A horrifying reality of living in 2017 is that it's easier than ever to act upon breaking marriage vows. Thanks to Hugh Hefner and the advent of instantly-accessible pornography, a man can cheat on his wife (or vice versa) secretly and seemingly without consequence for years. However, there are consequences, and the spouse who feels jilted and insufficient might blame herself. I've got some strong words about that. If you find yourself on the receiving end of Not-Enoughness (whether your spouse looked at porn or acted on his impulses even more brazenly), I hope this is encouraging.
(I wrote this specifically to women but obviously it can also apply to husbands who have found themselves "not enough" for their wives. I also wrote this many months ago, so please don't try to read between the lines and think I'm trying to bitterly communicate anything to anyone in particular. )
1) God hates what happened more than even you do.
He designed something so good and brilliant as marriage. He joined you and your husband into one flesh. Your marriage is supposed to reflect His love for His church. When this is all so twisted and perverted almost beyond recognition, our righteous-Judge God who feels indignation every day (Psalm 7) is not mildly disappointed. He does not passively shrug. He hates it. Your husband can try to justify his actions and say lust and adultery are different, but Jesus disagrees. He said looking at a woman with lust is committing adultery. Even if your spouse “only” looked at porn, vows were broken and you’ve been cheated on. That’s not a subjective, self-pitying statement. That’s the Word of God.
2) This confirms that you're not just being hyper-sensitive, but there is truly something wrong.
Your husband might have led you to believe that you're just being dramatic or ungrateful or self-conscious...or crazy. But what just happened is proof that your union has been compromised and sin has gained far too much leverage, and you both need counsel and oversight as quickly as possible. Your husband might say he's "totally fine" but his soul needs close care immediately (and so does yours.) You are not "disrespecting" your husband by running to your pastors for help. By being attentive to his soul and using the means God has designed to care for him, you are loving your husband.
3) Even women with "the perfect body" have been cheated on.
No matter what your husband might say, his sin is not your fault. Women with the body type that you think might be "enough" for your husband has proven not to be "enough" for theirs; many women who are considered the hottest celebrities have been betrayed by their man for another woman. Lust is insatiable, and it's impossible to possess every single physical attribute your husband is looking for in others. It's shocking how many images a porn addict can consume even in a short period of time; it doesn't matter if the images are fake or unrealistic...they're easily accessible, and they feed animalistic cravings. What your real body looks like has nothing to do with that.
4) The pain might be a living pain, but God's Word is living too.
If your husband is not turning away from these awful habits, you might have to deal with his unfaithfulness over and over again. Even the reality of that possibility is deeply painful. But as the wound keeps reopening, so does the healing balm. For every wave of hurt you experience, there can come an even greater wave of comfort. God's Word is ready to meet you where you are. Every. Single. Time.
5) You have gained a most beautiful family in Christ.
Let Luke 18:29-30 prove itself to be true. Even if the person who is supposed to be your closest friend has abused your trust, you are not alone because you have gained a very large family in Christ. While you obviously can't go telling all your friends the details of what happened, send out some S.O.S. texts that you're struggling and ask your sisters for prayer, scripture, and song recommendations. You will make it through this, but you're not meant to endure alone, so God has gifted you with community so you can be carried by others. If you don't have such community, find and pursue it!
6) Your heart is more receptive now than ever.
The temptation is to quickly enter escapism and indulge in ice cream or Netflix or worse to forget about what just happened and how you feel about it...you want to drown out your own despairing thoughts. There's wisdom in refusing to listen to the lies your mind is telling you. But drown them out with the numerous scriptures and songs that speak of God's love for you. You can feel pursued by God right now; run to Him while your heart is so broken and teachable. You will relate with the agony of the psalms more than ever. The faithfulness of Christ and the truth of the husband He is for you can sweep you off your feet.
You can sing to him even in your pain. The Lord even hears the sound of your weeping (Psalm 6.) Because of Christ, you are a fragrant aroma to God (2 Corinthians 2.) He has designed your body with the ability to sing, and He has intended singing with the great power to lift your spirits. So, in your weeping---which is totally appropriate for such a time as this---sing to Him.
7) This is a chance to show your husband true, gospel love.
Right now it's probably difficult to determine what's going on in his heart and mind. His anger at himself might be twisted into anger towards you, which makes no sense, but sin can harden and deceive us. He might feel so crippled by shame that he distances himself from you. He might seem mournful and broken, desperate to make amends. He might seem indifferent about it.
However, he responds, the path of love is the right path. How you love him will look different depending on the situation---1 Thessalonians 5:14 gives various instructions for how to deal with different kinds of people---but do know that the path of love is always the correct path. You and your husband desperately need the same Jesus, and the Jesus who came down and sought you and loved you while were dead in your sins calls you to do the same. If your husband feels like he's your enemy, you're still supposed to love your enemies.
See this as your "glory moment," an opportunity to show mercy. As I've stated earlier, it's okay and it's right to feel hurt and angry and broken, but if your heart is turning to bitterness or hatred, be humbled by Matthew 18:21-35 and James 1:20. You have a tremendous opportunity here.
8) God loves to redeem terrible things.
Even Adam and Eve's sin is overshadowed by God's promise to send a savior. Their forced departure from the garden was not without God Himself providing a covering for them. He loves to restore what has been broken (Isaiah 58.) He even makes promises that the New Heaven and New Earth will not be made from scratch, but it will be a redeemed version of what we see and experience now (Romans 8); creation is groaning for it and we join with it. So wait and watch His story of making terrible things beautiful; if you don't see it during this short life, you will one day, and you will rejoice.
I truly hope that if you're reading this and you find yourself in a "not enough" situation, that God will comfort you and restore your marriage. You are not alone in your struggle; women have been struggling with not being "enough" for their husband since Genesis 16 at the very least. But as early as Genesis 16, God has made rejected women know that He sees them and He cares for them. Take heart, dear friend!
Some scriptures to remember:
Some songs to listen to (links are to YouTube videos):
Satisfied in You (Psalm 42) by The Sing Team
He Walks with Me by Sandra McCracken
Band of Gold by The Gray Havens
Photo by Jason Pier on Flickr
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My name is Hope.
I'm 26, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 6, 4, 3, and squishy-baby. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today