Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.
I'll look at this with you from a more or less "genderless" perspective if I can. We can start with the premise that is normative to take wedding vows and agree to to be faithful and fully monogamous
. To most men and women, this means that you don't socialize privately with members of the opposite sex if your spouse isn't present, and you certainly don't cheat on your spouse. HOWEVER, it is also normative for both men and women to emotionally and vicariously
place themselves in romantic and sexualized situations through pictures and popular media. For example, many married women read highly sexualized romance novels or watch soap operas, and IDENTIFY with the women in romantic and sexual scenes (meaning, they empathize with the female partners and vicariously imagine themselves in that situation with the male character). In fact, if these scenes did
not have this emotional pull and couldn't prompt people to strongly identify and vicariously 'experience' what the characters experience, the soap opera, or the book or TV show or movie, would lose money. Men do much the same thing as women. So humans are observational learners---meaning that we learn about emotions, feelings and love in great measure through modeling and observational learning. Research shows that people "feel" reinforced normally, when they see someone else get reinforced e.g., receive a hug, get an ice cream cone for positive behavior, or experience a sexual embrace. This capacity makes all of us fast social learners. Once we've observationally learned something, we re-experience whatever emotion was associated with the learning, when we are exposed to the observational stimuli in the future e.g., a picture or video, for instance.
What I'm getting at here is that most men and women really do, quite normally, experience the sort of thing your husband is reporting---even those men and women who are in 100% monogamous, high trust, high fidelity marriages. Men may see a nude picture in a museum; or women, a photo of a character such as Fabio, and feel some arousal or sexual excitement. Were this not the case, magazines such as Playgirl (for women) would never have developed or thrived; there would be no male strippers entertaining women. And, Playboy magazine would never have thrived----80% of male college students viewed playboy regularly while in college in the 70s for instance. Yet, a majority of guys are in quality monogamous relationships today; some aren't of course.
What to do about men and women, normatively engaging in vicarious sexualized situations via pictures, videos, romance novels, etc.? Well, most couples I've worked with over the years come to accept this sort of emotional reaction in one another's' spouses (and themselves) as "normal", but
they put a very, very clear boundary between the occasional and often inadvertent viewing or reading of this material, and ACTING OUT. So most married women, feel they can trust their men so long as their guy NEVER acts out e.g., steps foot in a club where there is lap dancing going on or semi-nude waitresses running about---without their wife present at least. Many put a limit on PORN because it can become an "acting-out" addiction, robbing a relationship of a couple's time and attention spent together, and sometimes leading to online sex ting and blogging. Again, couples draw the line regarding trustworthiness at experiences involving overt actions or behavior, not the thoughts or fantasies that most men and women experience
. My 70 year old mother, about 20 years ago openly talked about her emotional arousal and 'lust' for Michael Flatley when she saw him in Riverdance. She bought his videos and followed him on his tours via his website. But she would never, ever think of sleeping
with him, if given the opportunity, because she vowed to be exclusively my dad's life partner. Now, this a my very conservative, Catholic mother who went to church every Sunday. Was her arousal normal? Yes, but the important point is that she didn't act out---she held deeply internalized values against acting out on her feelings. My dad never became jealous or concerned about this late-life event.
So one way of construing this situation you are in might be to consider that it is the acting out and excessive involvement with sexualized material that becomes a problem in a marriage in terms of trust,
not reacting emotionally to pictures, or a story line. In fact, when I deal with couples where there is a problem with actual cheating (the behaviors), there is always a struggle for the spouse who cheated to figure out how to 'convince' his wife that he will be faithful in the future. Well, I tell him he cannot convince her. What he can do is sit down with her and review the BEHAVIORS he needs to engage in today, tomorrow, and long term, that will build trust, because words, intentions, images, promises don't matter---only behaviors build trust. So, we might agree on various "transparency behaviors"---e.g., no private cell phone accounts or lines, no credit cards the other spouse doesn't know about, no time spent on the internet reviewing sex-related websites; no memberships to any websites the spouse doesn't know about; no solo travel on non-business-related trips without one's spouse---clear actions and behaviors. This is the only way to rebuild trust. Again, emotional reactions to words, images, fantasies, etc. don't count, only trust behaviors count and rebulld trust. What I'm getting at here is that your husband is probably like many other men AND women in terms of physiologically reacting to visual stimuli; one is probably safe in assuming he is trustworthy unless you have evidence that his BEHAVIOR says otherwise
; for example, if he has moved from an occasional, visual fantasy to acting out in some manner.
Now, you mentioned that he would get excited if he saw you with another man having sex. This admission might suggest that he holds different values than you do about the meaning of sex in a relationship. But all in all, based on your post, I would hypothesize that aside from this particular issue, there are other significant problems in your marriage i.e., you have actually had material reasons to question his trustworthiness because of certain behaviors; or you don't feel truly loved and respected by him because of his actions, etc. I wonder whether this other "stuff" or other areas of disappointment for you, if they exist, have accumulated a bit and causes you to react especially negatively to the sexual arousal issue you initially posted. so this is an educated speculation about what also might be in play here.
What do you think?