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One Couple Deals with the Issue of Body Image

firstwifepain

Body image is a HUGE, HUGE topic that causes a great deal of stress, pressure and anxiety for many women.  Hundreds of thousands of my Christian sisters are paralyzed in their marriages by their feelings of inadequacy and by listening to the wrong voices about this issue.   I think that it is very easy for us to listen to the messages of the world about the importance of artificial external beauty and to even make beauty and being thin idols in our hearts that can become quite destructive to our relationships with God and to our marriages.

WHY IS A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE SO IMPORTANT FOR WIVES?

  • When a wife has a poor body image – Satan rejoices.
  • When a wife has a poor body image – she may try to avoid physical intimacy or try to avoid allowing her husband to see her body instead of joyfully giving herself to her husband – this can sever the unity the marriage could have.  NOT GOOD.
  • Some wives are SO crippled by their feelings of being “too fat” or “not  pretty enough” that they won’t go anywhere in public.  This is awful!  Instead of enjoying her husband and family and all the blessings of life, she is hiding at home – that mindset and paranoia does not honor God or her husband.
  • When a wife won’t receive the compliments and admiration her husband has for her – it is insulting to him.  What a horrible position for a man to be in, to be attracted to his wife, but for her to tell him that he is lying and he really isn’t attracted to her.  It’s disrespectful on the wife’s part because she is actually calling him a liar.  That does not create unity or build up the marriage.  Ladies, please accept your husband’s compliments and take his words at face value and SMILE and say a gracious, “THANK YOU!”  Please believe him when he tells you that you are beautiful.
  • If we are focusing on the negative – it is easy to argue and complain (that goes against God’s command for us as believers in Philippians 2)
  • A poor body image contributes to depression and anxiety for many women.  And then women tend to turn to other things for comfort – like food – and that only makes the cycle worse.  It can even lead to severe and dangerous addictions like anorexia/bulimia/exercise addictions, etc.  These addictions are potentially fatal.  If you are a woman suffering from a food issue addiction or a body image addiction please talk to your doctor immediately and seek help!
  • I want to see wives confident in their own skin.  I want to see women knowing their value and worth is fully in Christ alone.  And I want to see women comfortable with their husbands and enjoying being together without being self conscious and focusing on intimacy and unity in their marriage on every level.  
  • I also want to see women live healthy lives where things are balanced in a good way.  Then moms can model a good body image for their daughters.  Then  moms will want to cook healthy meals for their families.  And they could model healthy exercise habits (30 minutes 5 times/week) for their children.
  • If we could focus on the positive, and apply Philippians 4:8 to our thinking about our bodies – we might be a lot more pleasant for everyone to be around – especially as we shine brightly with the love of Christ.

Why am I spending time getting different husbands’ opinions on these topics?

1. Many husbands do tell their wives that they are attracted to them and not to worry about their flaws – but the problem is – wives often do not believe their own husbands about this.  Many women cling to the destructive lies of the world and the enemy.

2. Many women will not believe another woman – like me – if I tell them to be confident in their bodies and to stop listening to the pressure of the world.

3. What does often get through – is to hear another husband’s viewpoint on this topic that backs up your husband’s message.   Or, for some wives, maybe their husband won’t talk about this issue – so they make a lot of very negative assumptions about what that must mean.  It can be extremely helpful for a wife whose husband has shut down to be able to hear from other Christian husbands – sometimes it is the first step towards a more accurate understanding of her own husband. Then sometimes a wife will begin to believe her own husband.

This is why I love Shaunti Feldhahn’s books so much.  I completely admit – I WISH I had her resources and could do that kind of work.  Her surveys and questions and the other men’s answers were a huge part of my journey in learning to understand and respect my husband.  At the time I read her book “For Women Only” – my husband was not able to articulate most of his thoughts to me.  Her book and the quotes from other husbands helped me begin to piece things together about my own husband – and then he was able to give me more detailed feedback later when we would talk about some of the husband’s comments.

I don’t have 1600 Christian men to survey and to do a perfect statistical analysis about.  But I do have dozens of Christian husbands who are willing to share their insights and wisdom with us.  And I am thankful for that.   The response I have had the past few weeks about the posts on how men process emotions and how they think and about how they feel about their wives’ appearance has been overwhelming.  I am seeing many women begin to better understand their own husbands.  This is a place for dialogue to start for a married couple.  A wife could bring a post like this to her husband and then ask him about his take.  It is a very natural springboard for some really important conversations that couples can and should be having privately.  What a blessing!  Remember – what matters most is what YOUR husband thinks about these issues. 🙂

HERE IS A COMMENT I RECEIVED FROM A HUSBAND AND WIFE (Her words are in pink)
I actually had my husband answer your questions. He did it loosely. I think I’m starting to get what he has said for quite a while. Looks were really important to him when it came to finding a mate, so I guess I have a hard time understanding what changed. Here is his response.

The truth is men are like women. They would prefer their spouse to be attractive as possible. If all else was the same, what women wouldn’t take the muscular, handsome husband over the fat dumpy version? But most men understand that life happens. There is only so much time in the day, and given the choice between a good home cooked meal every night or a wife that works out every day, a lot of men would take the meal.

Physical attractiveness is definitely one way a spouse can bless the other. But even that can turn into a bit of a curse sometimes. My wife looks great. She has had four kids and has a body most college girls would kill for. Except one thing, she nursed four kids and now she is paranoid about how her body looks. Because of that, it is now my responsibility to make her feel good about herself physically. Sometimes I get busy, or sleepy, or just insensitive and I don’t think to compliment her. Now all of a sudden, this woman who I find extremely attractive feels hurt, which often means an hour or more “conversation” about me not doing enough to make her feel loved.

Then I have to hear about how in society all men really care about is what women look like, which is why men look at porn and leave their wives for younger women. None of which I do or would do, and she knows that. But it doesn’t matter, because it makes her feel insecure so I am the male representative who has to answer for it.

My point is that while I am proud of how attractive she is, her looks are actually far more important to her than they are me.

She certainly spends a lot more time thinking about them. If she let herself go, I would still love her just as much. It probably wouldn’t change that much about our relationship.

In fact, I have friends whose wives have really let themselves go. When we talk about marriage issues, the physical appearance of their wives never comes up. The number one issue that comes up is wives complaining. I’m not debating whether the wives are in the right or wrong about their particular complaints. I’m just saying unhappy, complaining wives are a much bigger issue to husbands than their wives’ physical appearance.

RELATED POSTS

You may be interested to see what our single Christian brothers have to say to our single Christian sisters on this topic, as well:

http://peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/what-our-brothers-in-christ-have-to-say-about-external-beautybody-image/

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