Fantasy seems like an invincible foe. Close your eyes and you can picture anything you want, with no one to stop you. Unlimited helpings of dessert, without gaining any weight? Done. Scoring the winning touchdown in next year’s Super Bowl? Done. Being on the beaches of Tahiti instead of studying for your final exam? Done.
The Danger of Fantasy
Your imagination can take you places in the blink of an eye with fantasy. The first question one might ask is, what’s so wrong with this? The above examples of fantasy are certainly innocent enough, but what happens if these fantasies become so strong they alter your reality? What if a person believes so strongly that Santa Clause exists that they buy millions of dollars’ worth of arctic exploration gear and trek to the North Pole to find him? What if someone loved fantasizing about food so much that they stopped eating real food? Fantasy isn’t as innocent as it seems. It can make you crazy and drain the life out of you.
These descriptors aren’t that far off from what sexual and relational fantasies can do to our marriages. Although different, the fantasies of porn, romance novels, and thinking about affairs share some similarities.
Porn trains your brain to be attracted to something staged that isn’t human, and it trains you to turn the women or men you see in real life into objects that aren’t human. Last time I checked, “not human” was not only a fantasy, it’s also a little crazy, like the man looking for Santa at the North Pole. You will never find what you’re looking for in porn. You can search for it your entire life and you will never find it.
The same is true of romance novels. Your husband will never be the fictitious hunk you read about in the romance novel, full of unrealistic charm, romance, and sexual prowess. Longing to be with a fictional character is like someone watching Star Wars and thinking they could go out and marry Han Solo. These are stories that someone sat down at their desk and made up. They aren’t real!
Fantasy can also be lethal, like the person who fantasizes about food so much that they stop eating the real thing. Not that you will physically die from thinking about sexual and relational encounters outside of your marriage, but fantasy will suck away the life that you do have. This type of fantasy is like a parasite. It feeds you a constant diet of discontentment as it slowly sucks the life out of your reality. It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re always thinking about being somewhere else. This is true of any area of life. I truly believe contentment is the most valuable treasure in the universe (see Philippians 4:11-13).
The Best Antidote to Fantasy
The best antidote to fantasy is to intentionally and consciously improve your reality. Instead of watering the grass on the other side of the fence, water what’s beneath your feet. In some marriages, this is all it takes to turn crunchy brown grass into the lush green stuff you’ve been longing for.
Fantasy is a way of running away from your marriage and investing elsewhere. Whenever you’re tempted to run away from your marriage mentally, do something to intentionally run toward it. Find a way to show love to your spouse in a way they might appreciate! Doing this over time will change the atmosphere of your marriage. You can only control your end of the marriage, but that’s still 50% of the air! If you change your 50%, the whole room is going to freshen up drastically.
Sometimes this change will cause your spouse to show you love in return, which is a beautiful thing. A lackluster reality filled with fantasy has now been replaced with a life full of lush reality.
Unfortunately, there are also many other marriages where your spouse won’t change and the marital reality stays stagnant. As discouraging and painful as this is, returning to fantasy still won’t help you, but investing in reality will. You can still choose to be healthy and invest in other aspects of your life. Anything that will keep you from sexual and relational fantasy is going to help you.
The best place to start is your relationship with Jesus. What we long for most in our marriages is intimacy, and a bottomless well of intimacy can be found in Jesus. Cultivate this reality regularly. Know that even if it doesn’t feel like your spouse wants you, Jesus does!
In Jesus, you also find that you are a son or daughter of God, and that he has created you in his image. Psalm 139:1-18 tells us how God intricately wove each of us together in our mother’s wombs. How did God weave you? What things are you passionate about? What things do you love to do? Instead of meditating on sexual and relational fantasy, invest in these other things! Create a beautiful garden of life with the talents and gifts God has uniquely given you. These beautiful flowers add hope and joy to barren wastelands.
When fantasy rears its alluring head, don’t buy what it’s selling. Fight back by investing in your reality. There are only two options: what is real and what isn’t. Why waste time on the latter when all you have is the former?