DW thinks she is unattractive and therefore not confident in initiating
So here is my question. My DW is beautiful. I mean really! She is more beautiful to me (inside and out) now than 18 years ago when we were married. I too, have a preference for curves and she is on the “curvy” side (shocker), but she equates that to being “fat”. I have for almost 2 decades, told her I do NOT think she is fat, and I think she has all right curves in all the right places for me, and who cares what anyone else thinks, if that is what I think. I don’t dismiss her complaint as false, or foolish – I have tried to help her find workout videos, diet routines, healthy living – always as an an avid supporter if its something SHE wants.
But the bigger issue I have now, is she constantly petrified of what I might think of the way she looks. She doesn’t like sex with the lights on. And I have bought her tons of lingerie, that I would LOVE to see her just wear to indicate she is in the mood. It would get me going instantly. But she lacks the confidence 29 out of 30 days a month. I don’t know how to communicate to her how much I think she is gorgeous, and I am very attracted to her. It is as though she thinks, I just say it because I have to.
I could use some advice. Including me needing to see my own pride or things I just dont see correctly. I want more sex with her. I wish there was just something I could do so that she would continue to strive to be healthy, but also know that her in sexy clothes, will send me over the moon. I would never, and have never rejected her.
P.S. I used to be on TMB years ago, back when it had all of its 90s website look and feel. :). But I have not been on the site for many years, and that is my bad – I should have continued to participate to learn and help. Thanks to all who see the importance of this in a Christian marriage.
This can be a touchy subject with some, so it is wise to tread lightly in this area. I discussed this topic with my DW (Zelda) last night, as admittedly she would fall into the “curvy” category. Here are some things that came out of that:
In general, it sounds like you are doing a good job of supporting her. Like you, I strive to meet/help her in anything that she wants. I also tend to focus on factors like being healthy, living longer to spend more time with the kids, etc. Not counting her pregnancies, Zelda has ranged about 11 BMI points during our relationship, but because of the way my mind works, I’ve hardly noticed except for a few things here and there. Three things to stick out to me from your post are: initiating, lingerie, and 29/30 days per month. (1) Not initiating is not the same as lack of confidence. Even confident, high-drive women may not initiate very often. (2) Lingerie is not necessarily for everyone. @SC had some good points there. We don’t really use it other than a nice, extremely soft/comfortable bath robe that probably doesn’t even qualify as lingerie. (3) 29/30 days per month indicates to me that what you are seeing just may be part of her natural cycle. Since you read Uncovering Intimacy (Jay Dee), I’m assuming you know what responsive desire is? If not, learn what it is! With Zelda, there’s only a couple days per month where she experiences spontaneous desire.
Zelda thinks it sounds like most of the problem is in your DW’s mind. If she were to lose the weight and reached “optimum”, something else would take its place in her insecurities. When Zelda was at her best, about 8 BMI points lower than she is now and very close to my current BMI, she didn’t feel any different at the time and still had all the same insecurities she possessed previously! It wasn’t until she was working on a poster with our kids for a school project showing our family hobbies did she actually look at a picture of her at her optimum standing next to me that she realized how good she looked at the time (7 yr before). In her mind, at the time, she’d never been that thin/fit! Zelda also pointed out that she never really thinks about her size (or our relative sizes) in the marriage bed. She figures if she’s going to be that intimate/vulnerable with me, things like lighting are insignificant. She also pointed out that she’s never though “I wish his arms were bigger or his legs were more ripped” while we’re making love.
All that said, we did decide that losing some weight would be beneficial in the MB besides just general health. It could help in some positions, such as WOT. In our go-to position, she thinks weight loss would allow me to go deeper, which she thinks she would like (it was really hot for me to hear her say that). I pointed out it would allow better access for cunnilingus too.
Hope that helps,
p.s. – If you’re not familiar with BMI, just know that it is relative to height and for the average US women (5 ft 4 in), 1 BMI point = 5.82 pounds.
How open is your wife to talking about and learning about sex, herself, her sexuality, and your sexuality? Some of this might be able to be worked through by simple learning and being educated. There are some simple reads (books) and blogs that could be helpful to give her another perspective. Sadly, sometimes it takes someone else saying the same thing our spouse has said for us to actually “hear” it.
With the lingerie, would she be willing to pick out her own piece? I can tell you my taste and my husband’s taste are two different things. Some of the things my husband chooses makes me feel worse about myself because I feel it showcases the parts of me I hate….there is nothing that feels attractive, beautiful or sexy when you feel like a busted can of biscuits in lace. 😉 The more comfortable she feels, the more confident she will be.
Sorry to hear of the challenge you two are facing. Persistent, constant, practical loving and affirmative words must continue. And it seems you have been doing that. So, good on you!
It seems to me, this might be a spiritual problem. I don’t want to run to that as a reason too quickly or to doubt your wife’s spirituality. So forgive me if it comes across wrongly. But, when it comes to self acceptance and personal confidence, it is most solid and secure if it is rooted in our understanding of who we are before God. All of us are created and loved by Him. Those of us who are in Christ, have become His daughters and sons and are in fact, together, the body of Christ. Even known as the Bride of Christ.
So, I wonder how secure your DW is in knowing who she is as one created in God’s image and of great value. If it seems to you that all other avenues have not been helpful for her, perhaps some reinforcement or new learning in this area might be helpful. Praying for a breakthrough for you two!
These are great responses, thank you all. My goal is to be a better DH for her, and these are great reminders on how to encourage her, and to never let up in reminding her of her worth and beauty (to me and to the King). I also stumbled across the site that @JayDee runs, and some of his articles, and that too has been helpful in me better understanding how to better relate to her, understand her, and not be an idiot ;). I must say, it is awesome how God makes marriage, such a ‘lifetime of learning’ – continually reminds me of the depths of His love for His creation.
@one_woman_man, to take it more in the spiritual realm, I think this is her “thorn” to carry (2Cor12), or attack that continually tries to discourage and suppress her. It stems from many years of feeling inadequate in any way. She daily gives it to the Lord in both repentance and desire for His grace to remind of her beauty and worth. And you are 100% right, it always roots in our relationship to Him. She is a very godly woman, and has many years daily surrendered this. Thanks for the reminder, and encouragement brother.
@SeekingChange, funny you should mention those things. We had a lengthy conversation last night to specifically talk about expectations and admin/repent of some bad patterns we both have allowed to influence us more than we realized. We then did discuss the lingerie, and was pleasantly surprised, she likes all but one of the things she has. Also ROFL to the comments below! I am going to share that with her – too funny! @Duchess, you are right, and we have tried to lean that way too. More about empowering her to feel sexy, and most of the time that also happens to ‘light my candle’.
@KFunk – good idea. It has been many years since we used candles. Not sure why – probably just got a bit lazy, but thanks for the reminder!
I have found that strategic comments in the right frame can be powerful. But the same can be damaging if not careful.
for example – we were watching Family Feud the other night, the question was “Name a celebrity who’s butt could be called a work of art?” (I know…) But I yelled out my wife’s name! She looked over and smiled and said “you’re too sweet.” Just one example of many over the years. The result – she will now “showcase” it for me often and seems to relish my enjoyment of it.
A tip, getting a lamp with a red bulb or setting up a string of LED lights that have color options, can be a lot easier in the long run, and maybe safer than candles. Red lighting gives good ambience, and it can soften the look of her perceived flaws.
How we see ourselves vs. others is a challenge for all of us. This sounds simple, even trite. Just keep loving her and telling her so! That’s the best elixir for how she sees herself. In doing so, you are making a difference in how she sees herself and feels about herself. Here’s my simple suggestion . . .
What is her love language? Check out ways to love her up with that love language.
One additional thought I had: the lighting issue isn’t always about how a woman thinks she might look in the light. Recently we had my nightstand light on, which is something we do sometimes as I have become intentionally more comfortable with letting him look his fill (I still don’t see what there is to enjoy, but trust him when he says he does.) BUT I noticed that the light hindered my ability to focus on the sensations he was giving me. I had to focus on keeping my eyes closed (a distraction) because if they popped open, I immediately noticed several things around the bedroom needing my attention, not least of which is the attic access door, which reminds me of the battle we are currently fighting against the colony of mice that we fear have taken up residence up there. The mice are a huge drama we are dealing with right now and that popping into my mind was a HUGE distraction–all because the light was bright enough for me to see the access door if I didn’t keep my eyes tightly closed.