10 Ways to Overcome Body Image Issues

Start taking steps today to overcome your body image issues. For your sake. For the sake of your marriage.

comfortable in your skin

In my previous post, 6 Things Wives Need to Know About Their Body Image Struggles, I explained how body image issues can do damage to your marriage.

Today, I want to give you some possible places to start on your journey toward a healthier self-image. Please read and consider these thoughtfully. Check out some of the many linked posts to dig a little deeper. This will be well worth the effort!

1) Work on Your Mindset

Accepting your appearance starts with realizing that you have been uniquely hand-crafted by God – fearfully and wonderfully made by him (Psalm 139:14). You are his beautiful creation because he says you are. It is also important to understand how negative self-image can damage your marriage (see my previous post). Set it in your heart to change your thinking about yourself. Pray for a heart change. Pray a blessing over each of your body parts, especially the ones you most dislike. Pray for and receive forgiveness for despising God’s creation.

2) Accept your husband’s compliments

When your husband pays you a compliment take it at face value. Thank him instead of refuting him or arguing back. Say thank you, even if you don’t mean it at the time. Hearing yourself say it out loud will help to change your mind. Trust that he delights in you and in the fact that you are his. He does.

(I realize that there are some husbands that claim to no longer be attracted to their wives, though I have found this to be a very small minority. For those suffering in that situation please read Shelia Gregory’s post “What If My Husband Doesn’t Find Me Attractive.”)

3) Practice being naked

The more often you are naked in front of your husband, or mostly so, the more you will learn to feel comfortable in your own skin. Let go of shame and appreciate the way he looks at you with love and genuine desire. Believe me when I say he is desiring YOU, not just a collection of your body parts. Appreciate your husband’s desire as God-given and not something dirty. For some of you, this will take baby steps, such as being naked in the dark and progressing to being naked under the covers, and then progress to having the lights on.

4) Flirt!

Work on intentionally being more flirtatious with your husband. Work your way up to flirting in a more explicitly sexual manner than you have before. It will delight your husband and build your confidence – and confidence is very attractive. Send your husband flirtatious text messages or put notes in his briefcase. Be bold! Even if you don’t follow through later, most husbands appreciate the gesture. There are also private messaging apps for couples, such as “Couple“.

5) Choose for him

Get your husband’s input on your clothing, lingerie and/or sleeping attire. I understand that this feels risky! But when you dress in ways you know he finds appealing and let him know when you choose especially for him – it will bless him enormously. Feeling brave? Ask your husband to choose what you sleep in. Feeling really brave?  Let your husband pick your entire outfit every day for a week like this woman did.

6) Take positive steps

Take small steps that make you feel good about yourself and your appearance, but don’t do it out of shame or in order to “fix” yourself. You aren’t “broken,” and shame is a terrible motivation for change.

You might consider working on your overall health. A healthy diet and regular exercise are always a good idea and will make you feel better in general. Pay more attention to how you dress. Choose attire that makes you feel pretty and accentuates your best features. Try out a new hairstyle or color. Have a manicure or pedicure. But remember, be you. Don’t try to be someone else.

7) Get the Facts

There is a great amount of falsehood in the world today when it comes to beauty. Remember, the women you see in magazines and movies don’t actually exist. The goal of all advertising is to make you feel inadequate and portray you as “less than” in order to get you buy their particular product. It’s all a lie.

One prime example of falsehood is breast size. Despite what you see everywhere, bigger is not better. Research has shown that a “C” cup is actually the size most preferred by men (and women). It’s notable that the average cup size in the US happens to be C. And the second most preferred size is “B.” Ignore what you see in media and advertising!

8) Stop Comparing

I know this is a big ask. But really, comparison is poison. You are uniquely you, and you don’t need to strive to be like someone else. I recently came across a blog by Heather Creekmore, Compared to Who,  whose entire mission is to help Christian women develop a healthy self-image. You will realize that you are not alone and discover some interesting facts in “ What Women Really Think of Their Bodies. ”

9) Develop your Inner Beauty

Most of the suggestions in this list focus on outward appearance because that’s where most women struggle most. But don’t forget to care for your inner self. Feed your spirit with time in worship and prayer and the Word. Spend time letting God love on you and feeling his delight in you. Chris, my blogging friend at The Forgiven Wive, recently wrote about this in her post “Experience God.” Feed your soul as well, with activities that make you come alive and feel more like your true self. See my post “10 Ways to Feed Your Soul.”

10) Choose to Believe By Faith

There are many times in our Christian walk where we have to rely on faith when we can’t comprehend the truth. Believing your husband finds you beautiful will often require faith, just like we choose to believe in the goodness and love of God, even when we don’t feel it.

 

For some the journey toward a healthy, positive self-image will be a long one, others may see a quick turnaround. As you see progress, enjoy the increased intimacy in your marriage that will likely result. Relish the freedom and joy that can grow to take the place of bondage and pain.

Do it for your own sake and for the sake of your marriage. Start today.


Some of my other posts on this topic:
Further encouragement from some of my female marriage blogging friends:

6 Things Wives Need to Know About Their Body Image Struggles

Your body image issues may be hurting you more than you realize.

A Wives Only Wednesday Post

Fearfully and wonderfully made

A few months ago, some fellow male marriage bloggers and I were interviewed for the podcast “Sex Chat for Christian Wives.” The question for the episode was, “We [wives] see all of our flaws, and then you tell us we are beautiful. How do you [husbands] see past our flaws?” In the episode (listen to it here) the husbands respond and the ladies unpack their responses.

Since listening to the podcast I’ve been wanting to circle back around to the important topic of body image because I believe the issue has a profound influence on almost every marriage. I know it has on mine. It’s taken years for us to more fully understand just how much.

Today I’m going to examine the impact for wives. In my next Men Only Monday post I’ll address husbands.

So let’s begin by looking at some potential problems caused by a wife’s negative body image.

Your Negative Body Image…

 

1 …Blocks Genuine Intimacy

If you do not believe your husband finds you beautiful, that he could not possibly be attracted to your body, then you may wrongly believe his desire for sex can only be caused by his physical urges and not by his love and desire for you.

This is a subtle but important way that your negative self-image can prevent you from being open and vulnerable, which is necessary for you to fully enjoy your husband’s affection. It makes you believe a lie that can steal your joy and surrender. It reduces sex to a physical act in your mind and prevents the genuine intimacy that God designed into the sexual union.

2 … Kills Your Sex Drive

Fellow marriage blogger Bonny Burns, in her libido survey results, found that the number one negative effect on sex drive for wives was “I don’t like the way my body looks.” While there are many causes of low libido, self-loathing is certainly not going to help put you in the mood or enable you to respond positively to your husband’s sexual advances.

3 … Falsely Accuses Your Husband

I believe many women who strongly dislike their bodies wrongly believe the lie that their husbands would rather have sex with a more attractive woman but is stuck with you. The effect of this accusation, even if it is never spoken, will keep you from receiving and enjoying your husband’s delight in you.

4 … Builds a Wall Between You

When you continually refute your husband’s claims of admiration and appreciation for your beauty, it not only a discourages him, but it actually builds a wall between you. Eventually, out of frustration, he may cease from trying to convince you of his true feelings about your appearance, and this will further feed the lies you are telling yourself. At times I have stopped complimenting my wife out of frustration but I’ve learned that she still wants to hear it, even if she doesn’t receive it well.

5 … Keeps You Trapped in Shame

It is almost impossible for intimacy and freedom to coexist with shame. When you feel shame about your appearance, you cannot truly enjoy freedom in your sexual relationship. You’ll be inhibited in initiating and won’t be able to be playful in intimacy. Hiding yourself from your husband, when he desires to have all of you, just as you are, means that neither of you can enjoy the freedom and delight of belonging totally to one another, without any hindrances.

6 … Is Self-Fulfilling

When you hate your body, it is virtually impossible for you to exude the kind of self-confidence that is so tremendously attractive to your husband. In truth, “sexiness,” if you’ll allow me to use that term, has much more to do with confidence and attitude than with physical attributes.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that your negative body image can harm your marriage. I say this not to shame you but to motivate you to take action to deal with this problem. So if you find yourself facing this issue (and most women do to more or less of an extent), what can you do about it? That’s for my next post.

Come back tomorrow for “10 Ways to Overcome Body Image Issues.” You can be sure not to miss it by signing up to get posts in your inbox .

 

What Submission is Not

What Submission is not: The Doormat, The Boss, and The Manipulator

A Wives Only Wednesday post

 

In my Wives Only Wednesday post last week, Wives: Strong and Submissive, I explained how strength goes hand in hand with biblical submission. True biblical submission has nothing to do with weakness or subjugation, as it is so often wrongly characterized. In fact, submission actually requires strength.

Submission Misconstrued

Unfortunately, there is a pretty strong cultural push back against God’s design for marriage, and I find it is mainly due to a lack of understanding of what God’s heart really is on this subject.

What does it mean for you to respect and support your husband’s Christlike “headship” with the gift of your submission? It means that your submission to your husband should be a direct corollary of your submission to Christ. Paul describes in Ephesians 5 how God designed marriage to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church, represented by the Bride-like characteristics in the chart below.

Weak & Unsubmissive

I don’t usually like describing something in the negative, but today I want to introduce you to the three wives represented by the other quadrants: labeled above as the Doormat, the Boss and the Manipulator.

The Doormat

This is probably the wife I hear described most often when people protest the notion of submission. “I’m not going to be a doormat for anyone!” The good news is you aren’t supposed to be!

This wife makes the mistake of equating submission with weakness. She is often filled with self-doubt and insecurity. She thinks her opinions don’t matter and that her needs are unimportant, even as the resentment over her presumed “less than” status builds. She thinks she has no voice.

The Doormat can be withdrawn from the relationship with her husband, mistaking passivity for humility. She feels uncertain of her identity in Christ, as co-heir with her husband of the full inheritance that is hers by virtue of her faith in Jesus.

[There are also plenty of “dictator” husbands who treat their wives in this way.  It’s important to realize that Paul never instructs husbands to make their wives submit, but rather to love their wives in a Christlike manner.]

The Boss

This is the wife who feels she must lay submission aside in order to show herself strong and to prove herself capable.

This wife tends to be disrespectful to her husband, her words and tone letting him know of her frequent disapproval. She will put him down to friends and family and broadcast his mistakes in order to “keep him in his place.” She thinks that in order to avoid subjugation she must push for her own way. Her self-interest is front and center of most decisions, and she is easily offended.

The Boss frequently contends for power, thinking that to do otherwise shows her to be weak.

The Manipulator

This wife is neither submissive nor strong, sharing some of the characteristics of both the Boss and the Doormat.

The Manipulator comes across as uncaring toward her husband, from her expressions of disrespect to her self-protective withdrawal from him. She is fearful, distrustful and resentful of any expression of leadership on his part.

She lacks the emotional strength and the integrity to deal with her husband forthrightly. She plays games to get her way. She may try to hide her emotions, but they will eventually bubble up into an outburst of some kind.


To make the point clear, I’ve described the behaviors of these wives in pretty strong terms. Chances are, none of these describes you exactly, but beware of the characteristics they portray. Be vigilant against the mindset that equates submission with weakness. And be vigilant against the world’s prevailing sentiment against submission in any form.

Pursue strength and submission with equal vigor. Glean from your relationship with Jesus the kinds of attitudes and attributes that should attend biblical submission. If you are watchful, you will see lots of parallels between your spiritual walk and your marriage. They are everywhere.

Grace Abounds

To a greater or lesser degree, you are going to fail to be the wife you want to be.

There is good news for those who mess up in their quest to walk out a biblical marriage. It’s called grace!  God is for you and for your marriage. His desire is to see you and your marriage thrive. Pray for the wisdom to love and serve your husband well. Pray for your husband to walk in his full identity as leader and lover. Know that God’s love and approval of you don’t change, even when you slip into weak or unsubmissive actions or attitudes.

God’s grace and love abound, and nothing you do or fail to do can change that. 


A note to any husbands reading this post. The post is intended for your wife. While you can encourage your wife to be strong, it is not your responsibility to make her submit. Work on your end of the marriage partnership, to love and serve your wife as Christ loves the church, giving himself up for her.  Loving your wife well will draw out both her submission and her strength.

Read my corresponding posts for husbands

 

Wives: Strong and Submissive

Submission and strength go hand in hand.

A Wives Only Wednesday Post

 

On Monday I wrote a post for husbands on the way the Bible describes their role in marriage.   In “Strong and Good” I explained how the model for biblical headship is Jesus. Today, I’m addressing wives on their role.

I’ll give you the same two cautions I gave husbands in their post. When it comes to Paul’s instructions on marriage in Ephesians 5:

  1. You should only read the instructions that pertain to your role.
  2. The only valid model for interpreting these instructions is Christ, our Bridegroom, and the church, His bride.

The S Word

Most of you have probably at least heard that there is something about wives and submission in the Bible. Some of you may even know the verses by heart.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)

Some may choose to ignore these verses or pass them off as out of date for our modern world.  But my belief is that if it’s in the Bible, especially if it’s in the New Testament, it’s probably something God cares about and something we should try to understand and apply.

Seeking Understanding

Most of those who have a problem with biblical submission have wrong ideas of what it actually is. What is needed is a clear understanding of the Bible’s perspective. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of explanation in the scriptures about submission, so people seek out understanding from a lot of different sources. For example:

  • Feminism – says women don’t need men in the first place and calling a wife to submission is like calling her to a life of slavery.
  • The culture at large – says 50/50 is the best way to run a marriage. Equality is the goal. Submission is unfair.
  • Wrong paradigms – use models like captain/first mate, pilot/co-pilot, CEO/VP, etc.

None of these perspectives provide useful insight into God’s design for marriage.

What we should focus on instead is the only clear model of marriage found in the Bible: Christ and the church. Specifically, submission is best understood through the lens of your relationship to Jesus. No, I’m absolutely not saying that husbands are gods or equal to Christ. I’m simply saying that the Bible clearly intends that you should glean lessons for your marriage from the way in which you submit to Christ.

Submission and Strength

Many mistakenly think that, as a wife, you cannot be both strong and submissive. But submission and strength are both essential to your role as a wife; they are not mutually exclusive.

Here is how I frame it up:

Strong & Submissive Bridelike

 

The upper right quadrant, the one labeled “Bride-like,” is what I think the Bible calls you to as a wife: to be both strong and submissive.

Forget the notion that submission means you are to be a slave or a doormat or a so-called “Stepford wife.” No, the bride-like imperative means you are to be empowered by your husband, secure and confident in his love, with a sure sense of God-given identity and purpose. This is how we relate to Jesus. This is how you should relate to your husband.

Don’t confuse submission with silence. You are to have a voice, a strong, clear voice in your marriage. But your strength does not conflict at all with the call for you to honor your husband with your respect, to follow and support him in humility, or to be selfless in giving your husband your love and devotion.

The fact is that true biblical submission requires real strength.

  • It requires you to have the mental strength to do battle with the lies you hear all around you about worldly marriage paradigms that say you must to look out for yourself and stand up for your rights. It can be a real challenge to keep your mind in agreement with the way God wants you to live your marriage.
  • It requires the emotional strength to face your doubts and fears and to trust in your husband’s love. It requires that you work on your self and on becoming the wife God wants you to be rather than trying to change your husband.
  • And it requires the strength of will to let go of your need to control, to follow God’s design for your marriage and to follow your husband’s lead, to partner with him and to lovingly support him, even when he missteps.

Yes, you can and should be both strong and submissive in your marriage. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Your submission actually makes you powerful. True submission is a gift you give to your husband. The choice is wholly yours, because submission that is demanded or coerced isn’t biblical submission at all.

In your marriage, do you struggle with submission or with being strong? Share your story, leave a comment.

Be sure to come back next week when I explain “What Submission is Not.”


You might want to check out what some other wives have to say about what submission means to them:

You can also read my post “Respect, Submission and Trust” or Part 6 of What I Believe About Marriage, “Love, Respect, and Submission

A Great New Resource for Christian Wives

Four lady blogger friends are teaming up to create a powerful new sexual intimacy resource for wives.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

When four marriage blogging powerhouses team up to talk about sex in marriage, it’s time to pay attention!

Bonny Burns (Bonny’s Oyster Bed7), Gaye Christmus (Calm, Healthy, Sexy), J. Parker (Hot, Holy & Humorous), and Chris Taylor (The Forgiven Wife) agreed to let me interview them about their brand new podcast project Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

So here is what they have to say about it:

You all have successful platforms of your own, so what is your motivation for doing this particular project?

Our initial responses to this question were “Because we’re crazy,’ “Because we don’t have enough to do,” and “Because 4 ¼ brains make up one complete brain!” Seriously, though, we’re doing this to reach more women with a positive message about sex and intimacy in marriage. Our current platforms (blogs and books) reach women who read. But many women don’t have much time for reading, or they prefer to take in information by listening. So in addition to our readers, who we hope will become listeners, we want to reach women who may not have time to sit down and read a blog post or book chapter, but do have time to listen to a podcast while driving or working out or just going about their day.

We also like the idea of working on a joint venture with friends, and of creating a model of women sitting around the table (in our case it’s a virtual table) talking about things that are important to their lives and marriages. We also want to show that it’s possible to have positive and productive discussions about topics that can be difficult or controversial, even if you have differences of opinion about them. Because, believe it or not, four Christian marriage bloggers can have quite different viewpoints on some topics related to sex and intimacy! So we want to model how people can discuss these kinds of somewhat difficult topics, and hope we will encourage women who may need to address difficult topics in their marriages. And, last but not least, we want to show that it’s okay to laugh and have fun when talking about sex and intimacy!

What kind of wife would most benefit from what you will be doing in the Sex Chat podcasts?

Christian wives will probably make up the core of our audience, and in some ways we’ll be speaking primarily to them. But we welcome other wives too. We hope that women of other religious backgrounds (or no religious background) who are interested in building great sexual intimacy in their marriages will listen to the podcast. And we hope that women who think that “sex positive Christian marriage” is an oxymoron will listen too! Because the church hasn’t done a very good job of presenting sex in marriage as a great thing, especially for wives, and we hope to play a small part in changing that.

How can wives expect to benefit from your podcasts? What impact would it have on their marriage?

We’re hoping to change the game by playing offense. Christians and the church have tended to play defense when it comes to sex – by focusing heavily on “don’t do this and don’t do that” – but we’re going to play offense. We’re going to encourage women to embrace their sexuality, learn to enjoy sex and build deep emotional intimacy in their marriages. And we’re going to make it clear that God’s design for marriage is that both the wife and husband enjoy a fabulous sex life!

We’re also going to share a lot of practical tips. All four of us have a practical focus in our blogs and books. We tend to say “Here are things that you, as a busy woman, can actually do to make a difference in your life and marriage.” And we’re bringing that focus to the podcast, by sharing a variety of practical tips and ideas. From those tips and ideas, we hope that every woman who listens will find some that work for her.

We also think that women will benefit from the collaborative nature of this venture. They’ll hear regularly from four women who have different ideas and perspectives, plus the guests who will join us from time to time.

How can women connect with you?

As you can see there are many different ways to get the podcast. Pick your favorite way and follow/friend/like them right now. They launch tomorrow!

I don’t have the scoop on what their first podcast will cover, but J. mentioned in a recent blog post that so far they have recorded episodes about: Getting in the Mood, Sexual Positions, 50 Shades of Here-We-Go-Again, Stress, Sex Scheduling, Female Arousal/Response, Exercise and Sex, and Mismatched Drives. Quite a starting list!

I’m not a wife, but I assure you I’ll be listening in to what these ladies have to say about sexual intimacy. It promises to be a frank and open discussion ranging over many different helpful and important topics.