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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
In the past week I read several good posts by female bloggers addressing the important topic of a body image. These were all written by women and all for women. I thought I would chime in and add a male perspective to this discussion.

I’ll point you specifically to the blog “Hot, Holy and Humorous,” which has two post that are both excellent. The first, “Facts and Figures,”  gives some data to back up the fact that what you think is average appearance is probably not average. She encourages wives to love the body God gave them. The second post, “Husbands - Help Us Feel & Be Beautiful,”  is obviously directed at husbands, explaining how they can help their wives’ win body image battle.

In a similar vein, I did a post last summer directed at husbands, “The Body Image Battle,” that continues to be quite popular, even a year later. It’s a must-read for husbands.

Today, however, I want to specifically address wives and give you a little insight from your husband’s viewpoint.

First of all, your husband wants you to feel beautiful. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but any good-willed husband wants his wife to feel attractive, even if he isn’t very good at saying the right things at the right times to help you feel that way. That also means he wants you to believe him when he does pay you a compliment instead of trying to refute it. Instead, make a habit of thanking him.

Second, your husband already knows the parts of your body you don’t like. There is no point in repeatedly pointing out every flaw, every time you dress and undress, as if you are trying to convince him to just accept the fact that you really are an ugly duckling. He isn’t going to accept it. And you really don’t want him to do you? Stop the negative self-talk; it only reinforces your wrong thinking.

Third, he likes your body. Whether you are fully clothed, in frilly lingerie or completely naked he likes to look at you. He is a visual creature, so let him look! Encourage him to look by dressing and/or undressing in front of him. Pick clothing or lingerie that you know he finds alluring on you – even if you don’t necessarily agree with him on that point. Have sex with the lights ON, and learn to be “naked without shame” before your husband (this is a term I use that refers back to God’s original intent for couples back in the Garden of Eden.)

Finally, your husband will be attracted to you as much by your confidence as by your appearance. This may be the toughest one and is probably the most important. Doing some of the things above will help you with the “appearance of confidence,” but I encourage you to go even further. It requires going beyond believing that your husband thinks you are beautiful, beyond stopping the negative self-descriptions, and beyond letting him enjoy looking at you. It requires a new way of thinking about yourself and your body. Loving your body, imperfections and all, is the very foundation of confidence.

It’s not likely that a single blog post is going to transform your self-image or get you to love your body and see it the way your husband does. But the first step is to determine in your mind to do something about your body image issues for your own sake and the sake of your marriage. It's time to do battle!

For a little further reading and inspiration, see the article “20 Reasons Why You Should Love and Appreciate Your Body,” on (Caution: YourTango is not written from Christian world view – browse with discretion)

I’d love to hear more from husbands and wives on this important topic:

Husbands, did I miss something above that you want your wife to know about her body image?

Wives, what is your experience with the body image battle?


J said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your tips! Thanks for chiming in on such an important topic. Feeling confident about the body God gifted us is an important step in allowing our spouse to delight in it as well! Blessings.

raprettyman said...

I know my husband loves me and thinks I'm beautiful. I try to be "nice" when he says so and he says so often. I have no problem being in front of him naked. My problem is listening to this and wanting to enjoy it with him. He is just not interested in sex. It's hard to understand him complimenting me so much, but not doing anything with it or about it.
Isn't that strange? He even talks about sex and wanting sex, but doesn't ever do anything about having sex. THATS the hard part.
It makes a girl cynical and not want to say Thank You because it's hard to believe its true, when he then never touches you beyond a kiss.
If there were a magic pill for sexual libido, we'd be all good. And no, those other pills are not the answer.

Scott said...

J - Thanks for the inspiration. This is one I topic I never get tired of reiterating.

raprettyman - I feel for your situation. It's much more common than people think. Sadly, there is no magic pill, as you state, and I'm sure it makes your feel undesirable. But that is NOT true. There is obviously something else going on and I encourage you not to give up. My friends Brad and Kate at just did a few posts on low male libido. Go check it out.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a post written for the wives whose husbands really and truly do not like our bodies. Am I the only one?

I am a mother of six children. My body has endured six pregnancies and deliveries. Despite struggling with my weight throughout all these pregnancies (it's hard to eat right and exercised when you are sleep-deprived and drowining in diapers, laundry, and toddler tantrums), I still have made the effort. I feed us all healthy foods, and I make the time to work out 4-6 times a week. I am now within the "healthy" range for my height and range. And I have some muscles to boot. I get compliments from others, even guys, on my appearance. I hear frequently "You don't look like you have six kids!"

But none of that is enough. The man I love, the father of my children, is no longer attracted my post-children body. I know this because he is honest with me. He has told me before that when he looked at my naked body, he thought I was overweight and unattractive; he's just never been attracted to overweight women. Now that I've put in the hard work to lose the extra weight, he thinks I could stand to lose some more weight...I guess it's not enough just to be "healthy." He has said he doesn't like looking at my stretch marks. He has said that maybe he would like it if I had surgery on my sagging breasts, but that he would be a jerk if he let me go through the risks of surgery just for looks. I bought some thongs to wear for him, and he pointed out that my butt is dimpled. He thinks I'm pretty "sometimes"...if I'm "all fixed up" and wearing makeup. I would look better if I'd get a tan. I would look better if I'd dye my hair.
From my perspective, it seems I would be more attractive to him if I were someone else. Perhaps a size 2 model with breast implants who has never given birth?

In other ways, he is a loving affectionate husband who would do anything for me. He willingly helps out around the house and with the children, leaves me sweet notes, gives me lots of hugs and kisses, and really does seem to love me. He is a Christian, and tries to do what's right. He has even tried to start complimenting me more now that he knows I struggle with body image and need reassurance from him.
It's just that my looks are *honestly* not his preference, despite all my efforts to be attractive to him. He is not aroused from seeing me naked or in lingerie. He gets aroused only when we are in the dark and he's touching me.
I can't help it; this hurts me deeply. I can't help but wonder if he really and truly loved me, if he wouldn't think that I was fine just the way I am? I mean, he's no fitness model, either, but I don't care! I think he's the most handsome man on earth, gray sideburns, pot belly and all! Why can't he feel the same way about me? I don't care what anyone else says, I only want to be pretty to HIM. I feel guilty for letting this bother me so much, like I'm vain and superficial, but I can't help feeling a stab of pain everytime I read these "cheerleading" blog posts on body image. It doesn't help to hear that everyone else's husbands want to see them naked or in lingerie, and that everyone else's husbands think they are beautiful and want them to think so, too. I also don't see how on earth those of us whose husbands fit into this category can possibly fake having more confidence. My confidence in my body is -zero-, and like it or not, it spills over into other areas of my life.

Scott said...

Hello Annon -

I can see how your husband's behavior is really causing you pain.

Because you say your weight is in the "healthy" range, that you are attentive to your appearances and that you get compliments on your appearance from others, it makes me wonder if there is something else at play here besides your appearance. Could it be that the issue he claims is actually masking another issue?

I know I don't have the complete picture, but for me the pieces of your story don't seem to fit. I have seen cases where complaints over physical appearance are used as an excuse or as a weapon against a spouse as a way of retribution. I have also seen cases where porn use creates unrealistic expectations and poisons a man's perspective. Could either of those be the case here? I just wonder.

You say he is a Christian, but perhaps your husband misunderstands what his role is as a Christian husband. If I were counseling him, I would point to the fact that he is to act toward you as Christ does to the church. That means looking past his petty preferences and "beautifying" you in the same way Jesus covers our sins before the Father. The way I see it, it is every husbands' responsibility to help make his wife feel beautiful and confident. Period. It sounds to me like he is doing the opposite.

Would you feel comfortable confronting him about how badly he is hurting? Comfortable enough to show him the post I wrote to husbands referenced above entitled "The Body Image Battle?"

I wish you the best.

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