A question I am frequently asked by wives who have just discovered their husband has been viewing pornography is, “Why am I not enough?” In fact, some wives will whisper that they were shocked because they were the higher desire partner, as if that is something to be ashamed about. For these wives, the discovery of porn in their marriage was a double slap in the face. “I was available and I initiated all the time and I was rejected,” they cry out. “Yet all along, he was looking at strangers online. I don’t understand!”
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
While I doubt they believe me, I ask wives to consider whether porn has less to do about them and sex and more about something else. Maybe when their husbands were first exposed as teenagers it was about the sex. But what if they have gotten into the habit of turning to porn to distract them from something much deeper and darker within their spirit? It doesn’t make it less sinful or the husband less guilty. I’m not trying to defend their actions. But the more I learn about pornography, the more deceptive it seems to be and I wonder if there is more to it than meets the eye.
Consider a desert, and a weary man stumbling across the sand, desperate for a drink of water to quench his thirst. Just above the hill he sees an oasis. When the exhausted traveler finally gets right to the edge of the crystal clear pool, he realizes he is grasping at hot sand. It was only a mirage; his mind playing tricks on him. But up ahead, there is another pool in the distance, so he stumbles towards it. But he will be disappointed again. HE THINKS HE SEES SOMETHING PERFECT, BUT IT ISN’T REAL AND IT DOESN’T QUENCH HIS THIRST. That is how I picture pornography.
THE REAL QUESTION
With her question, “Why am I not enough,” the wife is really saying, “I want to be the one to quench my husband’s thirst.” Which, at first glance, seems like the right response. Except with porn addiction, I really don’t think it’s about sex anymore. That is why wives are not capable of quenching his thirst, because it is no longer a sexual thirst our husbands are after. It is a spiritual one. You can’t possibly meet a spiritual need with a sexual fix, whether it is pornography or even an intimate connection with a spouse. That deep, dark space in your husband’s spirit that he is trying to ignore, forget, avoid, numb, whatever… can only be healed by Jesus.
THE DEEPER NEED
So the answer to the question, “Why am I not enough,” in light of this revelation is “You are not designed to meet your husband’s deepest spiritual needs. “ Only God can meet those needs. For anyone or anything else to stand in God’s place, would be idolatry.
In addition, only God’s Holy Spirit can reveal spiritual needs. That can be difficult to accept for the wife who now understand her husband’s battle with pornography has spiritual roots. She will want to help the Holy Spirit by helping her husband see the light. But only God’s Spirit will be able to reveal truth to her husband, convict him of his sin and call him into repentance and actions designed to restore trust.
So what is a godly wife to do? Is this her new normal?
- A wife can focus on her own recovery and healing, which is centered in resting in the shadow of God’s love. Drawing close to God daily will give wives all they need to walk the difficult road ahead and answer those hard questions. As she prays for herself and her family, she can also pray for her husband, that his eyes would be open and his heart would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
- A wife can also read recovery material and educate herself about pornography. If a husband chooses to fight the battle, it will help tremendously if the wife knows as much as possible when she comes alongside him to fight for the marriage.
- As part of her healing, a wife can seek out Christian counseling for herself, preferably a counselor who specialized in marriage counseling and sexual addiction. She can also explore if there are any groups for spouses in her area.
- A wife should also draw boundaries for her marriage based on what she needs in order to begin her healing process. Again, her growing prayer life, close walk with the Lord and the support of her team will be a tremendous help as she makes difficult decisions and answers tough questions.
The answer to a broken wife’s haunting question “Why wasn’t I enough” is “Only God can meet spiritual needs.” Hurting wives need to know that is the same answer for them as well. Only God can comfort and heal them on their darkest days.