Monthly Archives: October 2012

Penis Size: From the Wife’s Point of View

Q&AToday’s reader question may be our shortest one yet. Here it is from our most popular commenter, that ever-present Anonymous.

Can you do a post on penis size?

I don’t know exactly what the reader expected me to say on the subject. However, a common question is whether penis size matters and, if so, how.

Ruler

Let’s start out with a little anatomy. The average length of a penis has recently been reported at 5.88 inches. That’s slightly smaller than a U.S. dollar bill. Previous estimates of 6.5 inches were skewed by discrepancies in self-measurement and liars who claimed to be up to 10+ inches. That 5.88 inches is an erect penis, by the way.

A flaccid (limp) penis has an average length of 3-4 inches (10.5 cm).

Interestingly enough, there are also variations in how much a penis “grows” when aroused. It isn’t a fixed amount, like double. A smaller flaccid penis could become larger when erect than a larger flaccid penis.

Which matters? From what I can tell, that flaccid penis only matters in the junior high locker room when you’re first aware of others. In adulthood, men care about their erect penis size because that contributes to greater confidence about their body and their ability to satisfy their mate. (Correct me if I’m wrong, guys.)

So does a husband’s penis size affect the pleasure his wife receives in intercourse?

Almost every penis is big enough. The female vagina also expands when sexually aroused. The most commonly used measurements come from research done in the 1960s (by Masters & Johnson), indicating that vaginal length when sexually stimulated ranges from 4.25 to 4.75 inches. Obviously, the average 5.88-inch penis is more than able to create contact and friction throughout the whole vagina.

But these are averages, right? So what about the shorter penis and the longer vagina? Does size matter then?

Here’s how the averages stack up for penis size.

Pie chart

This means that 68% of men are in the range of 4.6 to 6.0 inches. 16% are smaller and 16% are larger. But only 0.4 are less than 4 inches long. Almost every husband on the planet has more than enough to fill his wife’s vagina.

But even if he doesn’t, the most sensitive area of the vagina is that closest to the opening. That’s where the real action is. Paul Byerly of The Marriage Bed explained this well: “Some men worry about the size of their penis. Since only the first 2 to 3 inches of the vagina has nerve endings, length has little to do with pleasing a wife during intercourse.” So husbands can relax knowing that they are quite able to sexually stimulate their wives regardless of penis size.

But are bigger penises better? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers reported that when it came to achieving vaginal orgasm, “33.8 percent preferred longer-than-average penises, 60 percent said size made no difference and 6.3 percent said longer was less pleasurable than shorter.” Recognize that the study was self-reporting from 160 university students (not a representative sample of wives). Still, note that 2/3 didn’t think bigger was better. The issue for the women I’ve talked to is simply “big enough,” and almost every guy is.

The one possible advantage of a longer penis may be having contact with that “G-spot,” an area on the anterior wall of the vagina which some claim to be especially erogenous. If you’ve identified your G-spot, and your husband’s penis is able to reach and thrust against it, that may feel extra nice. But some women report that kind of intensity is too much. Honestly, though, even those who have located the spot, can achieve penile contact with it, and enjoy that sensation, are not not likely to make that happen every time they have sex. Perhaps it’s a perk, but there are numerous ways to achieve orgasm.

One issue with a bigger penis that isn’t talked about as much is that sometimes a huge penis hurts. A friend once told me that sex hurt because her husband was “hung like a horse.” (Yes, it took a little while before I could make eye contact with her husband because the stupid word “horse” kept galloping through my head.) But I understood her point. Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage addressed this subject well in Penis Size and Painful Sex: What’s a Wife to Do? Husbands with XL penises may need to be more careful with their wives, taking into account how able she is to take in his full amount.

What about thickness? Usually, when penis size is discussed, people are talking about length. However, I’ve found more women concerned about the thickness of a penis. Specifically, when a penis is much thicker than usual, the wife may need greater lubrication and gentleness of entry so that her vagina can flex enough to take him in. I’m not sitting around having penis conversations all the time, but I have yet to find a woman who complained about a too-narrow penis. Given the size of the vaginal opening and elasticity, a woman can feel and be stimulated by a penis of just about any thickness. We adapt to the size of our husband’s organ.

What’s the “right-sized” penis? My answer: The size your husband is. If he’s the right guy for you, his penis is the right one for you too. You may need to figure out how to make it all work, though. If he is particularly big, you may need additional lubrication and for him to go slow and easy while you stretch to receive him. Over time, a wife’s body will likely adjust to that size. If hubby’s small and you can’t feel it quite as much, perhaps a different sexual position could help provide greater sensation, or more stimulation can be applied with his fingers on the clitoris as well to get the wife to orgasm.

If you want your vagina and hubby’s penis to come together in perfect harmony, practice. Try different things and see what feels good.

What should you say about your husband’s penis size? OMG. No, seriously, I found out a few months ago that there is a condition called Oversized Male Genitalia. Its acronym is OMG — just what you might say if you saw one. (If you’re not rolling on the floor laughing by now, you aren’t reacting like I did when I read about this oddly-named condition.)

Your husband probably doesn’t actually have OMG (unless he’s 8 inches or more flaccid). But you do want to make him feel confident about his body and his ability to satisfy you. A little “wow” now and then when he pulls it out isn’t too much to ask, is it? Don’t lie, but do let your husband know that he is big enough. If you can’t feel it enough, don’t insult his penis; it’s doing the best it can. Ask him to try something different so you can feel even more of him.

However, I have personally never known a woman who said her guy was too small for her to feel sufficient pleasure.

Does penis size matter? Yes, a little. But I’m a firm believer that it’s how he uses that penis that matters a whole lot more. It doesn’t matter if my husband is a Tall, Grande, or Venti, as long as he’s my favorite flavor.

“My beloved is radiant and ruddy,

outstanding among ten thousand.”

Song of Songs 5:10

Sources: Net Doctor; Live Science; Web MD; Oxford English Dictionary; Bible Gateway; Intimacy in Marriage; The Marriage Bed

How Often Should You Have Sex?

Datebook

Eventually, all marriage and sexuality authors and speakers get around to this one, right? How often should a married couple make love?

The usual response from experts is something like: “It depends. Some couples are content with once a month while others desire that close contact several times a week. Whatever amount keeps you both satisfied is sufficient.”

To which — being the opinionated gal I am — I say, “Balderdash.”

Find me one couple who has sex once a month (for any reason other than an untreatable physical ailment or unavoidable distance) that is incredibly intimate in every other way and fully enjoys that once-a-monther and is well guarded against adultery, and I will eat that word — and let me tell you, “balderdash” is quite a mouthful. I don’t know of any such marriages.

I’m not even sure people are really asking how frequently they should be having sex. Some spouses who ask that question are wanting to know one of the following:

  • Are we normal? Whatever frequency you’re having in your marriage, you wonder how it compares to whatever the norm is.
  • How infrequently can I say “yes” to my spouse’s demands for sex and still be fulfilling their “need”? You think you’re husband/wife is a horn-dog, and you want to know how much sex you need to have to fulfill your spousal duty without having to fill their ridiculous level of demand.
  • How much more can I get my spouse to have sex? You aren’t getting enough sex, and you want to know what frequency would be good so you can insist on at least that much in your marriage.

I’m not overly impressed by such thinking if that’s what is behind the question. However, I am not a question-dodger by any means.

While I generally agree that underlying principles are more important in making decisions about frequency of intercourse, and the goal is not how often you do it but how intimate your relationship becomes through sexual activity, I think this question can be specifically answered.

So I’m going to give an actual answer to the question “How often should you have sex?” At least once a week, and even more is better.

Why do I say that?

That frequency does square with the average. Now remember that averages are based on total numbers and include outliers, such as those couples who have sex once a year and those who do it everyday. Still about once a week is the “norm,” if you will. (Sources: Psychology Today, The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University Center for Sexual Health Promotion.)

Husbands crave sexual release.* While it only takes approximately 15 minutes for seminal fluid to replenish and 2 days for sperm to replenish after orgasm, men typically report a sense of semen build-up after several days. (Note: This time may be shorter if the man is constantly masturbating.) Can hubbies go longer than a few weeks? Yes, of course. But many report testicular discomfort after about a week or two.

Wives need to retain flexibility. From the female perspective, sex can be uncomfortable if the vagina is too contracted or surrounding muscles have atrophied. Think of it like doing aerobics. If you want to be able to make it through a 30-minute class, you need to go at least once a week, or the next time you go, you will be very sore during and afterward. In the same way, your girly parts get sore if you have sex infrequently. You need to keep everything in shape down there, and the only way to do that is to have sex once a week or more.

You need to routinely reconnect to grow your relationship. If we only conversed once a month with our spouse, we would not consider that a close marriage. However, for some reason, there are people who believe that infrequent “physical conversation” can result in intimacy.

It seems that one of the worst concepts expert psychology has wrought in the last few decades is that of “quality time.” Yes, of course, we want quality time, but studies of parenting and marriage have now overwhelmingly demonstrated that quantity time matters too. You can’t make up for lost time by a great date now and then, nor can you be intimate with your spouse without being physically intimate with your spouse with some frequency.

Make the analogy of sex to sleep. In order to feel rested, you need quality sleep. But no one would claim that one hour of quality sleep per night is enough. You need both quality and quantity. True for sleep. True for married sex.

Why should you make love even more often?

  1. Because you want to be above average in your marriage.
  2. Because your spouse desires to be intimate with you.
  3. Because it’s a relational need that cannot get met by any other person in your life.
  4. Because it protects your marriage from outside lust or adultery.
  5. Because you’re good at it. (Go you!)
  6. Because it’s something private that gives you a special connection to each other.
  7. Because the Bible says to have sex in marriage.
  8. Because if your kids knew what you were doing, they’d die of embarrassment.
  9. Because knocking boots is a way better activity than watching sitcom reruns on a Sunday afternoon.
  10. Because you want to.

The Bible is clear that if you take a breather, it isn’t to be a long period of time (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Unless physical distance or health issues or other reasonable circumstances beyond your control are present, you need to engage with your spouse in sexual activity. (After I drafted this post, I read Sheila Gregoire’s marvelous post on the 1 Corinthians verse: What Does Do Not Deprive Each Other Really Mean?)

What if you don’t want to do it that often? Well, that’s a topic for another day. But suffice it to say that I had covered low sex drive here, Pearl’s Oyster Bed blog specifically deals with low female libido, Sheila Gregoire has great advice on her blog and in her book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex about how to get your engines revving, and there are numerous other sources to help you out.

What I want to get across here is that frequent sex is important. Married couples should be connecting in many different ways throughout the week to maintain the health of their relationship, and physical intimacy is one of those ways.

Since I know I’ll get feedback, how about I invite it? What do you think? How often should married couples make love? How often do you make love in your marriage? How often do you think is “maintenance” level versus “healthy sex life” level?

*Note for wives who are the higher drive spouse: Yes, it’s less typical, but not uncommon. Check out my Help for Higher Drive Wives post.

Does Sexy Lingerie Promote a Perverted View of Beauty?

Garter belt

Another Monday, another reader question. Today’s topic is introduced by an anonymous reader and involves sexy lingerie. Here’s his story:

J – My wife and I have been married for three years now. During that time I have given her various gifts of lingerie around holidays, birthdays, random days… I love it when my wife gets dressed up in anticipation of sex. To me, a very visual man, it’s her way of inviting me to be intimate with her, kind of my version of foreplay. Just like when I bring her flowers, prepare a romantic dinner date, spend time holding her and kissing the nape of her neck. When she gets “dressed up,” she’s telling me she’s interested in pleasing me (she knows I’m visual), wants to look her best and have me devour her with my eyes (because my eyes are only for her), she wants to seduce/pursue me (and I want to be seduced/pursued).

This last weekend I was gone on a men’s retreat. When I got home I was looking forward to reconnecting with my wife. As she went to take her shower I asked if she was going to put on anything special for the evening.

She got angry.

For the first time my wife revealed her thoughts on lingerie. She hates it. Wishes no one ever invented such things. She had a few reasons why: it’s uncomfortable at times, difficult to put on at times, she feels ridiculous in all that lace and silk. All of these seem like good reasons, and I think they can be remedied: buy things that fit better, are easier to don, things you actually like the look and feel of.

However, the most significant reason for her distaste, and the most troubling, is that she equates lingerie with the culture of porn, strippers, and unrealistic expectations of female beauty. She feels that by wearing such things she’s trying to reach some unattainable standard of perverted beauty that plays in the fantasies of men.

To say the least, I was abashed. I had never viewed lingerie in that manner, and my wife had never mentioned it herself. I view it in much the same way as when a woman does her makeup, or puts on an evening gown for a night out. You’re accentuating your assets, revealing some but concealing enough, and putting your best foot forward.

So here are my questions: Am I completely wrong? Is my wife correct that lingerie comes from the world of pornography? Is my desire to see her get dressed up from some perverted male fantasy of what a woman should look like? Do many other women share the views of my wife? If I’m not out in left field, how do I address her concerns and still let her know that I feel loved when she puts on something pretty for a night in bed?

I’m not all that familiar with what’s worn in the pornographic world because the second I see any such images (stupid Google search), I click them off and let the images fall out of my ear. Because I can do that. However, I know that most men can’t.

Men are indeed visual, and this is something that women have sincere difficulty understanding. Yes, we get it logically, but really understanding what it’s like to be so automatically drawn to skin, genitalia, and sexiness is a little past most wives’ grasp. Plenty of women still tend to think of it as something you guys should be able to turn off and on at will. (I submit as evidence the scanty attire that many women wear without realizing its effect on men.)

Then when we do understand it, we worry a little. Did my husband notice that girl at the gym with clearly fake breasts and the tank top two sizes too small? Do his eyes linger too long at that model in the beer commercials? Can I walk by the Victoria’s Secret display at the mall with my husband beside me and still know he has eyes only for me? Does he want me to dress up like that floozy he saw in that porn magazine years ago? Does he only want me for my body . . . and not me?

And here’s something you men don’t easily get: We can have all those thoughts and many more in about twenty seconds. We aren’t inviting them; they just appear like your five o’clock shadow. Also, we aren’t trying to be self-deprecating or need extreme therapy for our low self-esteem. It’s actually pretty typical for wives to desire reassurance that they are both beautiful and far more than simply their looks.

Yes, this is why a compass, encyclopedia, degree program, and a trip to the top of the mountain to see some guru — all designed to teach you the ins and outs of women — would still never result in mastery. We are a labyrinth of loveliness . . . but what else is so worth exploring?

So here’s a general tip for men on any conflict in marriage: When your wife reacts negatively in a way that surprises you and seems to come out of nowhere, dig. Dig deep. You have hit a sensitive area, and you need to figure out what’s down under that surface or at the center of that maze.

Why does dressing in any kind of lingerie make your wife feel ridiculous or merely like a male fantasy? Do you or have you had an issue with porn? If so, that needs to be dealt with because we wives absolutely do not want to feel like stand-ins for your fantasy girl. And yes, that’s how it feels to us when our guy uses porn and then wants to engage sexually with us. Does your wife have a family or personal background that causes her to link lingerie and strippers or porn? Does she feel neglected by you in other ways and only interesting to you when she’s “dressed up to please”? Does she need reassurance about how beautiful her body is because she’s become so aware that it doesn’t conform to unrealistic societal standards, or the way she used to look?

What visceral chord does this topic strike in her? If there is a deeper issue, that needs to be dealt with first.

However, I do not believe that lingerie = perversion. Yes, there are some outfits and costumes that I consider a bit extreme. For instance, if hubby insists that his wife dress as the Catholic schoolgirl or Catwoman, I think you may have crossed a line.

And it is completely legitimate for a wife to say, “I don’t want to wear that [lace/silk/leather/ saran wrap] because it’s uncomfortable.” More than you want to know . . . but I personally don’t think I could wear a thong longer than it takes me to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” (which would kill the mood, right?). That’s on my No-Go List. Other women are quite happy to wear thongs day in and day out but would never wear a teddy or a push-up bra or whatever. There are personal preferences, and the wife should have some say in what she wears, even if the attire is supposed to be visually pleasing to her husband.

That said, no husband — hear me on this, wives — NO husband wants his wife to come to bed night after night in a long flannel gown or a ratty old t-shirt and pajama pants. You might as well post this sign on your body:

No entry sign

By Au.no_entry.svg: Cassowary derivative work: Fry1989 eh? via Wikimedia Commons

See Sheila Gregoire’s hilarious video on this! Why Women Feel Guilty about Chocolate.

So where’s the happy medium? It’s wonderful if couples can shop together. A husband can give input on what he’d love to see his wife wear, and the wife can look for lingerie she would feel comfortable wearing. You can probably find items that match both goals. The world of lingerie is so vast that it’s now possible to find feminine, flirty, cotton or silk items that flatter a gal’s figure but are still comfortable.

I am lover of pretty and comfort, and my own lingerie collection reflects that. However, my husband (whom I fondly refer to as Spock here) goes from Vulcan to Ferengi when it comes to this topic: He most enjoys his wife showing up in the bedroom buck naked. (Or do you say “butt naked”? I’ve heard it both ways.)

I’m not sure a wife can go wrong with showing up naked or merely wrapping herself in a sheet or a ribbon.

While I suggest finding out what the deeper issue is with this particular wife, and while I encourage couples to find bedroom attire that pleases both spouses, I will end with this thought: You can’t control your spouse. You can’t make your wife wear some sexy teddy any more than I can convince my husband to finally (please, honey) get rid of that hideous multicolored sweater that he pulls out every winter with a loopy grin on his face.

You all know what I’m talking about. Your spouse will wear or do something that irritates you, and while you can and should express your feelings about it, you can’t make them change. That’s not your job.

Your job instead is to see the beauty that is in your husband or wife — whether your spouse is dressed in beautiful black silk-and-lace or the ugliest sweater you’ve ever laid eyes on.

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling;

there is no flaw in you.”

Song of Songs 4:7

A related read for the wives: Nightie or Nudie?

My Sex Life Isn’t Perfect

Married couple

Not us. We don’t look that perfect.
Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Sometimes I think marriage and sexuality bloggers give the impression that we have figured it all out, that we are knocking the roof off the rafters every time we make love, that we spend our evenings groping our spouses and writhing in ecstasy.

Not so, my fair friends.

I have a lot figured out — especially when compared to misperceptions I once had — but to my knowledge, no one ever has life completely figured out this side of heaven. We are still flawed humans with daily challenges and emotional obstacles to oneness in our marriages. Sometimes I feel like my husband and I aren’t exactly one flesh — more like 1 1/4, with a little selfishness still hanging out around the edges. Yet I do believe that we come very close to that total connection when we are sexually intimate.

So what do we struggle with? I bet someone out there can relate.

Time. We recently had a discussion that went a little like this:

J (undressing)

Spock (aka hubby): Save a little of that for me tonight.

J: I have book club tonight, and our kid has that activity. Remember? How about tomorrow morning?

Spock: Got an early meeting.

J: Tomorrow night our family is going to the game, and then the next morning I’m doing that 5k and having lunch with friends after.

Spock: So Saturday afternoon?

We were scheduling to have sex more than 48 hours in advance! But sometimes, that’s exactly what we do. We make it a priority to put our sex life on the calendar. It’s a little frustrating when you want to jump your spouse now, but life interferes such that you can’t do it until next Tuesday. However, next Tuesday is better than never, and you get something special to look forward to. Also, when a friend or event threatens to disrupt your sex schedule, you can say with a big grin, “Sorry, my hubby and I have plans.”

Different drives. We’re not a straightforward couple on this one. I’d say our drives were well-matched early in marriage, then he was the higher drive spouse, and now I’m the higher drive spouse. Whenever there is an imbalance, there is a bit of challenge working that out. For instance, one spouse can feel rejected a little, and the other can feel badgered a little. “Yes, I know that my hubby desires me,” you say, “but why doesn’t he desire me more?” or simply “Again already?”

There are two positive ways to handle this from what I’ve seen: (1) The lower drive spouse throws their hat in the ring and chooses to gear up after the lovemaking starts. Maybe they weren’t interested, but they might be once the foreplay gets really fun. or (2) Each spouse gives a little. The higher drive spouse has a little less sex than they dream about, and the lower drive spouse has a little more.

In case you’re wondering, we’re probably a hybrid of those two options. But what isn’t an option is the lower drive spouse saying, “Get off me, you sex-crazed lunatic!” That isn’t in the Marriage Manual. Seriously. Look.

Awkwardness. Let’s just say that in a recent lovemaking session, someone in my marriage farted. Yeah, it’s really hard to recover from that. I don’t think that’s ever been in a love scene in a romantic comedy.

No matter how well you know your spouse, you do still want to look and feel sexy in the moment. And having sex makes you so vulnerable. Things can happen in your bedroom, especially after making love thousands of times, that you don’t expect, that might be funny if they were in a comedy movie, but that make you feel uber-awkward in the moment. Slamming your head on the foot board, a part of your body falling off the bed, farting (I pray that it never happens to you), etc. are not once — I tell you, not once! — described in the poetry of Song of Songs. Because if you did try to make it poetry, it would sound something like this:

My lover and I were in the throes of passion
When all of the sudden, someone started gassin’
His face turned red, my face turned ashen
We couldn’t help it, we both started laughin’.

Body Image. I recently talked about how frustrated I am with my aging body. I ain’t 20 anymore. I can no more bounce a coin off my tummy than I could run a marathon, twice. In fact, I think there’s a penny still lost in the folds of my belly from last month.

Not really, of course. I’m not in terrible shape, but I do have misgivings about my beauty. Sometimes it isn’t so much the expectations thrust at us by media or the dieting crazes that surround us, but rather my own desire to be everything I can be for my husband. I want to look hot! For him. I want him to gaze at my nakedness and be unable to see that any part of me is, well, ick.

I have to remind myself that he is quite happy with what’s there, even recently scoring big points by telling me there was simply “more to love.” As he was stroking my belly like I was five months pregnant at the time, I was reasonably convinced. (I don’t think anything in there kicked him.) The vast majority of husbands desire their wives even with our imperfections. By the way, those hubbies who don’t even when their wives are trying, please stand in the line to the right and you will soon be helped by the You Need Slapping Department.

Of course, we should take care of our bodies! It’s not fair to our hubbies to come into marriage looking like a super- or plus-size model and fifteen years later frumping around in sweats and seventy extra pounds. We should want to look good for our husbands, and we should want to take care of the bodies God gave us.

However, what I hear all too often is women who are trying and feel like they are failing because they don’t look 20 anymore or they don’t look like the woman on the magazine. I know that feeling. It still scratches at my window sometimes. But I draw the curtains, strip down, and let my husband show me how much he likes my body.

So how is your sex life still not perfect? What have you learned along the way that has improved your marital intimacy? What challenges do you regularly deal with and how do you deal?

The last of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association (CMBA) Half-Marathon Blogging Challenge links. Here’s what I found in the last few days that may interest HHH readers:

The Generous Husband: 13 Ways to Have More Sex. Paul Byerly writes for the guys, but this list is great! Husbands wanting to find the manual for getting their wives engaged in sex might want to start here.

Intimacy in Marriage: To Cuddle or Not to Cuddle after Sex? What Do You Prefer? Julie Sibert points out that spouses often don’t approach post-sex time the same way. What to do?

Journey to Surrender: Intimacy Challenge – Day 11. Scott talks about the importance of confidence in marital intimacy and gives specific tips for acting with confidence in your relationship.

Mission: Wife: Sexual Satisfaction Survey: The Results Are In! Part 2. Valerie returns with the second half of responses for what husbands wish their wives knew about sex.

One Flesh Marriage: Help, My Husband Doesn’t Want Sex! and My Wife Hates Sex. Kate and Brad Aldrich address the question of what to do when your spouse doesn’t want sex. The interesting thing is that this is the #1 question they get from readers. There is so much pain out there in sexless marriages.

Sex Within Marriage: CMBA 1/2 Marathon Finished. Jay Dee wraps up the series with how the blogging challenge went and a list of links to his blog posts. Interestingly enough, he got 525 hits through this blog. Hope you found something there that blessed you or made you think.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum: Bloggers Are People Too. This is not about sexuality in marriage per se, but Sheila’s post about what it’s like to be a marriage blogger was so awesome that I wanted to share it.

Flat Chests, Body Issues, and Feeling Sexy

Q&AI’m answering reader questions from my Q&A with J at HHH post. Today’s question comes from an anonymous reader who explained some of her background, but I simply printed the portion with her question:

The thing I am struggling with the most is my chest size. I have struggled with it my whole life due to unkind remarks from friends, boys, past boyfriends etc, but I felt pretty confident about myself until I found out about my husband’s issue [he previously confessed to a porn addiction] and it’s like it resurfaced worse than ever. I suddenly felt that I would never be sexy enough or as well endowed as them. I was so hurt because I felt like I wasn’t special enough to wait for when it came to his sexual desires. Thankfully, since then, my husband has gone above and beyond to set up boundaries in his life and to help me work through our previous issue so now I know this is mainly my insecurity.

Although, I do see him occasionally look at other women, I know in my heart that he isn’t “checking them out” and he will admit that he notices other attractive women but that he is not lusting after them like before. I struggle because when I see him look and if it happens to be another “chesty” woman I just want to cry or hide in a hole. I don’t even want to go to the beach with him and I just downright feel uncomfortable with myself. I am a small petite girl and it wouldn’t even be right if I had larger boobs but I still feel like I will never compare to these women or feel attractive enough to catch my husbands eye like they do. He tells me that I am the most beautiful woman to him and it’s like it doesn’t even register in my head because I don’t feel this way.

I don’t want to be ungrateful for the body God has given me and I don’t want to diminish the encouragement that my husband is giving me, but I just feel hurt and feel stuck. With posters of women and scantily clad women everywhere, I just want to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin and be able to accept my husband’s compliments and actually feel like he means it. My husband and I have thought that maybe I need professional help, but I don’t even know where to start to find someone to help me with body image. Any advice?

I need to confess at the start here that I was a very small-chested woman who had breast augmentation two years ago. If you want to read about my experience, I wrote about it with My Best Chest, My Best Chest – Part 2, and Thanks for the Mammaries. Just as this wife describes, my hubby repeated told me how beautiful I was to him, even when my nipples looked like teeny china cups on flat saucers. I got breast augmentation for me. Does my husband like it? Yes. But he liked me before too.

So do I think that all small-chested women should have breast surgery? No, of course not.

But whether it’s dissatisfaction with your small or sagging breasts, your thunder thighs, or your varicose veins, there are only two paths to dealing with a body image issue:

Change it OR

Learn to live with it.

The third option of whining and wallowing and belittling yourself is no option at all. It sucks to feel that way. It sucks for your husband to deal with you that way. And it doesn’t resolve anything.

Change it

This is an option for some. Now, for those who decry plastic surgery and other “fix it” solutions, I’d say it’s a matter of degree. We are typically okay with fixing something we genuinely view as abnormal, such as a sixth finger or super crooked teeth, but is a super flat chest abnormal? And what about enhancing something you just don’t like about yourself — like removing a mole or getting liposuction?

I gave my reasons in the above posts for why I made the plunge into plastic surgery. But I also gave some warnings. Surgery is a big stinkin’ deal and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Even smaller medical procedures can cause unforeseen issues.

Any time you consider making a permanent change to your body, you need to ask some serious questions about why you want to do so. If you are trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal — especially one created by fashion magazines or pornography — you need to change your ideal, not your body. If you are in the midst of other stressful circumstances, you may be looking toward changing your body as a one-stop solution for your ills, and believe me, it isn’t. If it’s just to feel more beautiful, then you may need to reconsider how beautiful you already are.

I don’t have problems with people who choose this route. I obviously chose it, but I did so cautiously, prayerfully, and for myself, not so my husband could have more than a mouthful. Most husbands are quite happy with their wife’s body, even if our imperfections stand out to us.

Learn to live with it

I don’t even like that I used that phrase. It’s more like, “Learn to revel in the beauty of your body as it is!” Yes, so much better.

Now how do you do that? Several ways.

Learn what beauty means to God. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You were stitched together by the Almighty God. You are a beautiful daughter of the King . . . which makes you a princess. Move over, Cinderella!

Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” God talks about making the nation Israel beautiful in Ezekiel 16:14: “And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.” And 1 Peter 3:3-5 admonishes us that “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.”

Feeling worthwhile, beautiful, valuable starts from knowing who we are as God’s daughters. Of course, the Bible is not unaware that men like beautiful women. God used Esther’s beauty to His purposes, capitalizing on the king’s desire to look upon a physically appealing woman to save His people.

Yet, I have a feeling that Esther was especially gorgeous not merely because she had supermodel looks. Maybe the king couldn’t put his finger on what was so appealing about her, but she held herself not just as the wife of a king but a daughter of The King.

Now we ladies can know all of this intellectually, but unless it sinks in, these are just words on a page. When you have a thought about being lacking as a woman, bring out a verse that reminds you who you are in God’s eyes. Replace negative self-talk with your Holy Father’s perspective of you.

Over time, you will come to see that you are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10). And believe me, God doesn’t make stick figures (like I do). He makes beautiful women, in all sizes and styles.

Learn what beauty means to your husband. Psalm 45 is a royal wedding song. In it, the bride is told to “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty.” What is this beauty? We aren’t told specifically. It’s assumed that the king thinks his bride is gorgeous . . . or he wouldn’t want to marry her, right?

Most husbands are enthralled by their wives’ beauty. Some of you ladies might be surprised how often I hear from husbands who say that their wives don’t like their own bodies but the husbands adore them.

What’s particularly appealing to men is that we women are different. Our bodies don’t look like theirs. Women are softer, curvier, and have parts they don’t have. If you have a nice little molehill for your nipple to sit on, that’s still rather intriguing to hubby. And when he touches, licks, or kisses it, and you go a little crazy, well . . . husbands think that’s awesome!

If your husband says you’re the most beautiful woman in the world to him, believe it — especially if his other actions toward you demonstrate his love. In this reader’s instance, the husband’s confession, boundaries, and investment show a commitment to the marriage.

Proverbs 5:18-19 says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” It does not say, “may her big breasts satisfy you always.” That’s not part of the deal. That the wife is loving, graceful, and has breasts seems to be the point here. Why not be satisfied and intoxicated?

Like the Lover in Song of Songs 2:2 chose his Beloved, your husband chose you: “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.” When you doubt that you are beautiful to him, don’t ask, “Am I pretty?” “Are my breasts okay?” “Am I as pretty as so-and-so?” Ask your husband what he likes about your body. Make it a positive sexy moment for him to remind you what is beautiful to him.

Learn what beauty means to you. Make yourself feel better and more confident by dressing and presenting yourself in sexy ways. Find clothes that fit well and play up your best parts, including lingerie. Set up the lighting and environment in your bedroom in an appealing way. Maybe discover which sexual positions make you feel more sexy and give your husband an eyeful of your good stuff. Learn to walk into the bedroom with good posture and confidence. Do those things that make you feel pretty, like taking a bubble bath, getting or giving yourself a pedicure, or wearing sassy panties.

It’s okay to spruce yourself up a little. We shouldn’t rest on outward adornment for our sense of value, but you can find numerous examples in the scriptures of women making an effort to appeal to their men. Naomi even coached Ruth in getting a husband by telling her to “Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes” (Ruth 3:3). Not bad advice.

Ultimately, the fix for not feeling good about yourself is to do positive things to be attractive and to replace negative self-talk with positive truths.

I would love to hear from other wives who have struggled with body image and how they positively changed their viewpoint.

“My beloved spoke and said to me,

‘Arise, my darling,

my beautiful one, come with me.'”

Song of Songs 2:10