Note from Samantha:
If I had to define my question of the year for 2013, it would undoubtedly be, “How would a godly wife handle this/that situation?”. Wifehood is a high and honorable calling, and like anything worth fighting for, it comes with its own battles and challenges.
Along the journey, I have found rare gems of women who share their wisdom with honesty – even in the raw, and oftentimes messy, struggles along the pilgrimage of godly wifehood. Therefore, I am excited to share with you a new extension to godlywomanhood.com – the Godly Wives segment!
Godly Wives is a space where women talk candidly and honestly about real issues in marriage. Here I will share with you treasures from other women who have gone before us in the journey, and who graciously speak about issues that many women keep hush hush about.
Today we have April Cassidy sharing with us about our husbands’ visual nature. She acknowledges how this nature can be very hurtful to wives, and shares with us how we can help ourselves, help our husbands, and support them. I pray you’ll be blessed and encouraged as you read on, and do check out her blog when you’re done!
I have had a LOT of comments lately from wives who are REALLY hurting because of their husbands’ indulgence in visual sexual temptation, flirting, pornography, etc. And although I do NOT remotely consider myself to be an expert at all about this, I think it is an ongoing discussion that we can start and maybe some of the more mature wives who have learned to handle this gracefully can edify and encourage other wives who are in deep pain over these issues. And we can certainly pray for one another and seek to build up unity in our marriages and seek to honor God and our husbands through these difficult situations. I want to see us as godly women rise up to support our husbands instead of tearing them down and treating them with disrespect – no one will benefit from that.
Men are responsible for their own sin before God. Women are responsible for their own sin before God. But how we react and respond can make a huge difference in making things much easier or harder on our husbands.
(If you have an infidelity situation or a chronic pornography addiction situation, please find godly, experienced help for yourself and your marriage ASAP!!!!)
GOD CREATED MEN AND WOMEN TO BE DIFFERENT
God also made balance between us. Where we are weak, our men are usually stronger. And where they are weak, we are usually stronger. God did make men to be very visually sexually stimulated. That is part of His good design for marriage and sex. And He made women to be stimulated more with words, actions and touch. That is also part of His good design for sex in marriage.
I am actually very thankful for God’s design. I like the way he gave each spouse certain priorities that are different from the other’s. I like how he made wives to usually need emotional and spiritual connection in order to be open to physical intimacy. And I like how God made husbands to need the opposite – to need physical intimacy in order to open up spiritually and emotionally. It can be insanely frustrating if both partners are being selfish, but I think the goal is that to get our own needs met, we often need to meet the other person’s needs first. That teaches us holiness, maturity, unselfishness and makes us have to stretch beyond our own perspective.
I’m glad that men aren’t the same as women. I think it is a good thing that men are so visual – that way if there has been an argument and the couple is not speaking to one another – if the husband sees his wife changing for bed, he might be motivated to try to make things right with her emotionally and spiritually so that he can have the physical connection he wants.
And I am glad that women have to learn to give of themselves physically sometimes when they may not feel like it because that sexual union energizes the marriage and unity and the emotional and spiritual connection. We learn to be part of a TEAM instead of just thinking about our own needs and desires. God also uses the hearts of women to keep spiritual and emotional intimacy on the radar. We are a kind of barometer that shows how the relationship is doing and we often pick up on issues that are heading for trouble before our husbands do. Our emotions are a gift, but they are also our weakness! Thankfully, God can use this to make us holy!
A HUSBAND’S VISUAL STRUGGLE CAN BE VERY PERSONALLY PAINFUL FOR HIS WIFE
Unfortunately, many times wives take the visual struggles their husbands have and make them deeply personal. It is very difficult for a wife to know that her husband is visually attracted to another woman without feeling that SHE is somehow not “woman enough,” not beautiful enough, not attractive enough or that she has failed as a wife somehow.
If I understand the way men generally think, the visual temptation they struggle with is not related to their love and devotion to their wives. It is a battle, and in our culture today, the battle is almost constant sometimes. But some men are able to jump from the temptation or quickly avert their eyes and turn their thoughts to their wives, be thankful that they are healthy men and then begin thinking about their own wives instead of dwelling on other women. With the power of God’s Spirit and discipline, men can and do overcome these kinds of temptations, just like with the power of God’s Spirit and discipline, women can and do overcome emotional and hormonal temptations. But none of us are perfect. We are all very human. We may fail sometimes.
HOW A WIFE CAN MAKE THINGS WORSE FOR HER HUSBAND
There can be a REALLY vicious cycle of a man giving in to sin and temptation, his wife finding out and reacting in disrespect (understandably), but then the husband can feel that it is hopeless to try to do right because of the lack of respect and that can drive him to more sin. Of course, the more he sins, the less his wife respects him. The less respected he feels, the more closed he is to his wife and his love for her shuts down and the more enticing the temptation seems.
If a husband does struggle with visual temptation, a wife can probably make things worse by:
- Scolding him
- Criticizing him
- Lecturing him
- Looking down on him like she is so much better than he is
- Telling him how evil he is
- Being cold to him
- Spying on him and constantly checking behind him
- Being very untrusting of him
- Despising him
These would be very natural reactions a wife would want to have if her husband was lusting after another woman or pornography. But are these reactions going to lead him toward greater godliness? How does God desire us to react to gently restore our brother who was caught in sin? I want us to really think and pray about these critical questions and help each other in this area!
Ideally, a husband would repent and find accountability and be transparent and open and honest and there would be a new level of depth to the marriage. But for a husband to recover from any kind of visual temptations, he is going to need a supportive wife who can give grace and forgiveness, not a hostile one.
WE HAVE OTHER WEAKNESSES USUALLY
Some women are very visual and struggle with visual temptations and pornography, but many of us don’t relate to that struggle at all. So it is very easy for us to condemn our husbands and think we are so much more spiritually mature because we don’t struggle with that particular temptation. It is SO easy for pride, unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment to allow Satan to create a huge fortress in our souls in these situations! We have to be so very careful!
Women usually have more emotional weaknesses. We lose our tempers. We are impatient. We are hormonal with PMS or menopause or pregnancy or post partum depression and we snap our husbands’ heads off. Our hormones GREATLY affect our temptations and weaknesses! We expect our husbands to be understanding and patient with us as we battle our raging hormones and out of control emotions, even though they can’t relate to that struggle. But we allow our hormones to let us slip into sin sometimes and expect our husbands to forgive us. We say VERY HATEFUL things that are extremely destructive and we need a LOT of grace and forgiveness.
Our husbands are also greatly impacted by their hormones. Testosterone and the way their brains are designed makes them very visually stimulated. The only men who probably don’t struggle with visual temptation toward women are homosexual men and men who have extremely low levels of testosterone or certain medical problems. We don’t really want to wish one of those options on our men, do we? Part of being a healthy man is this struggle. Our culture makes it MUCH WORSE than ever before. But our men will need our acceptance, grace, support and prayers to help them victoriously win this battle. We don’t have to accept or respect sin, but we can’t expect them to think and act like women, either. That isn’t fair or realistic.
HOW CAN A WIFE SUPPORT HER HUSBAND IN HIS TEMPTATION?
For wives who have discovered additional ways to address this issue that are effective, please email me and I will post your answers so that other wives might find ideas, support and encouragement. This is not an easy topic. It is extremely painful on both sides of the equation. But I am interested in finding very practical and real ways to promote godliness, unity, growth, maturity and holiness in a marriage where the husband struggles with visual temptation.
Some possible ideas to think and pray about:
- Pray for your husband as a FRIEND and FELLOW SINNER. I think our prayer needs to be from a heart of love for our husbands and a desire to see him stay tight with Christ not out of fear for ourselves. I think we can pray for God to empower our husbands with His Spirit and protect them from temptation and evil and pray for the same thing for ourselves.
- See your own sin clearly and humbly (pride, un-forgiveness, resentment, bitterness, anger, withholding your body from your husband – unless there is infidelity going on or you are mutually agreeing to abstain for prayer)
- It’s ok to cry and hurt and need some time to heal
- It’s good to have a godly female mentor who can help you see what direction to take, but PLEASE don’t tell all of your friends and family about your husband’s sin – you are going to be able to forgive him in time with God’s power, but they may not be so forgiving.
- Praise all that he is doing RIGHT
- Respect all that is good in him
- I do think we can say things like, “This REALLY HURTS me. Please don’t do this!!” “I feel so dishonored and disrespected.” “My trust in you has been shaken. I need you to help me be able to trust you again.” I think we can respectfully confront the sin but at the same time communicate our support. “I want to support you in this, right now I am hurting a lot. Please tell me what I can do that would be helpful to you.”
- Don’t react out of fear, go to God to be your source of strength, your refuge and your source of power and wisdom
- Don’t try to make your husband change in your own power by your words – only the Holy Spirit can really create profound and lasting change in a person’s soul.
- Check out online Christian resources and find ideas for healing, help and hope!
- Give room for God to work in your husband’s life and to convict him
- Don’t expect your husband to be perfect and be Christ to you – is your husband possibly an idol in your soul?
- Be a safe place for your husband to tell his struggles
- Be open to hear what he thinks might help him and be willing to support him in his efforts to stay pure
- Be mindful of your own weaknesses and sins that your husband has forgiven so many times
- Be willing to make some effort to look attractive physically for him in a way that is meaningful to him sometimes
- Be sexually available to him (unless he is actively involved in sin, then you may have to say something like, “I can’t be with you until you repent and restore my trust” and have a plan how he can do that – this may need to involve godly, outside, experienced help!)
- Be ready and able to extend grace
- Share your temptations with your husband so that you both keep each other accountable and avoid tempting situations
- Realize that you can assist your husband and support him, but you are not RESPONSIBLE for his sin or for keeping him from sin. You can really make yourself crazy if you try to take on accountability for his sin and you can drive him far, far away from you and from God if you try this method
- We may need to think about dressing modestly in public and have our daughters dress modestly in public to reduce the visual temptation for other men
- Maybe we can dress to encourage our husbands to enjoy our beautiful bodies in our own marriages, and capitalize on our husbands’ visual nature in marriage and use that to help increase the bond and unity in our marriages
This post does not begin to scratch the surface of this issue. But I wanted to get the conversation started. Pornography and lust are HUGE, HUGE problems in the church and in our marriages today and I believe that these temptations are paralyzing our godly men and even some of our pastors, teachers and leaders and keeping them impotent in the kingdom of God. If Satan can ensnare our leaders and keep them from being effective warriors in God’s kingdom, we are going to be pretty lost and wounded as the church.
You know the depth of the problem of pornography and lust in our midst in the church and in our marriages. You know how successful Satan’s snares have been to our men. You know how handicapped the church and our leaders and husbands and fathers are because of this overwhelming problem. I lift up our men to You. I ask for You to restore them to Yourself! I ask for You to raise up a generation of godly men. I ask for You to set into motion systems for accountability. I ask for You to empower our men to be the powerful men of God, leaders and heroes You desire them to be.
I ask for You to show wives how we can respond in Your Spirit and in Your power and strength when our men fail. I ask You to let us not make idols of our husbands, but to keep You alone on the throne of our souls. I ask You to empower us to be the helpmeets our men need. Use us to strengthen, support and encourage our men. Help us respond in a godly way that brings life, strength, unity and holiness. Help us see our own sin clearly, help us not embrace pride or unforgiveness but strengthen us to be godly women and wives who can truly partner with our husbands to bring the power of Your Spirit to difficult and painful situations and to bring healing and restoration to marriages and to the faith of many husbands and wives!
In the Name and Power of Christ,
- “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn has a chapter about what temptations men have, what it is like to live as a man with these issues, how wives can best support their husbands and some very practical information that I think is extremely helpful.
- www.themarriagebed.com is a Christian site about married sex that honors God and has info about dealing with pornography.
- http://www.blazinggrace.org This site is a Christian site that has many resources and is run by a man with a POWERFUL testimony about how God alone healed him from porn and sex addiction.
- Every Man’s Battle http://everymansbattlevideo.com/
April Cassidy loves Jesus Christ with all her heart, soul, mind and strength and desires to honor Him with all that she thinks, says and does. She loves being her husband’s wife, and is thrilled to get to live with him each day. She loves being mom to their son and daughter, and desires to raise and nurture them in the ways and wisdom of God and His Word. She is a part-time pharmacist and enjoys counseling her patients and seeing people find relief from pain and suffering. She has a huge heart for wives and women, and desires to see marriages and romances be vibrant, God-honoring, full of life and blooming with the beauty of God’s design. Read her articles at www.peacefulwife.com.
Thank you for at least mentioning that some of us women are also very visual and prone to visual lust like pornography. I’ve been a highly visual woman since I came of age. As such I understand the struggle many men have, but I also say there is no excuse. Your eyes should only be for your spouse.
I do think though that dressing modestly is something that women might find they enjoy and would certainly help to purify our culture. As a Christian, I consider burqas even. I’ve written my thoughts on burqas at http://stayathomewifeandwriter.blogspot.com/2014/12/burqas.html I’d love to hear from other Christian women (and from Muslim women and others). I think modest dress can be liberating.