Why am I not enough for him?

For women married to a porn user

This is a question I’ve heard from every wife I’ve counseled whose husband is involved with pornography. Some of these wives knew about the porn before marriage, but naively believed that she could change him, that their love for one another would help him overcome the temptations as he ravished in her love. But then it happened—she discovered the website he’d been viewing and she was devastated!

“What’s wrong with me that he wants someone else, a fantasy no less? Why isn’t he satisfied with our love?” From those questions come a barrage of self-incriminations about being too fat, not pretty enough, too this or that, unable to “do it” like the girls on the screen. The wife of a porn addict quickly buys into the lie that it is somehow her fault! And many of those husbands are quite satisfied to lay the blame right at her feet.

When a wife struggles with discovering her husband involved in porn on any level, it is helpful to her just to know she is not alone in asking those awful, but common, questions. He is not really so different from every other man addicted to pornography in the way he treats her, and she is not so different in the way she responds to him and that knowledge. We are more alike than we are different. Through the ages and across cultures, the human heart hasn’t changed much…we are still created in the image of God, but marred by sin which has changed everything. Yet sin has a certain predictable pattern it follows once the “sin of choice” is established in an individual’s life.  That’s what Scripture means when it says we become a slave to sin…we no longer control it, but it controls us and we follow it’s course in a downward spiral until we allow Christ to intervene by changing who is our Master (Romans 6-8).

How do we help the wife who struggles with believing she is somehow responsible for his choices? She must believe God’s Word that each of us is individually responsible for the choices we make. No one, including the devil, can make a true follower of Christ sin! We may set a stage making it easier for another to choose to sin, but they are still individually responsible for their decision to act out on the temptation, or to cry out to the Lord for his help (1 Corinthians 10:13-14) and to claim the victory promised true believers (Romans 8:37-39).

Our next goal would be to help that wife find her true identity in Christ alone. She needs to be fortified in her own walk with the Lord, confident in who she is as an individual known and loved by God, forgiven and approved by her Heavenly Father. As she grows “vertically” in her relationship with the Lord and is satisfied in His love, she can better evaluate all of her “horizontal” relationships to see what, if anything, needs to change to honor the Lord. She will then be less vulnerable to believe every lie she hears (either in her head or from her husband) about blaming herself for his sin because she isn’t good enough. Daily she grows stronger by walking with her Lord (Matthew 11:28-30) and believing His evaluation of her (Ephesians 1-3).

Sue’s husband was caught again: he viewed pornography and said it was her fault because she didn’t give him what he wanted. She had all the “normal” questions: What did she do wrong to make him struggle so in lust? No, she hadn’t been a perfect wife, yet she tried to honor and serve him in all the proper ways, including being his sexual companion and lover. She regularly made love to him, but refused when he began to ask her to do “kinky things” he had learned from his pornography. He then lashed out in anger with a barrage of accusations she couldn’t imagine. She had always thought their relationship had been pretty good. Now she heard that he blamed her for his struggle since she wasn’t “with him” in his sexual desires, so he “had to look elsewhere to feel like a real man.” He admitted he had struggled since his teens and thought marriage would cure his problem. Now he blamed her that he still struggled.

Sue bought into his blame game until we looked at Biblical truth. She began her road to healing, and encouraged him to get help to renew his mind in God’s Word and to change for God’s glory (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:17-24). He got counseling and became accountable to godly men. It wasn’t an overnight change for either of them, but it was the beginning of a satisfying marriage with two vertically committed partners dependent on the Lord for strength and wisdom to walk in victory. When both saw the Lord as “enough” for them as individuals, then each was free to love the other as God intended in marriage.