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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/

15 thoughts on “One Couple Deals with the Issue of Body Image

  1. this is very good. and also would explain why some quite plain looking people are very happily married to quite attractive people… its more about what kind of atmosphere exists in the relationship, whether they make each other happy through the friendship they have then the looks are just an icing on the cake the very last touch-not the substance of it.. .

  2. Hi April, this has been such a big issue for me. My hubby since day one “literally” day one has told me how beautiful he thinks I am. Well I for some reason never believe him. I don’t go alot of places because of how I feel about myself. I get jealous I push him away sometimes because I don’t feel pretty. I am a big gal and my husband literally loves every thing about me . I read what u post yesterday and I absolutely listened and I didn’t pushmyhusband away. It felt really good to accept how he feels after reading from other men on ur post

  3. I think the subject of body image resonates with so many spouses! And, we can place some blame on the media/advertising/TV/movie producers, because they have helped create an unattainable image of physical beauty and youth.

    How many plots do they, in fact, show men and women trading in their “tired” spouses for a new one? Or use sex to sell everything from shampoo to hamburgers? I wonder, also, how these unrealistic images affect what impressionable teens and young people think when they are dating?

    Ironic that you wrote about this subject, as I did, too, earlier this week, due to People Magazine naming an actress as “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” . Society focuses so much on outer beauty, we miss the true inner beauty. Kudos to the husbands and wives who look at each other and truly see the beauty of their spouse – just as God looks at us and sees our beauty.

    1. Thanks, Lynne! I appreciate you sharing your insights and perspective. I didn’t realize that People Magazine was doing that this week. It does make me very sad to see how focused the world is on external beauty.

      1. It is sad. This is a very timely and important topic. Just earlier this evening, I read yet another blogger’s post about body image. I think this has been placed on our hearts for a reason…blessings for all you do!

  4. Thank you for these constructive thoughts. My husband of several months loves me too, I know that, but has not been very passionate, and recently, when I insisted that I needed to know why, he said my weight was the problem (I’m 5’9″ and 180 lbs), although he says I have a nice figure and that he loves me very much. He deeply regrets admitting his feelings, but I’m very hurt and angry because I’m the same weight as when we met and fell in love. I was a widow, and my former husband delighted in my body and thought I was beautiful, so I don’t understand this and don’t know how to get over the pain. We’re still intimate, but feelings of anger and grief wash over me when I least expect it. He is extremely thin and had a lot of trouble believing that I consider him beautiful, but he IS beautiful to me, and I feel like he, of all people, should understand and be accepting of bodily imperfections. How do I recover from this? I’m 56, and at this age I might be able to lose weight, but can’t be sure it wouldn’t come back. I want my husband to love and find me attractive the way I am now, and it has been devastating to learn of his disappointment. I try so hard to focus on positive thoughts and try to just keep loving him, but the heartache doesn’t go away. Any insight you might have would be most welcome.

    1. Elizabeth,

      I would also encourage you to find all of your security, acceptance and love in Christ. I actually have a post about that today. “Trying to Find Security in All the Wrong Places.”

      God may be able to change your husband’s heart.

      I pray you will focus on being the woman God wants you to be. And focus on pleasing God.

      Thankfully – though humans may fail us – God never does.

      I am praying for you, your heart, for healing, for your marriage and for both of you to bring great glory to God! 🙂

      1. Elizabeth,
        I am praying for you!!! Been thinking about you and your husband all weekend.

        From what I understand about men, and what you have described, I don’t believe your husband was purposely trying to hurt you or be malicious. He sounds to me like a wonderful husband who cares very much about you.

        Praying for healing and God’s wisdom for you both!

      1. THANK YOU so much for all your encouragement. I’ve been reading every post since you so lovingly responded and thinking about where we seek security, working with “ingredients,” and humility in ways I never have before. This situation really blindsided me, and as much as I wish my husband did find me irresistable physically, the fact is that he does in every other way. How many times have women said, “I wish I knew if he really loved me for ME, not just my body?” Well, now I know, without doubt, that he does. After talking with him again, I realized another factor is at work in this situation besides my weight: in his earlier life, before becoming a Christian, my husband had several brief relationships with women that were mostly based on physical attraction. He had a problem with pornography as well. He told me that he will never, ever go back to that, and that kind of sexuality is in the distant past (He had never been married before and hadn’t been with another woman for over fifteen years before he met me). He said I am a lady and he wants to always treat me as such, never treating me like an object or just a “collection of parts.” I said that “ladies” are not Victorian creatures devoid of sexual desire, and that being a Christian does not mean one has to put a damper on present healthy sexuality with a mate. However, this subject is deeply emotional for him, so I have a feeling that with continued patience, love, and understanding on my part, and much prayer, of course, our problem will be resolved. In the meantime, I’ve decided to try to lose weight, in a sensible and gradual way, as a gift to both of us. I told him this, but gave no guarantees. He said he didn’t want me to do it just for him, and that he loves me the way I am. He said he thinks I’m very attractive, etc. I’m choosing to believe the best and go forward asking God to love him through me. The best thing is just to keep loving him, because he’s a wonderful, precious, very spiritual man, and trusting that time and prayer will help resolve the issues. When I think about what he said earlier my eyes still well up with tears, but I have new resolve to try my best to love and understand him without reservation, including sexually. I can’t express how much your loving encouragement and prayers have meant to me; I will always read your website and be thankful for your care and concern. To know I have Christian sisters who care enough to respond in itself truly made me feel better. Much love to you and thanks for your ministry, Elizabeth

        1. Elizabeth,

          I am THRILLED to hear where you are spiritually and the work that you and your husband have been doing on talking about things together. It sounds like you are in a very healthy place now. How thankful I am that your husband does love you for you and doesn’t want to treat you as an object. What a blessing you are to me! I can’t wait to see how God works in your marriage for His glory.

          I appreciate your update so very much! I’m always glad to hear from you and pray for God to draw you closer to Himself than ever. 🙂

          Much love to you!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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