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Should Roving Eye be forced to wear blinders?

by Dear Jon
January 15, 2002

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Sort 110_Dear Jon-Should Roving Eye be forced to wear blinders? ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,
I have this friend who is happily married, finds his wife attractive and would never cheat on her, but he can't seem to stop looking at other women he finds attractive. Is this just a harmless habit or should he have his eyes gouged out?
Sincerely, Friend of Roving Eye

Dear Roving,
How great it is to get a letter from a woman. Women are rare on the Partial Observer. I hope you find this treatment of your concern both sensitive and insightful.

Two things prove to me that you are a woman. First, men do not question whether habits are "harmless." Men DEFINE habits as "harmless." What is harmful is "addiction." This is why men are very, very specific to point out that they have their habits "under control."

Second, no man would ever suggest that another man should have his eyes gouged out for noticing attractive women. Men know themselves better than that.

I am a married man and my wife is very beautiful. In the world there are women that are very beautiful. A lot of opinions would say that the prettiest women in the world are even prettier than my wife. I know that my wife qualified for a beauty contest once, but then decided not to enter. Anyway, of all the pretty women in the world, there is one with a unique set of graces that no one else duplicates, and that is my wife. I do know that there are many many men that are better-looking than I am. If I were a marriage counselor, which I am not, I would suggest that both the husband and the wife admit that there are many beautiful people in our world, and that they talk about it openly.

For example, I do not have any interest in Women's Figure Skating. The main reason I do not, is that I do not want to see a fifteen year-old girl bear the weight of her nation's pride on her shoulders, and end up stumbling on a triple lutz. Give me a football game any day; I am much more vocal but a lot less tense. The U.S. Women's Figure Skating Championships were on Sunday. A beautiful woman named Michelle Kwan, 6-time champion, along with two cute teenagers, made the cut for the Olympic Team. I sat through a few routines because my wife had just sat with me through the play-off victory of the Green Bay Packers.

Brett Favre is a good-looking, macho, hairy guy. Michelle Kwan is a beautiful woman. We can sit there together and pretend they are not, or notice but try not to let the other person know that we noticed, or we can say, "He's cute" or "she's beautiful" and realize that nothing more needs to be said, admitted, or confessed, because there is no guilt and no secret. If I am threatened because my wife realizes that Brett Favre is a good-looking man, I have a lot of growing up to do.

We just watched "Lord of the Rings." We just rented "What Women Want." I'm going to pretend my wife doesn't notice that Mel Gibson is handsome or that "Strider" is good-looking? No more than she is going to pretend that I don't find Helen Hunt beautiful.

People on the street, people on billboards, people in magazines, are beautiful people. What a wonderful world to be filled with so many beautiful people. The alternative is to wear blinders through life.

There are many things that are not okay. I am not justifying that married men, or any man, can be a leering jerk. There is no such thing as an innocent subscription to pornographic magazines, and no such thing as an innocent stop at a strip club for happy hour. There is no such thing as a chaste leer, whether it is on the street or in the workplace. There is no such thing as a chaste flirtation, either. The difference between maturity and jealousy is the difference in the culpability.

It is not my fault that the woman in the next cubicle is beautiful. It is my fault if I leer or flirt or develop pretexts to be in that woman's company. Those behaviors ought to arouse jealousy in my wife.

When the wife and the co-worker meet at the office Christmas Party, and the co-worker is wearing a strapless sleeveless form-fitting black gown, it is simply stupid when, after the party, the wife says, "I didn't realize how beautiful your co-worker was," for the husband to say, "She is? I hadn't really noticed." Of course you noticed, and now you are lying, and why are you lying?

But if an unhealthy jealousy in a woman drives her husband to secrecy about what he finds attractive or sexy or beautiful, then secrecy becomes a habit for him. He has to say "I hadn't really noticed" to protect feelings that his wife should not have. The problem becomes that he begins to wonder what other secrets he can keep. The unhealthy jealousy of a woman can drive a relationship into unhealthy territory.

Friend of Roving, I think you can rest a little easier. I also think you can evaluate what it will mean for your attitude of trust once you take a mate for yourself. Let people be beautiful; that is one gift. Another gift is a soul-mate for life. The alternative to maturity would be a world full of blind men.

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