Opinions: Married men and photos of women
Dear Readers: Recently, I printed a letter from “Never Gonna Be Good Enough.” She was fed up with her husband’s looking at titillating photos of women online and was curious about how other readers have approached this issue in their marriages. The diversity of opinions is remarkable.
Dear Annie: You invited readers to respond about husbands’ “frequently looking at women.” Many women have complained about this to you. Could it be that most men are by nature attracted to viewing beautiful women without any intention of being unfaithful to their wives? Perhaps this is something wives (and girlfriends) just need to accept as natural and something they shouldn’t get offended by. — Realistic and Honest Man
Dear Realistic and Honest Man: I appreciate your honest perspective. Read on for a vastly different one.
Dear Annie: Your advice to “Never Gonna Be Good Enough” is worse than useless. He’s never going to change this habit that gives him pleasure, no matter how much pain it causes his wife. To answer her question, no, this is not just the way men are. It’s the way he is. A man who truly cares about his wife and sees her as an equal partner in their relationship does not treat her this way. A narcissist who lacks empathy and cares only about his own needs and desires is “never gonna be good enough” to be a real husband. There is no middle ground that would work for both as you suggest. There is only total capitulation by the wife (and its attendant misery). My advice: Sweetheart, pack your bags — or his — and get out of this toxic relationship before you start to actually believe that you are to blame for your husband’s juvenile, cruel, abusive behavior. — Old Enough to Know Better
Dear Old Enough to Know Better: I think the following letter addresses the same issue to which you speak — the husband’s apparent lack of concern for her feelings — but with a bit more hope for redemption. Take a look.
Dear Annie: I wonder why this man feels the need to tell his wife that she is being ridiculous for feeling insecure about his looking at pictures of women on the internet. Maybe it’s an attempt, albeit a clumsy one, to reassure her. But it’s disrespectful to judge someone’s feelings when she comes to you with a concern. I’m thinking that she might be more inclined to feel better after a genuine (and gentle) conversation about it.
Maybe looking at pictures of pretty women makes him happy. Why not just say so while reassuring her that he doesn’t find her any less attractive because of it? A simple “I’m so sorry, because it isn’t my intention to hurt you, and the issue isn’t that you’re not enough” would be a nice start. In fact, looking at those pictures may be enhancing his attraction to his wife. (We men are a little more complicated than we let on sometimes.)
If he’s smart, what he won’t say is that his wife is being silly for feeling a little hurt or insecure or anything else. Ever. — Greg in NYC
Dear Greg: Agreed. And I think the following letter underlines your point.
Dear Annie: What she should really be concerned about isn’t her husband’s actions. It’s his reaction. Some men like to look at women in that context; some don’t. But a significant other is expected to be understanding of his or her partner and to make compromises. Respect is the one boundary all relationships should have in common. — Respect Is the Name of the Game
Dear Respect Is the Name of the Game: I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Dear Annie is written by Annie Lane, a young, married mother of two. Send questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.