Feeling Beautiful: From His Perspective

Ooh, I’m so thrilled! I made it a public goal — and invited all of you wives to join me — to learn to feel beautiful in 2015. Today, the wonderful Elizabeth Spence of Warrior Wives is here to give  a great perspective on beauty and practical tips to help you. Please read on!

Now take it away, Elizabeth!

Couple admiring one another

When my husband and I got married, I weighed 106 lbs.  Don’t hate me; I do have a point for telling you this. Fast forward to the day I gave birth to my first son…and then my second and third sons, and I’m not a size 2 (or a 4) anymore and I’m definitely not 106 lbs.

I have scars from three C-sections. I have stretch marks all over. The only positive way my body changed was that I grew bra sizes (seriously, who knew?). I might still be thin, but I struggle with my body image. I want to be that size 2 girl with a flat, unmarked stomach. It doesn’t matter how thin you are, you can always find a reason to criticize yourself.

But if you look at me from my husband’s perspective, apparently, there’s a whole different story.  He thinks I’m beautiful. He tells me to stop covering up all the time. He assures me that he doesn’t even notice the stretch marks or the extra kangaroo pouch that almost every woman has after pregnancy.

Honestly, it’s a huge struggle to believe him. I have rolled my eyes, muttered “whatever” in response to his compliments and continued to put my hands over my bare stomach because I don’t want him to be grossed out.

I always thought my body image issue was my issue and my issue alone. I thought it just affected me. But I was wrong. One day, my husband let me in on a little secret. That little secret was this:

You know, when you roll your eyes and cover up when I say you’re beautiful, you’re treating me like I’m lying. You need to believe me. It hurts my feelings when you don’t believe me.”

Whoa. That hit me pretty hard. I hadn’t ever thought about it like that.

One of the basic tenets of a healthy marriage is that the two partners have full trust in one another. You tell each other the truth, and you can know with certainty that you are being told the truth. Allow little lies to come in between you, and that safety diminishes.

I allowed myself to believe the worst about my husband, and it hurt my body image, our relationship, and our intimacy.  The truth was that I did think he was lying. I thought he was just trying to make me feel better. I thought he was trying to manipulate me into bed with compliments, and so, of course,  I pulled back from what had always been a satisfying sexual relationship.

I know I’m not the only wife who struggles with believing her husband’s compliments, and I also know my husband is not the only husband who wishes his wife would believe him.

If this is you, how do you change the dynamic? How do you bring trust back into your marriage?

1) Stop allowing the lies. It isn’t enough to just decide to feel beautiful. That’s a good beginning, but you need to go back further. It’s a discipline, but you can start paying attention to your self-talk. You know, the words that play in your head when you’re getting ready to climb in the shower and see your naked, and inevitably flawed, body. If you’re constantly criticizing, mentally block that thought.

2) Replace the lies with truth. We can’t compete with movie stars or super models or even the skinny teenage version of ourselves, pre-babies. Here’s what we need to start thinking:

“As long as we continue to listen to the world’s messages about our bodies, we will never be satisfied with how we look. Let’s face it. There are three billion women in the world who don’t look like the supermodels and only seven who do. Instead of listening to the world’s message, we need to listen to what God says. God’s message is, “Rejoice in the body I gave you. Use it to honor Me and please your husband.” (Intimate Issues, Linda Dillow/Lorraine Pintus, p.36)

Open your Bible and start looking for all the places where God says that our bodies are good. Pick a few of the Scriptures you find and write them on index cards; memorize them so that you have ammunition against the lies.

3) Steward your body without obsession. I do believe we should take care of our bodies by eating healthy and exercising. I think we should try stay out of that cruddy old bathrobe. Personally, staying fit and eating healthy gives me a boost of confidence (and sometimes the endorphins from exercise keep the negativity at bay). But don’t do it because you hate your body and you want to do penance. Don’t do it because you think you need to be “better” for your husband when he’s already telling you you’re beautiful.

Husbands, please never stop telling us how beautiful we are. Even if our response is negative, please persist in sincerely praising our bodies. Wives, stop treating him like he’s lying. Make the decision to believe him, and in the process, you will allow trust to flourish and the intimacy between you to deepen. God has declared that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. And God definitely never lies. If nothing else, start believing Him.

Elizabeth SpenceElizabeth Spence blogs at Warrior Wives — “If we’re going to win, if we’re going to be that couple that is still married 50 some years from now, we’re going to have to fight.” She’s a former French teacher and now a busy mom who raises and homeschools three boys. She’s been married to Dave for eleven years and counting. Elizabeth has a passion for young marriages and a desire to see them grounded and growing. Check out her blog at www.thewarriorwives.net.

 

35 thoughts on “Feeling Beautiful: From His Perspective

  1. B

    Another great post. I have been trying to feel beautiful, but I struggle with this. Mostly because I have a mirror. 🙂

    Articles like this are sometimes hard for someone like me who is a size 10, regardless of eating well and running, to read written by someone who is tiny and seems perfect. I mean, it’s interesting to hear that women who appear perfect have body issues, but Elizabeth, I see your picture and you ARE beautiful.

    My husband has said the same thing about me making him feel like a liar, and I’ve thought the same thing, he IS lying to spare my feelings. I must say though, I’ve been trying to believe him, and it seems to make him happy when I don’t argue with him. Although he is a good man and therefore I believe he lies to himself and tells himself I’m beautiful because he knows that is what he is supposed to do. Does that make sense?

    So while I’m not at the point where he tells me I’m beautiful and I believe it, I have at least reached the point where I stop arguing out loud. It’s a positive step. It has made my husband happier.

    What I have done is tried to stop focusing on outward beauty so much. I’ve never been stuck on myself as thinking I’m all that, but very much the opposite. Which, can be just as bad. I’ve learned it’s still an issue of pride, although it’s in a negative direction. So I’ve been trying to not focus on beauty (as far as appearance). But it’s hard, especially in the world we live in today. You can’t go grocery shopping without seeing racks of perfect women staring out at you from magazines and taunting you “you’ll never be as good as me” with that almost sinister smile on their face. It’s creepy. I feel so sad for teenagers today. I couldn’t imagine having to grow up with all this. I’ve got enough issues now, and I grew up before photoshop! 🙂

    But yes, I am 5’9″ and a size 10. I haven’t been 106 pounds since probably the sixth grade. I’ve been surrounded by tiny, perfect women my whole life. My MIL and SIL are about 5’2″ and have always referred to me as a “big girl”. My sister, who is 5’6″, used to call me “giant”. Tiny girls in school used to call me an “Amazon woman”. And I was pretty popular and crazy good at sports, and I still got teased. I have always hated being tall. And people say “well you weigh more because you’re taller.” Perhaps. But tiny perfect women have always been kind of upsetting to me. It’s a jealousy thing. I would love to be 5’2″ but that’s not what God had planned for me, so I’ve had to learn to accept it.

    Oh my! I’m rambling again. But all of that to say, I am trying to accept who I am, not focus on what I’m not, and not argue with my husband. Feeling beautiful is a tough, tough, tough challenge, so I’m glad you’ve given us a year to work on it!

    Thanks for another thought provoking article!

    1. J Post author

      See, here’s one thing that popped out at me: As I read, I thought, “5’9″! I’d love to be 5’9″!” It’s so tempting to envy what another woman has that we want, whether it’s a thinner figure or perky breasts or gorgeous cheekbones or height. Yes, height. Because, even though I ate my veggies growing up, I am nowhere near 5’9″.

      What we are called to do, instead, is to be grateful for the beauty God has instilled in us, to trust the loving words of our husbands, and to care for the temple of His Holy Spirit. You are taking steps in the right direction. Keep moving toward the goal, beautiful one!

    2. Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

      Well, thank you both for the compliment and also for reminding me that I completely left out the massive truth that there is so much more than outward appearance! The “trick” isn’t really to just talk ourselves into believing we are beautiful, but to believe that our physical appearance is only one part of our beings – we have a soul, we have a personality, we have abilities – and all those things have been created by an awesome God.

      You’re so right that it is hard to walk past magazines proclaiming what “perfect” beauty is and not compare your appearance. I know I am supposed to not struggle with feeling beautiful (and definitely not supposed to talk about it!) because yes, I am thin and I am petite and whatever…but I do because I’m looking at those same magazines and I don’t measure up either. And I’m betting that even those super-models have parts of their bodies that they don’t like either. No one is perfect and somehow we still all want to be. Is that really a worthy goal? The standard of perfect beauty is always changing. As soon as we think we’ve attained it, it changes. We can’t keep up with that. We need to truly believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made!

      1. B

        Yes, it is so unfair that beauty is ever changing. The few things I once liked about myself are now “out”. I have really long, lean legs and a small rear view. That used to be a good thing. Now big butts are all the rage and I cannot make my butt any bigger. It’s like I’m really abnormal for a woman, if I were to let myself gain weight it’d be all in my waist, never in my butt. Argh! Frustrating! I even read an article that said thick thighs are now what’s beautiful. So again, I’m just not “right”. It’s incredibly frustrating.
        And I have blonde hair and blue eyes. When I was growing up, that was my one thing. The eyes I’d get complimented on quite a bit. Guess what? They’re “out” now, too! Now it’s considered pretty only if you have blonde hair and brown eyes! Grrrr! Maybe one day I’ll get lucky and the standards will change in my favor. By then I’ll be an old lady. 🙂
        That’s why I’ve had to learn to get over the outward appearance thing. It changes too much for me to keep up with.
        So I like the challenge of feeling beautiful. I struggle with that SOOOOOO much, and I get envious of people who seem to just be good at it. I do believe everyone is beautiful in their own way, but I really struggle to see it in myself. I guess I don’t match the standard of beauty, and so I need to learn to change my thoughts. Sorry if this doesn’t make sense, my mind is a complicated place! 🙂

        1. J Post author

          I definitely get what you’re saying. Just please practice positive thoughts! Remind yourself over and over that it’s not the fads that matter, but the Creator’s hand on you, your confidence in yourself, and your appeal to your husband.

          Blessings, beautiful woman!

    3. S

      I am 5’9 and size 10-12 too and I feel great about myself ! I will never be a petite girl but I love being tall, they used to call me a giraffe haha but it’s an advantage to have long legs without even wearing heels. I love when my husband compliments me and I smile and say thank you.

    4. joe

      There are many men who LOVE “amazon” women. 5’9′ and size 10 is not what I would consider “large” by any stretch. If you have the body shape of a woman, I would consider you “curvy” and exactly what I find attractive in my wife.

      1. B

        Being called an “Amazon” woman is hugely insulting. It is a put down that people use when they think you are big, fat, giant, man-like, hideous and ugly. It is meant to hurt someone’s feelings.

        I know the mythology behind it, but that’s not how people use the term. They use it to remind taller women that they are not good enough, that only tiny, petite women are considered truly beautiful.

        I was at my husband’s work holiday party and another woman commented on how “tall and striking” I was. Gee thanks. That’s real polite. How would she have liked it if I pointed out to everyone around how short she was? People are crazy rude. And then they wonder why you don’t believe people who try to tell you you’re pretty. Because people tell the truth more often through insults than compliments. If height werent a major flaw, people wouldn’t comment on it so often.

        1. J Post author

          Your comment is very interesting. Because I get what you’re saying. When I was younger and on the skinny side, I would have the weirdest “compliments” — like “you’re so skinny, you could blow away in a big wind.” I would think to myself, “How is that a compliment? I’m like a tumbleweed?” I think those people just didn’t hear how it sounded.

          Anyway, it’s interesting how you read the comment about an “Amazon woman.” I don’t think people are necessarily malicious when they use that term, although I can understand why it would be hurtful. And by the way, I might mention someone else’s height because I admireit, not at all because it’s a “flaw.” I would love to be taller. I’m not, but I notice other women who are and pull it off beautifully.

          Thanks for commenting, B!

  2. MG

    The psychological transition can be the hardest. It made a huge difference for me when I intentionally stopped saying “I’m glad you think so” when my husband complimented my appearance, and started saying “thank you.” Speaking truth is the first step in believing it, and besides it’s more polite. Once I realized I was essentially calling that wonderful man a liar, I knew I had to stop right away. He is such a blessing to me and deserves a wife with self-confidence and strength to be his partner in life.

  3. libl

    Fact is, we cannot try to moosh ourselves into a narrow definition of beauty. I am petite with a cute figure and nice lips, eyes and hair. I love my little feet. I hate my small breasts and poor complexion. I can’t wear cute sun dresses and swimsuits because a skin condition has left my body scarred. I’m afraid my strong facial features make me look masculine or witchy. But I have awesome cheekbones and can grow enviable nails.

    I am also so much more than my outward appearance.

    I will NEVER win a beauty competition, but I hit it out of the park in our bedroom. Hubby and I laugh when we see a romance novel cover at the store. We say, “hey, look, it is us!” In our eyes, looking at each other during sex we are as hot and gorgeous as a romance novel cover. And really, that’s what matters.

    I honestly can’t understand how my husband can see so many gorgeous women out there and come home and stand to look at me. But, he loves what he sees….partly because he put that post partum skin there…partly because he loves ALL of me. Partly because for some strange reason what he sees outwardly IS attractive to him.

  4. Lina

    I have often said, describing myself, that “I’m not very good looking, but I have a rotten personality!” Yes, I have all these hang-ups. My husband makes me feel beautiful even though I don’t believe what he tells me. i can see his physical reaction, for one thing – I know he thinks I’m sexy, and I am a size twelve and gaining right now. My mom’s favorite movie was “The Enchanted Cottage”, in which a plain woman meets a disfigured former soldier and their love makes them movie-star attractive to one another. I tell my husband all the time that he’s my ‘Enchanted Cottage’.

  5. Jason@SongSix3

    Amen, Hallelujah! Yes ladies, your husband is NOT lying! As I am a husband myself, I tend to hang out with a lot of other husbands. I’ve talked at length with many men on this very topic, and learned that a LOT of us guys are alike in this particular way… We DON’T see our wives with age lines, extra pounds, stretch marks (and so on.) I met my wife-to-be when she was 14, and she was darn cute then! She has grown up before my eyes. We have six children together (and now 4 grandchildren.) Today at 43, I can say with 125% honesty, she is the most beautiful woman in my world – and I get the PRIVILEGE of going pop-eyed when I get to see her in the awesome birthday suit God gave her!

    Elizabeth, thank you for encouraging wives to believe their husbands when it comes to this!

    And Miz J, thank you for giving her the floor today. I always appreciate what you do for Godly marriage!

    ~Jason

    1. Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

      It really was eye-opening to hear my husband say that, and I’m so glad he spoke up gently. We value an ever-changing standard of beauty but those years together raising kids, struggling through life, laughing and enjoying time together build something infinitely more valuable.

  6. GH

    Thank you for sharing but reading article like this makes me sad. I am having a hard time putting a positive perspective of myself since my husband don’t pursue me anymore. He hardly tell me ‘beautiful’ or ‘you look good’ or even say something nice about my appearance. I am not complaining just trying to see if anybody have any advise (besides reading scriptures) how to see my self beyond what my husband opinion of me, so I can have confidence in myself.

    1. Elizabeth@Warrior Wives

      I am so sorry that your marriage looks like that! It must feel very lonely and discouraging to not be pursued. I certainly don’t have all the answers, especially without knowing the details of your situation, but I do know that Jesus knows your suffering perfectly. He was rejected…he was ignored…he was insulted…he knows what that pain feels like. And the Bible says that God bottles up our tears and He is close to the broken-hearted. I pray that you will be able to find comfort and peace by seeking to know Him more. You are so loved!!

    2. alchemist

      Stop watching television. I’ve stopped watching live action stuff and reading any magazines about 5 years ago and my body insecurities have almost entirely disappeared. Exercising and getting flattering clothes/ make-up/ hair do also helps a lot.

      Doing something you love, like knitting, sewing, cooking, gardening, reading ect. also helps. Develop your talents and take pride in your accomplishments. Avoid comparing it to anyone else. And really do pay attention to your self talk in all areas of your life, not just appearance. Be nice to yourself. It does make a big difference in how you feel overall. For example, if you wanted to make a cake and it doesn’t come out quite right instead of immediately blaming yourself and calling yourself a failure, just calmly try to find out what you did and then just tell yourself you’ll get it right next time. The one makes you feel bad, the other makes you feel hopeful for the future and proud of at least trying.

      I hope this helps.

    3. libl

      There was a time in our marriage when my husband simply overlooked complimenting me. There was also a time of rockiness when he actually would insult my appearance. I was always frumpy, even though I almost always dressed up. He stopped having sex with me because…get this…I lost 5 lbs. He even complained about my breasts shrinking after weaning the baby. He spent his time looking AT other women. I was crushed, to say the least. I prayed for God to make me beautiful the way my husband wanted.

      One night, I was wearing a lovely nightgown that hubby had called me frumpy in. I had to use the bathroom in the early hours of the morning. I suddenly caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. God stopped me and showed me how beautiful I really am. (According to Cosmo and Playboy, I am not pretty outwardly). I looked softly feminine in the nightgown. My night-touseled hair looked cute draping over my shoulder in a braid.

      I realized then and there that I am lovely in my own way. Unique. And I am more than my outward appearance. Instead of change my appearance to match hubby’s sinful flavor of the month, I prayed he would see ME. I may not have a large bosom, but I give him ALL of what I have freely. May he learn to love it and even PREFER it. I stopped holding back sexually and prayed.

      It took a bit of time, but now he has eyes for me, doesn’t look at smut, and enjoys very much what he sees and who I am. But, by that point, I accepted and loved myself.

      Never depend on man to fulfill you. Only God can do that.

  7. Anonymous

    Ladies, please believe your husband! I tell my wife that she is beautiful every day and she refuses to believe it. Yes, she is 75 pounds heavier since our wedding day but I truly do not see it. She tells me that I say these things because she is my wife. Then I tell her that I do not other men chasing her because she is mine (God’s gift to me).

  8. Erynn Haskins

    This is beautiful! I too struggle with not believing my fiance when he gives me compliments about my body. I try to believe him but sometimes its hard to and this post really helps with that! Glad to know I am not the only one and I agree with what you said “If nothing else, start believing Him.” that was just perfect and is so true 🙂

  9. Alicia

    I remember sitting in a hair/salon place one time, with a much younger and very attractive gal sitting a few chairs down from me in the waiting area. Her hair, nails, skin, clothes were perfect, or at least pretty darn close. But she had the most sour expression on her face! I couldn’t help but think that while a lot of guys would line up for a chance with her, if her attitude was sour all the time, then they probably wouldn’t stick around.

    There have been and are so many different ideas about what feminine beauty should
    be, from era to era and from culture to culture. It’s
    also pretty easy to wish for what we don’t have
    physically, and hard to appreciate what we do have that Godhas used to make each one of us a unique creation.

  10. spicyanonymous wife

    I too am learning to accept what my husband tells me je sees in me.
    What makes it hard for me is seeing him noticing other women.
    I’m working on becoming the “best me” I can be–spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc.

  11. spicyanonymous wife

    So what are your thoughts on our husbands finding us beautiful, but also finding many women beautiful?

    1. libl

      Ummm…because other women ARE beautiful just like other men are handsome. My hubby dated a lot of girls before he met me. Some of them would hands down beat me in a beauty contest. He also finds certain actresses to be very lovely indeed. But, I am #1. I am not the prettiest outwardly, but I am the package deal.

      Let’s put it this way. It is Valentine’s. In the store are hundreds of pretty boxes of chocolates. Some are big, some are small. Some square, rectangle, heart shaped, oddly heart shaped. Some contain milk chocolate, some dark, some white, truffles, fruit filled, coconut, nuts, variety packs, etc etc etc. Only one box will do. That doesn’t mean the others are suddenly ugly. But he wants the square shaped box of red velvet filled with m&m’s because that is what he loves.

      We women want the fairy tale of being so entrancing that he never sees another woman. That is rather egotistical of us, and sets us up for great disappointment because it is unrealistic.

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  13. Rose

    I have worked hard over the last 2 years to see myself as beautiful. I am realistic, and know that if we are only looking at physical beauty, thousands of other women are far above me. I am 50 years old, 5’9″, a size 2. I have small breasts and stretch marks. I have spider veins and cellulite. But I am learning that it’s ok – this is who I am and it’s wonderful. My husband, however, has not learned the importance of inner beauty, and has confessed to me that he didn’t find me attractive when we met, did when we first married, but has not for the last 14 years. He is infatuated with young women. And has explained that I just can’t compete. He states that he believes women are all just objects, strictly meant for his sexual pleasure. That his fantasies of them will always be better than reality, because fantasy is perfect. So I know that when he gives me a compliment, he is lying. He has told me that he lies to make me feel better. I am proud of the strides I have made in seeing myself as more than body parts, but it makes me truly sad that he can’t. I’m not angry, I’m just sad. I so want that from him. I want him to realize how much he is missing. How wrong he is in his thoughts. That there is a whole world that I can offer him if he would just choose to change his filter. But I’m ok with me. Just the way I am.

    1. J Post author

      Yep, what you describe sounds like he is the one missing out. This really saddens me. He need to get away from the fantasies and revel in the beauty of the real. Praying for him and you both. Blessings!

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  15. Wendy

    I have read all the comments and tried to positive when my husband tells me the same thing. But, recently my husband flirted with a much younger and definitely smaller in size female. During one of our fights he told me I was his world and that he loved everything about me from my little toe to the hairs on my head and that nothing was going on with this female. The next day, I found a conversation he was having with her, flirting with her and telling her everything he was doing that day and how he felt. Now, when he tells me those nice things I don’t believe him, because I’ve seen what he like in a woman, the physical aspect, and that is not me with the “kangaroo pouch” and definitely not a size 2. How do I believe him now?? Perplexed and Hurt.

    1. J Post author

      (1) He should NOT be flirting with other women. Bad, bad idea, men!
      (2) If you’re always attacking what he says–and essentially calling him a liar–does that foster the sort of attraction you want him to have to you? This is so hard for me to say, because I know it’s not your intention and you truly are hurting. But try to think about how you would feel in his shoes.

      When someone constantly rebuffs me, I begin to feel like, “What’s the point?” And some people even gravitate toward interactions with others that feel more positive.

      No matter what, he shouldn’t be flirting with someone else, but I encourage you to look at how you can be a more confident woman and emotionally attractive wife. Praying for you. May God bless you and heal your heart.

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