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I don’t watch porn, but I know my husband has viewed it from time to time. Even television bombards my mind with its version of the perfect woman. I struggle with being insecure already, but it becomes worse when I think about how I compete with the ladies who are always tens. The little bit I have seen of these women makes me realize there is no way I can compete with them.
What am I to do with these thoughts? Whenever my husband becomes angry with me, the thought goes through my mind that he will bolt for another woman if I don’t meet his needs. Even if he does not bolt, I know he satisfies himself with the ladies who are in a league of their own. What am I to do? – Distraught Wife
Many Christian women are in a seemingly impossible situation. The external pressure from movies and television is pumped into their minds 24/7, telling them what is perfect. The dream weavers in the entertainment industry have all the tools to deliver titillating and tantalizing candy to the male ego. Then there is the pressure of porn because it is a significant and satisfying player in the male’s fantasy world.
The fantasy is why the pursuer of the cyber woman does not have to catch a real one. Imagination is what makes porn so “perfect” for the depraved mind. All a guy has to do is look at the “perfect” woman through the lens of the Internet while enjoying her with his mind’s eye. It is not primarily about being with her. It is about the theater of the mind full of thoughts as he plays the hero in his cyber-illusion.
The Christian wife cannot compete with this kind of assault on her marriage. The cards are stacked against her because she could never win him if her strategy were to compete with perfect competition. What could she do anyway? How would she enter the competition, even if it were possible? The testimony of the Word of God says none of us can compete with perfection. That is the point of the gospel: to come and transform incomplete, broken, and imperfect people. To attempt the ideal through self-generated efforts is a fool’s mission. It is biblical legalism—the relationship-killing process of trying to merit the affection of another person through self-effort.
Whether you seek to earn God’s love or your man’s love, you will not secure or sustain it through self-reliant means. Biblical love is a gift given, not a gift earned. To secure and sustain perfected beauty and physicality is impossible. Even the cyber women cannot do this. They eventually become old and discarded. Their shelf life is a narrow window of opportunity, and once they can no longer meet the criteria necessary, the newer cyber version replaces them. The impossibility of sustained perfection is why it is delusional to go down that road.
There is a better way to think about this problem of competing against perfection. The first place to begin is with a sober-minded shift in worldviews. Lucia told me while we were dating, “Guys date the girl in the sport’s car, but marry the girl in the Festiva.” (A Ford Festiva is a glorified golf cart. Think about a golf cart with doors. That is what Lucia had when we were dating.) I am unsure if she had statistical data to support her claim, but I loved her perspective. Dating the hot babe in a sports car may be fun, but it is a relationship you want to give to many prayers if you plan to continue it. Dating a girl in a glorified golf cart has long-term potential.
Lucia’s lack of showiness is one of the many things that made her appealing. I knew she would be easy to please, and because my handsomeness is somewhat lacking, I felt as though we could make a go of it. Imagine being married to a woman who had to have the perfect home, the newest car, and the latest fashions. The needle on her satisfaction meter would always be pointed to a ten, which means her happiness would rise or fall, depending on her husband’s ability to deliver those uninterrupted tens. The man who must have a hot babe puts the same pressure on his wife. It is a trap that will kill any marriage. If the only type of beauty that matters is external, the relationship is doomed.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Perhaps you are a woman with imperishable beauty (or at least striving toward it), but your husband is looking for something more external. Let me burst that balloon, and my goal is not to be harsh but to move the conversation into reality: your relationship will never glorify God until he changes. What are your choices? There are two: (1) try to be what he believes is beautiful, maintain it for the rest of your marriage, or (2) work on your imperishable beauty while trusting God to change your husband’s idolatrous heart. I am not advocating being out of shape and letting yourself go physically. That is unwise and unbiblical.
I am appealing to you to be rational, reasonable, moderate, and disciplined, but not a fifty-something who is more concerned about how you look on the outside than who you are on the inside. Think about it this way: If you try to compete with cyber women to make your husband happy, you will have to become something like a cyber lady. Perchance you could accomplish this feat, all you would gain is a man who uses you. His fascination with perfected beauty is not about love but unrestrained lust. Would it make you feel better to have your husband lusting after you rather than lusting after other women? Some wives would say “yes” to this, but is that the kind of marriage you want? If it is, you do not have a marriage. You have a mutual need-meeting covenant:
Beautiful women, nice toys, and drugs have one thing in common: Idols of the lust-depraved heart. To compete with the cyber woman is to be a cyber wife. To give your husband his perfect beautified image of a woman to make him happy is similar to appeasing a child who is throwing a tantrum. Give him his toy, and he will be satisfied. It is also similar to giving a crack addict another bump to take another trip. As long as he can get his fix, he will be happy. The answer is not to see how obese and ugly you can become, and it’s not to see how beautiful or perfect you can become. The answer is how you relate to God as a married woman regardless of whether your husband follows you in your pursuit of holiness (1 Corinthians 11:1).
The first thing you will have to do is address your heart. You will have to change (if thinking about the competition manages your thoughts). Since your spouse is not listening or asking for help, but you are, begin with yourself. You will have to come to a place where you do not need your husband’s approval, acceptance, or affection. You will also have to lose your fear of losing him. If he is already looking at porn, you do not have him anyway. You are merely one of his porn women, just not the one he wants.
To all girlfriends: You can run away if lust has trapped your boyfriend (2 Timothy 2:22). Break up while you have a chance (or you better make sure you both are getting help.) It is straightforward to discern where your boyfriend is regarding these things by how he treats you. You are in a good spot if he is more interested in your sanctification than your beauty. If he is not leading you spiritually, you better pause and reflect on your relationship.
By all means, seek biblical wisdom and counsel. If you have to win him with your beauty, you will lose him shortly after marriage. Beauty is skin deep, and if that is the depth of your boyfriend’s thoughts about you, nobody can compete with that fantasy. Eventually, he will discard and replace you, though he may stay in the marriage. Follow the advice of God’s Word rather than the mandates of our culture: beauty is vain. Do not try to keep up with culture’s temptations.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
One of the hardest things for a woman, who feels the need to compete with cyber women, is to realize the actual condition of her marriage. Though it is a cold and harsh reality, she must accept the truth about what is happening with them. Disbelief regarding reality will hinder anyone from getting to where they need to be in their journey with God and others. As you begin to accept the reality of your marriage, you will have to guard your heart against anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentfulness. You will also have to protect against retaliating toward your husband. There will be a temptation to sin.
None of these things will honor God or make His name great. They will also hinder you from accomplishing your heart’s desire: to win your husband’s affection, restore your marriage, and magnify the name of God (Psalm 34:3). Being mean and snarky toward your husband will not win him to God. Do not be that wife. If you have followed these ideas closely, you have discerned how you are up against two impossible situations; it does not matter which way you go, the path will be hard and hurtful. If you try to compete with cyber women, you will eventually realize its impossibility. If you set aside your desires while seeking to win your husband to Christ, you will also suffer.
The difference between the first and second options is that the Lord is not against you if you pursue setting aside your desires. He gives empowering favor to anyone who chooses His path of suffering versus the world’s path of suffering (James 4:6). He will oppose you if you try to win your husband by replacing the cyber women with your version of cultural beauty. That is not winning your husband. It is switching his drug from them to you. Christians do not compete with the world. We are set apart from the world, and if the world does not want to follow our lead, it is their loss and our cross to bear.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).