Should I Hide the Victoria’s Secret Catalog from My Husband?

reading bookDear Shaunti,

I know my husband loves me and thinks I’m attractive. So I’m confused and a little hurt why he asked me recently to put my Victoria’s Secret catalog out of sight. I’ve gotten these in the mail for years and I never once thought I needed to “hide” them from my own husband! Does this mean he’s attracted to other women?

–Hurt and confused

 Dear Hurt and Confused,

I understand why it’s easy to be hurt – but I’m actually really encouraged to hear this.  Because it sounds to me like he’s asking you to put the catalogue away so it doesn’t trigger a common visual male temptation in his mind – which means he’s trying to love and honor you well.  

It is easy to misunderstand this because we women don’t tend to know something about how the male brain is wired.  In the back of the brain (the part that regulates breathing, digestion and the other stuff we don’t consciously think about), there’s a small center called the nucleus accumbens.  This is the center that lights up when you’re famished and you see food across the room.  You’re drawn to notice that food in a very gut-level way.  The next thing that happens, though, is that the cortical (thinking) centers in your brain kick in and you can decide if you’re going to start eating immediately or wait until the rest of the dinner party arrives. 

Clinical studies show the same process happens in a man’s brain when he sees a woman showing off her body.  The nucleus accumbens in his brain lights up and he has an automatic, physical temptation to take in that image. But then his thoughts and his willpower kick in and he can decide whether he wants to continue taking in the image or pull his thoughts away.  Many men try to honor their wives by forcing their thoughts and eyes away, but as long as the image is staring them in the face, the nucleus accumbens is being triggered.  This temptation to look has nothing to do with whether he finds you attractive; it’s purely a biological temptation that he has to fight.  

It sounds to me like your husband is trying to honor and love you well by asking you to remove that temptation in the first place (instead of secretly indulging it). Sounds like you’ve got a good man there.  So instead of being offended, thank him for being a good hubby, and hide the catalog!

Shaunti Feldhahn is a social researcher, best selling author, and speaker.  Read more on the Patheos Faith and Family Channel or fan me on Facebook. 
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • sandycm

    Though I didn’t know medical terms for explaining, these were my thoughts, too. If her husband actually asked her to hide them from him, then obviously the photos were causing thoughts he didn’t want and had to continually deal with. Because men (and women) find others attractive doesn’t mean we don’t still find our husbands/wives attractive and doesn’t mean that we no longer love them. However, when certain things (photos, music, etc.) set off thoughts we don’t want, that may lead to more thoughts we don’t want, that may lead to actions we don’t wish – staying away from the “trigger” is a good thing; and it sounds like this husband is a good man, loving his wife, and only wants to avoid something that he admits makes his thoughts head in the wrong direction.

  • Kayte CookWatts

    I agree with what has been said, and I also suggest that you talk to your husband, so your worry about this doesn’t fester & cause resentment towards him, or more fear. Just bring it up calmly. “Hey, I’m curious why you asked me to hide this from you?” Not “Do you still find me attractive?” which will make him defensive. More than likely, he will tell you what we have already said, and you can let this go.

  • A few years ago I asked my wife and daughters to unsubscribe from these types of catalogs for the same reason. They were glad to do so.

  • Tim

    Oh so I guess those men need to go blind folded in public?! There are many beautiful things in this world and the human body is one of them. Why give woman a low esteem about their body? Only Americans have this idea in their minds because they were taught it was dirty. Come on! Get a grip! Its just under wear. If your man falls for a magazine then he will fall in public.