by D’Ann Davis, Previous Women’s Ministry Director
I have received several inquiries lately regarding how a man should love his wife who struggles with same-sex attraction and whether or not her persistent struggle reflects on a husband’s adequacy as a spouse. This is a great question and one I would like to address. So, this article is addressed husbands of female strugglers. This would be a good read for wives as well to know what you can and cannot expect from your husband.
First I think it would be great for all husbands of female strugglers to research the development of lesbianism, as it will give much insight into your wife and her struggle. Any efforts to know your wife more deeply will not only be helpful, but it will also be meaningful to her. This will also help you understand how to walk with her on this journey.
Second, I think it is natural for husbands to feel inadequate and to question themselves and their ability to meet the needs of their wife, once they discover their wife has same-gender attractions. However, there are some needs she has that you will not be able to meet, and that is not due to any inadequacy in you. Now, it is up to her how she will get those needs met, and if she does that in unhealthy/idolatrous/adulterous ways, that is completely inexcusable and sinful and not something for which you should feel responsible. On the other hand, there are some needs you can meet and are your responsibility to provide as a husband.
Anyone who struggles with lesbianism has a deprivation of feminine affirmation, attention, and affection. These deprivations exist because she did not connect well with her father, peers, and especially her mother in her early childhood years. Everyone was created with a need for same-sex connecting and relating, and when a girl doesn’t get this as a young child, she will begin to crave it. This desire to connect is not inherently wrong; however, if it is not met as the girl continues to mature physically, the desire will become sexualized at puberty. In large part, this is what spawns same-gender attraction. As we say here at Living Hope, homosexuality is an illegitimate way to meet legitimate needs. Obviously, you will never be able to meet her needs for feminine connection because you are not a woman. Hear me say, this does not justify her seeking to fill those needs in unhealthy, ungodly ways. It just means it is not a reflection of your adequacy as a man or husband.
A big part of the healing process for your wife will be learning to establish healthy relationships with healthy, godly women. While you can give her love and affection, she still has a need for healthy connection with women. Your wife will have to press into her community of women in her life and find healthy affirmation, attention, and affection from other women in order to see significant healing. Her receiving this does not mean her attractions will forever go away or she will never be tempted to be emotionally dependent (finding one’s sense of security and worth through the constant nurturing or presence of another), but it will be tremendously helpful for her emotional growth.
As a husband, there are needs you can meet. You can meet all of the requirements of a biblical and godly husband. Love her, cherish her, be gentle with her, validate her, honor her, give her affirmation, attention, and affection, and protect her. The Scriptures are full of wise words that will teach you how to help your wife flourish as the beautiful woman God has created her to be. Some helpful ones include Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3:7-8, 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Timothy 5:8, Proverbs 7, Song of Solomon, Genesis 2:18-25, Genesis 3:18-24, Proverbs 5:18-23, and Hosea. Be patient with her in this process and encourage her to connect with healthy heterosexual women in groups. Do not expect her to change overnight, but love her consistently and with long-suffering. Listen to her; really listen to her. Watch her grow in the Lord as you help nourish her relationship with Him. Ultimately, her needs are to be met in Christ first, and that is true for you as well, so as you draw close to the Lord and model His love and grace to her, both she and you will find fulfillment.
A good goal for husbands is to love their wife as Christ has loved the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Husbands, allow your wife’s struggle to be an opportunity for God to work in your marriages and each of your hearts. This is not just her problem that she just needs to get over, but it is a brokenness that is part of your wife and also a part of you because as God tells us, you are one with her. This struggle can become a wonderful avenue through which God can work wonders in your lives. Pray for your wife and pray for yourself. Ask God for guidance and direction and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity He has given you to commune with both Him and her.