Manning Your Man
Men have to be moral. So, obviously, their fidelity, their faithfulness, their commitment to treating all women with respect, in general, and one woman, their spouse, in particular has to be absolute. Having said that, wives should also be alert to the fact that part of being in a committed relationship is being aware of possible intrusions into the relationship, fending off dangers that can be destructive to a relationship . You can’t expect everybody in the outside world to respect your marriage and there are times when you or your husband may forget your obligations, by feeling flattered by stranger or getting too close to a co-worker. While of course it’s not our principle purpose in our marriage to be a police, it doesn’t absolve us of all responsibility of protecting the sanctity of our relationships. Of course, it would be ideal if all husbands and wives were completely moral in their relationships, but we have to make some room and allow for our humanity, frailty, and shortcomings.
The idea of policing your husband, of calling him to account for his, shall we say, less than gentlemanly behavior, might feel antiquated or petty but I believe it is valid and, indeed,critical. WhenI’veaskedwiveshowtheyfeelabouttheirhusbandslookingat pornographic material, I’ve heard the gamut of answers. There are those who are over zealous in asserting how ‘cool’ they are with it and even claim to join in the viewing, and there are those that are utterly horrified by the practice but feel they have no right to object to their husband’s ‘adult’ behavior. Wake up ladies, you do have a right to put
your foot down and if you don’t think you need to, you have even greater problems with your relationship then you know.
May of you may not realize this but an act of infidelity, when it occurs, is not what ultimately kills a relationship. Infidelity is the most overt sign that a marriage is languishing but the cause of its illness is starvation from a lack of attention and effort. The hurtfulness that a husband causes his wife by being unfaithful is not, in itself, the deal-breaker in their marriage. The wives whom I have counseled through a husband’s infidelity are prepared to forgive him if they love him. The real deal-breaker rather is thefactthathehaslostfocus. Hiswifeisnolongerthefocalpointofhissexualand romantic energies. A marriage is like a stomach. It needs to be fed constantly. And when you give the food away to someone else to eat, the marriage experiences the pangs of hunger. When husbands and wives are not wholly focused on one another as the means of finding erotic excitement, they begin to drift apart. This is where policing becomes essential because, initially, men believe that a little peek at another woman’s nudity is a harmless means of generating some excitement and certainly nothing as significant as an actual act of infidelity. But I warn you, these “harmless” leers are the first symptoms of neglect.
Let me explain just why pornography is so nefarious. Far from being a healthy outlet for raging hormones, pornography is a cancerous proclivity that slowly undermines healthy relationships. On a basic level, excessive viewing exposure to a variety of nude, female bodies contributes to the penchant for men to think about other women while making love to their wives. In fact, 84% of men admit to doing just that (and they’re dumb enough to believe that their wives don’t notice). We can even go so far as to say that once you bring another women into your bed, even if only mentally, you are practicing a form of mental decapitation and merely using your wife’s body for friction,
replacing her head, her essence, with the images of another woman. The Torah, which is very concerned with fostering the mental and emotional intimacy that physical intimacy is meant to promote, actually calls men to task by deeming it a prohibition for a man to fantasize about other women while being with his wife.
Unfortunately, women today are ashamed to admit to being pained at the notion that their significant other would be dreaming of another woman during their intimate moments. The very deed of replacing one’s wife with the perfect image of a adult film star is a degrading act. It indicates that one’s wife is not worthy enough or thrilling enough on her own. Most men tell me that it is unrealistic not to sometimes think about other women during sex with one’s wife. Perhaps that is so. But there is no excuse not to resist it.
Pornography, even the mundane and ‘tame’ nudity seen in R-rated films, is impairing our ability to be satisfied with our partners. This is one of the basic problems with explicit material. When men are constantly barraged with airbrushed-images of the ‘perfect’ female body, it is impossible for them to remain naïve and spellbound by the female form. In essence, what is happing is that today’s media is making men experts inawoman’sbody. It’slikethedifferencebetweenwatchinganartcriticinamuseum versus the layman who saunters into the Met once in while to gaze at the pretty pictures. To the untrained eye, almost anything that makes it onto a museum wall can be awe-inspiring. When you don’t know very much about a topic it is easy to impress. But for the educated viewer, the flaws are all that much more glaring and in order to win approval a piece must be all that much more majestic.
It is certainly safe to say that by the time a boy in America hits the age of 14 he probably thinks he knows exactly what a naked women should look like ‒ the emphasis
being on the word “should.” Magazines and movies have long touted the svelte, busty combination of the supermodel. But what pornography does is take us even further away from an ability to appreciate women. Once the clothing is removed, there is no mystery left and husbands are well trained at what they think they should be seeing during an intimate moment with their wives. Of course, speak to any photographer and you will know that even the perfect bodies that are trotted out for viewing pleasure on the pages of Playboy rarely look like that in real-life. But we have become so accustomed to this image of air-brushed perfection that our expert eyes are impossible to satisfy.
When a man sees his wife naked, the trained eye that he has cultivated will be immediately drawn to her flaws rather then her beauty. Not only does this lead to a degradation of his wife but it also hinders his ability to find satisfaction. With a single standard of beauty it is nearly impossible to be satisfied with the variety of body types that exist in the real world. Unable to find true contentment with their partners, many men look elsewhere. Moreover, men who are used to looking at pornography are rarely contented with a single image of perfection. Notice how a playmate is never repeated inmultipleissues. Even“MissJune’s”seeminglyflawlessformisnotgoodenoughto win her the “Miss July” or “Miss August” spot. Once she has been seen and digested, she is no longer captivating enough to be seen again.
The bottom line is that pornography desensitizes men. Instead of being automatically drawn to woman as he should be, today’s man is too much of a connoisseur to ever losehimselfcompletely. Thenatureoferoticattractionwhichshouldbringmenand women together has been utterly compromised and neither is above evaluating the other according to the most stringent of scales. More than simply providing the measure by which all real women are judged, however, pornography hinders a man’s
attachment to a single woman because it impairs his ability to build deep relationships. Sexualintimacyismeanttobringacoupletogetheronemotionaland mental levels. Once a man feels removed enough to judge his wife by external comparisons, he loses some of his excitement for her and mistakenly believes that a more perfectly formed woman would provide him with the physical titillation that he craves.
In reality, pornography is intensely boring. It is precisely because viewing is a one- dimensional experience that we need a constant variety of women gracing the pages of X-rated reading material. There is no mutual interaction between the viewer and the viewed and therefore, excitement has to be generated constantly with an ever changing visual image. It becomes an addiction, in which the viewer needs more and more stimulation to achieve the same level of excitement that he once experienced. This effect is perfectly illustrated by studies showing the range of pornographic viewing on the internet. While most men will start looking at adult websites for an average of fifteen minutes, within months they are online for hours. At the beginning, it only takes a short ‘hit’ to achieve the desired effect, but with time, these quick glances are no longer enough. The irony lies in the fact that a real woman is infinitely more exciting than the manufactured images that attract the consumers of pornography. Rather than being a one-dimensional experience, interacting and allowing oneself to be aroused by a live partner ‒ despite her apparent physical flaws ‒ is ever changing and therefore consistently exciting. Ultimately then, pornography deadens a man’s attraction for his partner which in turn deadens his ability to have healthy and sustainable passionate relationships.
And don’t be misguided into believing that the answer to this is the ‘Don Juan Syndrome’ in which some ‘enviable’ man manages to become the ultimate womanizer
and enjoy a variety of real women. In fact, it is well known that womanizers are second- ratelovers. EvenJFK’smistressesadmittedthatthefemale-lovingpresidentwasless than expert in bed. If a man is focused on his wife and making her happy, he is forced to expand his repertoire and develop new and exciting means of pleasing his wife rather then simply repeating the same tired moves on a myriad of different women.
While love can only be shared between two equals, and the act of love is all about sharing, once pornography enters into a relationship, women become subordinate becausetheyhavebeenobjectifiedandcommoditized. Intheworldofpornography, women are portrayed in only three ways, as the mindless playmate, the nymphomaniac, or as one who craves pain. I think we can all agree that these three images are demoralizing at best.
As an equal partner, a woman’s approval and respect used to imbue a man with a sense of worthiness. Once women lose their equal footing, men find themselves looking for validation in bragging rights by being able to boast to their friends about their conquests of multiple women. It is understood, of course, that the success of this boasting is measured by the desirability of the women involved, and in this we are again faced with this single image of beauty and perfection that pornography devises. After all, Hugh Hefner wouldn’t be nearly as enviable if he were seen flanked by Mrs. Smith, the cleaning lady. No, no, Hugh is envied because he gets to be with the hour- glass-shaped women that men are trained to desire.
The truly unfortunate element in the prevalence of pornography today is actually the acceptance that so many women silently or overtly provide by refusing to demand that their husbands and boyfriends turn off the computer and turn them on instead! Once upon a time, women were seen as and treated as man’s superior. She was placed on a
pedestal and garnered the natural respect she commanded. Today, women have leapt off of their elevated platform to say that they are equal to men. This has been a disaster for both men and women. For women because they are no longer a prize to be acquired by men who make themselves worthy of them, for men because the thrill of the chase is gone once women are so easily had.
In the past, when I’ve asked women about policing their husbands, about insisting that they get off the computer or throw out the dirty magazines, the resounding answers I receive fall along two basic lines. The first is that many women believe that they have no right to determine what their husbands do, see or, especially, what they think. The second is a desire not to appear insecure, petty or nagging. Let’s deal with the second issue first. In essence, when a wife tells me that she doesn’t want to show her vulnerability and admit that she is wounded by her husband’s fascination with other women’s bodies, she is showing me, again, this masculinization of women. What’s wrong with being emotional, of showing your hurt? It is only when women believe that they must be strong and stoic that they hesitate to reveal their softer vulnerability. But ladies, are you not worthy of respect, do you not have a right to demand that your husband be with you and you alone when you are in bed together? This takes us straight into the second excuse about not having a right to monitor one’s husband.
What wives tell me is that marriage is supposed to be about trust and respect. Supposedly, respecting your husband’s space and trusting that he wont take his mental and visual infidelity further is all that a wife has a right to hope for. How far we have sunk in our expectations of marriage and commitment! Once upon a time it was not politically incorrect to think of a husband and wife as belonging to one another. Today we are so conditioned to think that independence is the be-all-and-end-all and that no person is possessed or should be possessed by another. Truly, the staggering
divorce rate is a symptom of this unfortunate conditioning. If you belong to one another you have a right to make demands, to freely express that an action or behavior hurts you and to expect that your spouse, whose number one concern is your happiness, will amend the hurtful behavior. We are very protective of what is ours and when two people belong to one another, there is nothing they won’t do to protect that bond.
Unfortunately, too many of us have bought into the notion that marriage is about the coming together of separate, independent beings with that separateness and individuality to be preserved throughout the marriage. If a husband and wife are these independentbeingsthenitisproblematictomakedemands. Buttheclosenessthat is supposed to be formed in marriage allows for a woman to express her feelings and airherconcernstoherhusband,withoutmakingthemarriagefeellikeaprison. Itis only when we feel unworthy that we hesitate to insist that our needs be met and a husband and wife should never be made to feel unworthy in this manner. Remember, you are not only married in body, but in mind, heart and soul.
So get your whistle out Mrs. Jones, stake your claim Mrs. Black, and tell your husband that he needs to be a real man ‒ help him be the man worthy of you, not “Miss May” and her playmates.