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reading bookDear Shaunti,

I know my husband loves me and thinks I’m attractive. So I’m confused and a little hurt why he asked me recently to put my Victoria’s Secret catalog out of sight. I’ve gotten these in the mail for years and I never once thought I needed to “hide” them from my own husband! Does this mean he’s attracted to other women?

–Hurt and confused

 Dear Hurt and Confused,

I understand why it’s easy to be hurt – but I’m actually really encouraged to hear this.  Because it sounds to me like he’s asking you to put the catalogue away so it doesn’t trigger a common visual male temptation in his mind – which means he’s trying to love and honor you well.  

It is easy to misunderstand this because we women don’t tend to know something about how the male brain is wired.  In the back of the brain (the part that regulates breathing, digestion and the other stuff we don’t consciously think about), there’s a small center called the nucleus accumbens.  This is the center that lights up when you’re famished and you see food across the room.  You’re drawn to notice that food in a very gut-level way.  The next thing that happens, though, is that the cortical (thinking) centers in your brain kick in and you can decide if you’re going to start eating immediately or wait until the rest of the dinner party arrives. 

Clinical studies show the same process happens in a man’s brain when he sees a woman showing off her body.  The nucleus accumbens in his brain lights up and he has an automatic, physical temptation to take in that image. But then his thoughts and his willpower kick in and he can decide whether he wants to continue taking in the image or pull his thoughts away.  Many men try to honor their wives by forcing their thoughts and eyes away, but as long as the image is staring them in the face, the nucleus accumbens is being triggered.  This temptation to look has nothing to do with whether he finds you attractive; it’s purely a biological temptation that he has to fight.  

It sounds to me like your husband is trying to honor and love you well by asking you to remove that temptation in the first place (instead of secretly indulging it). Sounds like you’ve got a good man there.  So instead of being offended, thank him for being a good hubby, and hide the catalog!


Wish Shaunti could speak at an event in your area? You can help! Forward this piece or others to a leader at your organization or church, with a note of recommendation. They can reach Shaunti at NDuncan@shaunti.com.

Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her findings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

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