That’s kind of a harsh headline.
But I have talked with enough women (and I am a woman), so I know that the struggle with body image is real. (For men too, but seems to be a bigger struggle for women).
And sometimes that struggle ravages our most sexually intimate moments (or shuts them down completely).
The older I get, the more discernment I am having about what builds relationship and what chips away at it.
As a Christian, I would like to believe it’s a nudge from the Lord that has opened my eyes wider. Sometimes, though, I think it’s just having lived enough life to finally be able to look around and see patterns that we rarely comprehend when we are young.
So maybe you are someone who hates your body and as a result have drifted away from enjoying sex with your husband, to the point that maybe you rarely if ever pursue him.
Here are 3 things to consider that may ease you back toward sexual intimacy in your marriage:
1. Listen to the Right Voice
I get it. At every turn, society blares out what “beautiful” is. Magazine covers. The Internet. Clothing that leaves little to the imagination. Reality shows (how is it that this Bachelor show has even survived this long?!).
We are bombarded with what suffices for hot and what is relegated as not.
Enough already. If you are holding yourself up to society’s gauge of beauty instead of God’s gauge, then it is time to start being gentler with yourself and seeking His voice. That. Sounds. So. Cliche. But it’s true! There is nothing redeeming about being a hater, and that goes for the ways we hate on ourselves.
The standard for beautiful as far as society is concerned is constantly shifting, forever manipulated by advertisers, companies, celebrities, trendsetters.
And while I don’t fault legitimate efforts to sell cosmetics and jeans and exercise regimes, I also don’t think we need to slide down a slippery slope of believing those things are what lead us to authentic beauty. What is God saying about you? His Word rings truer than anything else.
2. Count the Costs
Sooner or later, if you are avoiding sex or going into it half-heartedly, you have to count the costs. Do you really feel better with that strategy? Probably not. Does your husband feel great about it? Probably not.
When a husband and wife can be having sex regularly but aren’t — particularly if the reason is one spouse has just decided to put the brakes on intimacy — the costs are pricey.
Sexual intimacy is a binding force in a marriage. Some call it glue. Others call it connection. When a married couple mutually values and pursues sexual intimacy, something powerfully wonderful happens to the marriage overall.
So it shouldn’t surprise us that when sex is relegated to the back burner or completely taken off the stove all together, the relationship suffers. Roommate status sets in. Resentment often builds. It becomes more difficult to do day-in day-out life.
I have always said that I like my husband better when we make love regularly. We are able to extend grace to each other. We are able to parent better and navigate life’s difficulties better. We are calmer with each other.
Sex is a great stress reliever, is tremendous fun and is the one way we can bless our spouse that is reserved exclusively for the marriage bed.
If you don’t like your body and you are using that excuse to sabotage intimacy, I implore you to count the costs. And read one of my favorite posts, A Body That Never Quits.
3. Look Around
This seems contrary to my first point when I was saying don’t get distracted by all those societal standards of beauty. But hear me out.
Our oldest son recently graduated from high school, and as such we have gone to quite a few graduation parties lately (I’ve had my fill of pulled pork sandwiches, but hey — I didn’t have to cook for three weekends).
When you have a kid at graduation age, that means you are making the rounds of that kiddo’s friends’ parties, as well as the kids of your own friends.
And a common thing at grad parties is a slide show! Yup, all those photos of that kid growing up, rolling across a TV screen in the family room or at the pizza place party room.
When we get that kind of view of life, slotted into a 20-minute video with a hundred or more photos, we see the effects of aging. We see photos of not just a kid changing, but of the parents, friends and grandparents changing, too.
And no one appears younger as the slide show rolls along.
Look around. Do you think you are the only one who doesn’t have the stomach of a 25-year-old? Do you think you are the only one whose muscles aren’t as tone or whose hair is turning gray?
I am all for getting healthy and doing what we can to take care of our bodies, but I have let go of this idea that 40-somethings should still look like 20-somethings.
When all is said and done, do you want to look back over a marriage where sex was nurtured and enjoyed no matter the two bodies having it?
Or do you want to look back over a marriage where sex was avoided and could only happen with the lights out because the baby fat is still around?
I’m just trying to keep it real.
For more reading on body image, check out these scrumptious posts:
Feeling Beautiful Beneath the Sheets (my guest post over at Hot Holy Humorous)
Copyright 2017, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.