I love to look at Shelley. She is beautiful.
It was her looks on that Wednesday night in 1997 that made me think, “Hmm. Who is that? I need to go meet her.” I can tell you where she was sitting in the room. I can tell you what she was wearing. I can recreate the path I walked to go meet her. I can tell you how I fumbled through my very first words with her.
All of that happened because I saw her and thought, “She is beautiful.”
I love to look at her! It probably gets on her nerves how cheesy I can be about it.
I never want her to question that I see her as the most beautiful woman in the world. I never want her to question that she is the only one for me.
Being a Man
There is this tricky and frustrating reality about being a man that all men understand and women, for the most part, don’t. We, men, are hardwired as visual creatures. We “look” and sometimes look too long. We don’t even have to “go looking” for something to look at. We can be harmlessly going through the day and see a random image in an ad, a woman dressed a certain way, an unexpected scene in a TV show; the list is almost endless. We too easily look too long.
When we look too long our minds can go places that it shouldn’t, even when our wives are the most beautiful people in the world to us. I know it sounds pathetic.
This is not an excuse for men to “look”. It is never “ok” to be unfaithful to your spouse in your mind. We need to fight for faithfulness.
Knowing how my own mind can be and seeing how this reality has impacted marriages, I decided that I needed to fight.
The Day I Took a Risk in My Relationship with Shelley
I decided to let Shelley in on the battle for my eyes and mind.
I really didn’t know how she was going to receive this. I assumed it would be confusing and probably start a fight.
Several years ago we were up watching one of our “go to” weekly TV shows. It was before Netflix, so we actually had to wait a week between episodes, and watch shows on the day they aired! Oh the hard times…
It was not unusual for there to be women in this show dressed in a way that could make the eyes linger too long. As one of those scenes passed by, I took the risk and said something like this,
“You may not understand this, but I don’t need to watch this show anymore. It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I think you are beautiful and you are the only one for me but I don’t need to give my brain the opportunity to think things it shouldn’t.”
She understood enough for us to begin one of the most important ongoing conversations in our marriage. It is a conversation that never lessens in importance and one that I think every married couple should have.
My faithfulness to Shelley in my mind is vital to having a healthy marriage. I need to do everything I can to fight for faithfulness which includes involving her in the fight. She helps me control what can be controlled. It is one thing to have your eyes caught off guard by something you weren’t expecting. It is another thing to choose to remove things you can control.
From that point on, I have worked to let Shelley in on the reality of that part of being a man.
Here are a few of the things I do to involve her.
1) We keep an open conversation about it.
2) If something unexpected pops up on TV she has permission to say, “Cover your eyes until I tell you it’s ok.” And, I do what she says.
3) If I know I am going to be in an unavoidable situation during the day where there may be temptations to “look”, I call her and tell her and ask her to pray for me.
4) If we are going to the beach, I ask her to pray for my eyes and she has permission to tell me where not to look.
I asked Shelley to share some of her thoughts about being so pretty….and my brain.
A Little Q/A With Shelley
Doug – The best that you can remember, what were your thoughts when I first opened up about the battle for my eyes and mind?
Shelley – “It was a little confusing and an eye opener for me. I knew that it really wasn’t about me but it was still hard to understand because my eyes don’t work like that. I definitely felt a little insecure but I also knew it was a real thing for you. It is one thing to know what is true but it is still hard to think about.”
Doug – How have you grown in your understanding of that part of me?
Shelley – “I am definitely more aware of things that may be tempting for you and try to help you avoid them, like with things that may pop up on TV. I don’t freak out about it. I want to help. I am also appreciative of our honesty in talking about it and don’t take it as personal as I did at first.”
Doug – What do you see as your role in helping me in my fight for my eyes and mind?
Shelley – “I pray specifically for that part of you. When you say things like, “we don’t need to watch that show” or “we don’t need to hang out at that place”, I don’t want to take that as about the way I look but as your desire to be faithful to me and honor me.”
Doug – What advice would you give to other wives to help them talk about these things with their husbands?
Shelley – “I think wives need to be open, honest and not too sensitive when talking about that part of their husband. We need to remember that we will never fully understand that part of men. But, that doesn’t mean it is not real. I doesn’t do any good just to tell them to stop. We need to help them be godly men.”
It really helped when I read the book, “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldman. She explains that part of men well. I think women should read that book every few years just as a reminder.
Doug – How does it feel to be so pretty?
Shelley – no comment (with a blank stare).
I always want to fight for my eyes and my heart to be captivated by one women, Shelley. She is my wife. She is beautiful. And I always want her to know that she is the only one for me.