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Note from a distraught wife – I don’t watch porn, but I know my husband has viewed it from time to time. 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?
Even the television bombards my mind with their version of the perfect woman. I struggle with being insecure already, but it becomes worse when I think about how I’m in competition with the ladies who are tens in every way.
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?
In my view, 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 internal pressure of porn because it is a major and satisfying player in the male’s fantasy world. Male fantasy is why the pursuer of the cyber woman does not have to catch a real one. It’s all in his mind.
Fantasy 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. It is not primarily about being with her. It is about the theater of the mind that is full of thoughts of being with her.
The Christian wife cannot compete with this kind of assault on her marriage. What could she do anyway? How would she enter into the competition, even if it were possible? The cards are stacked against her because she could never win him if her strategy were to become a close facsimile of the competition.
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 perfection 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 are seeking to earn God’s love or your man’s love, you will not be able to 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 an older version.
The impossibility of sustained perfection is part of the reason why it is delusional to go down that road. The Christian wife cannot keep up with the perfect representation of a woman, and even those who are presented to be perfect can only compete with this mirage for a short season.
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 not sure if she had statistical data to support her claim, but I loved her perspective. Dating the hot babe in a sport’s car may be fun, but it is a relationship you want to give to a lot of prayers if your plans are to continue it.
Dating a girl in a glorified golf cart has long-term potential. Lucia’s lack of showiness is just one of the many things that made her appealing to me. I knew she would be easy to please, and because my handsomeness is so little, 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 uninterrupted tens.
The man who must have a hot babe is placing the same kind of pressure on his wife. It is a trap that will kill any marriage. If the only kind of beauty that matters is external, the relationship is bound to be 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 who has imperishable beauty (or you are at least striving toward it), but your husband is looking for something a little more external. Let me go ahead and burst that balloon: your relationship will never be able to glorify God until he changes fully.
What are your choices? There are two: (1) try to be what he believes is beautiful, and maintaining 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 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 a cyber lady. Perchance you could accomplish this feat, all you would gain is a man who uses you. His fascination with his perspective on perfected beauty is not about love, but about self-indulgent lust.
Would it make you feel better to have your husband lusting after you rather than lusting after other women? Is that the kind of marriage you want? If it is, you do not have a marriage. You have a mutual need-meeting covenant:
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 throwing a tantrum. Give him his toy, and he will be happy.
It is also similar to giving a crack addict another bump so he can take another trip. As long as he can get his fix on, he will be happy. Beautiful women, nice toys, and drugs have one thing in common: They are idols of the lust-depraved heart.
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).
If he does not follow you as you follow Christ, you will not have a husband or a marriage that will glorify God in the way he and it should. If you fall into the competition trap, the result will be an un-glorified God and unsatisfied wife.
The first thing you will have to do is address your heart. You will have to change (if you are thinking about competition). Since your spouse is not listening or asking about change, but you are, begin with yourself. You will have to come to the place to 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 already one of his porn women, just not the one he wants.
To all girlfriends: If you perceive lust has trapped your boyfriend, the best thing you can do is run away (2 Timothy 2:22). Break-up while you have a chance (or you better make sure you guys are getting help.)
It is easy to discern this by how he treats you. If he is more interested in your sanctification than your beauty, you are in the right place. If he is not leading you spiritually, you better take a long pause in how you think about and pursue your relationship with him. By all means, seek biblical wisdom and counsel.
If you have to win him with your beauty, you will lose him shortly after you are married. Beauty is skin deep, and if that is the depth of your boyfriend’s thoughts about you, nobody will be able to compete with his fantasy.
Eventually, you will be replaced and discarded. 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 true condition of her marriage. Though it is a cold and harsh reality to accept, it is imperative she comes to the place of accepting the truth about her marriage.
Disbelief regarding reality will hinder anyone from getting to the place 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 guard against retaliating toward your husband. You will be tempted to sin.
None of these things will honor God or make His name great. They will also hinder you from accomplishing the desire of your heart: 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.
The difference between number one and number two is that the Lord is not against you if you pursue number two. 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 at all. 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 Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).