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!
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 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.