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How Can A Good Man Be Tempted By Porn?

with Brian Goins, Shaunti Feldhah...more | April 8, 2019

Porn is disgusting, right? It's fake, gross, destructive, and downright sad. So, how could a good man be tempted by it? Shaunti Feldhahn and Brian Goins take an honest look at a topic many wives find impossible to relate to, but are surprised to learn how easy it is to understand. There's no excusing this sin, but there is solid brain science and biblical insight to help you make sense of it, and maybe even empathize with your husband's struggle. Plus, you'll learn what to do if you've just discovered that your husband has been viewing porn.

Show Notes and Resources

Porn is disgusting, right? It's fake, gross, destructive, and downright sad. So, how could a good man be tempted by it? Shaunti Feldhahn and Brian Goins take an honest look at a topic many wives find impossible to relate to, but are surprised to learn how easy it is to understand. There's no excusing this sin, but there is solid brain science and biblical insight to help you make sense of it, and maybe even empathize with your husband's struggle. Plus, you'll learn what to do if you've just discovered that your husband has been viewing porn.

Show Notes and Resources

How Can A Good Man Be Tempted By Porn?

With Brian Goins, Shaunti Feldhah...more
|
April 08, 2019
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Brian: From the FamilyLife Podcast Network this is Married With Benefits. I’m Brian Goins on a relentless pursuit to help you love the one you’re with and discover all the benefits that came with saying, “I do.”

Over the past few podcasts we have been talking to Harvard trained, and best-selling author, Shaunti Feldhahn, who’s been helping you understand the man brain. And answering those questions that we know you’re thinking but just aren’t sure who to ask. If you missed any of those episodes you can look back at FamilyLife.com/podcast and find some really intriguing questions. Today is no exception. We’re going to be asking the question, how can my good, guy husband be tempted by porn?

I know a lot of ladies are going, I married such a great guy! He couldn’t be tempted by something so sick. Something so terrible.

Shaunti: Or, once she knows he is, she’s like, what on earth, am I not enough for him? He’s a good man. He goes to church. He loves the Lord. Why would this even be a temptation? It is so hard for us to wrap our brains around that question.

Brian: And how often would you say, you get this question when you’re speaking at conferences?

Shaunti: Every time, every time.

Brian: I speak for FamilyLife Weekend to Remember, for marriages and for men, and I get this all the time. We know it is a predominantly a male issue, but we know there is a growing amount of females that are struggling with it as well. But today we want to tackle, why is it my husband will look at it? I can’t even imagine.

Shaunti: Or even be tempted by it?

Brian: Yes. We know your husband may or may not be addicted to it but it’s just seems that there is something in the male brain that gets incredibly excited when an image passes before his eyes.

Shaunti: That’s what we women don’t understand because for us we think if he loves me he wouldn’t even be tempted. That’s the way I used to think until I started talking to men and hearing their real hearts and doing these surveys and then going what’s underneath it. That’s when I started looking at the brain wiring. It turns out that there is a lot of brain size that explains a lot of what has been very hurtful or confusing to women.

We need to say right up front, by the way, none of what we are about to say is excusing wrong choices. If we get a lot of emails or people coming on FB and saying, “You’re excusing wrong choices.” Okay go back to minute one because no we are NOT. We are trying to help you understand the perplexity of ‘why would he even be tempted. Then his job is to make the right choices but our job I think as a wife who cares is to try to understand him.

Brian: That’s really what I want to get to. We know it’s an endemic problem and it’s gotten a lot worse the past 30 years because of the invention of the internet.

Shaunti: Way worse, Yes.

Brian: I know for me I go around the country and I talk to guys about this topic. I always ask this question. How old were you when you first looked at porn? There’s never been a time when a guy has looked back at me quizzically and go and tilts his head like a dog and goes, ‘Uh, I don’t remember.’

No, they know exact name, time, place, what they were doing, exactly what they saw. They can give me the details.

Shaunti: Most of them can remember the image precisely.

Brian: I was 8 years old, Shaunti. Guess who introduced me to porn.

Shaunti: Older brother?

Brian: No, that’s the first guess. Almost everybody says older brother. I don’t have an older brother; I have a younger sister. What’s your next guess? I’ll give you three.

Shaunti: Best friend?

Brian: Not my best friend.

Shaunti: Best friend’s older brother?

Brian: Not my best friend’s older brother. That’s your third. You strike, you’re out.

Shaunti: Strike out.

Brian: It’s my girlfriend. Now at 8 [laughter] now at 8 that basically meant, now I wasn’t a player, at 8 years old.

Shaunti: I’m going to start to reevaluate you.

Brian: At 8 I had a girl which I meant I checked the box, ‘do you like me?’

Shaunti: Yes!! Of course.

Brian: We kind of help hands and I remember after school one day, she said let’s go to my house. Her parents weren’t home. I want to show the magazines my dad looks at. She pulled out a box from underneath her parents’ bed and we looked at Playboys.

Now I didn’t know what I was, even at 8 I’m like ‘these girls are missing parts of their bathing suits. But I’m now 45 and I can take you right back to that place. I was 11 and I was at a birthday party and after cake and ice cream, the mom put on Private Lessons. It was a movie that was not about swimming.

Shaunti: Wow!

Brian: And at the time I didn’t realize it was a form of child abuse, but I’m sitting there blushing as I’m watching these scenes but yet I couldn’t look away.

Shaunti: That’s makes me angry to hear you say that.

Brian: At 11 I’m starting to realize a little more. But that was back when porn was hard to come by, the access was so limited. There was a lot of cultural shame. We’re in a different world, now. It’s no longer the box under the bed, it’s in the back pocket, on the cell phone. It’s ubiquitous.

Shaunti: It’s always there, always tempting to a guy.

Brian: Yes! And it’s not just the porn, it’s the magazines in the airport, it’s the movies that everyone has great writing but it’s also got porn.

Shaunti: And it’s also the colleague at your husband’s office who has routinely has a button unbuttoned too low.

Brian: Right! It’s all around us. So I’m sure there are a lot of ladies listening say, ‘Yes!’ Yes! This is the issue I’m dealing with, how do I deal with this?’

And you wrote, obviously, the book, For Women Only, you talked a little bit about it.

Then you wrote another book, which I love the title of, Through a Man’s Eyes: Helping

Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men.

What did you learn? How did you stumble into doing this? First of all, you used to write fiction, you were in the financial world coming out of Harvard. How in the world are you writing about pornography and how women can understand it?

Shaunti: Actually, believe it or not, everything I do research wise, has stemmed from my ‘ah-ha’ moment of this issue, where I had this chance way back when to write a couple of novels.

One of my main characters in my novel was a man. I didn’t know how to put thoughts into his head. I didn’t know what I guy would be thinking, but it’s a novel, I actually had to say what my main character was thinking. One of the issues of this character dealt with—I had created it so this would be one of the issues he would be dealing with. O my goodness, I had no idea what I’d be getting into because I was asking the men to say, here’s the scene what would you be thinking in this situation?

For example, you’re in a business meeting, your colleague is a very attractive woman with a great figure. She’s standing at the white doing her presentation. She’s all business, but what’s going through your mind, if anything? I was shocked to hear all these good guys/ this initially started with all these Christian men in our home group, then eventually I starting asking all sorts of other men.

Brian: Let me guess, let me guess what some of the lines are.

Shaunti: Go for it!

Brian: If it’s somebody—I can think, ‘stop looking at her breasts’.

Shaunti: Yep, that was one of them.

Brian: I wonder what she would be like.

Shaunti: Yep!

Brian: I know if my wife’s listening to this, she’s appalled right now. But I’m thinking hypothetically what other guys would be thinking.

Shaunti: You’re being honest! Hypothetically of other men.

Brian: I’m the token guy in this thing! So I can give you what I’m thinking. I need to look away, I need to think about something else. You know, it’s this battle.

Shaunti: Can I tell you the funny one?

Brian: Yes!

Shaunti: Look at her face, look at her face!

Brian: Look at her eyes, look at her eyes! Eyes up!

Shaunti: And every woman that is listening is going, what?

Brian: Has a woman ever been in a business meeting, like with a conference round around and she’s going, ‘stop looking at his butt, stop looking at his butt’?

Shaunti: Okay, I’m not saying that has never happened. However it is not the same degree. There is not the same where it just happens constantly and not the same degree of an intrabrain war going on. This is what, when I finally realized, this is what I was hearing, even from these really good, trustworthy, Christian men who really didn’t struggle with pornography.

 

I think out of the first initial when I first stumbled over this. We were in a small group, we had about 12 guys there. They’re telling me this, my jaw is dropping open. I think, because we knew each other really well, two of those men had confessed that this was an issue in their lives. They were trying to deal with it. Another two were in and out of trying that. All of these other guys did not wrestle, it’s not like they had an addiction, but this was in their brain.

What on earth? So I started to go, I need to understand this. I had become convinced there is no other single issue, 14 years later after I started that research, there is no other single issue, NONE. That affect millions and millions of men and boys every day. So many millions and millions of women are completely blind to and completely clueless about. It turns out it is largely because our brains are wired completely differently.

Brian: I want to get into that but even just saying that realizing just the society we are living in we aren’t going to get all the stats right now of how often it’s being viewed. But just to say about men and boys what’s being grown up in the next generation, the average boy leaving high school today is watching an average of 50 online clips a week! 50 online video clips a week!

Shaunti: Wow!

Brian: It is impacting how we view sex, how we view intimacy, how we view relationships. It’s obviously a significant issue, so more than being shocked by those numbers, what we want to get to, is okay, is it even possible that my husband gets to be a good guy and yet be tempted by this? Talk to us…

Shaunti: And the answer is yes!

Brian: Okay Good. So we have air. Okay, let the pressure out of the room.

Shaunti: And he does not want to be tempted.

Brian: That’s another good thing.

Shaunti: He absolutely hates this temptation, hates it with every fiber of his being.

Brian: So wiring, talk about the brains. Why is it different and why is it so attractive to men versus women?

Shaunti: So, here is what I learned and this is, if there are any neuroscientists listening, forgive me for I’m sure that I’m going to botch something that is incredibly complicated. Not botch it, but simplify it, probably oversimplify it.

Here’s the basic starting point. It turns out the male brain and the female brain when they see those kind of sensual images of the opposite sex, they handle them completely differently. So there is an experience that every boy and every man has every single day in this culture that we as women have literally never experienced.

Brian: Alright, give us one.

Shaunti: Here is what happens, there is a center in the back of the brain, everybody has it. It’s called the nucleus accumbens. It’s the part of the brain that is very automatic for, like say you haven’t eaten all day and you’re really hungry. You walk into a room, like dinner party, say, and you see food on a buffet across the room. You are instantly, really hungry. You are really starving and instantly have a gut level very physical reaction that is being drawn to that. I want that, I want to consume that. It’s instantaneous and you are not thinking. The next second, what happens (that’s the nucleus accumbens lighting up) okay?

Brian: Okay.

Shaunti: The next second your thinking centers light up and you’re think to yourself, Whoa, is anybody eating, like, what do I do now? Do I go ahead and eat or is everybody waiting? Darn it! But you know that first reaction is completely involuntary. It’s a physical, back of the brain response.

It turns out when a man sees a woman who is dressing in a way that draws overt attention to a good figure, so that’s anything from a woman walking across the parking lot, to a woman on a commercial in a bikini, to the porn clip that came up on his computer. His nucleus accumbens lights up.

Brian: Ding, Ding, Ding!

Shaunti: Right. He has this automatic visceral, gut reaction, I want that. I want to consume that image because it actually feels real good, an adrenalin rush. There’s other stuff that happens. It would feel really good to look at that picture, and then the very next second that first thing is involuntary,

Brian: Involuntary,

Shaunti: Involuntary, biological, literally nothing he can do anything about it.

Brian: It’s what I call for guys, I know you are going to get to this second thing, but it’s what I call for guys, like I said this, when guys walk into a room they have a radar and they can immediately pick up/ there’s a blip on my radar, there’s an attractive woman. It’s not something you can choose to do necessarily, it’s just you walk in, I know there’s 5 attractive women that are attractive to me in this building.

Shaunti: There are a lot of women listening to this who are horrified because they didn’t know any of this. It’s the example that we use for women is, because this helps us kind of get it, imagine if I were to stand in front of you with a sign that said ‘don’t read this.’ You can’t do anything about it. Your brain automatically reads ‘don’t read this.’ It’s like what do you mean, don’t read this? It’s impossible not to, there’s no way to look at the letters and not read the word. Your brain just does it. You don’t necessarily want it to, it just did it.

A man’s brain reads, a great body, before he ever want to think about it. That’s where we say there’s a difference between temptation and sin. Biblically, Jesus was tempted in every way and yet without sin. The temptations we face aren’t the sin. The sin is what do we choose to do with it or not do with it? That’s where we get to step two. The first step is the nucleus accumbens is lighting up. Nothing we can do about it.

The second step is his cortical centers light up. Now, the cortical centers are at the front of the brain. Those are the thinking centers, those are the what I do about that food across the room? Do I go over there and start stuffing my face because I am really hungry?

Brian: Right, there’s bacon there, I want that, I going to go over there and eat bacon.

Shaunti: It’s chocolate for me.

Brian: For me it’s bacon, or if it’s bacon-wrapped chocolate. I would eat that.

Shaunti: [Laughing] That’s awesome! See now we are making all the women listening to this hungry.

Brian: Right, don’t think about chocolate. Don’t think about chocolate.

Shaunti: Perfect example, don’t think about it, right?

Now imagine thinking centers have lit up, I look at the food and I make a choice to do something with it or not. Depends upon how hungry I am. It depends on how good I am at self-control. It depends on how addictive it is, all that kind of stuff. That moment is where that choice happens. This is where the thinking centers, the cortical centers at the front of my brain light up. Okay?

When a man looks at that woman and his nucleus accumbens lights up and it says at gut level, I want to consume this image, it’s not really a desire for the person exactly as much as it is to look at the image, because it feels good to do it. The very next second then his cortical centers light up and he thinks to himself, oh, don’t look there. He’s read ‘great body’, and then he goes, what am I doing, look away think about baseball scores.

Brian: Now we are talking specifically for guys who we would say have some level of morality, have some conviction because there are plenty of guys who would be going, oh! Check that out.

Shaunti: There are plenty of guys who would not do that. Ironically it’s the ones who respect women, respect their wives, who want to honor God and their thought lives for whom this is even a struggle.

Brian: Hmm, because most guys, I would say, don’t see anything wrong with it.

Shaunti: Many men, sort of worldly men…

Brian: When it gets to that second stage of now it might think about that, of course I’m going to think about that, not only am I going to think about it, I’m going to tweet my friend, I’m going to text him,

Shaunti: ‘Hey check that out!’

Brian: Check it out, look at that look at this woman here that’s in the conference room that we’re talking to. That’s where most men go.

Shaunti: There are many, many men. Now, I have been very pleasantly surprised that even amongst folks who wouldn’t have claimed any kind of faith practice, who wouldn’t probably put themselves in the category of many who are listening, who care about honoring God and our thought lives, there’s actually many men who want to be honorable to women just to be honorable. They want to respect.

Brian: They know it’s wrong.

Shaunti: They know it’s wrong. They want to respect their wife. They want to respect that other woman. Any man who comes into that category of wanting to do the right thing, what happens is then because of his cortical centers, his thinking centers are now in play, he’s looking away and he’s saying, think about baseball scores or think about my wife. Think about something else to take my mind off of where it wants to go.

The reality, though is that in today’s culture those sites are everywhere and your brain as a guy, apparently, all these men’s brains are very easily triggered hypothetically—like the woman standing at the white board with the tight dress or the tight suit, who’s kind of showing it off—as she’s at the white board, she turns around again.

Now he’s got another choice that he has to make, like, his brain wanted to go there and he had to wrench it away. I actually ended up doing a study with workplace stuff about men because I wrote this book called, The Male Factor, a number of years ago for corporate America.

We did a big experiment where we had one woman, two videos/she was a very attractive woman, wearing the exact same outfit, making a short customer service  presentation. In one video same suit with her blouse buttoned high, and the second video in the same suit with her blouse buttoned low, so showing cleavage.

We asked the men at the end, were her 4 customer service recommendations. The men who saw the cleavage version of the video couldn’t remember the order of her presentation. Their brain/half of their brain was at war of, don’t look there. Don’t think about that. Pull the thoughts away. We as women miss all of that because when our brains perceive the attractive man across the room our nucleus accumbens stays dark.

Brian: Really??

Shaunti: Our thinking enters our cortical centers are what light up from the beginning so we think to our self, he’s an attractive man.

Brian: Okay.

Shaunti: And that’s about it.

Brian: That’s it? That thought starts with the lights up and the light dims.

Shaunti: No! It wasn’t the nucleus accumbens. It was the thinking center and so we think to ourselves, he is an attractive man. There is none of this gut level, biological, sexual temptation involved at all. There is none of this, ‘man I wish I could see what he looks like without those clothes on’. Literally none of that happens because the nucleus accumbens does not light up. And because it is a thinking oriented kind of response, which I will confess, is very depressing for our husbands, I’m sorry…

Brian: YES!! But at the same time it is a little bit freeing. In one sense it goes directly in contrast with what our world tries to portray, we view sex the same way, we view attractiveness the same way, that we’re trying to get women just as hungry as men are. I’m not saying they are not, just they are hungry in different ways. Right?

Shaunti: Totally different. We are wired totally different in this area of this visual nature.

Understanding that difference helps men, actually, understand something that I’ve heard from so many men. ‘I do not want this temptation. Why do women dress this way? Like even at church, why would a good Christian woman dress in a way that is going to tempt me to fantasize about her?

Brian: Maybe that’s another question we need to tackle.

Shaunti: It may be, it may be something to tackle. But the key for us as women, if you are in pain because your husband has been looking at pornography or your son—I have a 14 year son, he’s almost 15 years old, we have the same age sons—it is so important for us as women to understand that what is underneath it is this wiring that God has given the male brain that is intended to be a good thing. Because let’s remember that the only image that a man was ever to see in this way would be of his wife on his wedding night, and it would be a bonding thing.

Brian: I know! Unfortunately because of we live in a fallen world and we’ve got to remember we are raising fallen kids, and we’re married to a fallen man, not me, but you ladies out there listening, and you go, that temptation is real and –probably more real today than it has been.

It used to be for so long that a guy had throughout most of his day was the south end of a north end moving mule. He was plowing all day so when he comes home to his wife who’s been working all day helping prepare the meal she is looking pretty good regardless of what she’s got on. He’s not inundated with every day with images and with porn that comes across his email that he’s not asking for. Again this doesn’t excuse,

Shaunti: No!

Brian: I can see some ladies right now going, ‘Wait, are you just telling me, well okay, I guess he’s just going to look at it?’

Shaunti: No! Absolutely not. By the way, the men that I were talking to, when they said they hate this temptation, the guys like, I really truly, I wish I had a pair of magic glasses that I could just wear around all day to filter out those sights and then only take them off when I’m alone with my wife. Guys said I love it when I’m with my wife.

Brian: which sounds like a great marketing thing we need to do, to create those glasses.

Shaunti: Let’s invent that!

Brian: We could invent that!

Shaunti: To turn off the nucleus accumbens until you’re alone with your wife. That would be cool!

Brian: We could get our kids through college. That would be awesome!

Shaunti: I think we could. If there’s anybody listening to this who is an inventor or an engineer, contact us, because this needs to happen.

Brian: Turn off the nucleus incumbens.

Shaunti: Nucleus accumbens. I know it took me forever.

Brian: I’m not a scientist.

Shaunti: I know, I’m not either.

Now here’s the encouraging thing for you as women out there listening, is to realize there is an opportunity here that, yes, maybe you’re in a difficult place. You know this is something your husband is struggling with and if it’s a big deal, I sure hope you are getting help. I sure hope you’re getting some accountability, because that’s something he has to address.

Thankfully, there is victory over this. I’ve heard literally thousands and thousands of men over the years, but one of the pieces of the puzzle is a wife who understands, and who is willing to come along side and empathize without excusing. One of the pieces of the puzzle for any man no matter where he is, especially if he is trying to be a good guy every day, is to give him those images of you.

Brian: WOW!

Shaunti: I’m not talking about sending him texts images.

Brian: Let’s be really clear about that.

Shaunti: Let’s be clear.

Brian: We are not endorsing sexting. This is not what this podcast is about.

Shaunti: You’re going to get a lot of Facebook messages with that! Literally, in person. I had one guy came up to me at the end of an event where I was speaking somewhere, and we were talking about one of the topics. I often have pastors that ask me to come in and they interview me on stage as the sermon time, in order for me to be able to cover some of these subjects that are harder for them to cover.

I had a guy come up to me, “oh my goodness, this is so true.” And he said, “I wish my wife could have heard this.” Apparently his wife wasn’t there that day. “I wish my wife…” “All day long I’m trying to take every thought captive. All day long my colleague is…I’m trying to turn my eyes away.”

Brian: Bouncy eyes!

Shaunti: Bouncy eyes! “…the billboard on the highway. I look the other direction, then the commercial comes up or the pop up on the computer and I’m looking away, I’m looking away, bouncing my eyes, thinking about baseball scores.”

“And then I come home. My wife comes upstairs to change in our bedroom and she goes into the closet to change.” He’s like, “Emma, are you serious! All day long I’ve been saving my eyes for you!” Please let me see you, is basically what the guy was saying.

Brian: What you are saying then, is the first step is change in the open with your husband?

Shaunti: Listen, there is something about that that apparently, I’m not a guy, but I have heard this from thousands of men, there is something that no matter what you think you look like, men want to feast their eyes on you. I know it sounds really old fashioned and we’re like, but my butt is too big. The guy is like, No! You are mine, this is where God intended it to be! So there is something very supernatural, or something very bonding, something very other-worldly, beautiful and wonderful that happens when a guy sees his wife and just wants to see that.

Brian: Yes! It’s not in grey sweats. When it’s not in grey sweats. That’s what my wife and I have a joke about. For a long time she would get into something more comfortable. Like, ‘I’m going to get into something more comfortable.’ That phrase to me meant one thing, but to her it really meant no, more comfortable, like grey sweats.

Shaunti: It’s actually like more comfortable like grey sweats.

Brian: I’m getting excited and then now seeing her/she looks good in grey sweats! But, I’m just going my mind was going somewhere else completely. I think that’s a great practical thing, of just recognizing/ I think what you just said, is your husband wants to feast his eyes on you!

Shaunti: Yes! He finds you beautiful just as you are. You are his pin-up girl and he wants to be able to look at you. So even if you are putting on the grey sweats, let him see you as you change. Okay, ladies, I’m going to go there, you know what I am going to say—the next step is sex with the lights on.

Brian: Really!

Shaunti: Like that’s, every woman would because let me tell you, we are insecure about ourselves. You have to believe me, ladies, when I tell you that the men that I spoke to said, it doesn’t matter. This is where they want to fill up their visual bank.

Brian: It goes back to that need that we talked about in the first podcast, what’s the need you’re meeting in that / to remember that you’re meeting an incredibly, not just a physical need, but an emotional need.

Thinking it through that lens, hey, I want to feast my eyes on you as a guy; he’s thinking I want to feast my eyes on you. But I also think what are some other things? You could also ask your husband. I think a great question couples should ask each other, what turns you on?

Shaunti: What a great point! Absolutely!

Brian: For a wife to ask her husband just to ask, because it may not be turning on the light on, it may be candles, it may be something totally different. It could be. I had that picture in my mind, I don’t like strobe lights, that’s not me. But some guys just like…

Shaunti: They just want to be able to see.

Brian: They want to be able to see.

Shaunti: At least that’s what I’ve heard that.

Brian: Yes, I would agree with that. I would agree with that.

Shaunti: For us as women one of the things we have to constantly remember, that really truly, this is the way God wired the male brain. It is in a culture that has been corrupted, that has corrupted that beautiful intension that God had where this would only be between the husband and the wife.

This would be the first image he would see. So all those thoughts like you had the images from age 8, right? Back in the day guys would get married at age 15, or whatever, but starting in the age 15, those images would only be of the wife. Period. That was their only access he would ever have, so those would be these wonderful bonding things that he’d be pulling up in his brain, mulling over while he’s out doing whatever he’s doing in the field. Still works the same way today. That’s a good thing!

It’s just for us as women, we have to willing to recognize we don’t get it. I don’t really get what my husband or my son has to go through. I want to be supportive. I want to come alongside them and help them navigate.

Brian: Unfortunately there’s not anything you can do to see something else through someone else’s eyes. You wish there was. You wish there was a way you can understand it because if you can understand it, you have empathy.

Again, we’re not excusing the act. If your husband is struggling with that, I would say as a man—I talk to guys all the time about this, porn is setting you up for failure. It’s setting yourself up for more frustration because it’s counterfeit to what you are really intended for / to be intended for intimacy and joy. That’s a totally different topic. We want you to get help if you are in that situation.

Shaunti: For the women listening to this, if your husband needs that help, truly needs help as opposed to being tempted like everyone else. If he truly needs that help, if he’s made those wrong choices, you need to be able to be honest with him about how this makes you feel because I get the impression, having talked to and surveyed so many men, they don’t quite get why it hurts a woman’s feelings.

Like he thinks, my wife knows and says nothing about my love for her, well, no actually we don’t. To us it’s all tied up together so it’s really important for you to be willing to gently hold the line on this but to do it in a way that’s compassionate and recognizes this could be difficult for him. But it will be easier if we knows you are there for him.

Brian: Just to wrap up, I think it would be helpful just to put yourself into the woman out there that’s going ‘I just caught my husband looking at it.’

So how do I become compassionate in a moment where I am really scarred and hurting, what do I do? What are the steps I take?

Shaunti: The most important thing is for us to pray. I know that sounds trite but it absolutely is not. It is truly, Lord, help me respond with Your heart when my heart has just been shredded.’ One of the things that has happened often is that women as they’ve prayed those things, I’ve had to pray that, right? Jeff is very open about the fact that he went through a season where he had to address this.

As you pray for God’s heart and wisdom on how to address this, you honestly in most cases, God will give you this compassion for this trouble that this man you love is going through that he does not want. He doesn’t want to hurt you. A lot of men even if they haven’t been discipled, or mentored in godly ways, they know that it’s wrong, there’s shame there’s guilt. They hate it.

Brian: They hate it! I mean, every guy I talk with, you know it’s the Romans 7; I do the very thing I don’t want to do, I do. They hate it. They despise it. The point is how do I help then through it?

Shaunti: That first step of praying for God’s heart, praying for wisdom is going to be huge. Then depending on what it is that’s going on, many churches, for example, have groups for men. This is a time that they can get with other guys who get it because we women, we don’t get it. They get it with a group of guys who get it and can start accountability.

It is really important, I’ve heard from many counselors in this area, very important the wife not try to be the police. That ends up putting the marriage in jeopardy. It’s really important that they get some sort of structure around how to help. There are tons of counselors, there’s wonderful people that have been trained in this area.

Brian: And a lot of great guys. For guys they need other guys around to help with this. It’s not fair to put the wife through that. Although, she needs to be the one he confesses to, right? I think what I hear you saying is you’ve got to start practicing what I heard someone say, ‘practice your non-shocked face.’ I’m not going to be shocked by this.

Shaunti: That is a great line.

Brian: That would be great as a mom of sons. You almost need to expect to hear your son has found it, it’s going to find them, and to practice your non-shocked face.

Shaunti: One of the most important things we found statistically, is no matter what is going on as he’s able to talk to you about it, stay completely calm. As hard as that is, stay very calm.

Ask the questions/ what can we do? / help me understand, and not to freak out. Then if you can prove that he can talk to you about it without you getting all freaked out, which would be understandable, believe me, but as to the degree that you can, he’ll have more of those conversations and he’ll be able to share more things. Let me tell you, you just brought up a really important point especially when you have a boy in the house.

Brian: Yes. I think that will move you from being the person that you’re having to put him under performance, you have to prove to me that you can beat this thing and you have to prove to me that you can stop looking at this, to now becoming a partner. I want to partner with you. You’re a sinner just like he is.

Shaunti: There’s things that I do wrong every day.

Brian: We all do wrong, so how do I partner with and believe the best? Again, the question that we asked at the beginning was, what if my good guy husband / how can my good guy husband be tempted, we’re talking about the guys who really want to get through this.

They don’t want to be tempted, but they are. To start off by praying I think is a great thing. The next thing is how can I look at this with compassion, so I can understand what’s going on in his brain. To practice my non-shocked face. I’m not going to freak out. I’m going to respond with calmness and compassion and go. How do we partner together to move through this?

Shaunti: Offering support. Because to me, overtly offering what can I do? What can we do together?

Brian: So as we wrap up this episode of Married With Benefits we want to be an encouragement to you. I would imagine there are things that you are actually doing really well in this area. As tough as it is, as sensitive as it is, I would imagine there are things that you are winning in. So what are those one or two things where you feel like you’re doing well? Keep doing those things. What’s one area that you go, I need to do a better job. Maybe it’s understanding the battle he’s going through, maybe it’s seeing things through his lens, maybe it’s practicing your non freaked-out, non shocked-out face. Whatever is that one thing, focus on improving that this week.

So ladies and guys, we know you’re listening, too. Thanks so much for listening to this edition of Married With Benefits. And by the way we wanted to let you know this podcast is listener supported. So we appreciate many gifts from people just like yourself. If you’re interested in donating today you can do that there at FamilyLife.com. Just click the word, “donate.”

I’d love to give a special thanks to our audio producer, CJ3 and our project coordinator, Page Johnson, for helping to pull this off. We couldn’t do it without their help. Join us next time as we ask another intriguing question, what if we butt heads over parenting? Man, Jenn and I never do that. We look forward to answering that question and being real with you next time on Marriage With Benefits. I’m Brian Goins seeking to help you love the one you’re with. See you next time.

 

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Married With Benefits

We got married because we thought we’d be better together rather than apart. So why is it so easy to feel isolated from your life-long partner? Host, author, and fellow married pilgrim, Brian Goins, tackles the relational pitfalls, from the trivial to the tragic, that move couples towards isolation rather than experiencing the real benefits that come from saying “I do.”

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