Please Stop Putting Your Eyes in His Head!

Over on Hot, Holy & Humorous in a Q&A with J post, J said one of the most common sex questions she gets from men is “Why doesn’t she believe me when I tell her she’s beautiful?

Please Stop Putting Your Eyes in His Head!

I hear that from men all the time. Actually, what I hear is likely said with anger or sorrow. Some guys think their wife is calling them a liar (which by definition she is) while others wish she could get past her hang-ups long enough to hear his perspective.

I have some idea how much body image issues hurt women, and hurt couple’s sex lives. But this is only one side of it. When a wife refuses to believe her husband finds her attractive and sexy, she hurts him, her marriage, and their sex life. 

My own beautiful wife used to say “I worry about your eyesight” when I complimented her on how she looks or told her how totally hot she is. It was a cute way of telling me she didn’t feel what I was saying, but it was still a rejection of my opinion, and frankly that’s rude. 

So yeah, it would be nice if you could limit yourself to “thank you” when hubby compliments you. It would be even better if you decided he really means it and accepted it as his reality. Or, you could get totally radical and accept that you are hyper-critical about how you look because our culture has destroyed your ability to see yourself as you are and choose to let your husband define how you look because he’s less messed up about it than you are.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and my wife is so totally hot!

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56 Comments on “Please Stop Putting Your Eyes in His Head!

  1. Or… You could know the truth by his actions. I don’t believe my husband when he tells me I’m beautiful because it is painfully obvious that I’m not the type of woman he finds beautiful or that appeals to him. 98% of the time when he notices another woman with interest, she is short, curvy hips, and most definitely a brunette. I am tall, blonde, large breasts with a too-small derrière. I look NOTHING like the women that turn his head. So, sorry, but I’m not going to delude myself.
    Plus, my husband is a faithful man, but has a much lower sex drive than I do. This has to be because of his lack of attraction to me. There is no porn, and no other woman, so that is the only explanation.
    Third, I have a mirror. I have a couple great kids, and the body to prove it. No bikini body here, just ten extra pounds and a smattering of stretch marks.
    Lastly, I was told each and every day by my older sister how ugly I was and that I’d be lucky if any guy ever noticed me. Not just once in a while as teasing, but every. single. day. For years. No one would be that cruel if it weren’t true.
    But on a brighter note, I’m learning that I have worth to Christ, even if I’m not beautiful. I also have learned to say “thank you”, or at least remain silent when my husband compliments me. He sometimes complains about my “thank you” because I guess it’s not happy enough. But if you knew how hard it was to even get those words out. I don’t like lying at all, and it feels like I’m embracing a lie by saying “thank you”. Painful post today!

    • That is painful, B! So sorry. This probably doesn’t help, but know that it is TRUE: those short, curvy brunettes are probably JUST as self-concious as you. I know because I am one. I’ve got 30 extra pounds on me, so I can’t wear anything that isn’t made of yoga pants or very forgiving in the hips/booty area. My husband doesn’t look at other women, but he doesn’t compliment me, either. So that’s confusing.

    • I’m sorry you are struggling with this! Just because he finds another body type attractive does not mean that he is not attracted to you, though. Most men find their wives beautiful JUST because she is his wife. This really clicked for me when I had kids. Either my kids are the most beautiful children to ever walk the face of the earth, or they are stunning to me simply because they are mine. I can see other children and know objectively that strangers might say that other child is cuter than mine, but they don’t know my kids like I do, and I’m telling you, they are beautiful. Your husband likely feels the same way about you; you are beautiful just because you are his. He has room to grow in controlling where his eyes wander, for sure, but that doesn’t mean he is NOT attracted to you, especially if he tells you otherwise.

      Low sex drive for men often hs to do more with busyness, exhaustion, and stress. My youngest sister looks like a model and yet she has the exact same insecurities as you that her husband isn’t attracted to her anymore, but really it is because he works 80 hour weeks and has nothing left to give.

      Lastly, I’m so sorry your sister said this to you. My mom and other sister said the same things to me. Now that I am older and a little wiser, I see that my mom and sister were projecting their own self-doubts on to me. If your sister insisted on pounding that into your brain, that is not normal, and highly suggests that SHE is the insecure one. Perhaps even insecure that you are more attractive than she is and her only way to even the score is to try and convince you to believe the lie that you are ugly and therefore sell yourself short. At least that has been true for my sister. Anyway, just a gentle challenge to examine these “truths” you’ve been told, because I am going to call Foul. Hurt people hurt people, and it sounds like both your sister and you have some hurts to deal with that are now hurting your marriage.

      If I can leave you with one thought, it’s this. You’ve only been given one body, and God does not make ugly things. He is the author of beauty. Satan cannot create anything so he works by trying to corrupt God’s beautiful creation. Whenever you see ugliness, you can be sure that is of Satan, not God. Oh how I wish you could see yourself as Jesus sees you! Because the thoughts you write here do not line up with what Jesus sees, and the thing is, no one will be able to convince you otherwise until you have accepted this for yourself. It seems to me that the problem here is the way YOU see yourself–your husband really has nothing to do with this–and only you can change that. Rewrite your story, my friend. It’s worth the work.

    • @B – The problem is you’re making assumptions based on how you interpret his actions. And given the gender differences on this, you have virtually no chance of getting it right.
      Certain things grab our attention, but that does not mean we like those things or only like that look. It’s far more complex than that.
      Low sex drive can come from a number of things, and how a man’s wife looks is not actually on the list. Most men can easily have sex with a woman they don’t find attractive. Men will pay money to have sex with a cheap prostitute who no one would call good looking.
      As for the mirror, you’re looking at yourself with your eyes, not his. You’re looking at yourself with your body issues and all the garbage out culture has rammed down your throat. Your husband sees you far differently than you do, and he sees more than just the surface. Beauty is so much more than perfect skin, great breasts, big butt, and so on. We accuse men of being shallow and just looking at a woman’s body, but most men are not this way. It’s actually women who are shallow about their bodies!
      As for your sister, the fact is she was cruel. If someone is cruel, they are very capable of lying daily.
      I’m sorry the post was painful for you. I hope the Lord uses it to soften you on how you feel about your body.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Critical Mass: Powering Up the FunMy Profile

    • “Lastly, I was told each and every day by my older sister how ugly I was and that I’d be lucky if any guy ever noticed me. Not just once in a while as teasing, but every. single. day. For years. No one would be that cruel if it weren’t true.”

      Actually the cruelty spawns the lie. If she had been honest she would have shared her fears, self-doubt, jealousy, etc. Instead she chose to dump all her pain on you.

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. It happened to me too. We tend to learn best what we learn first. I’m working to understand the cruelty in compassion and replace the old tapes with new and truer ones.

      I figure my husband is not generally a liar (so why would he lie about this) and he is a healthy, loving kind of guy, instead of a wounded, cruel sister. I’m betting on him.
      Lori Byerly recently posted…A Sexy StatementMy Profile

      • @Lori, this is probably one of the most helpful things anyone has ever said to me. I sense tha you actually understand where I’m coming from, as opposed to saying, “just get over it”. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

        • I’m glad it was an encouragement to you.

          As an aside, most of my healing times come because I’m willing to take what I believe (and usually stuff I learned as a kid reinforced by ongoing life) and ask God to help me see things His way.

          Realize also that beauty is more than just our outside package. The world says beauty is how we look. Jesus says beauty is all of who we are. Some of the most beautiful people I know are probably pretty plain by worldly standards, but they are amazing people and I see the whole package deal. They are truly beautiful.

          Feeling beautiful for me is partly about losing the world’s “outside only” standard (which as I age I’m failing miserably at) and accepting the “package deal” standard that anyone can grow in. God’s standard is the real deal and I can become comfortable in my own skin and see myself through His eyes as beautiful.
          Lori Byerly recently posted…How Do You Measure Your Marriage?My Profile

  2. It’s not that I don’t believe him. It’s that I’m not exclusively beautiful and attractive to him.

    I don’t suggest it, but I once taught this to my husband who was frustrated with me about it. We went to a park. And I acted like him. A hot runner went by. My head followed him until he was out of sight. One of Dads was good-looking. I gazed at him for a while. Every attractive guy got a look more than a casual glance.

    When we got home, I tried to kiss him, told him how hot he was and offered him sex. He went ballistic, sarcastically asked, “Me and every other guy, huh? You really liked that runner. Do wish it was him instead of me?” and reamed me out. When he was done, I told him that now he knew how I felt about his inability to control his eyes and why his compliments fell on deaf ears and did nothing to help his cause when he wanted sex or was just trying to be nice.

    He now screws his eyes closed whenever a hot girl goes by or if he doesn’t I will say, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” which gets hasty reasons why he didn’t mean to look or declarations that he wasn’t looking.

    • @ Anon #2 – “It’s that I’m not exclusively beautiful and attractive to him.”
      I get that, but it’s a desire based on an idea that has nothing to do with reality. I agree men can and should keep their eyes from following any woman other than their wife, but even if he does that he’s still aware of and affected by other women. Just as you are aware of and affected by other men.
      “I only have eyes for you” is a choice. It’s a choice every man should make, but it is a choice.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Critical Mass: Powering Up the FunMy Profile

      • What reality are you referring to? I am sorry, but I am not following your reply. It comes across as insulting so I absolutely know I am misunderstanding you as you are always gracious and polite. It sounds like “Just accept that he’s always going to check out other women and get aroused by them – and you do it too. So get over it.” I know that can’t be what you are saying.

        • @Anon – First, many thanks for the grace.
          I didn’t mean he would always check out other women, and I certainly didn’t mean he would be aroused by other women. Being aware of someone is not either of those things – or at least it need not be. It’s part of our wiring to be aware of anything unusual, be that beauty or something distinctive like red hair or being very tall. We react the same to deformity, burns, scars, and other injuries. Some of those things certainly don’t cause arousal, and for some men none of them does.
          What I’m saying is we are all wired to be aware of a huge array of things, and try as we may we can’t do much to change that awareness. But it can stop at awareness.
          Is that a bit less muddy?
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Critical Mass: Powering Up the FunMy Profile

          • Yes, it does. We are actually in agreement. Casual looking or noticing, yes. Everyone does that. I mean, things like my having to grab the steering wheel before we hit the curb again. I used to wonder when first married why he sometimes couldn’t drive the car straight. I figured out years later that it had to do with who is walking down the street. I now just say teasingly, “Are you looking for me? I’m right here. Curb!!” He whips his head around and corrects before immediately saying, “I wasn’t, well, I…you are looking very pretty today.”

  3. Like so many women, I am acutely aware of the many ways in which I diverge from the cultural concept of ‘hotness’. Believe me, I have made those comments like ‘Get your eyes checked’ but what I’ve found more helpful is to just say to my husband, when he compliments me, “You make me feel beautiful” or sexy, or young, or whatever the compliment is – because it’s true.

    • @Lybb – “the cultural concept of ‘hotness’.”
      Which has nothing to do with what any individual man thinks is “hot”. Some guys like big breasts, some like small. Other like huge and some want nothing more than a hint. The same is true for any other body part.
      But there’s something even more important at play here. My preference has moved over the years, and it has followed how my wife looks. I have zero interest in a 20 something body now (and even less interest in a 20 something mind!*) My wife defines perfect wife for me, and as she grows in wisdom, and as she ages, my preferences have followed who she has become. And for me this has not required any effort, it has just happened. I suspect the same is true for many other men.

      *I have friends in their 20’s, and that’s fine. But I can’t imagine wanting or enjoying a romantic or sexual relationship with someone so much younger and less life experience.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Critical Mass: Powering Up the FunMy Profile

    • @Lynn “ ‘You make me feel beautiful’ or sexy, or young, or whatever the compliment is – because it’s true.” This statement of yours drove into my mind a point about being an Ephesians 5 husband that I had missed. I’ve come to the conclusion that Paul’s comparison of Christ’s relationship to the church as a husband to his wife, is not just about a man’s willingness to die for his wife. I think that every aspect of marriage, including sexual relations, mirrors in some way our relationship with Christ. (I won’t push the analogy too far, but I think it goes a lot deeper than most Christians suspect.)

      How many Christians have had the experience of doubting God’s love because they are convinced that He couldn’t love them due to (fill in sin of choice here) or because they feel unworthy of His love? The whole point of Christianity is that we ARE undeserving of His love, but He loves us anyway and gave His life for us. And He gives us worth and a new identity as his beloved bride. I remember when it finally dawned on me that Christ really loves me and has made me “a new creation” being prepared for heaven.

      Now, of course, Christ is the perfect Husband, and, being God, He has full right and authority over me as His creature. But there is a kind of joyful surrender when I finally learn to yield to Him and let Him have His way in my life. And Christ is my role model as a husband (that’s really a rather terrifying thought; what a responsibility!). In my longing to be that kind of husband, I have power to to build up my wife and give her a sense of worth because she means so much to me. (Of course, it’s really Christ doing the “worth giving” through me.) Sadly, many men use this power, due to their own sin, to tear down their wives.

      Many men, including myself, did not have an earthly father who regularly used his words and actions to build up his wife. But in Christ I have a perfect role model. And He also has the desire and ability to make me more like Himself, to be the kind of husband I should be.

  4. Also: my husband sometimes says, when I complain about my appearance, “I like you, so who else do you need to look hot/beautiful for?” True!

  5. I wonder if we might unpack this a bit. Imagine a woman in her forties who mourns the loss of her youthful body with its smooth skin and well defined muscles. Why was that version of her more beautiful than the current version? And why does that matter? And why does her husband’s opinion matter?

    The real power lies not in believing our husbands think we are beautiful but in not caring what they think. Trust me, I don’t mean that in a vindictive way. I mean we are privileged to participate in God’s work as the body of Christ in a hurting world. We allow these obsessions with physical appearance to hinder us and we pass these unhealthy habits on to generation after generation. God calls us to speak peace to others and we respond by worrying about our jean size.

    Instead of telling their wives they are beautiful, or at least as often, husbands should ask “what about your work today was most meaningful, delightful, challenging?” “How do you sense God calling you to use your gifts?” “What additional education might empower you to make a difference?” “When do you feel most alive?”

      • Why does husband think it important that wife believe she is beautiful and why does husband think it important that wife believe HE finds her beautiful? Why do we let this have so much power over us? Why is his response to be hurt when she doesn’t believe him rather than be concerned about why her physical appearance drives her sense of worth?

        • @IntimacySeeker – If you say something you think/fee/believe to your husband and he expresses doubt, doesn’t that affect you negatively? And if it’s a matter of your opinion, isn’t it even worse? Rejecting my opinion is rejecting me. It’s also questioning my intelligence or sanity. I realise women don’t mean those things, but they are inescapable and valid conclusions.
          Should he be worried about her being too worried about her appearance? Of course. And virtually all husband’s are worried about that. But when she puts her skewed self-image above how he sees her she tells him he’s not welcome in this area of her struggle.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Critical Mass: Fuelling The God ConnectionMy Profile

  6. I’ve been saying this to my wife for some time now. She finally has said she really realizes how much I love her, and I think she’s becoming convinced about how attractive she is to me. Yes, she struggles with body image, and when she says something that belies my attraction to her, it does hurt a bit. But I’m going to keep saying it until it sinks in someday. I’d rather bear a little hurt and keep trying, than get upset about her not believing me.

    I have one thing to say to men whose eyes wander. The fact that men tend to be more visually oriented than women, is often used as an excuse to not practice self-discipline. We hear supposedly humorous things like “I’m married but I’m not dead” and laugh off our sin. If you are guilty of wandering eyes, realize that even if you aren’t lusting after another woman, what you’re doing is hurting your wife. And that should be enough to put a stop to it.

    • “I’m married, not dead.”

      “I’m just a guy.”

      And the one that really affected me when I was younger and convinced me that I had to work HARD at being the absolute perfect wife or else my husband wouldn’t love me:

      “Just because I drive a minivan doesn’t mean I can’t look at a Porsche.”

      “She’s showing, it would be rude not to look.”

      “Hey, I can’t help but look. She’s the one showing it off.”

      Thankfully, in the last couple of years I notice my husband has been guarding his eyes when with me in public. He still watches click bait YouTube vids and graphic TV shows and finds brother in law’s new girlfriend to be a knockout and is that extra sickly sweet towards her.

      But, I learned a long time ago that my beauty doesn’t come from my husband. We went through a time where he told me he was no longer attracted to me. It was during that time I went to God and God showed me my true beauty. I accepted that aesthetically, I don’t match the media’s definition of beauty, but I am a unique beauty. I also embrace that I am unattractive to many people, too, and that’s ok. My value isn’t wrapped up in how f-bomb-worthy I am.

      My husband can either choose to see me as beautiful and exclusive to other women, or he can reject me and our marriage vows.

      Since I adopted that confidence, hubby has found me more attractive than ever.

      • @libl – Yeah, I’ve heard all those excuses for bad behaviour.
        “Click bait” is an interesting term because it is very much how our brains work. And just as on-line click bait can lead to a computer virus, click bait of the eyes can lead to problems. It’s not safe and it’s not innocent, and wisdom leads us to avoid it.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Critical Mass: Powering Up the FunMy Profile

    • “what you are doing is hurting your wife” And just as important, hurting women in general. The underlying premise in this conversation is that women are obligated to look good for men. Patriarchy continues to wound us.

      • The real enemy here is not patriarchy per se, but rather the fallen state of the human race. Only the power of God can put things back together the way it should be, and it won’t happen completely this side of heaven. Until then, Christian men should seek what I once heard called sanctified testosterone.

        As a man, I’m tired of the constant assault on my sexuality by virtually inescapable images hurled at me every day from all kinds of media. This sick perversion of the beautiful sexual relations God designed for marriage can be illustrated by an analogy, courtesy of C. S. Lewis.

        Imagine a society where a common occurrence was for people to file into a theater, lights dim, spotlight on stage, someone wheels out a cart with a covered tray on it, and then the cover is ever so slowly lifted to reveal to the now drooling audience a succulent roast, then the lights go out and the cover is slammed down. We would conclude that the natural appetite for food for these people had somehow been warped and perverted. That’s what has happened to sex in our fallen world. Except it’s far beyond the titillation stage and is more like taking the roast and shoving down the throats of the audience.

        The long and short of it is, wives, try to believe your husband when he says how beautiful you are. And husbands, support your words with your actions. If you do, you will be building up your wife the way she deserves.

        • @Bobthemsicguy, thanks for sharing this view. I’ve often wondered this, if good men are secretly thrilled that all of that eye candy is out there, or if they ever feel assaulted. It makes it so hard on everyone, men and women alike.
          A good friend of mine, a Pastor’s wife, once shared her concerns with me, “how do you look good enough for your man without attracting other men? How can we be modest and still compete wth what is thrust in their faces every day?”
          Oh if only we didn’t have to compete. If only true beauty were as eye catching as revealing too much.
          You’re exactly right. “Only the power of God can put things back together the way it should be, and it won’t happen completely this side of heaven.” So sad but so true. On the one hand it gives me hope, and on the other hand it makes me want to just give up. Guess I should pray for help with this.

          • “A good friend of mine, a Pastor’s wife, once shared her concerns with me, ‘How do you look good enough for your man without attracting other men? How can we be modest and still compete with what is thrust in their faces every day?'”

            A part of the answer is being a whole person who is fun to be with and graciously sexual in private. (You can dress nicely in public and be feminine without showing off the boobs and the bum.) You’re offering a real relationship with a real woman that is satisfying. Some gal showing off too much cleavage can’t really compete with that.
            Lori Byerly recently posted…How Do You Measure Your Marriage?My Profile

          • @B I’m glad I’ve given you some food for thought. And thanks for the implication I’m a “good” man (That was a whole ‘nuther post here recently!). But I know that anything good in me is because of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit working in me. Left to my own devices, I’d be no better off than any other men. From my own past, I know the depths to which I’ve fallen and the sin I’m capable of. I wish my past were different, but that’s one thing that will never change. But even though God doesn’t change the past, He can redeem it.

            My wife read me something from her devotional today that was a timely reminder. We often hear “Time heals all wounds.” (And it sounds like many of the posters on this blog are dealing with real painful wounds inflicted by their spouse.) That’s not true. It only drives wounds underground and covers them with scars. Only God can heal wounds. I encourage anyone, men and women alike, who are dealing with real pain in their marriages, to take it to God for healing. It’s not easy or quick, usually, but wandering eyes, porn, refusal, coldness, even cruelty, can be forgiven, healed, and restored. And your marriage can be remade into something glorious, something that thrills you and glorifies God.

            It’s like the temple that the returning Jews rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity. Many were bemoaning the smaller and less magnificent temple, but God promised that the glory of the latter would be greater than the glory of the former. I can vouch from my own marriage that God is indeed gracious and forgiving, and He has turned it into something I never dreamed possible.

          • @B. I just remembered something I heard years ago that may help address the dilemma you point out of being attractive for your husband without attracting other men. The suggestion was made in the context of teaching girls to be modest. They were to do things that drew attention to their faces, especially their eyes. As a public school teacher for 32 years, I saw girls (and sometimes teachers) dressing in such a way that attention was drawn to hips, derrière, breasts, and even some very tight things that accented the crotch. (Think close fitting pants wth PINK printed across a girl’s butt.) I was having to look away so much during class changes in the halls that I was afraid I would start running into walls. It helped me make my decision to retire.

            My point is that there is no reason a woman can’t wear beautiful clothes that are attractive in color, style, etc. But if it accentuates your body in a suggestively sexual way, keep it in private for your husband. The virtue of modesty has become almost extinct. In our church about 20 years ago, we had a young youth intern, about 21 years old, who showed up for the Sunday service dressed very smartly and professionally, except her skirt showed WAY too much leg. It hadn’t even occurred to her that it wasn’t appropriate. One of the women took her aside and gave her some godly instruction. It didn’t happen again.

        • My comment about patriarchy wasn’t meant to cast the blame on men, but on the social construct of patriarchy. Imagine if all the places in the scriptures where men are mentioned, women were mentioned instead. Imagine if every United States president to date had been a woman. Imagine if the majority of persons holding influential positions (legislators, pastors, doctors, attorneys) throughout history had been women. Imagine if women had always had the right to vote and men had to fight and die for that right. Imagine if women were routinely paid more for their work than their male counterparts. Do you think women would be less concerned about their physical appearance if the balance of power was reversed?

          • @IntimacySeeker “Do you think women would be less concerned about their physical appearance if the balance of power was reversed?”
            Yes and no. Yes, they would be less concerned, but I don’t think that is the whole story. If you flipped genders completely I don’t think men would be as concerned with their looks as women are now. Of course, to really change things completely men would have to give birth and be able to nurse, at which point they would be women and the women would be men and nothing would be different.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…You Have the Marriage You’re Willing to Have?My Profile

  7. I still struggle with believing my husband when he says this, but I’m well aware that giving some rebuttal that negates what he said is hurtful. I learned this lesson in reverse in a previous relationship before my marriage. Whenever I tried to compliment my boyfriend at that time on anything, he would give me the responses most women give men to compliments about their looks. It did hurt to have my heart-felt compliments of him rejected, to essentially be called a liar, to know that apparently what I said didn’t matter. I tried to bring that lesson into my life in general in reaction to compliments on totally non-romantic issues, and particularly now into my marriage when my husband compliments me. He knows I struggle with body issues, but he also knows that it does cool things to my heart to know how attractive he finds me. I’m actually starting to believe him internally. But on the days when that’s hard to do, I still just hug him and tell him thank you, it means a lot that he tells me that, because it does. But I’d probably still be reacting like most women if God hadn’t used an otherwise unhealthy relationship to teach me how very hurtful rejecting of compliments is to the one trying to give them.

  8. Lots of interesting things here to think on. Thank you.
    @Paul, I get it that men like to look at women and they are aware they are there. I don’t even have as much of a problem with that as I used to. But you say
    “I agree men can and should keep their eyes from following any woman other than their wife, but even if he does that he’s still aware of and affected by other women. Just as you are aware of and affected by other men.”
    First of all, you may not believe me, and I may be the odd one out, but I actually am not aware of or affected by other men. They just don’t phase me. Probably because I’m too worried about my husband (unhealthy? Maybe). In fact, when we were discussing this once, I mentioned to my husband that I have never, ever, not once, been “checked out” by another man. Like, ever. My husband says that is 100% not true. But here’s the thing – I have NEVER noticed it happen.
    And so, I’m not even really upset that my husband notices and is aware of women much more beautiful and appealing than I. Although I do wish he’d stop telling me I’m beautiful when we both know I don’t fit his ideal of beauty. AND, here is how I know he is not attracted to me. He never notices me the way he notices the women he’s attracted to. Even if I walk into the room naked (and honestly, I’m pretty fit, so it has to be an ugliness thing). His eyes don’t light up the way they do when he sees a woman he likes better, a woman who is his “type”. They never have.
    In his defense, since we have been working through this, he has started to try not to let his looks linger too long. But then I feel guilty, like I’m “cramping his style”. I don’t want to make him feel guilty for being a man. I know there are beautiful women out there. But I don’t like it when he calls me beautiful, because we both know he’s just saying it (empty words, easy to say). His eyes lighting up, or lack thereof in my case, tell me the cold truth each and every time. I have accepted that I will never know what it is like to be found beautiful by any man, especially my husband. No matter how much I wish it were true, I can’t force it to be.

    • B,
      Not sure if I can explain this properly, but your husband’s reaction, or lack thereof, when you walk in the room naked may stem from something other than a feeling that you are not beautiful. After being rejected for expressing his opinion of frequently and apparently forcefully, he may be reluctant to do so. It’s become risky. His behavior may have largely caused this rejection of his compliments, but you have expressed that part of your attitude predated his unthoughtful/boorish behavior.
      He may not know exactly how to react to nudity or sexual “looking” with you. And, if he does love you, and thinks he can have sex with you, he is unwilling to risk doing anything to provoke a response from you.
      I advise you to stop trying to read his mind and motives. A man noticing, or even looking too long does not mean that he wishes he could have sex with them, or that they are _really_ what he finds beautiful, or that they arouse him in some way.
      The situation may be like what can happen if one spouse asks another what they think about sexual act X. The first thought may be “Yes!” but it will be instantly followed by “But what will they think of me?” and “If I express approval it may shut down what is happening now.” So they might show little or no reaction, when in fact they are interested. This is not inherently dishonest because it reflects a value for the other spouse and the relationship. But, it hinders progress. Do your part to help your husband progress to where you and he are in a better place. Hopefully he will grow also.

  9. @B “let it GO, let it GO!!” Lol jk, but really. I’ve been watching your comments for awhile, and if you put as much energy into believing the best about your husband, as you do believing the worst, I think your marriage would rock. Guys tend to live up to the way their wives view them and perhaps your husband’s actions are somewhat a reflection of your attitude towards him. And really, as hard as it is to believe, sex isn’t everything. Work on your marriage outside of the bedroom, show yourself and your husband some grace, and you’d be surprised at what might follow! ;)

  10. My husband has never been one to stare, turn his head or do anything to show he notices other women. I’ve never thought he was oblivious to beautiful women, but there’s no indication as to what he actually finds attractive. He respects women in general, so he doesn’t do anything outwardly to objectify them.

    However, this gave me a false sense of security. Because there were no outward signs of him eyeing other women, I never thought he would seek out naked women in porn. I was caught off-guard by his seemingly lack of interest in other women.

    I’ve always believed my husband finds me attractive, even when he refused sex. Having a good idea of the reasons for refusal helped me not be insecure about it. I had some brief moments of doubt when I found out about the porn use. But, those didn’t last long. I still believe he finds me attractive and only wants to be with me.

    What this has done though, is hurt our trust. This is the one main area where I still don’t trust him completely. I’ve asked him over and over to tell me how he is affected by beautiful women, especially when they are practically nude. He usually says he notices, but it doesn’t affect him. I don’t believe this. I think it’s possible he doesn’t fully realize how it affects him. But, I also don’t believe it doesn’t affect him at all. He doesn’t want to hurt me by telling me when he sees someone who catches his attention. He just doesn’t realize it hurts me more to not know. I’ve told him, I will be hurt to hear it, but I understand he doesn’t want them. I need him to tell me so I can feel secure. If he would start telling me when he notices other women, I’d be able to trust he’s telling me the truth. It probably wouldn’t be long before I didn’t need to hear about it every time. But, as long as he doesn’t tell me, there will always be doubt about what he’s thinking and whether something could trigger him. I trust he’s not currently using porn, but I don’t trust he’d tell me if he had a slip up.

    • @Andrew, that is beautiful. Your wife is a blessed woman. If I were my husbands standard of beauty I’d feel much more loved. Perhaps that’s why I feel so badly for him for choosing me instead of a woman who fits his standard of beauty. I feel like he shortchanged himself. It’s probably also a big reason why I have a hard time believing him when he calls me “pretty”. I don’t fit his ideal.

      • B, I too feel like I can’t give my husband what he truly wants in a wife because I do not look like his ideal. This was driven home again when I discovered he watched a video of a rock song set to a woman that epitomizes his ideal wearing almost nothing dancing provocatively and even fingering herself under her panties!! He says he listens to the songs and doesn’t really pay attention to the videos, or that he just clicks on a playlist of the artist and can’t help what videos they set to the songs. I find the excuses weak because you can find other videos playing the song that aren’t full of almost naked girls writhing on the screen. And the coincidence of it being his ideal is just too much.

        Then, I decided, hey, he chose me, just like I chose him (and he isn’t my dream-boat ideal…more so in behaviors than looks). It is up to him to continue to choose me and make me his ideal, one and only, and priority. If he doesn’t, then sucks to be him because he is missing out of some awesomeness here. Sure, it hurts me, too, but I know my worth. I have a child in our home who tells me how beautiful I am almost every day.

        Some men can’t get past the external. Mine can’t. Which really stinks because he doesn’t know the true beauty inside me. If I was scarred and disfigured he already admits he wouldn’t find me attractive. If I am feeling sick or tackling a long term dirty project and don’t dress up at least once a week, he gets upset that I am not pretty enough.

        My bro is dating a fashion designer and hubby basically told me to step up my game. “I work too hard for you to look like a frump.” Funny thing is I am often complimented in my sense of style and fashion, by men and women!!

        But, he can be the grump about it. I decided to be myself and he is just going to have to choose to love me for it or leave me for it. Especially since even though I dress the way he wants me to a LOT, he refuses to dress the way I’d like him to, for me, just once in a while. I have to look the 9’s and stay fit and take care of myself and he refuses to do anything about his belly and almost never brushes his teeth. I need to be available for sex any time, and have never refused him, but he refuses me, and won’t have sex the way I want. He can drop hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on his hobby but refuses to replace the rotting and falling apart cess pool of a sofa for me.

        So, I recognize the ridiculousness of it and realize life with him is like looking in funhouse mirrors. Reality is distorted by perception. I rest in TRUTH.

        • @libl – “Some men can’t get past the external.”
          This is sadly true, and as you said it hurts them as much as it anyone else. True beauty is so much more than what’s on the outside. It would be like never opening a book unless it had an ornate cover. Aside from missing most classic books, you would read a lot of junk with a nice cover.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…5 Ways Lube Makes Sex BetterMy Profile

  11. This is going to be an incredibly ignorant question, but I mean it sincerely.

    Why does it matter? I mean, why would a husband care if his wife doesn’t see herself the way that he does? Why would a wife care if her husband finds other women more attractive than she is? The fact is that we are not celebrities with thousands to spend on personal trainers and plastic surgery every year. Of course, many or even most other people may be more physically attractive.

    Is it keeping his interest to avoid an affair? Hoping that she will get over a physical hang-up and be more open to adventurous sex?

    I honestly don’t get it. That thought has never really occurred to me. He married me. We have children. He must have been attracted to me. I never really thought about it.

    • @Sarah I think Paul’s original post was about the feeling a man may have when he tells his wife the truth about how he perceives her, and then that truth is denied. It does hurt some, but it is also confusing to a man.

      A comparison here may be helpful. I’m a good musician, and when someone compliments me after I play or sing, I try to accept it and say thank you. I hope I’m not egotistical enough to think “it’s about time you recognized my superior musicianship, you philistine.” But if I deny it, am I really in doubt about my talent, or am I fishing for more compliments? It’s not speaking truth. And when I’ve been in the presence of truly GREAT world renowned musicians, it puts my ability in perspective, but it doesn’t diminish it.

      I want my wife to trust me enough so that she knows how she affects me, and I hope my actions at all times will back up my words. And the wonderful thing is that she is coming to view herself the way I see her. Isn’t that somewhat like the way we learn to view ourselves through Jesus’ eyes? When I really am convinced of His love, I see myself in a whole new way. And then I see Him working in me to make that a full reality. If I deny what He says in His word about who I am, I’m in effect calling Him a liar.

      What a husband and wife say and think about each other really does matter, because it’s an expression of their relationship. And the positive things build up and strengthen the marriage, just as surely as negative things, or even neglect to do and say the positive, weaken the marriage.

      • @Bobthemusicguy, your replies help more than you realize! The musician analogy helped me in different ways (perhaps because I’m a musician as well, although amateur, and I have a lot of talented friends and I admire their abilities as opposed to envying them.)

        I think I sometimes give the impression that I am shallow and I want to be the most physically beautiful woman on the planet. That isn’t the case at all. I don’t care all that much about the actual physical beauty in and of itself. I totally get it that there are zillions of women more objectively beautiful than I am, and that’s okay. And beauty can be a matter of opinion. I get that. That’s not what it’s about.

        This may be selfish, but I want to be the most special woman TO MY HUSBAND. I want to know that he loves me, desires me (like normal husbands do when they love their wives), cares for me, thinks about me, and wants to be intimate with ME. I feel all of those things for him. I think my husband is the most handsome man on earth. Would everyone agree? Doubt it. But to ME, he really, really is, and that’s all that should matter.

        I hesitate to mention this because I don’t want other wives ruining their own marriages, but so many of my issues began at a rough time in our marriage when I picked up a book that was supposed to help. It was written by a woman who claims to be Christian and it’s supposed to help wives understand how their men think. It was awful. It destroyed me inside. It told me everything I never needed to know.

        I’m not great at analogies, but here goes. Again, I get there are much hotter women everywhere, running around drawing attention to themselves, it is what it is. But let’s say Paula Deen came to my house and made us dinner. Would it be awesome? Sure. Would it be better than my cooking? Probably. And I’d be okay with that. Why? Because my husband still loves my cooking, he loves it because I made it for him. He loves it because I feed him every day. But after she went home, he’d still be happy with my cooking. He’d still want to eat the meals I make him every day. He wouldn’t have trouble with his “drive for food”. In fact, if he wanted to eat dinner, far less often than I wanted to cook it for him, we would know something was seriously wrong. That would be evidence that he was repulsed by my cooking, and couldn’t bring himself to eat it. If that were the case, if he started spouting off saying “you’re such a good cook” – I would not believe him. I would know the truth by the fact that he didn’t want to eat that much. Not sure if that analogy clearly shows what I’m trying to say, but the it is.

        My husband saying “you’re beautiful” or “you’re pretty” actual causes me a great deal of pain. It’s just empty words. So yes, maybe I do see it as a lie. I know he doesn’t feel that way, so why would he say it? Because he really is a nice man who probably wishes he felt that way. But his desire to be intimate (being far less than my own), coupled with the way he notices and lights up at the sight of other women who look nothing like me – that shouts the truth far louder than any words he could say. If I were at least equal to them in his eyes, or perhaps a little bit more special in his eyes, that would be all I would need. But don’t say it if you don’t mean it. I made peace with the fact that I would never be beautiful as a small child. The sooner he accepts I know the truth, the easier this will be for both of us.

        I like your paragraph that starts “I want my wife to trust me enough so that she knows how she affects me, and I hope my actions at all times will back up my words…” But here’s the argument for my marriage. I don’t affect my husband the way normal wives affect their men. Once in a while, but not as often as I’d like. And according to that stupid book, the once in a while is when he is remembering women he likes much better. So it’s never me. It’s his memories of the women he wishes I could be. My husband has stopped staring at better women in my presence, for the most part. I’m sure he still does it when I’m not around, why wouldn’t he? But the wounds have already been made. How am I supposed to heal from that? He tells me he prays every day for our marriage to get stronger. That’s nice. But how can you hurt someone for five + years, and then once you start to heal you’re surprised that they are at the bottom of the pit, still hurting? I used to be so happy, so filled with joy. I know he misses the girl he married. I feel like I’ve lost myself. He just wants me to “snap out of it.” I wish I could. But now that I know the truth about how he sees me, I don’t know if I ever will.

        What you say about learning to view ourselves through Jesus’ eyes – that is something I really need to work on. I spend so little time working on that, because I waste so much time wallowing in self pity. I wish I could get where you are. But I feel like I’m stuck in this pit and destined to stay here. I know blog readers get tired of me complaining and think I should just “believe him, be happy, get over it…” But it’s not that simple. If it was that easy to just “choose happiness” I would do so. I’m sorry for always sharing my thoughts in the comments, but it is the only place I can talk. I have no one else to talk to. And the anonymity helps because I don’t have to worry about my fellow readers gossiping and judging me when they see me in real life.

        Anyhow, thanks Bob! Your perspective helps.

        • @B. Glad I was able to help a bit. I understand you pain to some degree. The recent years of total sexual refusal hurt so deeply that I wasn’t able to get past it for a while. I was stuck in a pit of despair so deep. (BTW, Beth Moore did a study called Get Out of that Pit, I think. Very helpful.) I had to go through it privately with God. For me, I had to change, or rather BE changed. It’s like surgery. I had to be willing to let a surgeon cut me open for coronary bypass, but he did all the work. God is the ultimate Surgeon.

          It sounds to me like you could benefit from some Christian marriage counseling. It also sounds like your husband probably wouldn’t go with you. Know that you have some friendly ears in this forum. I understand about the gossip issue. James says that the tongue is a spark that sets the world on fire.

          As far as your Christ-given self image, an old classic may be halpful. Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard deals with the way Christ transforms us through our experiences. And my wife and I have been going through a book called Sacred Marriage. The premise is that God uses our life circumstances, especially our marriages, more to make us holy than happy. If our first passion is to be conformed t the image of Christ, then all other things take their proper places. Not that they aren’t difficult or even painful, but that they are God’s surgical instruments for our heart surgery.

          It’s more important WHOM you believe. Remember that Jesus never lies.

        • @B, According to your logic, not only does my husband not find me attractive, but he doesn’t even love me. If he loved me like normal men love their wives, he never would have outright refused sex for 22 YEARS (sex 2-3 times per year). And, now that we are having sex again, he’d want it much more than me. Since he doesn’t, it means he doesn’t find me attractive and he doesn’t love me. In fact, when we do have sex, he’s only imaging himself with other women, not me. Nothing he says or does matters because the only determining factor of his love and attraction for me is his sex drive. And, the only determining factor of his sex drive is how attractive he finds me or if I measure up to other beautiful women. And, all of this is true because of something someone wrote in book.

          I could have easily thought these things when our marriage was sexless, but I chose not to think this way. Instead I chose to focus on the ways my husband did show his love for me. According to many secular and Christian “experts” I read or heard during those 22 years, my husband and I were only roommates because the ONLY thing that separates marriage from roommate status is sex. I HATE this lie!!! I could have believed these people and think my marriage was doomed or I could believe my husband’s acts of love and attraction for me despite our circumstances. You DO have a choice and you’re choosing to believe a stranger over your husband.

          • @K, you are a MUCH stronger and more mature woman than I am. I know I’m selfish for wanting my husband to desire me, and I need to get past that.

            Sadly, this book is promoted on almost every Christian marriage blog as finally helping women understand how men see and think, and so I trusted those endorsements and read it.

            The things you say in your comment, while they may sound cruel – well, yes – that is exactly how I feel about my marriage and myself. I wish I could believe my husband when he tries to show love in other ways, but I need to get past my desire for intimacy with him in order to do so.

            • @B. Whatever this book is, isn’t it sad that so much garbage is put out in the name of Christ? Again, I recommend reading Hind’s Feet on High Places, because it’s all about how God changes us through our experiences until we actually become the people He designed us to be and already sees in us. Also, I found a lot of healing in the ministry of Dennis Jernigan. He was freed from homosexuality, and he found that he was letting everyone except God define who he was.

              I hope this comes out right, but it seems to me that you might have a fundamental issue, deeper even than your marriage problems, with seeing yourself as Jesus sees you. (Don’t we all?) But when you begin to see yourself through Jesus’ eyes of love, compassion, and strength, you begin to open yourself to His divine surgery. I have no idea how old you are, nor how long you’ve been married, but it’s never too late or too early to learn. I’ll be 59 later this month, and my bride and I will celebrate our 36th anniversary later this month. We could wallow in regret over “wasted” time before we were both “set straight ” by the Holy Spirit. But that’s pointless. Dennis Jernigan points out that the one thing we can never change is our past. But God can redeem the past, for His glory and our benefit. He does promise to redeem the years the locusts have eaten.

              Hang in there, look to Jesus, and find things in His Word that remind of who you are in Christ. Hang onto those promises, and ignore the stupid things that even Christians say and write that don’t line up with God’s Word.

  12. @B Strength and maturity may be part of it, but I was very fortunate with what I was taught about marriage and sex as I was growing up. The messages I heard fostered a belief that the gift of sex is an important component of marriage, but sex does not define marriage. The messages I heard when I was growing up were the beliefs I chose to hold on to when our marriage was sexless. Had I not had these beliefs instilled in me, I may have fallen for the roommate lie that many believe. I know it’s a lie because I lived that situation and we were much more than roommates. Our marriage was intimate and strong in every other way.

    The problem with most lies is there is a hint of truth to them. Some married couples in sexless marriages do live as roommates only. They have little to no intimacy in other areas. They resent each other for a multitude of things. Many of those things may not have anything to do with sex. But, when Christian writers and bloggers say “if your marriage is sexless, you are living as roommates” over and over, they are fostering a belief system that is not true for every situation. People in otherwise healthy marriages may begin to believe this has to be the case and live it out. The writer’s/blogger’s intentions are pure, but their message can actually hurt marriages rather than help them. They are trying to help, but end up hurting they very thing they’re trying to help. This is where we have to be discerning about who and what we believe. We have to search our own hearts and marriages and seek Christ to decide which advice we should take to heart. “Is the advice helping or hurting our situation?” should be our mantra. If it’s not helping, dump that advice and seek out advice that does help.

    I know the book and author you reference. My understanding is she revised that portion of her book when she learned women were misinterpreting it. I could be wrong about that, but I think I read it somewhere. Again, this is someone who has worked hard to understand the male mind and translate it for women in an effort to help relationships. But, she can only be so accurate because SHE DOESN’T HAVE A MALE MIND! This is where you need to be careful about which advice you take literally and use to draw false conclusions about your husband and marriage. Paul and numerous other MEN, with ACTUAL MALE MINDS have tried to explain to you that her description was not totally accurate. So this is where your choice comes into play. You can chose to believe what a very well intentioned woman wrote and let it negatively impact your relationship or you can choose to believe all the men who tell you differently and let that positively impact your relationship.

    Our brains are powerful. Our self talk impacts us far more than we know. Only you have the power to change your self-talk. No one can make you do it. You have to decide to change the story you tell yourself. Change your self dialogue and change your life. It is a choice. It’s one I hope you will make for your sake and for the benefit of your marriage.

    I understand your need to feel desired by your husband. It’s not selfish to have this need, in fact, it’s natural. However, the way we react to this need not being met can be selfish. I am still working this out for myself. What I discover every day is I have the power to help my husband get his sexual desire back and know how to demonstrate it to me. I can either sit back and wait for him to imitate sex (and be hurt and stew in the meantime) or I can make multiple daily attempts to get his motor running. This doesn’t even have to be anything big. Just talking about sex, making a gesture, putting in hand on my bottom, etc. When I do these things, we have sex a lot more. I wish I didn’t have to do these things to get him interested, but that is our reality for now. So, I can either make the best of it and enjoy more sex with my beloved or I can brute over what “should be” and “what other women have”. I’m much happier when I chose to accept my current circumstances knowing every effort on my part is helping my husband regain the sex drive he burried so deeply.

    I wish only the best for you and your marriage. I pray you will learn to see yourself how your husband does and that you can learn to see all of his gestures of love. When you begin to see his nonsexual guestures of love, you will allow your heart to open up so healing can begin. Only positive things can come of that.

  13. I have asked my husband this question just this past Saturday and was told point blank that he thinks although I’m precious to his heart, he thinks I look old and wrinkly. When I told him that hurt, he asked if I wanted him to lie to me……

    How exactly should I response to that? It breaks my heart that I hold no beauty in my husbands eyes. We’ve been married for close to 27 years.

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