousal, which he faces everyday.
Enter despair. She cannot be ‘hot’ and meet those needs fully. So he is now at risk of temptation which she could not prevent through providing hot images for him. So now a few problems arise…husbands needs are not fulfilled so not happy and now at risk of sinning due to inadequate images of wife when compared to magnet images.
But the greatest painful message: the wife’s great desire to be desired and connect with her husband is not possible to be fully realised because his visual wiring (remember visual stimulation is the primary sexual vehicle for men) cannot be pleasured with happy chemicals with a non magnet wife. What are wives left with when faced with such a horrible message? She can wear herself out competing, despair and give up in shame or grieve and move into friend zone. Body image issues could increase since he notices everything and now there’s standards that trigger the visual wiring. Women are now placed in competition.

What an utterly discouraging message.


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