When a committed spouse is unhappy in a marriage the chances of someone else catching their eye increases. This does not excuse anyone. It just is.
In general, both men and women respond to cues from the opposite sex. But, I suspect that there is a gender difference in how they respond. One reason for that suspicion is due to a complaint that I have heard. Men are known to size up strange women even when in the presence of their date or partner. Women, on the other hand will be more discrete so as not to hurt the feelings of the man they are with.
A few options here:
- Women are more sensitive by nature and consider the feelings of another person more than men do.
- Women are not as visually stimulated as are men.
- Men are more promiscuous than women.
There may actually be a greater difference within each sex than there is comparing them. In other words, there may be women who are not as drawn to a man based on his physical appearance as the opposite. Perhaps these women are attracted to a more holistic assessment. But, there may also be women who are very drawn to a man based on his looks. It is really an individual thing, but perhaps we can generalize in the same way that men are taller than women.
So, unlike the workplace friendship that grows beyond expectations, when a man sizes up a strange woman, it is due to how attractive he perceives her to be. Almost always, "nothing" will happen as a result. But, that "nothing" is excluding something important. Every time someone of the opposite sex seems more "successful" at something than their spouse, a negative comparison is registered.
A woman may notice that her neighbor's husband is more helpful around the house or spends more time with his children than her spouse does. Maybe, her house doesn't look so good compared to someone down the street. If this is important to her, a negative comparison is being registered.
Aside from trying not to flaunt our successes, there isn't too much that can be done about these comparisons. Yes, both partners should try to prioritize where they invest their energy, but there will always be someone more successful at something. It is also true that the neighbor with the spouse driving the new fancy car with no rust may not be so kind with his words, etc. But, we do tend to obsess more about what we consider to be the green grass on the other side of the fence than the negatives.
So, where is all of this leading? When I chose the picture for this post, I spent a lot of time trying to find something that was respectful and yet conveyed an emotion. There are plenty of pictures of women dressed and posing provocatively. But, just posting such a picture might be contributing to the issue.
The issue? Men will always be attracted to women based on their physicality despite other characteristics. Victorian literature mentions how excited men became when they saw an uncovered ankle.
Perhaps it is all relative. That is, when a woman dresses not just attractively but beyond the norm, she is having an impact on the marriage of another woman. So, should she consider the impact her behavior is having? Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting anything extreme. This is just something to consider. Men and women will always attract each other in so many ways.
This may be where an old fashioned concept could apply. Modesty. It seems that in today's world, modesty is something to be embarrassed about. Yes, every generation must say that about the generation that follows. But, now you can simply measure the change over time. Just compare the lyrics from a generation ago with the uncensored lyrics of today's songs. While in the past there were always songs that were suggestive, in general, lyrics would focus on the passion in a relationship. Now, there is a focus on impersonal sexuality. Want to become popular quickly? Pretend to be shocked that private videos have been released.
Once again, to avoid being misunderstood, human sexuality has always been a very powerful force in society. Adultery has always taken place as have many other practices. People have always been doing what they were not supposed to be. People are people.
So, again where does this bring us? Modesty and a happy marriage do not have to conflict. Neither does a healthy sexual relationship with one's partner imply that you have to be a prude. But, modesty, in all of its expressions is a key not only to what goes on in our own relationships, but also to the collateral damage we cause around us. Our behavior, including our dress, has an impact.
I would like to state that in Judaism, a man is told to control where he looks. One's heart strays after one's eyes. This is not an easy struggle. It seems that a man's eyes are magnetically drawn to where they shouldn't focus. But, that doesn't mean that the struggle is not valuable. Enjoy your wife. She should enjoy your enjoying her.
My messages to men including myself:
- Be more sensitive to where you look and the effect you are having on your marriage.
- Always be working on your marriage.
- Treat your wife with love and respect so that she won't be tempted elsewhere.
My message to women:
- Be considerate of other people's relationships.
- Always be working on your marriage.
- Treat your husband with respect and love so that he won't be temped elsewhere.