Are Body Image Struggles Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

destroying61Today is part 1 of a guest blog series on what destroys sex in marriage and what we can do about it.

We are fortunate today to have my friend J Parker from Hot Holy Humorous digging into this issue of body image and how it impacts sexual intimacy in marriage…

 

What are two words most wives never want to hear in the same sentence? Naked and mirror.

If you shuddered just then, you’re not alone. Body image is one major reason wives cite for not feeling comfortable getting naked and engaging in sexual intimacy with their husbands.

Whenever I write on how we feel about our bodies, I receive comments and concerns from wives struggling with this issue. Understandably, their deeply-felt concerns about their bodies interfere with wanting to make body-image-and-sexlove.

If only God had made sex where you didn’t have to get naked…

Actually, I believe “get naked” is a good provision from God. But before you can feel that way, you have to adopt His perspective about your beauty.

Don’t feel pretty enough to pare down to your barely theres, much less your bare necessities?

Why do you feel bad about yourself?

Although I don’t know you, I’ll tell you why: You’re believing lies. I don’t know your specific situation, so I can’t say which lies you’re believing. Yet I feel confident you have messages running through your brain about your appearance, your worth, your beauty that don’t comport with how your Heavenly Father made and sees you.

“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; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14).

Maybe you’ve read this scripture, perhaps many times, but do you believe it about yourself?

God knit you, right? In your mama’s tummy? Then yep, you’re “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The real question is…do you know that full well?

Begin today by replacing the wrong messages looping through your head with God’s truth. Place this scripture on your mirror, recite it daily, memorize it. Plant it deep in your heart.

What’s so great about you?

A lot actually. But unfortunately we get stuck in recounting our flaws more than our assets. What always fascinates me is talking to a gorgeous woman—you know, that gal everyone agrees has been kissed by good genes and the fickle Fairy of Fabulous Fortune—and discovering she hates her thunder thighs. Or whatever it is.

I’m not expecting you to send sympathy gifts to that woman, but realize we all do ourselves a vast disservice and don’t represent the truth when we focus on those aspects we don’t like. Everyone has stuff they don’t like, but what matters is what you emphasize.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, clothed or naked, start pointing out your goodies, girlfriend! Everyone has those too.

If you can’t name three things off the top of your head or while staring in the mirror you like about yourself, try harder or ask a good friend for help. Repeat those three beauty traits to yourself like a mantra, and eventually add another trait, then another, and so on and so on.

Make a habit of being good to yourself when you look in the mirror. Be your own Fabulous Fairy of Fortune. You don’t even need a magic wand.

What about your husband?

Another certainty when I blog about body image is hubbies defending their wives. Most husbands are protective of their wives already, but it’s weird that when it comes to our beauty, our men are often defending us against, well, us.

Time and time again, I hear from husbands who say, in spite of whatever flaws his wife concentrates on, he married a “make-my-heart-thump” hottie. And he hates it when you won’t share your body with him because you’ve decided it’s not good enough.

Allow your husband to reassure you of your beauty. Let him see you naked and proclaim, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!”

It’s not about perfection to him—and newsflash, he ain’t perfect either—but rather your femininity, openness, confidence, and connection. He adores that this woman’s body is his—his to view, his to appreciate, his to pleasure, his to satisfy.

Yes, it’s your body, but it also belongs to your husband.

“The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:4).

Let go of worries about your body’s imperfections and let your husband reassure you of your beauty.

Will you accomplish all of this tomorrow? No, of course not. This is a journey from feeling inadequate to feeling beautiful. But if you don’t feel good about your body, your marriage’s sexual intimacy is suffering. And you are suffering—not experiencing fully what God wants you to have.

Take a first step. Recognize the importance of embracing your self-worth and the unique beauty God knitted into you.

Walk confidently into the marital bedroom, reveal all your beauty and imperfections, and make something that’s also beautiful—make love with your husband.

“For your royal husband delights in your beauty” Psalm 45:11 (NLT).

HHH Headshot SmallJ. Parker is the author of two books on sex in marriage, Sex Savvy and Intimacy Revealed, and most recently a collection of marriage stories, Behind Closed Doors. She writes the Hot, Holy & Humorous blog, where she uses a biblical perspective and blunt sense of humor to foster Christian sexuality in marriage. You can read more of her thoughts at www.hotholyhumorous.com.

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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38 thoughts on “Are Body Image Struggles Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

  1. Charlie O says:

    Believe it, ladies, your husband loves the see you without your clothes. We are in our sixties, and far from perfect physically. She has serious stretch marks and a little bit of a tummy. Because I love her I love for her to be naked, and because she loves me she obliges. Often in the morning she will walk around in the all-together as she gets ready for work. Each gender needs to recognize that there are things about the other that we cannot understand. You can’t understand why your husband would like to see what you think is an “ugly” body. He craves it, and he’s not lying when he expresses appreciation. So, give him some thrills!

  2. Deena says:

    Awww! I love this! Not to be arrogant, but I am one of those gorgeous gals and I can tell you – I can rattle off at LEAST 5 things I don’t like about my body before this sentence is even typed. BUT – and this is a big “butt”, kind of like mine – it isn’t actually about how you look. It truly is about what you believe. If you believe you’re beautiful, it radiates from every wrinkle, extra pound, and freckle.

  3. Kay says:

    One of my best guy friends in high school forever changed my self-esteem when it came to my body image. A girl had a crush on him and he confessed to me that he wasn’t interested because she was too skinny. I was all, “Say wha?!,” especially because he was very thin himself. He explained to me that he didn’t want to date a girl he was afraid he would snap in two if he hugged her, let alone had sex with her. He said that despite what the media tells us about what is attractive (thin is in!), most guys–unless they have been brainwashed by porn–understand how fake those supermodels look and instead prefer a woman with curves, and yes, a woman with some padding on her. They want a WOMAN, not a little girl! Our husbands want to be able to have bed-breaking sex with us without feeling like we are too fragile to handle it. Embrace your curves. And more importantly, let your hubby embrace your curves. He likes them more than you know.

  4. Kay says:

    One more thought. Motherhood at first was hard on my body image, like it is for many women. But after three kids, I’ve changed my mind. I am now blown away by what my body is capable of. I look at our kids and think, “Holy crap. My body did that.” Not too long ago my husband caught me looking at my post-baby pooch in the mirror. I said to him, “I think I am the only person I know who is proud of these stretch marks.” And without missing a beat, my husband replied, “Nope, I am proud of them too. I am the one that put them there!” That struck a chord with me. Our husbands aren’t idiots. They know why our bodies look the way they do, and what role they played in changing our bodies, and that gives them all the more to love. Not to mention, we are SO much more than just a body to our husbands! It is a whole package deal, and our husbands have no problem embracing that. So why can’t we wives? I feel like we women are almost guilty of objectifying ourselves when we refuse to believe what our husbands tell us about how much they love our bodies. My husband loves my body because it is mine. Period.
    And obvious it is so much more than just a physical attraction or else our husbands would start to lose interest in sex as we age. And yet how many times do you hear couples say that sex just gets better and better? It is deeper than a physical attraction.

  5. sunny-dee says:

    I know everyone says not to blame your spouse and to fix yourself first — but I really and truly have body issues because of my husband. His words are on point — he’ll compliment me or whatever. But he won’t *look* at me. If I try to wear lingerie, he straight up looks away and avoids looking at me. If I tried changing clothes in the bedroom, just to flash a little skin, he’d leave and close the door behind him. When we’d been married about six months, I decided to surprise him when he got home from work in a bra/panty set. He said, “what are you wearing?” and then sat down and turned on a rerun on the Big Bang Theory.

    I’m working on my issues because those are mine. But a major part of that, honestly, is accepting that my husband doesn’t like my body — because trying to act like he does just reinforces all the bad messages.

  6. Carl says:

    Eh. Hmm. There is another aspect to this as well. A marriage license should not be translated to an eating license and couch potatoe permit. Totally letting yourself go physically and then expecting unconditional love is not nice.

    Especially if one spouse in a relationship does this.

  7. Victoria says:

    I feel pretty good about how I look, but I have heard numerous times throughout my marriage that my husband would desire me more or I would be hotter if I would lose 10-20 pounds. I have obsessed about losing that weight only to find when I did, I was still no more desirable to him. I know that it is his issue, but it makes it really hard to be naked and unashamed. I love sex, but it literally makes my heart hurt (not that I let that stop me).

  8. will says:

    We men love the sight of our wives, the smell of our wives. Men are less disloyal than women. If a woman doesn’t have a list of things in line, biologically she can’t unconsciousky be turned on by her husband. Now if a husband has a chest that is soft or indents, and a soft belly like a woman, ate bread or pizza, how can a soft sexy wife find him attractive? Men must be 100 times fitter, stronger than our wives. We must work harder so our wives can be soft and safe at home in order to bear healthy children. Men must work long hard hours outside before they come home to do the pleasant tasks of helping with homework, tending gardens, straightening a bookshelf, cooking in a modern kitchen.
    It is easy to stay home with school aged children. I did for years as a teacher. And if you get bored with going home, you take them to a park after school, play, chat with friends.
    We men IF we want sex, must exercise at least a hard hour each morning before we shower, eat plain vegetables and plain lean meat all day, go to hard work to take care of every material necessity and convenience for our wives. Then, we must go to sleep when the children do in order to recover and grow stronger. No time for TV or dilly dallying.
    If your wife is damaged by some previous sex partners, mentally ill, has latent gay tendencies, you are probably doomed to no love or respect. Sexuality is so delicate and when damaged severely takes work on the wives’ part so much work that she is probably unaccostumed to any real work. And if you are a faithful husband, she will be unmotivated by any tangible need to change. Change yourself untill even passing women check you out in front of your wife. Yes, you will have to radically change your lifestyle for several months to achieve these results.
    Even if you don’t get intimacy, you will probably live better, your kids will thrive, you will kike do better at work, too.
    I know this is hard, and my wife never responded the way I wanted, but the rest of my life is so so much better and not filled with utter despair.

  9. AnonymousForThis says:

    Body image issues destroy not only intimacy, but other parts of life as well. I struggle in this area SO much. I hate going on vacation, because my family always wants to go to a pool or beach, and they want me to have fun with them, but I cannot. I don’t even feel I deserve to. There are always gorgeous women strutting around in bikinis, and there I am, struggling to stay a big fat size 10! I don’t even like to be seen in a swimsuit, and I start to feel very badly about my ugly body as I watch the perfect women prance around. I have a very hard time believing that any husband can love a regular wife pushing 40, when gorgeous women are everywhere. I know I don’t look as good and could never compete with attractive women, so I don’t believe my husband when he says he loves me or my body. I know I don’t even come close to beauty. I envy women who believe in themselves.
    This has affected our sex life, because I don’t believe my husband wants to be with me. I figure I’m just a warm body to use. I don’t really enjoy sex anymore because I spend most of the time wondering who he is imagining he’s with. This upsets him, because he says he only wants to be with me, but I don’t believe him. I have a mirror.
    So I agree that body image can be a big stumbling block. I hate having my picture taken, and buying clothes, and dressing up for parties, and pretty much anything that will cause people (including myself) to look at me. It’s embarrassing. I don’t understand why I feel so strongly and so negative, but it’s always been that way.
    If I had to pick one positive trait, I have pretty hair. But lots of people have pretty hair, and lots of others fake it with extensions and stuff, so it’s not really worth being happy about it. It’s not like it’s special.
    My husband claims he loves my breasts (and they’re real) but again, not special cause people can fake those, too! Plus I have two cherry hemangiomas on my breast (raised, red dots about the size of a very small mole) that are hideous and ugly.
    So there’s not really much about me (on the outside) to love. It is what it is. I guess I’m glad he loves me for who I am on the inside.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is a good article. I agree our body image should be more focused on what God says about us, His creation.
    I used to find this much easier to do. I used to believe my husband was delighted in me. Until we got married and he had no interest in me in lingerie, hardly looked up if I walked by naked, and didn’t care one way or another if I dressed up for him when we were going out. At first I believed him that he wasn’t into lingerie, etc., until I discovered he likes lingerie & bikini ads that come up on the internet, and clicked on several of them, several times.
    I also noticed he can get distracted if a certain body type walks by. I’m talking suck your breath in, slow down your walking, get wide eyed and forget your wife is standing there and you were mid-sentence before you became distracted by another woman. A woman with a totally different body type than your wife’s.
    Now I am obsessed with getting as close to that body type as I can. And I am angry that he is 60 lbs overweight and I find him attractive, am always available, and he is so affected by these women, even though I am a size 6 who turns heads and am in a healthy weight range.
    He used to deny it, then when I discussed specific instances (at home, in a respectful manner), he admitted he finds them attractive. And he tries to convince me he likes how I look. Really? Then why the looks to distraction at one particular body type? Why say you don’t like lingerie when you actually love it, but not on me? Why do you not care what I wear but are very turned on with someone in a similar outfit? I know God says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. Too bad he doesn’t truly see me that way.
    I’m sure when I reach my body image goals I will feel as empty and helpless as I do now in many ways. At least I will know I’m the best me I can be.
    I turn other men’s heads. I wish I turned the head of the only man I want to be delighted in me.

  11. Reba says:

    @AnonymousForThis “This has affected our sex life, because I don’t believe my husband wants to be with me. I figure I’m just a warm body to use. I don’t really enjoy sex anymore because I spend most of the time wondering who he is imagining he’s with.”

    I hurt for you. I lived in this world for many, many months. We face a difficult truth when we acknowledge that regardless of our efforts toward improving our personal appearance, and even if there is such a thing as a perfect body and we have it, our husbands will be enticed by other women and we cannot change that.

    I have come to understand that my husband loves my body because he loves me and my body is part of me. When his head turns and he follows another woman with his eyes, he is experiencing a physiological response to visual stimuli.

    I encourage you to believe your husband feels the same way about you. He loves ALL of you! Body, mind, heart, soul!

  12. Anonymous says:

    There is an issue here however that touches many sides of this idea and has been expressed by those above. As men, we realize that we aren’t physically perfect. And, (unless you are a total jerk) don’t expect physical perfection from our wives either. But, both spouses should take care of their “temple” for themselves, their spouse, their kids, and ultimately, their God. I would have no problem looking and enjoying my wife’s imperfect body if I knew she was trying. But in an obese (dare I say morbidly obese) state, she is not attractive to me. When I hear women say they can’t lose that last 5-10 baby pounds, I shake my head. Like another poster said, 5-10 (even 20 pounds) makes a woman ‘soft and curvy’. But 60-70-80 + is not healthy nor (in these eyes) desirable. There needs to be a compromise between unrealistic expectations, health and consideration of the other person in the relationship.

    For the wives that love their imperfections and are enthusiastic but have men that hurt them. I’m sorry. Enthusiasm is very sexy. Unfortunately that blessing will never be mine either.

  13. will says:

    AnonymousForThis,

    It seems by your letter that your spouse supports you, pays your bills enough where you can be poolside. He sleeps with you and tells you he wants you. You are self obsorbed. Buy a program like Beach Body and just push the play button for an hour a day. Eat just plain vegetables and unseasoned lean meats and multiple vitamins. Drink only water. No tasty treats for you- it is not your birthday.
    Stop whining and act.
    Some people are here because of very difficult spouses and intractable problems.
    If you do the work, you will feel better. Make an effort. I’ll bet your husband works a very hard job at least 8 hours a day. Can you do this simple thing?

  14. Reba says:

    I think the body image issues lead to a deeper concern: Am I enough? Can I ever be enough? I struggled with this mightily for a very long time. I would rather be single than “not enough.”

    Some of the posts here are more about lust than about body image. Many women need to know they are the only woman their husband thinks about sexually. When we see our husbands light up at the sight of other women and stop in their tracks to continue gazing at them, the message we hear is “we are not enough.” And we feel that the game is rigged–we can never win, regardless of our efforts.

    The turning point for me was when I began to detach from this need to be enough for my husband and focus on being enough for me. My marriage is more than sex, and my life is more than my role as a wife. I began to focus on the areas of life where I felt I could be successful. When I stopped obsessing about my body, I felt much happier. I am a child of God first and foremost, with a heart, soul, purpose, and calling. Actually, several callings.

    When husbands take responsibility for where they cast their eyes and what they do with the thoughts that follow, they help their wives feel confident and loved. When wives choose to be generous in the bedroom, they help their husbands manage those thoughts.

    The culture in which we live has made this very difficult. The images and messages are relentless.

  15. Anonymous says:

    @Reba, you have hit the deeper issue bang on. Feeling it is hopeless to ever be enough leaves a hollow emptiness inside. We vowed to ‘forsake all others’. When I know others peak his interest so to speak, I feel he is not honouring me or our vows.
    Knowing this is ‘part of men’ does not help. I have committed myself to him and wish he did the same to me.
    Perhaps being enough in every area of my life that I can be will help. Yet knowing I am not enough in such a major area leaves me wishing I stayed single.

  16. Pingback: Is Inhibition Destroying Sex in Your Marriage? | Intimacy in Marriage

  17. AnonymousForThis says:

    @Reba, thank you. You really understand. I wish we could have a cup of coffee and chat. I need to get where you are. But just having someone who understands, and can articulate what I am feeling better than I can, helps a lot. Thank you so much!

  18. Reba says:

    There have been some comments here about excessive weight. If they whom we speak of are like me, they are self medicating with food. This is very different than having a few extra pounds or wearing one size larger than you did before bearing children. People can be addicted to food/overeating just as they can be addicted to alcohol or drugs.

    The point I really want to make is that no system or plan alone can address this problem. The root of the problem is deep hurt for which the addiction has become a coping mechanism. The emotional pain I felt when I stopped overeating was severe. It was as though I stopped taking pain medication in cold turkey fashion.

    So just know that if your spouse carries excessive weight, their story may be like mine and they may need an incredible amount of prayer and support to face and address their issues.

  19. Rico says:

    “Knowing this is ‘part of men’ does not help. I have committed myself to him and wish he did the same to me.”

    You’re seriously equating a passing glance with lack of commitment? You’ve never had a stray thought about another man?

  20. Reba says:

    @Rico Your response indicates the degree of difference in how [some] men and [some] women view this issue. To men, it is insignificant, while to women, it can be critical to our sense of security.

    First, I don’t think we are talking about a passing glance. My husband did much more than that. He lit up at the sight of beautiful women and made emphatic comments about their physical beauty. He told my best friend, in my presence, that he would like to “do” her. He once followed a woman around a store while I did the shopping. On more than one occasion, he stopped in his tracks and turned his head and body to keep his gaze upon a beautiful woman. He made an appointment for a massage with a massage therapist who we knew otherwise, and indicated with an eyebrow wiggle just how excited he was about it. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. He wasn’t just looking; he was lusting.

    None of this bothered me when I carried excessive weight and slept on the other side of the house. But when I chose to take action to improve my marriage, started having sex again, and stopped the over eating, all these hurts came to the surface like a tsunami. Then I read “For Women Only….” by Shauni Feldhahn and learned that my husband had images of these women stored in his “mental rolodex.” Sex felt like jumping into the deep end of a pool with no ability to swim, or being dangled outside a top story window of a high rise building, or being pushed onto very thin ice in the middle of a lake.

    About nine months into this journey, I finally summoned the nerve to ask him if there had ever been a time he found me beautiful. You see, I knew he found other women beautiful because he told me, but I didn’t know he found me beautiful, because he did NOT tell me.

    As far as commitment goes, my husband and I have an understanding. He knows I expect and need him to think only of me when he thinks about sex. And he expects me to be fully present during sex. There are times when I struggle to not think about whether he’s imagining being with someone else, and I imagine there are times he struggles not to think of that someone else. But we are clear about the expectations and we have made much progress.

    Regarding commitment – There have been times in the past when I imagined relationships with other men, because I needed someone with whom I could have conversational intimacy. That was dangerous territory, because emotional affairs can lead to physical affairs. I did not imagine having sex with them, since that was not a priority for me. I say that simply to clarify–not to imply my issues were less serious.

    Women hear the message that we aren’t enough. We hear it from the media, from our peers, from our mates, and eventually, from ourselves. It begins very early and it builds and builds over time. We need our husbands to stand with us against these lies.

  21. Anonymous says:

    @Rico. A passing glance is different from distraction to the point of stopping as you walk, stopping mid-sentence, etc. And many passing glances, when there is indifference towards me in many instances, is deeply hurtful.

  22. AnonymousForThis says:

    I can’t speak for everyone here, but I personally don’t have stray thoughts about other men. I love my husband that much. Maybe that in itself is unhealthy, but he is the only man I want to be with.
    Maybe not a passing glance, but the second glance can sure feel like a lack of commitment. It makes me feel like I’m never enough. My husband claims he checks ME out all the time, but I never see it. Not as often as I’ve seen him check out other women
    And I’m not overweight, this is a problem women of all shapes and sizes struggle with.
    If you’re 40 years old, with a size 10 post baby body, and you see your husband noticing with interest a size 4 20 year old, is it really a big leap to admit to yourself that he is wondering what it would be like to have her, if he hadn’t gotten tied down to you? Is it a big leap to really feel he wishes you’d go away so he could start again with a younger or hotter woman? Is it so crazy to struggle to believe that he loves you when all of this feels so unloving? It’s painful.
    I’ll admit some of this issue, a great deal of it, is my own insecurity. But that’s what the post was about, wasn’t it? I believe the question was “are body image struggles destroying sex in your marriage?” And my answer was yes. Simple as that.

  23. HopefullyHelpful says:

    @Reba: We’ve traded posts on “wandering eyes” before…Just plain rude.

    I’m noticing a growing number of opinions around the web excusing lack-of-sex with a spouses’ body shape. Not only that but I have also started to see a growing number of responses to these opinions saying “shape-up-or-no-sex-is-understandable” from both sides of the argument.
    I find this disturbing as a Christian and am surprised I haven’t seen many expressing a strong dissent to this trend.
    Sex within the context of marriage (and the only valid context for sex among Christians) is about love and complementary companionship to fulfill procreation and give us a glimpse into the unity of divine love. It is, in itself, the defining moment of a marriage, always has been, always will be, for by this God joins the couple in the divine on-flesh union which no man may put asunder. Throughout most of history and in most cultures, a marriage is invalid without consummation, and we are first told of the importance of sex in marriage as early as Exodus 21:10-11, in which the marital due is rated the same importance as food and shelter (clothing), and the withholding of any of these three was grounds for divorce.
    Proverbs is explicit in more than one place, and we always have the Song of Solomon for further encouragement that we are to enjoy our spouses throughout the days of our lives. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 reinforce this importance and the role we should be fulfilling in this aspect of our spouses lives.
    What is explicitly missing is the “if only comely” part. It is nowhere in the scriptures. In fact, Apostle Peter emphasizes the beauty of the person within over any external appearance.
    Standards of beauty are fleeting and finicky, varying by time and location and culture. A spouse has enough trouble with their own body self image without, basically, an emotionally abusive spouse enforcing a personal standard of appearance as a requirement to fufilling their marital duty. This detestable attitude can only lead into more turmoil as a marriage progresses, since none of us will remain 20 forever. A spouse pressuring their significant other to shape up for reasons of health such as better BP or stress management is one thing, refusing provide the love and tenderness and intimacy a spouse *has the right to receive* because they do not have a six-pack or a coke-bottle figure is nothing less than *idolatry*. I use such a strong word, anathema to Christians, because it is brought to life by a spouse not fulfilling their God-given responsibilities due to the *physical image* of their spouse. And to those victimized spouses appeasing this attitude, a warning: Not only are you facilitating your spouses sin, you are also fighting a losing battle, since, as I already mentioned, you will not be 20 nor 30 nor 40 forever.
    And if I had to deal with such a problem, then when I “shaped up”, it would not be with my tormentor I would be looking to have sex with, for if they cannot be with me when I am at my “worst” they do not deserve to have me when I am at my “best”.
    When one callous husband complained “She’s such a fat cow, how can anyone expect me to have sex with her.” I had to remind him even the fattest cows in the field get affection from their bulls.

  24. Anonymous says:

    @ Reba and @AnonymousForThis, you have a great way of explaining things. You say what I think and feel so clearly. I’ve been told it’s normal and natural for men to notice women. The first glance is not the issue. The stares, the twice over, the stopping to stare is the issue. I can’t know exactly what my husband is thinking, but it would be naïve and foolish to not know the thoughts are lustful on some level. To do this, then tell me I’m loved and he thinks I’m beautiful is hurtful, because obviously I am not even worthy of his attention when we are together. I am not worthy of having a conversation with as he keeps his focus on me. In my opinion, this is a lack of commitment to keep yourself only unto your spouse.
    Women need to know they are beautiful to their significant other. Men need to know they have what it takes & are capable in what they do. I believe this is wherein the disconnect lies. If a woman did something constantly that made her husband feel he was not as capable as someone else, it may cause similar insecurities. Who wants to feel they are not enough-in the way that is most important to them-but they ‘will do’ because their spouse tells them they love them yet continue to focus a significant amount of time communicating, through actions or words, that there are many people they come across who are ‘more’ than them?

  25. Reba says:

    In time, I was able to release the “not enough” obsession and realize the issue was with my husband’s behavior. In his defense, I caused strife in our marriage with my 80 pound weight gain over 30 years and my eventual choice to sleep on the other side of the house. I hurt him deeply.

    I think from his perspective, he figured I felt secure because we were married. When I would voice my insecurities, he would look at me like I had lost my mind, and say, “I married YOU!” A couple of things helped him get it. I put it in his terms and asked him to remember how rejected he felt when we had no sex for months and months. I told him that kind of rejection was what I felt when he ogled other women went on about their beauty. And I saw him react to the Matthew 5:28 passage when it came up on an episode of Jeopardy. If lust = adultery, and adultery = grounds for divorce, then I would be justified in leaving him.

    He still notices women. He is wired for that and it can’t be changed. But he doesn’t do more than that, at least in my presence.

    Some time ago I read a comment from a women in her 50’s who said essentially that her husband masturbated to pornography and she did not consider that betrayal. To do so would insult his masculinity. SHE was the only woman he touched, the woman he laughed and cried with, and the woman he wanted to grow old with.

    While I certainly don’t advocate the porn, I think she was on to something. The sex for a married couple isn’t about our appearance. (A man can be sexually aroused by any naked woman.) Sex is about building a bond and connection over time that strengthens and sweetens your marriage.

  26. David says:

    My experience has taught me that looks matter, but it is amazing how quickly looks stop mattering when it comes to meeting the needs of a husband. I’ve known several men who had dynamite looking wives, but they fell so short in the bedroom and in other areas these men cheated with women who are attractive, but are not as attractive as the wives these men had. Yes, HAD. I asked both of these men what went wrong in their marriages and both had similar responses. Their wives didn’t make time for them and when they did it was on their terms and at their convenience. Not only that, but their wives seemed to care more about their Pintrest projects and their marriage project.

    I’m experiencing the same in my marriage.

    So what happens when a husband decides not to allow his wife to exert this kind of control over him anymore? Freedom happens. Both of these men are much happier than when they were married. One is remarried to an awesome woman and he goes the distance for her. It is evident what she is doing right and he easily reciprocates. The other is having fun being single and doing some really exciting things. Neither of these men had children in their previous marriages, so that is an added bonus for all considered.

    So, I guess I would say to women instead of focusing on keeping up appearances, you better focus on being amazing in bed and being open to new things and experimenting. If you don’t, your husband will fill that void elsewhere and you’ll have to deal with the horror of explaining to your friends and family why such a good man decided to leave you for someone who isn’t as attractive. And if you are more concerned about that than your relationship, then you’ve already lost and you may as well kiss your husband goodbye.

  27. Reba says:

    David says: “instead of focusing on keeping up appearances, you better focus on being amazing in bed and being open to new things and experimenting. If you don’t, your husband will fill that void elsewhere…”

    I can’t imagine a woman struggling deeply with body image would be motivated by such a threat. She already feels threatened by her own comparisons to other women and perhaps her husband’s comparing her to other women. It’s not as if she can flip a switch and change her thoughts and emotions overnight.

    My journey began with a lot of weeping during sex following by sobbing after my husband fell asleep. Then came a period of checking out emotionally during sex. Then began the process of becoming more engaged and discovering enjoyment.

    THIS. IS. NO. SMALL. MATTER.

  28. HopefullyHelpful says:

    I am quite flabbergasted at the reasoning some will use to justify misdeeds, amazed at how a marriage is turned into sexual performance review. Quite speechless, actually.

  29. Obi Wan says:

    as I read through the comments I am at least relieved that I am not the only woman who struggles with a wandering eye husband. I have done some research on it and can tell you that some women don’t mind that their husband does this, I find that disturbing, and I think it gives men the ok to treat us with disrespect and those women who feel it’s ok are allowing the rest of us to be treated this way. My problem is my husband will stare at a woman long enough to squire her attention, when she looks at him he smiles. I’ve often told him I do not like it and when these women see this happening they look at me with a look that says why is he smoking at me when he’s holding your hand? Or they just look back at him and give him a nervous smile back. I’ve been accused of looking at men, yet I don’t practice what my husband does, and his excuse for his behavior is because he’s a sales man, he has to be nice to people, ok people yes, but he doesn’t behave this way with men or women he doesn’t find attractive, because we would never get anywhere with him constantly staring at everyone in public! When you can see the back of your husbands head because he’s too busy staring down an attractive woman so he can smile at her, there is a problem. And that is an issue that can hurt ones feelings about how they look and why they don’t feel sexy or desirable. I’m a big girl, Marilyn Monroe type, my husband always tells me he likes my body, but actions sometimes speak louder than words! My husband is no model himself, but I am attracted to him and no I don’t look at other men. I don’t care what anyone says, if you are in love with your spouse and attracted to them no one else even matters!

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  31. John2 says:

    As Reba says, sex for a married couple is not necessarily all about the physical appearance. But when you have a spouse that has managed to stay fairly fit, and kept off most of the weight gain, it is like the cherry on top! That extra little bit that says they love you enough and respect your marriage enough to at least attempt to stay physically attractive. My wife has battled weight gain ever since our first child. I still found her attractive and always built her up, telling her she was pretty, buying her clothes that complimented her, etc. But her self image and lack of confidence has hurt our marriage terribly. We went from a youthful couple to one that lived like we were 60. She let her weight interfere with what we did for fun, and where we went. She even let it interfere with our sex life. We couldn’t go to the lake because she didn’t want to wear a one piece or a Tshirt while swimming. She wouldn’t dance with me anymore, because she didn’t want anyone seeing her “fat ass” (her words) in her jeans. Can’t go walking now because of her weight related issues. I myself have tried hard over the years to stay relatively fit. I am only about 15 pounds overweight, and that only because I stopped working out last year (trying to inspire her and get her to do it with me). It would be different if she was over weight but friendly and fun, but she is no longer fun to be around. I don’t understand how after years of me telling her she is beautiful, she never believes it. Losing weight is hard for her, because she does have some medical issues, but she has lost a lot of weight once, but then gained it all back. I am tired of being a cheerleader and being there to rah rah rah for her all the time in order to prop up her self esteem. It would be okay if it helped, but it doesn’t.

  32. Reba says:

    @John2 Thank you for the candid comments. I should have phrased my comment differently, because our physical appearance does have some bearing. Our husbands enjoy feeling attracted to us, and we enjoy knowing that they find us attractive. AND we enjoy feeling attractive regardless of anyone’s response. When I take a little time to put myself together in the morning, I interact with more confidence and cheer throughout the day.

    I think with all the mixed messages and consequent body image issues we face, embracing our femininity with confidence is a tricky thing. My husband is naturally lean and highly critical of anyone overweight. Before we married, I weighed 128 pounds. At 5’5″, my measurements were 37-26-38. I was not thin, but the extra pounds were in the right places so to speak, and I turned many heads.

    My husband to be said, “I love you but I don’t ever want to have to love MORE of you.” OUCH!!! Over the years, whenever he would “encourage” me in my weight loss efforts, I heard those words.

    Long story short, I had to learn to love myself. And I had to learn to hear those words differently. He meant that he was captivated by my beauty and he feared losing that powerful attraction.

  33. HopefullyHelpful says:

    @John2: What you do does help wonders, so don’t stop. It is probably all that keeps her from going over the edge. But you also need to be careful on what and how you say things because, your wife being a woman, you might quite easily be saying/doing the wrong things to her. What to you seems like cheering might sound to her like nagging. We do not always know our spouses as well as we should. Have you asked her how she feels about your comments? Cheerleaders can be a very annoying thing at times.
    And sometimes (mostly men, I think) we need a kick in the pants to get moving in the right direction.
    Having said your spouse has medical issues, losing weight might only be an option under medical supervision, and long-term weight control is a complex psychological issue that requires constant attention.
    Have you conversed with her about this? Something along the lines “Honey, I hear you say many times how uncomfortable you are with your weight. I try to be supportive, but I feel I’m doing something wrong because you keep feeling worse and worse and this unhappiness is beginning to affect our marriage. Is there anything I can do to help? How can we make this better? You and I, together.”

    You might need to seek professional counseling, do not be afraid or ashamed to. Pray to God, ask for his wisdom and help. Keep loving your spouse and never let her feel alone in this but don’t be overbearing–you might need to tone down the rah rah.

    My prayers go with you.

  34. John2 says:

    I don’t see how telling her she is pretty every day is the wrong thing to say or annoying. I compliment her, and she responds with something like “yeah, right” or “I used to be.” She can’t believe in herself for some reason. I try to be supportive, but it is tiring when someone will not believe in themselves. It’s been like this for years.

  35. John R says:

    A part of normal life includes trying to keep ourselves in the best physical condition we can. You can call it vanity, but a little of it is good. The biggest problem with body image is when one spouse just “lets themselves go”!!! I have seen MANY marriages run this route: Both parties are in good shape for their age. Four months after saying “I do ” one of them has gained 40 pounds and the other spouse is unhappy…..very unhappy! Where did his beautiful wife go??? Or it is the husband– my knight in shining armor is now a slob!!! THIS happens to marriages everyday. Some husbands don’t find their wives attractive any more. Some wives don’t find their Greek God to be special anymore. We can always find excuses for not staying in shape. The real truth is that it really IS a lack of respect that you are showing your spouse. They now HAVE A CONTRACT TO LIVE TOGETHER so fear of losing the other spouse drops away. The truth is though, THE REAL TRUTH, is that we fooled them. And our failure to try and look good is simply a lack of respect for our significant other. We can find a plethora of excuses and slip around this issue—but let’s be REAL—it is a lack of caring and respect. It IS taking advantage of their kindness. We should be ashamed and go join a gym and make an effort to change. I hate to write this but I do Because It is time WE OWNED IT instead of skating around it saying things like “you married me for better or for worse.”

    John R

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  37. Julie says:

    My husband and I have been married for 3 years and he started calling me a fatass and other very hurtful body image names whenever we argue. He recently told me that his impotence issue is because he gets turned off looking at my disgusting body fat and ugly private parts (he used worse language). I’ve told him several times that his hurtful insults has caused me to lose any sexual desire for him, but he thinks I’m just over-reacting. I can’t believe that does not understand the hurtful impact of his repeated body image insults and how it’s destroyed all intimacy in our marriage. It’s so sad that my love for him has almost disappeared now because I used to feel the most awesome attractioness towards him that I could feel unexplainable vibrations throughout my body and soul whenever I just thought about him and I absolutely loved how the sound of his deep rough voice made me melt inside. 🙁

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