A man designed my bathroom. I know it. How do I know this? Because a woman would never think to put a massive mirror right outside the shower door. I caught myself glancing in the mirror yesterday as I stepped out of the shower. I stopped for a moment and took in my reflection—something I don’t often do. I won’t lie—seven children and 44 years has taken a toll on my body. A wave of insecurity washed over me as looked in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw.
Stretch marks. A lot of them. My legs show signs of aging. My tummy. Ugh. Don’t get me started. Things aren’t where they used to be. No doubt about it: I won’t be a cover girl for “Shape” magazine anytime soon.
God’s word echoed in my heart. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
In its time. (“My time has come and gone,” I thought.)
Believe me when I say I’ve had this conversation many times with my husband over our nearly twenty-five years of marriage. I’ve told him how embarrassed I feel at the sight of “me” and it’s turned into a classic “he said/she said,” because I’m here to tell you, Jay says that on this issue, he speaks for men in general—and he thinks we women have it wrong.
I’ve had the opportunity to talk with many men on this topic, as my husband and I often do marriage workshops together, and almost across the board, in healthy marriages (where porn, especially, is not an issue) women are grappling with a lot more than men wish we would.
The way we see ourselves as wives is a big deal to our husbands. We may see dimples on our thighs or sagging breasts—but they see thighs and breasts! It’s true!
Most husbands we’ve asked say that they don’t even notice the flaws in their wife’s body. They just want to be wanted! Women don’t have to be overweight to struggle with their self-esteem in this area, either. Some of the most beautiful women I know struggle to be intimate with their husbands because of—you guessed it—body image.
It’s a sensitive topic, isn’t it? I would venture to guess that I’m not alone in my struggle with the full-length mirror—but I’m learning something: It’s an intimacy robbing, joy-stealing lie, this belief that our husbands want us to look like the women we see gracing the covers of magazines.
Why why why is our culture so obsessed with being skinny? I’ll tell you why: because on some level, we believe it. We believe being skinny is the ideal, too.
I thank God for the perspective my husband brings to this tender topic, because he always brings me back to reality. He recently said, “Since when has it been unattractive to have hips? Since when does ‘attractive’ only fit inside a size 6 pair of pants?” God’s original intent was that we would be one flesh with our husband—without that shame and embarrassment that the world has put upon us.
The flip side of this, of course, is the woman who feels too skinny, too flat-chested or too “boyish” to be beautiful. Here’s a secret: a good husband doesn’t want you to be flawless; he wants you to want him. It’s true! Ask.
Are you enjoying the body God has given you? Are you finding joy, delight—and pleasure in your body when you are with your husband? If not, you’re missing out on something amazing.
Be encouraged today as you’re thinking about your relationship with your husband— especially if you struggle in this area. God’s design and intent for marriage is that the sexual relationship between a husband and wife would be a fulfilling one—not just for him, but for YOU!
I’ve written about this before and I’ll say it again— sex is about more than just making babies. Herbert Miles said, “God created the one flesh experience to be the most intense height of physical intimacy and the most profound depth of spiritual oneness between a husband and wife.” The sexual relationship that you have with your husband is precious.
Don’t allow the world to define it for you.
If you’re struggling in this area, here are five very simple, practical things you can do right now to begin to enjoy your body, flaws and all:
Communicate with your husband about how you’re feeling. Ask him for his perspective and let him know exactly what you are struggling with.
Be real with your girlfriends. My husband sometimes cringes when I tell him I’ve talked to my best girlfriends about intimate issues. “You talked to her about that?” My answer? “YES I DID! And she helped me gain a right perspective!”
Take care of your body. You only have one. Take care of it. You are worth 30 minutes of exercise a day. If you need to, get up earlier—but make this a priority. Eat right. You’ll feel better about your body when you like what you see.
Stop comparing yourself to others. We are all different. Different body shapes. Different figures. Be the best YOU that you can be.
Take a risk in the bedroom. Every woman’s idea of “risky” is different—but if you’re hiding under a flannel nightgown every night, it might be time to stop doing that. My hunch is that if you’ve got a good man, he’s going to love the idea of you… naked and unashamed … passionately in pursuit of his affections.
Enjoy your body! Love your husband—and let him love you.
You’re beautiful, busy mom—inside and out.