From a husband:
My 50+ year-old wife is truly beautiful by any spiritual or secular standard. After 20 years of marriage and (several) children the sight of her still stirs me, clothed or not. I am constantly telling her how beautiful she is and how incredibly attracted I am to her (from gentle, sincere compliments to ‘you turn me on’). However, most of the time the response is usually quite negative…
- “I’m fat,”
- “I’ve gained so much weight…”
- “I look/this is disgusting “(referring to a small pooch of belly).
If she doesn’t say it with her words, she says it with her body language. I have explained to her how hearing this is like a dagger in my heart and how it affects me, and our relationship. She acknowledges that, but has not changed her perspective.
This negative self-image has cost me/us much joy our marriage.
My feelings of desire, romance or ‘fun’ are crushed by her comments and this attitude. Why can’t she understand that a positive attitude and confidence in her natural beauty are more attractive, romantic and ‘sexy’ than any physical aspect of her body. I (and likely other men) consider a smiling, fun-loving women of any body shape or size more desirable than the most visually perfect woman imaginable. I hear from her/other women that ‘it’s a girl thing’ so there is no attempt to think differently (or get some help).
I don’t know how other men deal with this, but I have become more distant and while I still compliment my wife, it is less frequent. I have grown weary of the negativity around this and my inability to get through.
Add this to the other strains, stress and challenges of marriage and (teenage) children in this culture and the result is a lot less joy than could be, and a lot more tension between us.
Even more discouraging to me is that we are both committed Christians and have spent many years in marriage ministry. People are attracted to us as a positive model of a Christian couple. We have taught (thought not recently) other couples about all of the concepts I have read here on this blog – from the biblical foundation to personality styles, communication and the current male/female brain research that explains so much of the beauty of God’s creation. Love is a decision regardless of day-to-day feelings.
I will always be committed and faithful to my wife in all ways – I just wish/pray/yearn for her to see the truth of her beauty the way I do (along with God and pretty much everyone else).
The topic of body image is a HUGE one. I am sure many books could be written about it. There are some husbands who are critical of their wives’ bodies, and that is a whole different topic – another very painful one.
But there are many husbands like this one who truly do see their wives as beautiful and for whom it is extremely painful to hear their wives negate their heart-felt compliments.
Maybe this might help some wives:
When you disagree/argue with your husband when he compliments your looks – that is actually pretty disrespectful!
He hears you saying that
- he is wrong
- he didn’t choose a wife wisely
- he is lying
- something is wrong with him
You are invalidating his attraction to you – and that is extremely self-sabotaging for you and discouraging for him.
When your husband (or anyone- but ESPECIALLY your husband) gives you a compliment, SMILE and say, “Thank you SO much!”
- Don’t argue!
- BELIEVE him! Trust him more than that accusing voice of the enemy that tells you that you are not good enough. Don’t believe that awful voice!
- Be thankful.
- Don’t complain about the flaws you perceive in your body.
- ENJOY the fact that your man sees you as being so beautiful and be confident in the body God gave you.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a
Don’t measure or compare your body to the worldly standards you see in the media. That is UNHEALTHY! It may be wise to avoid certain fashion and gossip magazines and worldly magazines that portray women as only being “sexy” if they are a size 0 and have had plastic surgery in many places – not to mention it is wise to avoid those magazines for many other ungodly influences they contain as well. Those airbrushed pictures are not real. Even models don’t look like those pictures. They are fantasy.
It may be wise to avoid that kind of input and focus on pleasing God and our husbands and on things that are actually healthy for us:
- eating balanced meals with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies
- eating baked chicken and fish
- avoiding a lot of fried foods/red meat/cheese/junk food/eating out/desserts
- walking 5 days a week for 30 minutes/day.
This is the stuff that makes for a healthy life in reality. Not obsession, not making an idol of being thin or being a certain weight on the scale. If the scale upset you a lot or you obsess about your weight or about food – it may be better not to have a scale and just focus on a healthy lifestyle. But remember, food and exercise or being thin cannot be our ultimate goals. It is EASY to turn food into an idol we seek out for comfort instead of Jesus, or to make idols out of being thin or food/exercise addictions – but we are disciples of Christ. Pleasing HIM and blessing others are the only motives that really counts for anything. Allow God to show you any ungodly motives and ask Him to give you a new heart and mind if you are struggling with food/beauty/thinness being an idol.
Remember, your daughters will imitate your body image issues. I want them to see us confident in Christ, thankful for our bodies – projecting a beautiful image of godly femininity for them to model after! 🙂
If you have concerns… let’s talk about them! Please leave me a comment. 🙂 We’ll work through this together.