I’ll be honest: Q&A days are hard. Because oftentimes, a reader’s question hits on a difficult situation. While I write maybe 1000 words to answer the query, the issue here consumes a lot of heartache for the questioner and real-life decisions they have to make. Today’s question is definitely in that realm.
I have been with my husband close to 20 years. I have never been or wanting to be sexual with another man; however, my husband has been pressuring me for many years — wanted to see me in a sexual act with another man. This breaks my heart, makes me feel like he doesn’t love me. I believe practice what you preach. I am a Christian, he is not. Have you heard of this type of thing before? Thank you.
Yes, I’ve heard of this before. It’s called a cuckhold fantasy. The word “cuckhold” refers to the husband of an adulteress and derives from the cuckoo’s habit of laying their eggs in another bird’s nest.
This fantasy has become quite common and is actually one of the top porn searches on the internet. Of course, porn searches don’t necessarily tell you what people would actually do in their sexual relationships, but it is interesting to discover how prevalent this fantasy is.
The first question many are likely asking is why would any husband want this? Surely, we know that adultery damages marriage, right? Why would any spouse invite adultery into their home?
There are a number of potential reasons, ranging from the adrenaline rush a husband might get from a forbidden sexual act, to a belief that he cannot fully satisfy his wife so he wants someone else to do it, to a desire to see his wife treated like a “whore.” Two of the more convincing options I read are:
1. The masculine tendency toward competition means that a man might enjoy seeing his wife as desirable, and even actively sexual, with other men. In turn, he gets aroused that she is so sought after yet she chose him and that he will assert his dominance over the competitors by keeping her when the other man is gone.
Does this sound perverse? Yes, but let’s remember that it’s an extreme version of every love triangle we’ve obsessed over in fiction or the screen (Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, anyone?).
2. The prevalence of pornography has made men into sexual voyeurs. They have been trained to be aroused by watching as much or more than participating. Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D. expressed it well in his article, “What Secret Male Sexual Fantasy Is Surprisingly Common?” in Psychology Today:
It only makes (erotic) sense that if we’re now subject to a porn-centric culture, many men … would be exceptionally turned on by fantasizing their partner as an enticingly provocative porn star, unrestrainedly exhibiting the wildest excitement in expressing her rawest, most provocative sexuality.
Husbands even expressed to one researcher: “My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world to me, I’d rather watch her having sex than some porn actress I don’t know” (David J. Ley Ph.D., “Why would you do that? (Watch your wife with another man),” Psychology Today).
Of course, finding out that a fantasy is widespread and can be explained doesn’t make it right or a good idea. In fact, this is a supremely stupid idea.
Even the secular article by Dr. Seltzer, mentioned above, noted that “experts writing on the subject of cuckold sex have observed that its reality … generally doesn’t begin to live up to the fantasy. Too many other emotions (i.e., other than pure lust) are likely to interfere with its enticement — like embarrassment, jealousy, fear, shame, anger, and resentment.” Fantasies are rather controlled experiences, an ideal of what it would be like, while the reality is often quite different.
In the fantasizer’s mind, he gets to watch his wife have sex with another man, which arouses him as a sexual voyeur and makes him feel more powerful because he possesses this highly erotic woman. But what about what she feels during the act? Either she feels like an object used to turn her husband on or she enjoys the experience, making it a true competition and comparison with the sex she’s had with her husband. And how do either of those promote trust or intimacy in a marriage? Of course they don’t.
Moreover, what happens when all is said and done? Is this a one-off? Does it launch a pattern? Is she now to be whored out to various men to satisfy her husband’s fantasies? Does she begin to conclude that the sex is better with those other men after all? Why stay with the husband who either treats her like a harlot or who can’t sexually satisfy her?
Ultimately, though, adultery is wrong in any context. While I believe that God’s rules protect us from personal harm — thus, my point that sexual cuckholding is a stupid idea — the greater argument is that it’s immoral. Here’s some of what the Bible says about sleeping with someone who isn’t your spouse:
“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18).
“But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).
After King David slept with a married woman, God sent the prophet Nathan to convict David of his sin. David, finally admitting to his adultery, prayed to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge” (v. 4, read the whole psalm here).
Cheating on your spouse, whatever the context, is sinning against God.Cheating on your spouse, whatever the context, is sinning against God. Click To Tweet
Knowing that it would be terrible for your marriage and a sin against your Heavenly Father, what do you do with the request from a husband to fulfill his cuckhold fantasy?
This husband is an unbeliever, which is a difficult situation in and of itself. Let’s see what the Word of God says about that:
“If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:13-14).
“In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives” (1 Peter 3:1).
A lot gets made of the phrase “submit yourselves to your own husbands…” with some arguing that it’s the submission that will win over their husbands. I’ve heard of Christian wives going through with problematic or immoral sexual requests from their husbands because they think what matters most is the wife’s submission in marriage.
But these verses are very clear that what wins over a non-believing spouse is that the believer live out their Christianity. You can’t say yes to anything that takes you away from God’s desire that you be holy, pure, and reverent.
You have to say no, and say it firmly.
Sometimes when a spouse realizes their fantasy will never ever ever happen, they drop it and the issue fades away. Through the power of extinction, not rewarding the behavior of thinking/discussing a bad sexual fantasy, the spouse might get over it.
Other times the spouse continues to talk about their desires. And that’s when you have to set boundaries. Things like:
- “If you bring up the subject again, I will leave the room. Because it’s emotionally painful to me for you to suggest me sleeping with anyone but you.”
- “If you can’t let this go, then we need to go see a counselor. Because I want to feel emotionally safe in our marriage, and when you bring up this fantasy over and over, I don’t.”
- “If you ever invite a man over to have sex with me or attempt to force me into this act, I will leave. Marriage should be exclusive, and I will not be a part of adultery.”
Then if your husband does any of those things, you have to follow through.
I know that’s tough. But at the end of the day, we cannot enable sin. Even from our spouses.We cannot enable sin. Even from our spouses. Click To Tweet
Definitely practice what you preach. Be the example of what it means to be a loving spouse, to be a trustworthy wife, to be a holy Christian. Set godly standards and then keep them.
I’m praying for you.