Tag Archives: sexual fantasies in marriage

Q&A with J: “My Husband Wants to See Me with Another Man”

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.

Also see Should You Go Along with His Sexual Fantasy?

Should You Go Along with His Sexual Fantasy?

I recently received the following comment from a reader. Her question addresses a specific situation, but the issue is more general.

I was wondering if you could address an issue that I’ve been uncertain on how to deal with. Previous to our marriage, my husband viewed porn. His favorite fantasy is bondage. He told me this before we got married. This is what arouses him the most. I am fairly certain that he has not viewed any pornography in a long time. While we can and do have sex at times without any bondage taking place (that would be him tying up and gagging me, mostly lightly but sometimes hard), he always wants to tie me up when we have sex.

I feel like this is not right, a carryover from a warped view of sex. He does not see anything wrong with it; more an issue of what arouses him the most and makes the experience the most pleasurable for him. He is very good to me sexually, in that he’s learned what physically stimulates me. He will loosen the bonds if I am uncomfortable.

I have a hard time discussing sex with him. I don’t feel like I have ever learned how to discuss sex in an appropriate way – the world’s way is raunchy, the church way is hush-hush, and the first time I ever remember either of my parents speaking about sex that didn’t have to do with morality was on the day after we got married. I’ve told him several times that I don’t enjoy this, once gently that I didn’t think it was needed, but I still give in. If I don’t go along, then we don’t have sex, or I’ve killed the mood because the issue comes up along with initiation. (By the way, the children are 6, 4, and almost 2, so sex happens after they’re asleep.)

The bondage makes me feel objectified, even though he’s told me that he’s “seeing” his wife and not anyone else. So where do I go from here? Obviously I need to take the time to tell him how I feel at a time outside the bedroom where we won’t be interrupted. I don’t feel like I want to strong arm him into “MY WAY,” or berate him. I’m just at a loss on what to say and how to say it, and if I am right in that he’s wrong in this area how to gently persuade him. I do NOT want to give up on having sex with him (it’s too good even when it’s not great). So now what?

You want to what??!!!
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

On Monday, I talked about whether you should share your sexual fantasy. Today, let’s look at whether you should go along with your spouse’s sexual fantasy. In this case, the issue is bondage. But the desire for a specific sexual activity could be a number of things, so I’m answering this question more generally.

Is it biblical? There are prohibitions against certain sexual activities in the Bible, including adultery, bestiality, incest, and other extremes. However, there are also principles of kindness, respect, love, and gentleness (see Galatians 5:22-23 and Ephesians 5:21-33). Whatever you do in the bedroom should not rise to the level of sinfulness and should aim for the ideal of 1 Corinthians 13 love.

Does it involve third parties? Oftentimes, we think this applies merely to adultery, threesomes, or voyeurism. These should be obviously off limits. However, third persons should not be allowed in your visual or thought life either. Watching pornography is inviting people outside of your marriage to arouse you sexually or demonstrate acts for you to copy. Reading erotica and calling to mind fictional characters to become titillated is a way of getting third parties involved. Keep your sexual energy focused where it should be–on the spouse God has blessed you with.

Does it call to mind other relationships or pornography? One question that has been asked of me more than once goes something like this: “Hubby wants to do X which he saw in porn. Should I do it?” I don’t believe that anything and everything that appears in porn is off the table; after all, porn shows intercourse, and that’s clearly on God’s go-to-town list. To my mind, the concern appears when performing a sexual action taps into pornography or past relationships. For instance, perhaps your spouse did something with another person in his sexual past and doing the same thing makes him think of her. Not a good idea. So the issue is not whether the fantasy could be found in porn or his sexual past, but whether it brings to mind someone else. If it does, try to come up with a new fantasy and create memories all your own.

Is it painful rather than pleasurable? One of the expectations of sex in marriage is that it will feel good. When it doesn’t feel good, something is amiss. Usually, people want to experience pleasure and try to avoid pain; yet sometimes a spouse confuses the two. Here’s a tip for why pain in the bedroom might appeal to some: Pain can bring your attention to a localized body part; then the body’s response to pain is to release natural opioids, such as endorphins, to combat the discomfort. Friction in the injured area (like when you naturally rub a stubbed toe) can also relieve pain. The juxtaposition of these sensations, coupled with arousal, can cause people to link pain and pleasure. And yes, there’s more to it than that.

However, my general point is that the Bible never indicates that pain should be part of sexual intimacy in marriage. The Song of Songs communicates tenderness between the two lovers; Deuteronomy 24:5 says that a newlywed man should “be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married”; Genesis 2:24 says that the two become “one flesh”; and Ephesians 5:28-30 is clear about how we should approach our spouse’s body:

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

You should not expect your spouse to be in physical pain, nor to be put in physical pain by your spouse for their arousal.

Does it compromise others? So here’s where I’m going to put having sex in public places where there is a high likelihood of being seen by someone else. I understand the rush of danger pulsing through your veins and the heightening your arousal, but that’s just not fair to someone to have their eyes assaulted by viewing you and your spouse mid-coitus. Beyond treating your spouse with respect, just respect others and keep your sexuality private between the two of you.

Does it gross you out? Okay, yeah, this isn’t so straightforward. But I’m nothing if not frank on this blog, and really, some stuff is just off limits because it’s so totally icky to you. If you have a good sexual relationship with your spouse, you should be able to say sometimes, “No, not that.” It’s never okay to demand or force your spouse to perform sexual acts with or for you that are utterly repulsive to them. (If biblically-mandated intercourse is repulsive, there are serious underlying issues that need addressing.) Degrading your spouse in the bedroom is not God’s design for sexual intimacy. So if the thought grosses you out, ask yourself why. You might be able to try something out of the ordinary after all. But if your stomach is still twisting like a tornado, I think you can opt out. As long as you are putting your full  effort into participating in your sex life within marriage and satisfying your spouse sexually.

As to the original scenario above, I don’t think this wife is obligated to continue with bondage. Her husband is relying on it for arousal; she is in pain at times (“mostly lightly but sometimes hard; he will loosen the bonds if I am uncomfortable”); she does not enjoy it and feels objectified. There isn’t the loving, respectful, pleasurable feel to this story that should be indicative of a good sex life within marriage.

So what do you do when you don’t want to go along? Start by praying. If the fantasy is not clearly unbiblical to you, ask for God’s wisdom on whether you should oblige or pass. Then open up a conversation with your spouse (outside the bedroom) about what you want your sex life to look like. Reassure him that you desire him sexually and want to experience satisfaction and intimacy. Gently explain your reservations and reasons for not wanting to indulge the fantasy.

If he continues to demand or cajole, set boundaries. In my opinion, the best resource for how to do this is the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. They also have an edition for Boundaries in Marriage. I defer to the quality work of these Christian psychologists.

Final note: Prior sexual abuse can complicate this whole issue. Previous victims may not be able to participate in something that reminds them of the horrendous experience they endured. Professional help may be needed to work through what’s normal, what’s not, and how you can successfully approach sex with your spouse.