[This article contains a rather frank conversation about sexuality. Please read this only if you are mature enough to handle such things. If such topics offend you, please refrain from reading. Thank you!]
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It was a low point – a point I’m sure most women are unfortunately familiar with.
I was crying over my postpartum body (as had happened far too many times before) and again, my husband tried to comfort me with compliments and affection (as he has been forced to do far too many times before), but I would not be consoled.
“Don’t you believe me?” He sighed, at last, exasperated.
“I just don’t understand how can you even want to look at me when I’m like this! I can’t believe that you can really mean it!” I wailed.
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The next day, we were driving, when my husband said, very quietly and seriously, “It’s ruining intimacy for both of us, you know.”
I turned to him, a bit surprised. I knew for him to be sharing something so emotional, it must be important, “W-what do you mean?” I faltered.
“I just don’t get it. You can’t be worried about what I think about your body because I’ve never said anything negative about it. So I just don’t understand why you continue to be embarrassed to show your body to me.”
“But I am worried about what you’ll think! I honestly can’t believe that you do like my body! I mean, how can you when it’s like this?” I started wailing again.
“Look, hun,” he sighed, “I want you to get something. No matter what happens to your body – no matter how big you get – the way you are embarrassed to show it to me is worse than anything that could ever happen to your body. When you talk about how much you hate your body and don’t want to show it to me – you don’t enjoy sex, and if you don’t enjoy it, then I can’t enjoy it. You have to see that when you are negative about your weight it hurts our relationship. It has to stop.”
Suddenly something clicked. This wasn’t something I could brush off with a simple, “Oh he’s being sweet but I know he can’t mean that.”
It was something that, when I reflected back upon the previous night (and all the other nights I had wallowed in self-deprecation), I knew to be true. I know for a fact that when I felt insecure about my body I wouldn’t feel any desire for my husband at all and would find it difficult to enjoy intimacy, no matter what my husband said or did. Then, the times I had been relaxed and not worried – or even confident – about the way I looked, intimacy was much more enjoyable for both of us.
I couldn’t deny it. I could see what he was saying so clearly – and his words finally made an impact. You see, If I act like I hate my body, I can’t make my husband feel loved. If I don’t let him see my body, trying to turn off the lights and covering up, he won’t be able to enjoy himself as much. Though I am rejecting myself in my mind – in his mind it is him being rejected. I’m calling him a liar and refusing to let him think of me as beautiful.
And then I realised – he wasn’t lying about my body, I was. I was buying into the world’s impossible standards and joy-stealing lies and that had to stop. I suddenly realised that if I couldn’t appreciate my body for myself, I had to learn to do so for him. I had to learn to start listening to what he was saying and stop accusing him of lies. I was accusing him of lies when I was the one who was lying to myself and causing us both pain in the process.
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So often we can feel like the right thing to do to be humble is to put down every compliment we receive and bash our bodies with our words and thoughts until our minds become so beat down we can no longer receive the love we so desperately crave. We crave love, yet we don’t believe we deserve love, and so we don’t let others love us. We end up in this vicious cycle of hating ourselves, needing affirmation, refusing the affirmation, distancing ourselves, feeling depressed, hating ourselves for hating ourselves, and repeat and repeat – until this toxic cycle becomes cemented in our synapses.
We think we are only hurting and denying ourselves and we train ourselves to think that we deserve this hurt and denial. Yet, while becoming insecure about the way our bodies look, we become inwardly-focused. We can’t believe what others say about us or enjoy our husband’s praise and affection. We can’t even think about how we can properly love our husbands because we are too focused on how much we don’t love ourselves.
…and this causes us to hold back little parts of ourselves. It causes us to want the lights dimmer and dimmer, and the covers drawn over our ageing bodies.
It causes us to hold back those parts of us that our husbands want to see and experience.
When God designed that a husband and wife be “one,” He didn’t merely want them to stay together married for the rest of their lives. He wanted them to be one in the most intimate sense. He made man and woman to enjoy each other’s bodies, to be one flesh – naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:24, 25).
Any man who is following God’s guidance is going to enjoy his wife’s body no matter what happens to it – stretch marks, injury, deformity, wrinkles, or weight gain – because he loves her in all her uniqueness.
“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18, 19).
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28, 29).
Your husband isn’t lying about how he loves your body, Satan is whispering lies in your ear – and you are repeating them back to yourself until they destroy your mind. If you keep listening to them, they could potentially destroy (or at least do damage to) your sexual relationship – or even your marriage entirely.
Learn to listen to his praise. Learn to block out the world’s lies. Learn to give your husband your heart and your body freely without reserve. Let yourself have the joy of being loved and praised for exactly what you are.
Don’t spurn your husband’s words and accuse him of lies when he is pleading in sincerity that he loves you now.
He needs you to believe him.
Love and let yourself be loved.
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