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I’ve heard this go both ways.
A husband thinks his wife is attractive with clothes on, but not when she’s naked. A wife is drawn to her husband when he is clothed, but her enthusiasm starts to wane when his clothes come off.
Before we get too far into the post, I want to emphasize that I’m talking about realistic disappointment.
I’m not talking about holding your spouse to a physical standard that is unfair. Please check your heart to make sure you aren’t expecting something from your spouse that is an unachievable physical appearance.
I’ve written about people struggling with their own body image, but what I’m unpacking today is a different spin on body image.
If this is how you feel, please give yourself some grace. That’s what I would give you if we were having this vulnerable conversation in person.
More often than not, especially in relatively stable and healthy relationships, I think these struggles are not commentary on the relationship itself. If you are not turned on by your spouse’s naked body, my guess is you’re not trying to be insensitive. You’re being human.
In today’s world of so many products, clothing styles and accessories, it’s not too difficult for a man or a woman to look incredibly attractive while clothed. Many people have become masters at using clothing to accentuate their good attributes and hide what they perceive as their body flaws.
Sara Blakely made “shape wear” commonplace when she turned her life savings of $5,000 into a billion dollar industry with her invention of Spanx in 2000. Seriously. The woman is worth more than a billion dollars, because she saw a gap in the market and she filled it. She discovered that countless women want to appear slimmer and smoother than they actually are.
If the visuals are at play when someone is clothed, it’s no surprise they are at play when someone is naked. Certainly there are some exceptions, but in most marriages, spouses see each other naked fairly regularly, maybe even daily.
And if your spouse’s bare body has become less and less appealing to you, more than likely this didn’t happen instantly. Your spouse’s body has likely changed gradually over time, whether it be weight gain, declining hygiene, indifference to grooming, loss of muscle tone or any number of other physical attributes.
They are your spouse, though. It’s not reasonable to bail on the marriage or withhold sexually simply because you no longer find them attractive when they are naked. As husband and wife, your goal always should be nurtured physical intimacy, including sexual intimacy. Sex is part of marriage, so it’s a given that a husband and wife being naked together is vital to the health of the marriage.
More than likely, what has made your spouse’s physical body less attractive is weight gain, poor hygiene and/or lack of proper exercise. Yes, these all impact appearance. More importantly, though, they are matters of health.
Have you had a heart-to-heart with your spouse about your desire for them to be healthier? This is the person with whom you fell in love and married. This is the person with whom you do life and share joys and difficulties. My guess is you want them around for as long as possible, and you want the time you have together as a couple to be enjoyable for both of you.
Suggest that the two of you work together on being healthier. Incremental changes in eating better, moving more and paying closer attention to hygiene help us not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and relationally.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This tip is risky. But it may be exactly what is needed to prompt your spouse to take better care of themselves physically. Having this sort of conversation is risky because they may receive it as judgment, even though your motive is to draw the two of you closer.
Consider telling your spouse that you are struggling with the changes in their body.
When two people marry, they are declaring that their body is no longer only their own (1 Corinthians 7). A husband and wife in the covenant of marriage are agreeing to a oneness that requires they take seriously how their own actions affect the other person.
This isn’t about perfection. And it certainly isn’t about denying the natural toll aging and life experiences have on a physical body. What it is about is striving to the best of our ability to care for our body in a reasonable way that honors ourself and our spouse.
Again, just like the previous point, you are wise to have such a transparent conversation with ample expression of your love for your spouse. If you did not love them as much as you do, then you likely would be way more indifferent about no longer being attracted to their naked body. If you didn’t love them as much as you do, you wouldn’t be expressing what you believe would be a boost to sexual expression and frequency between the two of you.
Plain and simple, you want both of you healthy and paying attention to self care. You are desiring intimacy and closeness, not looking for excuses to avoid it. The fact you do love them speaks volumes about how troubling all of this is for you—that you hunger for sexual desire and oneness and are concerned about stumbling blocks that are inhibiting that.
Transparency has risks. I know. But staying silent with your angst and heartache has risks, too.
I think sometimes we get tripped up by turn-offs because we haven’t invested enough time in getting turned on. This is a brief tip, but I am including it because I think the more a husband and wife spend on foreplay, the more they are reminded of their attraction to each other that goes beyond physical attraction.
It is profound to be aroused by the person you love deeply. As husband and wife, you spend years learning and understanding what sexually pleases each other. It can be hard to savor that and appreciate it if you are chintzy on the time you devote to foreplay.
So spend more time on foreplay. When you do, what you find unattractive about your spouse’s naked body may become less discernable to you. It won’t be quite the deal breaker you’ve maybe made it out to be.
Ultimately, what you can control is you. You can control your attitude and your behavior. The hope, of course, is your spouse would take seriously the concerns you have expressed, and they would subsequently make some positive changes.
But they may not do that. So at that point, you have to make a decision.
Are you going to have a mature attitude, stay true to your covenant in sickness and in health, and do the best to love your spouse where they are? Or are you going to spiral and ruminate and/or pour all your energy into prodding them incessantly to change?
Far be it from me to say any of this scenario is easy. But marriage in general isn’t easy. Yes, we can influence our spouse, but sadly one of the most overlooked ways we often do exactly that is through our own positive attitude and healthy behavior.
You can control you. If you are struggling feeling attracted to your spouse’s naked body, ask the Lord to renew your attitude and to equip you to behave in a way that not only pleases Him, but also continues to build up your marriage.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.