Hey friends- this is Kathi. I could NOT be more thrilled to have Shaunti Feldhahn on the blog today. This woman changed the course of my marriage with her book For Women Only – Understanding the secret Lives of Men and now she’s done it again with her latest book. Keep reading! And don’t forget to comment at the end and be entered in to win all five of our books featured this week!
Show him you’re safe with his secrets – including one key burden he has probably never shared.
Ladies, did you know your man has a secret? It may not even be an intentional secret, mind you, but a very personal burden that often stays hidden by default. Nearly all men face it, but few feel able to really talk about it with their wives. Yet if we know how to talk to our husbands about this and show them that they can talk to us about it, we will learn so much more about each other and go to a new level of intimacy we didn’t realize we were missing.
Here’s the secret burden: even the most honorable, godly man today lives in a culture saturated with enticing images that he cannot avoid, and which stimulate his brain in a sexual way even if he does not want them to.
When I first started doing research about men, I was stunned to realize that this applied even to men who were very trustworthy, even to men who worked to keep their thought lives pure, even to men who adored their wives and wanted to honor their wives (and God) in their choices. And it wasn’t just other men – it was my man! I started to realize that there was big part of my husband’s life, including how his brain processed the world every day, about which I was completely clueless.
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And if I was missing a big part of my husband’s life, wouldn’t there always be a limit to how close we could be? I didn’t want him to carry a burden on his own only because he didn’t know how to talk about it – or didn’t know if he could trust me with it.
So I started to ask questions, tentatively at first. (“Um… What do you think, when you see something like that hot woman in the skin-tight shirt who just walked past us at Target?”) And he started to give some answers, definitely tentatively at first. (“Uh… why do you want to know…?”)
But as I showed him that I wasn’t going to bash or condemn, but truly just wanted to understand (“Honestly, honey, it’s because I love you and just want to understand what life is like for you”) he began to open up and share things we’d never talked about before.
Some of it was hilarious. (“She must have paid a lot of money for those.”) Frankly, some of it was hard to hear. (“Well, OK, to be honest, sometimes when I see someone almost undressed, there’s this micro-second flash of wanting to picture what she might look like if she is undressed. And then I have to immediately stop that flash and think about that work email instead.”) There were times I was sad, or hurt, as my husband shared certain struggles he’d had on and off over the years. But I tried so hard to not let those feelings control me and instead tried to show my husband that I wanted him to be able to share what was going on inside him.
Because as I began to do more of the research on the male brain wiring, I began to realize: men’s brains are actually designed by God to be visually stimulated in this way, because the only revealing image a man was ever supposed to see was of his wife! And yet today, this culture is filled will very public images that were only supposed to be seen in private. Our men and boys are living in a visual minefield.
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Some men make rigorous choices to look away, look down, take those thoughts captive. Others have grown weary of that struggle and have given into the temptation to look at things that they shouldn’t have, and many feel great shame in doing so. Still others—although a much smaller number – have become trapped or addicted.
Yet many of them have one thing in common: they wish they could talk to their wives about it. They wish they could open up about their struggles. They wish they could come in from a particularly bad day at work and say, without fear of condemnation, “Wow, Kerri at the office missed doing up those top two buttons on her shirt again and I couldn’t focus on a thing she was saying.” Or if they are trapped in looking at porn, something deep inside sometimes wants to come into the light and get help – and yet the self-protective side says “no way!” So all of it stays hidden. All too often, a man handles all of this on his own.
But I think lots of us as women wouldn’t want our men to handle this all on their own. That was one of the main things that spurred me to do the research that became my book For Women Only and later, my new book Through A Man’s Eyes. I wanted my husband to know that I was safe to talk to about this, even as he also knew that if there were any real issues (which, thankfully, there hadn’t been in recent years), I would expect him to get help. And once we started talking about this, once he saw I wouldn’t freak out or condemn, we found that if we could talk about this in a healthy way, we could talk about anything.
I urge all my sisters out there: show your husband that you are safe to talk to. Even if you are hearing some difficult things, show him you love and support him anyway and you’ll walk with him through it. Learning how to talk about those things you’ve never talked about before will take your marriage to a whole new dimension of intimacy. A place where you have no secrets and where you know and love each other fully, regardless.
Sounds a lot like what marriage was supposed to be, all along.
Do you want Shaunti to share life-changing truths – including helping women understand men – at your event, church service or network? Inquire about Shaunti speaking, here.
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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 ?ndings 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.