Your body image issues may be hurting you more than you realize.
A Wives Only Wednesday Post
A few months ago, some fellow male marriage bloggers and I were interviewed for the podcast “Sex Chat for Christian Wives.” The question for the episode was, “We [wives] see all of our flaws, and then you tell us we are beautiful. How do you [husbands] see past our flaws?” In the episode (listen to it here) the husbands respond and the ladies unpack their responses.
Since listening to the podcast I’ve been wanting to circle back around to the important topic of body image because I believe the issue has a profound influence on almost every marriage. I know it has on mine. It’s taken years for us to more fully understand just how much.
Today I’m going to examine the impact for wives. In my next Men Only Monday post I’ll address husbands.
So let’s begin by looking at some potential problems caused by a wife’s negative body image.
Your Negative Body Image…
1 …Blocks Genuine Intimacy
If you do not believe your husband finds you beautiful, that he could not possibly be attracted to your body, then you may wrongly believe his desire for sex can only be caused by his physical urges and not by his love and desire for you.
This is a subtle but important way that your negative self-image can prevent you from being open and vulnerable, which is necessary for you to fully enjoy your husband’s affection. It makes you believe a lie that can steal your joy and surrender. It reduces sex to a physical act in your mind and prevents the genuine intimacy that God designed into the sexual union.
2 … Kills Your Sex Drive
Fellow marriage blogger Bonny Burns, in her libido survey results, found that the number one negative effect on sex drive for wives was “I don’t like the way my body looks.” While there are many causes of low libido, self-loathing is certainly not going to help put you in the mood or enable you to respond positively to your husband’s sexual advances.
3 … Falsely Accuses Your Husband
I believe many women who strongly dislike their bodies wrongly believe the lie that their husbands would rather have sex with a more attractive woman but is stuck with you. The effect of this accusation, even if it is never spoken, will keep you from receiving and enjoying your husband’s delight in you.
4 … Builds a Wall Between You
When you continually refute your husband’s claims of admiration and appreciation for your beauty, it not only a discourages him, but it actually builds a wall between you. Eventually, out of frustration, he may cease from trying to convince you of his true feelings about your appearance, and this will further feed the lies you are telling yourself. At times I have stopped complimenting my wife out of frustration but I’ve learned that she still wants to hear it, even if she doesn’t receive it well.
5 … Keeps You Trapped in Shame
It is almost impossible for intimacy and freedom to coexist with shame. When you feel shame about your appearance, you cannot truly enjoy freedom in your sexual relationship. You’ll be inhibited in initiating and won’t be able to be playful in intimacy. Hiding yourself from your husband, when he desires to have all of you, just as you are, means that neither of you can enjoy the freedom and delight of belonging totally to one another, without any hindrances.
6 … Is Self-Fulfilling
When you hate your body, it is virtually impossible for you to exude the kind of self-confidence that is so tremendously attractive to your husband. In truth, “sexiness,” if you’ll allow me to use that term, has much more to do with confidence and attitude than with physical attributes.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that your negative body image can harm your marriage. I say this not to shame you but to motivate you to take action to deal with this problem. So if you find yourself facing this issue (and most women do to more or less of an extent), what can you do about it? That’s for my next post.
Come back tomorrow for “10 Ways to Overcome Body Image Issues.” You can be sure not to miss it by signing up to get posts in your inbox .
6 thoughts on “6 Things Wives Need to Know About Their Body Image Struggles”
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I hope many wives are helped by what you’ve written here. Thanks, Scott!
Hi Scott, I wish I could agree with you, but I’m just not a candidate for the whole positive body image thing. I think these articles are great for most women, those who possess true beauty. I’m chronically 10 pounds overweight, and I’ve had a couple kids. I do not have the body, or even the shape, that most men desire.
I disagree with you on number 3. I wish you were right, but there is a popular female Christian author who teaches that men have a visual file, that they keep full of all sorts of images of better women, women they find more attractive and sometimes more desireable than their wives. What I took away from her book is that men can call these images up whenever they so choose, I’m assuming she means at intimate times or even to arouse themselves. Her book destroyed what little self confidence I had. At the times I thought my husband was choosing and loving me, it turns out (per this book) he could really have been using any number of better images he had stored in his mind. That’s crushing.
I also felt like she was saying is that there’s not much hope, except to strive as hard as you can and if you’re lucky, maybe he’ll store an image or two of you. But I can’t compete. I’m aging. I’ve had children. I’ve never been petite. No matter how much effort I put into my appearance I will never look like the women who are considered “beautiful”. So why torment my husband by making him look at me, when we can just turn out the lights and he can go to his visual file this author taught me about. I find it all kind of sickening, but I don’t have the energy to compete.
And I hate that whole “confidence is sexy” mantra. Everyone gets that backwards. Sexy people are confident, that’s why everyone thinks confidence is sexy. But an average everyday mom like myself, just because I strut around trying to act all confident, does not make me sexy in any way.
Thanks for taking the time to write this post though. I think for most women, the ones who are beautiful, this will be helpful.
Sad – I read the pain you are feeling into what you have written, and I am sad for you. I hope you will read my follow-up post, 10 Ways to Overcome Body Image Issues and that you’ll take some of these to heart. I think you completely mistook the point of Shaunti’s book about the visual nature of men – I don’t think your takeaway was at all what she intended.
I think you are stuck believing lies about yourself. I think every woman can be beautiful, especially if her husband makes an effort to make her feel that way. You have to ignore everything the media and the world say about beauty – they are all trying to sell you something. Don’t buy it! Literally. Ten pounds do not make the difference between beautiful and unattractive – ever – except in the distorted world in which so many women find themselves submerged. My wife has gained more than that since we wed (she offered for me to share that with you when I read her your comment) and she is stunningly beautiful.
If you think it would be helpful, I suggest you speak with your husband about your feelings. Your self-image is too important to just let it continue as it is.
I hope so too. Thanks, Jason
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