I’m probably going to frustrate a few people with this post.
Or maybe not. I’m not sure.
At any rate, soldier on in reading, even if you are tempted to stop. Where I am going may surprise you.
Sometimes I hear from husbands who are not interested in sex because their wife has “let herself go” — not shown interest in being healthy, wearing attractive clothing or embracing her femininity.
Sometimes it is wives who are emailing me about their husband who has put on some extra pounds, not paid attention to his grooming like he did when they were first married and stopped embracing his manliness.
And sometimes the emails are from people lamenting not about their spouse, but about themselves, claiming they “let themselves go” and this is the reason for the intimacy woes that are plaguing the marriage.
Whether someone is complaining about their spouse or complaining about themselves, I think this whole “let yourself go” issue is not really the issue.
Because let’s be honest. For the vast majority of people, your body at 40 or 50 is not going to look like your body at 20.
It’s just not, what with that thing called aging (not to mention carrying and birthing and nursing the little tykes for us women).
That’s not to say you can’t aim toward being physically healthy, dressing in appropriately fitting and attractive clothing, and so forth. Yes, this is all well and good.
BUT, the real issue, in my opinion, is your attitude about sexual intimacy and your willingness to have healthy confidence in yourself (not just in your body).
Do you want to know something about those scenarios I shared at the beginning of this post? The ones where I hear from people complaining about their spouse “letting themselves go”?
Those emails by far are a tiny percentage compared to the number of emails and comments I receive, particularly from husbands, who actually have a different quandary.
What torments these guys is their wife has let go of her sexual confidence, despite the husband’s repeated encouragement and affirmation.
You see, these men don’t care about the extra pounds their wife has put on. And they don’t care that she doesn’t look like she did when they first married.
What the husband hungers for is a wife who wants to make love, wants to be close and wants to give him the privilege of seeing her naked body.
But she is resistant, even belligerently self-defeating when it comes to nurtured sexual intimacy and sexual passion in the marriage.
The husband isn’t hung up on what she perceives as having “let herself go.”
If you are still reading, this may well be your come to Jesus moment as far as what has truly been sabotaging intimacy in your marriage bed.
Maybe you have. And maybe it has nothing to do with your body.
I hear from countless guys who say that what they find incredibly sexy is sexual confidence.
Given the choice, they would be more excited about a wife who maybe has put on some extra weight and has a few wrinkles YET still has interest and enthusiasm in bed than a wife who looks like a Victoria Secret model YET has zero interest in sexual passion with her husband.
I could do a “man on the street” survey (because, honestly, that sounds like fun). You know where I would arrive with that survey?
That a wife’s sexual confidence is sacred ground — thoroughly enjoyed by husbands whose wives exhibit it — and coveted by countless husbands whose wives don’t have it (and have no interest in having it).
I’m just not so sure this “let yourself go” argument is really about what we have too often made it about.
I think the deeper issue is about sexual confidence. Not the extra baby weight.
If you’re going to let go of anything, let go of this idea that you first have to lose the extra weight or get in better shape before you build sexual confidence.
A better approach just might be to build sexual confidence now.
What do you think?
And for more reading, check out my favorite post on “body image” at this link.
And I might catch some grief for sharing the below video, but it has an incredibly powerful message (warning though, especially for guys, it does contain subtle nudity).
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Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.
15 thoughts on ““Letting Yourself Go” Really Isn’t the Issue”
Well, I gotta say that you nailed it. I was skeptical at the start of the article, but when I saw where you were going I knew you were right. At the end of the day, outwardly shown sexual desire and confidence is so much more important to me than my wife’s appearance. Now, I won’t lie….when my wife seems to not even try to be healthy it sends me the signal that she doesn’t care about me.
Julie, you are 100% right! My wife has added 75 pounds. In regards to our sex life, this DOES NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE! However, she greatly lacks in sexual confidence. She has initiated sex less than 10 times in 35 years. She says it is too uncomfortable for her to initiate.
Julie, you are dead on target! A woman with a confident, playful attitude is a LOT sexier than a thin woman who is rude or condescending.
Great post!!! I believe THIS is a huge issue with a majority of wives today. It is EASY to tell if your wife lacks sexual confidence EVEN DURING the few times you have sex——She will avoid you when nude. If you do have sex she will want all, or almost all the lights turned off. She will take her clothes off and JUMP under the covers. She will not utter a single sexy remark during intercourse or sex play. And she will want you to HURRY UP. Then she will JUMP out of bed and run to the bathroom n dress immediately. I have a beautiful, in shape, sexy wife who does not like sex. THAT MAKES IT EVEN WORSE. I would love her no matter what her shape because I adore her. If gaining 25 pounds will transform her into a sexually confident woman—then I want her to start eating more!!!! Of course a man will be turned on by a sexually confident woman—it is simple human nature. THIS lack of desire for sex because of body image is destroying what could be good marriages.
Love, love, love the video. I think I daily need reminders of how absolutely beautiful “comfort in your own skin” is. God is a very good designer.
Oh, I’m sorry but I have to be the dissenter here. I used to be very sexually confident, but my husband’s lack of desire has caused me to lose almost all of my confidence – sexually and otherwise. I know this is wrong. I know I need to find my true worth in Christ. My husband confuses me, as he says he loves me and my body, but his low libido screams otherwise.
Also, I didn’t like the video. Because – all of the women in the video were perfect and beautiful!!! I am not overweight, and most people think I’m 30 when I’m actually 40 (which is nice) – BUT I still know I’m not all that appealing, especially to my husband. And I am nowhere near as beautiful or perfect as the women in the video.
I suffer from mental illness and I am in therapy at the moment. I have huge self esteem issues due to my childhood and I basically hate everything about myself. There is no way that I can have sexual confidence because I have no confidence at all. Thankfully my husband is very understanding and doesnt pressure me because he loves me and wants me to recover from my past. So for some people its not so easy and it takes years of prayer and therapy.
B, you are not dissenting I feel. I think we agree. You just have a husband who appears to be either uninterested in sex OR, this is a big one, is a little scared of a “sexually confident” wife. Either way, don’t LET THAT steal your “sexual confidence”! You be who YOU ARE! If that is sexually confident then don’t change. It is a great quality. And you certainly don’t have to compete with the women in the video. I know plenty of sexually confident women who are not PERFECT in every way. Most of us are not. Try to talk to your husband candidly about WHAT the problem is. He is blessed to have a sexually confident wife. I have never understood men who are a little afraid of a wife who loves sex. Maybe they are insecure? Don’t change.
Lots of truth here.
It should be added, though, that if a Christian wife discovers pornography in her man’s life, or if he doesn’t know how to control his wandering eye or sidebar comments about other women, her sexual confidence will likely be eroded or shattered.
A man may think that another woman’s attractiveness has nothing to do with how he views his wife… but the wife’s desire to be his one and only, and our biblical command to save that piece of ourselves for our spouses will override any argument like that. There’s always opportunity for forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, but it will take time and effort from both of them.
In nature the most attractive animals are male: the mane of the lion, the plumage of the cardinal, the fan of the peacock. It is the female of the human species, however that is the beautiful one. God made your body to tantalize, arouse, mystify, fascinate, captivate, etc. the male. You probably cannot imagine the wonder of your body to your husband. Use it in your marriage. It is a great asset; don’t consider it a liability. Those who live within their comfort zone will lead mediocre a life at best. Stay there in your sex life and you very possibly could cheat both your husband and yourself. Here are two uncomfortable requirements: (1) Faith. Faith is scarey. Hebrews 11:1 describes it as acting as if something that your cannot see is already there. Faith requires that we go beyond our understanding. Your can’t understand how your husband can find you attractive. When he speaks and acts like your body is scrumptious, believe it! Just believe it! Even though you are nervous, take your clothes off, dress in lingerie, flash him, leave the lights on, throw off the sheet, etc. Faith is not the absence of fear; it is acting like you aren’t afraid. (2) Courage. These two are very closely related. Being courageous is overcoming fear. Flaunt your body; make noises during sex; writhe. Back to that comfort zone. Remember when you learned to drive? You had to be very deliberate; you were nervous; it was hard. Not now. Practice will take away some of the nervousness. If not, be courageous.
I wonder if women might be less concerned about their bodies, and less concerned about what their husbands think of their bodies, if they were using their gifts fully, had meaningful, fulfilling work, and felt they were making a difference in the world. A woman who is others-focused radiates joy, grace, and compassion. She has more important things on her mind than whether her husband likes her body. She is concerned with what she can do, whom she can bless, comfort, encourage and inspire.
Loved this post. I lost my first husband/best friend when pornography destroyed our marriage. I thought I could never marry again. Ever trust again. It left me devastated with low self image. Comparing myself to every women and always coming up short. I wasn’t as pretty, funny, intelligent, witty, thin, athletic. I wasn’t until I established a intimate relationship with the Lord. It took my eyes off how the world defined beauty. If fact beauty is different in every culture. It’s in Christ I found my worth, value, who I am. I don’t need to be smart, funny, thin, because it’s a godly confidence that comes from knowing I’m a daughter and a bride who eagerly waited for the return of her bridegroom. The more I conform into Jesus the more His glory shines through me. That brings so much confidence in my marriage now, in and out of bed. Jesus sets you free from yourself it’s no longer self conscious, it’s Christ conscious!
I have seen lots of articles about this topic, but they all seem to pass over the issue I see.
First, beautiful and attractive are related, but are different. Most of the time what women seem to be worried about is body image. They are bothered because they don’t look like a swimsuit model. This is about beauty. It fades and you can’t stop it. Sometimes men are upset about that too.
Attractiveness has more to do with the effect that appearance has on others. When a woman wants to be attractive to her husband, she may put on jewelry, makeup, feminine clothing, and look after her beauty as best she can. It is motivated by longing to be the object of her husband’s passionate desire. And, it tells the husband that he is the object of /her/ passionate desire.
If a wife has extraordinary beauty, but doesn’t want to attract her husband, she is capable of being repulsive. My wife has exerted massive effort to repel me because she refuses to be intimate. Even when she has sex, there is no intimacy. She has let herself go. This is a significant difference from the women in the video and it is rarely addressed.
My wife doesn’t even /want/ to be pretty. She is offended if I suggest she wear something I’d like to see her in. And everything I like on her is either too difficult or too uncomfortable. Heels became a thing of the past on the day we got married.
Of course she thinks that God only cares about inner beauty, and that outward beauty and attractiveness is shallow — maybe sinful. I’ve seen a handful of blog posts around that encourage beauty, but none show that God is pleased by it. I’m not sure it would change her mind anyway.
On the flip side, if my wife has no interest in being intimate with me, why should I bother taking care of myself? It’s not as if I have a reason to try to look good anymore. In fact, letting myself get out of shape and unhealthy may be the only thing left that will save my marriage. I won’t have to worry about temptation if I am so undesirable that no other woman would want me either. What better way to prevent adultery than to make myself unattractive? I don’t exercise and eat junk food all the time now. I gained 5 pounds this month! As an added bonus, I hear that being obese can kill your sex drive too. Hopefully that happens soon.
B ~ you make some good pts. My spouse has underwent dble mastectomy and survived her illness. The women in this should stop whining about their appearance and be grateful for the health and beauty they enjoy.
Beauty is where you find it and how you see it. Appreciate all that you have and let go of what you do not; simple advice that is healthy for all involved.