It’s that time of month, you are bloated, and you feel like a sperm whale.
You have inexplicably gained 15 pounds in the last month and no longer see your feet past the muffin top surrounding your belly.
You are broken out like an pizza-consuming, oily-faced teenager and the only thought that comes to mind when you see your face in the mirror is zit.
You have just experienced childbirth, a mastectomy, chemotherapy, or another medical procedure that has made your body not what it once was.
In a word, you feel ugly.
And then your sweet spouse cozies up to you and signals a desire to mate like whales (not really, they mate differently). But you can’t imagine how anyone could find you attractive at that moment. You don’t want to be stroked or even looked at. Tears gathered at the corners of your eyes, and all you can think in your mind is, “Don’t touch me, I’m ugly!”
What a wife feels about her body can be a HUGE factor in her ability to open up sexually to her husband. And all too often, we gals don’t feel like a Vogue cover model. But since none of us looks like Helen of Troy all of the time, we must move beyond this somehow. We must learn how to feel beautiful enough to enjoy lovemaking with our husband.
Tips for Wives
Stop Comparisons to Unrealistic Ideals. Whenever you see those stunning models on the covers of magazines or billboards, remind yourself that they have been dressed, styled, and touched-up. They are not real. In fact, I read an interview with an actress about her body image struggle because she could never measure up to her own self as presented in professional photos! Our self-talk either reinforces negative or positive concepts of ourselves. Give yourself a break and learn to appreciate God’s handiwork in you.
Make an effort to prettify yourself. Do not get hung up on achieving a perfect appearance. Such women are never satisfied and miss that God is immensely more concerned with inner beauty (“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight,” 1 Peter 3:3-4.) Yet, although Peter describes Sarah as a woman adorned by her hope in God, she was also physically beautiful (1 Peter 3:5-6; Genesis 12:14). One can reasonably assume that Sarah took care of her appearance to make such an impression.
So think about what would make you feel beautiful: Skin care products to deal with problem areas? An exercise program to get in shape? Some new clothes that flatter your figure? Extend a little effort to feel better about yourself, so that you can walk into that bedroom with confidence and let your husband enjoy your beauty.
Let Your Husband Define Beauty. I have warned that some husbands are unfortunately critical of their wife’s appearance; if that is your situation, ignore this section and refer him to Slap-worthy Practices. Yet a friend of mine attended a marriage conference at which surveys revealed that 100% of the wives had issues with their own bodies and 100% of the husbands had no issues with their wives’ bodies. That discrepancy can only mean one thing: Plenty of husbands think their wives are pretty even the wives don’t feel it. If your husband says he loves the way you look, trust it. Believe that you are indeed beautiful to him.
Deal with Extreme Body Image Issues. If no matter what you do or what anyone tells you, you feel fat, ugly, disgusting, etc., perhaps you are struggling beyond what you and your husband can handle. If past history has played a part in making you feel inadequate, you need to heal from those wounds. A Christian counselor might be able to help sort out your feelings. Don’t sacrifice your marital intimacy; consider seeking help.
Tips for Husbands
Tell Her She’s Beautiful. Wives want to know that they are beautiful to their husbands. Expressing that can help many women move beyond concerns about their appearance. However, BE SPECIFIC. If you tell an insecure woman that she is the most gorgeous woman in the world, get ready for her to roll her eyes to the back of her head. She won’t believe it. However, if you state that you love the color of her eyes or the curve of her thigh or the way her hair falls on her shoulders, she’ll get that. Such statements will begin to build confidence in her. In fact, in the Song of Songs, the lover was very particular about telling his beloved exactly what he liked about her:
“How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.”
(Song of Songs 4.) And he goes on.
Support Her Pursuit of Beauty. Your wife’s desire for beauty should be supported inasmuch as it is reasonable. For instance, if she needs your encouragement to complete an exercise program, cheer her on. If a trip to the salon would help, allow for it in the family budget. If a mole has been bugging her for as long as you’ve known her, perhaps you two should visit a dermatologist. Of course, the desire to take care of our bodies and present ourselves well should not become an egotistical pursuit. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Yet exerting some effort to feel beautiful for one’s spouse and good about oneself is within God’s plan.
Get Her More Help if Needed. As important as it is for a husband to compliment and support his wife regarding her beauty, his reassurance alone may be insufficient to overcome personal insecurities. If you tell your wife over and over that she is gorgeous, but she sees U-G-L-Y every time she looks in the mirror, she may have body image issues that need to be dealt with outside of the marriage. If her body image problems relate to eating disorders or depression, tell her how much you love her, how concerned you are about her, and suggest that she see a counselor.
Most of us gals, though, will simply have times when we feel less than stellar in our presentation — more like meat loaf than a steak dinner for the hubby. Thankfully, most men like both! Wives may need to merely bury those inhibitions, that negative self-talk, and that Spanx back into the drawer, and focus on beautiful lovemaking with their husbands.
After the lovin’, you may find that your view of your body has changed a bit. You may not be able to walk the runway for the next Mrs. America pageant, but if you score a 10 on your husband’s judge card, you’re a winner. And there is nothing more beautiful than a husband and wife in love and expressing it with God’s pleasure smiling upon them.