Body Image: Learning to Love Yourself for Your Spouse
I’m just going to warn you right off the bat: this isn’t a post about weight loss, diet tips, how to have a hot girl summer as a wife and mom, or the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Although those topics all have their place, this is a post about body image and how it affects ourselves and our relationships. This is a topic that so many people struggle with, and we believe learning to love yourself will make your marriage stronger.
Let’s dive right in!
Did you know that Audrey Hepburn wished she had a smaller nose and feet and thought she was too skinny? Her son reflected that she would look at herself in the mirror and say, “I don’t understand why people see me as beautiful.” One of the most iconic film stars of all time, who has been admired for her beauty for generations, was brimming with physical complaints and doubts just like the rest of us.
I think everyone struggles with self-image, but it can be especially prevalent when it comes to the female body. We nitpick every single thing about ourselves. We compare ourselves with everyone around us and everyone online. We’re constantly bombarded with ads and messages about looking, dressing, and appearing a certain way.
I challenge you to find anyone on this planet who loves absolutely everything about themselves. Even if you find that person, others will probably consider them vain. So wouldn’t it be nice if we could accept that we’re all self-conscious and learn to focus on the things we love about ourselves instead of our laundry list of complaints?
How Body Image Affects Relationships
The fact is, having a negative self-image affects us more than we’d like to admit. How many times have you missed out on a social event because you were self-conscious about something: a breakout, having nothing to wear, a bad hair day? These negative feelings about ourselves can be seeds that grow over time into weeds that take over our lives.
A negative body image is almost always associated with poor self-esteem. Those with poor self-esteem tend to underestimate their spouses’ love and view their spouses more negatively.
In short, while your own body image may feel like a personal thing, it becomes deeply intertwined with our relationship when we get married. Self-esteem issues can manifest themselves in other issues that will pop up throughout your marriage. Even if you start your marriage feeling pretty okay about your body image, we are all hoping to be married for the long haul. When you agree to “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse,” you are in for years of changes that can be hard on your body. Pregnancy, parenting, grief and loss, career changes, and stress are all but certainties that will change your body and your self-image. Are you willing to let these things also wreak havoc on your marriage?
Something to Try
The craziest phenomenon about all this is that our spouses almost never see us the way we see ourselves. Don’t believe me? Try this: write a list of the things you think about yourself every single day; the things you’ve told yourself are true. Then, have your spouse write the physical things they notice about you every day. Do they compare?
It’s not that we need to have rose-colored glasses when we look at the person we married. On the contrary, we probably know their flaws better than anyone. But if this is the person you chose to let love you, why is it so hard to believe them that when they see you, they see the things they love? How incredible would it be if we could see ourselves through our spouses’ eyes for a day? What an incredible gift to have someone who loves you and has seen you at your worst but who still loves to check you out as you walk away, carrying a load of laundry.
I polled several of my friends about this very topic. I asked them to describe three things they thought about themselves physically every day. Many wives described worrying about their hair, skin, weight, etc. Then, I had them ask their spouses what they noticed about them every day. As always, the things their husbands noticed were positive things.
This doesn’t just apply to the female body: men had their insecurities as well, but their wives still noticed things they loved about them. The truth is, the more we focus negatively on our bodies, the harder it is on our relationships. Why not believe your spouse, this person who loves you so much, when they tell you the things they love about you?
Growing Seeds of Body Positivity
It’s all well and good to say we need to have more body positivity, but the real question is, how do we do it? Here are a few things to try:
- Practice: The simplest answer is that we need to grow new habits. It’s only through persistent practice that you can learn to look in the mirror and notice the things you love first. We have to practice being kinder to ourselves.
- Keep a list of the things you like about yourself, and read it whenever you think something negative. Retrain your brain to see the things you want it to see.
- Music: Sometimes, the right playlist can really make you feel more confident. Check out the song “Dancing in the Mirror” by Glades. This song could basically be the theme song of this post!
- Wear clothes that fit: I’m about to become your favorite person on the internet and say that the solution to your problems might be shopping. Stop hanging on to the jeans that haven’t fit you since high school, and buy some clothes that fit and make you feel confident.
- Think of others: One of my favorite pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was that it’s okay to spend time getting ready and making yourself presentable, but the minute you walk out the door, start thinking of others.
No one is saying that you shouldn’t try to be healthier. But, you weren’t put on this earth just to lose weight, and hating yourself isn’t helping you. Don’t be afraid to get braces or eat healthier or buy the frizz-taming shampoo, but also don’t forget to notice the things you love about yourself. Don’t turn down compliments when they come your way. Stop letting yourself believe the lie that your looks have anything at all to do with your worth. Your value is something you already have today, right now.
Before you’ve lost an ounce, before that zit on your chin has even started clearing up, before you’ve even showered for the day. You matter now. Life is happening now. Don’t let it pass you by because of your insecurities that no one notices besides you.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out How To Be Positive in Your Marriage and Creating the Habit of Positive Self Talk.