Am I beautiful?

Jay Dee

Am I beautiful?

May 09, 2015

I think one of the biggest questions women have revolve around the question of beauty.  There seems to be this innate need to be found beautiful, to know that you are captivating.  Open up Google and type “Does my husband”, and the first suggestion is

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AmIBeautifulI think one of the biggest questions women have revolve around the question of beauty.  There seems to be this innate need to be found beautiful, to know that you are captivating.  Open up Google and type “Does my husband”, and the first suggestion is “… find me attractive?”  That’s a topic I’ve written about before, we even did a survey on it.

But, I’m going to touch on it again, because I was reminded of this question a few times this week.  One of them was in a comment from a reader who asked this:

I’m not sure if this topic has been covered, but a lot of women are very shy when it comes to sex and the naked body. So maybe a post to help the husband make the wives more comfortable and come out her shell.

Now, I don’t think it’s the husband’s job to make their wife come of her shell, but I was curious how much it did affect their sex life.  So, I took another look at the results of our latest survey and found a couple of stats that you may find interesting.

Wives who said the reason they haven’t taken naked pictures, or haven’t had them taken of themselves, is because they’re afraid of how they look, have sex on average 40% less often and are 32% more likely to be dissatisfied with the quality of sex in their marriages as well.  By contrast, those who have had nude pictures taken themselves by their spouse are 47% more likely to be satisfied by the quality of sex compared to the general public.

Now, I’m not saying you need to go out and start taking naked pictures of yourself.  But, I think there is an underlying truth here that I want to pull out:

Your contentment with your body directly, and drastically, affects your sex life, and ultimately your marriage.

Did you read that carefully?  Your contentment.  Not your actual body, and not even being happy about your body.  Many wives who have had pictures taken had comments like this:

  • I was struggling with my body after having 2 children, my husband continued to tell me that I am sexy though I did not feel that way
  • He loved it, which I was 99% sure he would. I was happy to be able to gift him with this experience. I was very nervous, very body conscious, and have low self esteem, especially with my weight gain after having children.
  • I hate my body, but we were having some rough spots in our sex life and I was trying to improve it by taking sexy selfies, something hubby had brought up.
  • Again, with body issues, it did take a lot for me to do it, but I am learning that my husband thinks I am hot no matter if I have love handles and stretch marks.
  • I was hesitant at first because this is something I never thought I would do and I do have issues with my body image. What made this experience enjoyable was his positive response to my pictures.

A lot of them mentioned body image issues, that they see faults in their bodies, that they hate their body even.  But, even with all that, they decided to be content with what they had at the moment and use it in a way to bless their husbands.

I particularly like ones like this:

  • He tells me I’m hot and sexy, and I believe him
  • Feel like my husband enjoys my body even though I am able to see faults in it routinely
  • I was excited that my husband was so interested in having pictures of me, especially after having children
  • While I hate how I look, I know that he loves to get pictures of me, and when I actually do take the pictures, it’s kinda fun to try and get the best pose and keeps my head in the game for later on when we can have some fun

Where they have decided to act on their spouse’ view of them, instead of their self-perception of their body.  And I think this needs to be taught more.  I know we often throw out the “It’s not the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside”, and that’s true, but, I don’t like that this teaching seems to bolster the idea that women have that they aren’t beautiful.  It basically tells them “yep, you’re not, but it’s okay, you have a fallback with your personality”.  And that’s just horrible.  No wonder wives have so many body issues.  I think a lot of them have given up and went with their backup-plan.

Instead, I think we should be teaching our daughters, our young women, our wives that they are beautiful as they are.  For example, look at this verse:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Your body is the temple of God!  Not your personality, your body!  Think God’s not interested in beauty?  Go read 1 Chronicles 28 and 1 Kings 6, and see what God all put in His temple.  It was full of beautiful wood carvings, gold and silver.  This was a beautiful building. Then look in Haggai 2 and hear God say that after His temple was destroyed, the new one would be even more beautiful!   And when it too was destroyed, God chose to move into an even more beautiful temple…you.

What body image issues really are

And instead, we have managed to make a generation, multiple generations really, of women who are ashamed of their bodies, are self-conscious of them, even with their own spouse.  They look at their bodies, these glorious temples that God dwells within, and say “it’s ugly, it’s fat, it’s stretched, wrinkled and worn” and in so doing, they declare that God’s temple is not beautiful.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

They, unknowingly, declare that what God has made holy, is unholy.  They degrade God’s holy place by failing to acknowledge its holiness, and it’s no wonder.  That’s how they’ve been taught to view it.  They’ve grown up being told that it’s not important, but unfortunately, they’ve been taught a habit of blasphemy.  Because this is the Biblical definition of blasphemy: to treat something that is holy as if it were not holy.  It’s not intentional, I know, but that doesn’t make it any less true, or damaging.  I think this behaviour, this pattern for living, is hurting many women’s relationships with God, and many wives’ relationships with their husbands.

How can you stop?

I think ultimately God wants you to be as good a steward with the body you are given as you can be.  But, I think it starts before that.  I think it starts with accepting that it’s God’s temple, and that it’s beautiful just as it is, that you are beautiful, just as you are.

If all you see in the mirror is a shack in the woods, you’re going to find it incredibly difficult to transform that into a temple worthy of God.

So, I’d encourage you to read through the Bible.  Find the passages that discuss beauty, and God’s love for you.  Read about the temple and see that that’s how He sees you, and not just your personality.  Then, when you feel how much He loves you, including your body, then work on making it an even better temple, if you feel so convicted.

And please, stop speaking ill of God’s temple.  You’re beautiful, just the way God made you.  Stretch marks and all.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13

Your Turn

Are there some negative views you need to change about your body, God’s temple?

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56 thoughts on “Am I beautiful?”

  1. Sandi says:

    JayDee,
    I appreciate what you are trying to do with this post. I wish all women could be content and confident in their bodies as well. One problem I have had as a woman in regards to this issue is knowing that what attracts my husband’s eyes more easily is a younger, thinner, shapelier woman than I. I realize that doesn’t mean he doesn’t find me attractive, but just not as attractive as the other. I have his heart and that made a difference in how he perceived me, but it didn’t change how I perceived me. Being naked with all my flaws exposed was painful when I know that if I were standing next to another naked woman that was younger, thinner and more shapely, it would be an act of will for him to keep his eyes focused on me. That is a very real dilemma with no solution of this world.

    However, when our sense of self-worth, value and beauty come from what IS on the inside (Christ in us) we don’t need to rely on our husband’s view of us. That is real freedom in Christ. “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.” Beth Moore-“Breaking Free”. If a woman really desires to be naked and unashamed with her husband, it is my opinion that pursuing freedom in Christ will be much more effective than telling herself that her husband loves her body despite the extra weight, sagging and wrinkles. Thanks for all you do here. 🙂

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Do you think he has the same insecurities being standing beside someone he considers a “real man”? Someone who could provide a better income, or be more attentive, or romantic? I think each gender has their insecurities.

      1. Sandi says:

        I totally agree that each gender has it’s insecurities and the answer to them is the same. When we are rooted in who Christ says we are, we don’t rely on the opinion of others for our security. I believe that kind of self-assurance (or “blessed assurance”) is much more attractive than a beautiful body or a great income. We can be more loving and generous because we’re not as self-involved. I wouldn’t want you to think that I don’t care what my husband thinks of me, but I’m not dependent on his approval the way I used to be. I still enjoy being affirmed and I enjoy seeing his eyes light up, but it’s not what sustains me. I also enjoy affirming him as well. But he’s not “needy” about it and that makes him very attractive to me. This is a relatively new feeling for me and I guess I just really want to share that with others.

  2. DC says:

    Whew…this topic is very heavy on my heart recently, so I’ll try to be brief. The heart of the problem is probably hard for men to understand because their life experience is so different from ours. Women don’t know how to love our bodies unless they are literally perfect. We have images, diets, clothing sizes, porn, exercises, EVEN IDEAL MEASUREMENTS to “show” us and “help” us reach some ever-changing, ever-moving goal.

    Objectification, anybody?

    Even if women finally accept and appreciate our bodies because by some miracle, we believe our husbands (and they make it a point to back up their words, BTW), there is still a world around us telling us how fat and unsexy we are unless we’re 18 years old. You know, we all are…for a year. So of course we’re closing our eyes and dimming lights during sex. We know every flaw on our body and what society says to do about it so men get giddy at the sight of us. Because by God, don’t be happy in your naked skin! You won’t feed the multi-billion dollar machine of discontent if you are.

    Men get a pass. They can just grow a beard as they get older. We need Botox, laser hair removal, to be a size 6, a magical ability to lose all our baby weight after 3 months and do kegels so our vaginas aren’t too “loose” for our husband. Seriously. It’s a real thing. Because you know, sex is all about male pleasure in some circles. Sad.

    Show me exercises – not a pill to pop, but regular, active exercises – that men do to get a harder erection for women.

    I’ll wait.

    So, objectification. Our bodies are to be pleasing to the eye. If not, well…maybe she’s got a good personality. Or she’s a good mom. Or maybe she used to be attractive. Yeah, let’s all hope. If not, well…at least somebody finds her attractive.

    Men are in a position of privilege, so they have a ton of power on this issue! If men were actively vocal and took a stand against women being objectified (like voiced how distasteful it is, that THEY don’t like it, didn’t approve of porn, etc), who knows what would change for our daughters? Right now it’s just us fighting the battle and we could be double strong. Hopefully this doesn’t come across as gender blaming. Re-read what I wrote until it clicks.

    PS – it’s weird I have to clarify this, but I’m not an angry, man-hating feminist. I’m a happily married sexy submissive wife! This is just what women deal with every second of every day. Men really need to hear it.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      … Kegels work for men… Just saying

      But I agree, we both have work to do in this. I hope women will start putting their worth in God’s perspective of beauty, not the world’s. Men need to, as you say, back up their appreciation of their wife, as they are, and be more vocal against those things that try to distract us. Thank you for the reminder.

      1. DC says:

        Haha! Of course men can do kegels, too. You also have a pelvic floor. HOWEVER, maybe this’ll help drive it home a little better: have you heard of kegels because men are doing it to please their wives or because women are afraid of not pleasing their husbands after birth?

        1. Jay Dee says:

          I usually hear about them in regards to increasing orgasm control…regardless of gender.

          1. DC says:

            Ah! I wasn’t even aware of that, so I apologize. I shouldn’t have used it as an example. Thanks for pointing it out.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              No need to apologize. I do see it reference in terms of tightness occasionally, but its a far second. A close third is actually for men and helping erectile difficulties.

  3. Butterflywings says:

    I really feel all too often that I must be an outlier. The reality is, I know I’m ugly on the outside. I’m overweight and balding, both due to medical conditions. Medications I take leave me constantly flushed and sweating. But I would gladly have my husband take naked photos of me if he wanted. I know it might be slightly messed up, but I’ve even offered my husband photos of me from 16 years ago (that were taken by my first husband just after we got married) when I was literally half my weight, had pretty hair, no stretch marks and was a beautiful, toned, sexy 19 year old. But my husband isn’t even interested in those photos. He just has little interest in anything sexual.

    I have horrible body image issues because of the years my first husband spent telling me how ugly I was – even when I was far better looking than I am now. But it’s never stopped me from having sex. I know we all want to believe our husbands think we are beautiful, even when the world doesn’t see it, but what do we do when our husbands really don’t find us beautiful? When they don’t want to see us naked? When we go out of our way to show them our naked body despite our low body self esteem and all they do is shatter what little self image we have by rejecting us?

    I am not at all shy about sex or the naked body. I used to be during my first marriage, but since becoming a nurse nearly a decade ago, I see no reason to be shy about nudity. I think I could be comfortable in a nudist colony and the only reason I wouldn’t join in personally is I feel more physically comfortable with my jiggly bits being supported by clothing. But yet I still hate my body – but I hate my body with or without clothes. Part of it is because no matter how hard I try to improve my body, it keeps getting worse – all that dieting and exercising does is slow down the deterioration of my looks. Depressing but sadly real.

    But it’s really soul destroying to constantly be rejected despite going out of my way to be sensual and sexual with my husband. I know much less attractive women who have husbands who extremely attracted to them, who constantly tell them how beautiful they are and mean it, and who can’t keep their hands off their wives. So what is wrong with me that my husband doesn’t even want to look at photos of 19 year old sexy and beautiful me?

    I have always been of the view that looks don’t matter to sex – the fact that so many non-christian men will have sex with any woman that offers, no matter what the woman looks like has always affirmed this to me, along with the fact that most christian men think their girlfriends and wives are beautiful and attractive even when objectively, these women don’t even come close to society’s narrow view of what “beautiful” should be. So I never worried that my looks would be an issue until after I got married the second time. With my first husband, I spent years believing him I was ugly, even though I now look back at photos of me and I wasn’t in the early years of our marriage. I realised he only said it to hurt me, and that (back then) it was a lie. I also realised he is an incredibly shallow person who had very narrow views of what is beautiful (ie playboy bunnies who have every plastic surgery known to mankind).

    But with my second husband, I never held back my body from him because despite my ugliness, I am comfortable in my own skin. The only part of me I hate other people seeing is some scars I have, and they aren’t really practical to cover with clothes most of the time and those scars I’ve got a lot more comfortable with over the last few years. Basically I wear clothes for two reasons – comfort and modesty. Not because I am embarrassed or ashamed to be naked (as I said, I am just as embarrassed and ashamed of my body when I wear clothes so nudity doesn’t bother me).

    But it breaks me to have my body rejected constantly. I understand that you need to write for the majority – and the reality is, the majority of men would give anything to see more of their wives bodies and more often. But sometimes it’s a heartbreaking reminder knowing I’m doing what most men would give anything for their wives to do and my husband doesn’t want it. He doesn’t want the sex, he doesn’t want the nudity, he doesn’t want to try new things in the bedroom – the only thing he’ll go for is flirting and only if I make it clear that it won’t go beyond flirting.

    Jay Dee, it’s totally not your fault – your article is very well written and a message so many women need to hear – but to be honest, I’m sitting here on the verge of tears because I’m a freak who is doing everything suggested and my husband doesn’t want me that way. The only solace I have is the fact that he’s said that even if I lost half my weight and somehow started looking like a supermodel that he “probably” would still have just as little interest in sex.

    1. HopefullyHelpful says:

      You are not *by any means* a freak. You’re just one of us, the Denied/Gatekept. It is a lonely, cruel, unjust, frustrating club to be a member of. One we’d pay to get out of. There is no single, common reason for being forced into this club. Nor is there any single, common way to get out of it. Your body is not the problem, it is his spiritual condition. You can pretty much guarantee yourself of that. There is a reason for the old saying “any woman can have any man at least once”. For if a man cannot see the sheer beauty of *any* of God’s daughters, especially his wife, it is a sign of deep spiritual trouble. Take him at his words and frankly ask him why.

      Dear lady, you are in my prayers.

    2. Jay Dee says:

      I am sorry to have reopened this wound. I know, it’s only a small part of the equation. You are less of an outlier than you think I believe. I will try to write a post for those wives in your situation as well.

      Still, I think the core message still applies to you. Even with your medical issues, God lives in you. You are His temple, and beautiful to Him.

  4. kdoll says:

    Good article but Insecond the request for a post about the ” what if my husband isn’t attracted to me physically…”. As in, he has said it out loud. I know that I am Beautiful to God but it still hurts to know that your husband (although sinful) doesn’t find you all that physically attractive. What are we supposed to other than “work” to try an become more attractive? Yes losing weight is also beneficially to the woman but it’s just a big burden that we are left to live with. It just plain sucks to have to go on hoping your husband won’t give in to temptation from other more attractive women and trying to continue a “confident” sex life as a wife when he’s expressed that he’s not as attracted you anymore or whatever…
    I don’t expect an “answer” to this because this is precisely the kind of “wound” I believe will be healed by God but I just wanted another comment in there stating that there are women living with this burden– where the survey/low body image solutions just don’t fit with their marriage.

    1. kdoll says:

      PS I disagree- I do think it’s a little bit of the husbands role(and wife’s vice versa) to affirm his spouse enough to HELP, not make, her feel supported &comfortable enough to come out of her shell in the intimate sense. We should be lifting each other up in the bedroom as well as in work/parenting roles. Lack of affirmation leads to lower body image, relationship insecurity etc… like my above comment. If men want these nude photo taking, confident wives that they talk so much about, and the statistics show those are good for everyone then let’s also talk about HOW they can help their wives feel accepted (within their relationship) enough to do these things. Men can feel insecure too but it usually doesn’t relate directly to the bedroom in the same way it does for women.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        I don’t think you’re disagreeing. I just said they can’t make their spouse do anything. Encouragement is a completely different ball game which I certainly approve of.

    2. libl says:

      There was a time my hubby said he wasn’t attracted to me. This was around a time he had dabbled in porn and watched Game of Thrones and I pitched a “righteous indignation” fit. It devastated me, but God showed me my beauty and I received some counsel and I decided to not let my husband’s sin destroy me. I took a little time of privacy and preparation, setting a boundary for myself. Then, I let myself free.

      I was free to dress and undress where I pleased in our house. I was free to sleep in what I liked….granny gown, nude, sexy lingerie, t shirt and panties.. .whatever I felt like that night.

      If my body was a turn off for him, that was his problem, not mine.

      As our sex life returned, I took charge in bed. Lights on, if I wanted, off if I wanted. I touched myself, enjoyed myself. I was expressive. For nearly a year he kept his eyes closed and for a while barely touched me.

      Then, he started opening his eyes and looking at me. He started touching me. Awkward touch turned into carresses. He started encouraging me, complimenting me. My body hadn’t changed. I am still the same size (in shape, but post partum loose skin).

      You see, we have jobs to do. Our jobs as spouses is to give wholly of ourselves and to love and admire our other. Just because one fails in that regard doesn’t mean the other should, too.

      I accepted that hubby was not doing his part, but that I should do mine. It was up to him to choose to be captivated by me. It was up to me to give of myself the best I could according to God. It is NOT up to me to force captivation. You offer someone a piece of cake. You don’t force feed it to them. But, you are free to enjoy your own slice regardless if what they do with theirs.

      If they are sexual refusers, then farther action needs to be taken.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Thank you libl, that’s an awesome testimonial!

      2. HopefullyHelpful says:

        Excellent libl! I’ve always advocated “active measures” by women. In my view, men are much more likely to respond to your approach than women.
        Are there any women out there who could post a female perspective on that?

      3. IntimacySeeker says:

        Kudos, libl, for releasing what you could not change and embracing what you could change. I remember when I told my husband that no matter how much weight I lost, or plastic surgery I had, etc., etc., etc., I knew I would never be enough for him. It took me a long time to figure out that if I didn’t want to be a door mat, I could choose to get up off the floor. You offer a fine example for the readers here. Thank you!

      4. Anonymous says:

        I absolutely love what you said!

  5. IntimacySeeker says:

    I think one reason this is such a difficult issue for women nowadays is the recently published knowledge about men being sexually aroused by visual stimulation. In some ways, we may have been better off not knowing–ignorance is bliss as they say.

    It helps to remember that my husband loves all of me and values all parts of our relationship. He admires my intelligence and talent, and those attributes are part of his attraction to me. He also loves my naked body, because he is designed to do so and because my body is part of me.

    He is aroused at the sight of other women, but they are just bodies, just shapes. Even if he is aroused by another source, he wants me because I am his wife and he adores me.

    At my age, physical beauty is more about strength and health than about ideal weight and measurements. I can easily walk a 5K, ride a bike several miles, carry grandchildren around, shovel snow, and so forth. Mobility and freedom from pain allow me to live a full life and that includes enjoying sex.

    1. Dan says:

      I’m so happy to see you blooming, IS. At this age, beauty is definitely about more than ideal numbers. It is about health, compassion, functionality, ability and sensuality. I’m certainly not as pretty and shapely as I was 20 or 30 years ago. My 6-pack is now a case and my shirts will be needing under-wiring if gravity keeps winning.

  6. HopefullyHelpful says:

    You mean you didn’t know? I thought that was a common joke among women for thousands of years.
    And, please do not be too tolerant of that. I cannot speak for all men, but that “hardening effect” is not automatic in all cases, regardless of perceived physical beauty. Plus, keep your perspective, always. What if you noticed that your husband was aroused by what *you* feel are ugly, unattractive women? Would you then feel “ugly” that he is also aroused by you?
    I think the most important fact is to realize sex for humans is mostly in the mind.
    My ex wife has never been described as anything better than “female”. Yet I loved her, and, while I did, she was to me the most desirable woman in the world–nothing compared. But that was never enough for her, she kept wanting to hear other men say it as well. But that’s OK. I am now married to the most beautiful women ever to grace Creation: my bride.

    1. IntimacySeeker says:

      @HH “You mean you didn’t know?” I knew he enjoyed seeing beautiful women, but I didn’t understand the physiological response to visual stimuli, that just seeing a scantily dressed or naked woman resulted in an erection, or the start of one. What really upset me, actually sent me into a panic attack, was learning about the visual rolodex (see “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn) in his mind.

      In other words, I knew he noticed, I did not know he kept a record of what he saw and was prone to revisit those images. That meant our sexual activity was not for us alone, because all these images and memories came with him into the bedroom. Sexual arousal is part of OUR relationship and it is a part I do not wish to share with others. It SHOULD be for us exclusively, and the fact that others enter into this realm feels like a violation of something sacred.

      Thus, I had to face reality and adjust my expectations around sex. I am the only woman my husband wants. I may or may not be the only woman he thinks of (that’s up to him). I am not the only woman by whom he is aroused.

      Believing my husband finds me beautiful has been a challenge too, because he has always commented on the beauty of other women and done so emphatically. In nearly 35 years of marriage he has told me I am beautiful four times. The first time was when I asked him. Seeing him light up at the sight of other women and never/rarely getting the same response at the sight of me made it difficult to believe him the few times I heard the “B” word.

      Once again, I adjusted my expectations and refocused my attention. I know I am beautiful and I act like I know it.

      1. Sandi says:

        Good for you, IS for being confident in yourself!
        I understand the panic about the Rolodex issue. That was my initial response as well. After getting over the panic it helped me understand that it’s a man thing, not a “my husband” thing.

        Though in all fairness, my exceptional husband has given me the gift of not showing an appreciation for the physical attributes of other women while in my presence anymore. I don’t know what he does when I’m not around, but I trust in his love for me and my self-worth doesn’t come from his opinion anymore. I can be secure in myself because I choose to believe that Jesus tells me who I am. I pray all wives can find that kind of security.

        I love how you put it: “I know I am beautiful and I act like I know it.” Well said!

        1. IntimacySeeker says:

          Thanks, Sandi, for the supportive comments.

          “My self worth doesn’t come from his opinion anymore.” I have learned that basing our self worth on another’s opinions is part of codependency. Choosing to do otherwise takes courage and is life changing! Detaching from this behavior enables us to love more fully. We are indeed God’s beloved children, each blessed to be a blessing.

        2. Jay Dee says:

          I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this Rolodex theory…I don’t think I have one of those…

          1. HopefullyHelpful says:

            I think it’s called a pornographic memory. . .

            You can actually train yourself (I did, so I guess all should be able to) to have one filled with your spouse. For me, getting rid of my ex’s pictures was hard, but through some ruthless mental exercises, it was done. Now it’s happily filled with pictures of my bride. Amazing results in keeping your eyes from wandering or thoughts from straying.

      2. libl says:

        My husband is far more apt to comment on another woman’s appearance than he is with mine. In fact, a hint or out right criticism is more likely. It used to crush me. Now, I say confidently, “well, I think I look cute/sexy/beautiful.” He’ll say, “well, of course you do.” Or, “well, I always thought so.” (He may have thought so always, but he certainly hadn’t said so and even outright said the opposite).

        To me in the past, him finding other women attractive meant I wasn’t. It took over a decade but I finally understood that he doesnt see me as less than. He thinks himself lucky to have a woman who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the beauties of the world.

        Now, in reality I cannot. I don’t think I am ugly, but let’s be honest here. Playboy hasn’t called and Miss America has never given me a crown. But the fact that my hubby believes I am of that same beauty standard is a nice feeling.

        Also, the reason he feels he can compliment other women and criticize me is because he trusts that he can be honest with me. Him not liking an outfit I choose has no bearing on his love for me. How pretty that redhead’s hair style is does not change how sexy he finds me.

        1. IntimacySeeker says:

          @libl I can relate to much of what you share here. I have always known other men found me beautiful, because they said so. I have always known my husband found other women beautiful, because he said so. What I have longed for is to know that he finds me beautiful, but it has been like pulling teeth to get him to say those words. I didn’t so much care what other men thought, but I cared very much what he thought. Not as much now–as mentioned, I’ve adjusted my expectations.

          For him to say, “Of course I think you’re beautiful–I married you didn’t I?” is like me saying, “Of course I love you–we had sex once didn’t we?”

      3. HopefullyHelpful says:

        Now I am not trying to demean or trivialize anyone’s feelings, but I just find this topic fascinatingly unbelievable.

        “but I didn’t understand the physiological response to visual stimuli, that just seeing a scantily dressed or naked woman resulted in an erection, or the start of one”

        Do you really mean to say nobody in all this time noticed what happens when men look at Playboy? Or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit? Or the good’ol pin-up girl poster? That we all seem to know about the problems of Porn, but fail to make a connection that a “live” version would be at least as good?

        I forget which comedian, but over 20 years ago, he was making jokes about this. He said “My favorite pick-up line is ‘Hey, baby, might as well come home with me, because there or not, I’m having you tonight, and you might as well get something out of it'”

        Do we really need a study for this? Even the Bible tells us of this (Bathsheba should come to your mind).

        I cannot be the only one that can say I’ve known about this fact at least since high school.

        1. IntimacySeeker says:

          I guess I was naïve until recently. I thought my husband’s erections were simply because it had been a few days and he needed release. I did not understand they could occur from looking at a woman. That is likely why learning this was so upsetting for me–I realized that all the comments about women through our 30+ years of marriage were probably accompanied by sexual arousal.

          Through my high school and college year experiences I knew that a guy might get an erection if we made out, but I never realized it would happen by just seeing me. Yes, I knew men looked at Playboy magazines and the like, but I didn’t realize the extent of the pleasure they gained from doing so.

          Regarding David and Bathsheba, I understood he saw her naked and wanted her, but I did not know the “launch sequence” began upon seeing her. As in, “she’s beautiful and I would like to be aroused by her” rather than “I have been aroused by her and therefore wish to have sex with her.”

          Imagine my horror upon learning that men can’t help but notice and that when they do, these physical and chemical reactions happen involuntarily–shot of dopamine and adrenaline and so forth, plus the image being emblazoned in their memory. I realized this was what I had witnessed when my husband lit up at the sight of attractive women. Talk about knocking the wind out of someone’s sails!

          The solution is a dance of sorts: it is easier for me to be secure and uninhibited in the bedroom if he keeps his eyes and thoughts on me and it’s easier for him to keep his eyes and thoughts on me if I am secure and uninhibited in the bedroom. We have made significant progress and increased our trust in one another, Praise God!!!

          1. HopefullyHelpful says:

            Jesus’s comments about looking at a woman take on a more obvious, real meaning now, don’t they. Women also “suffer” from this effect but it seems much more muted. There is a reason the Bible also compares men’s lust to stallions. Have you ever looked into that? Be amazed at how the ma res communicate. All it takes is that one look. Men have gone to war over it. Understanding this makes it easier to deal with (as in “cure”) a porn habit. You can train your response mechanism to fix on your spouse. This is why I always ask if someone masturbates to porn, because masturbating to porn is not always necessary to get the “fix” a person needs. Looking alone can do it, and if not addressed, kicking the habit can be impossible.

            Your mission, IntimacySeeker, should you choose to accept it, is to burn into your husbands mind that no-one compares to you–or just teach him some manners. The rudeness of this behavior also appalls me.

            1. IntimacySeeker says:

              We have had candid conversation about this issue and the lighting up I described and comments have ceased. The Scripture passage about lust and adultery in a man’s heart came up on a Jeopardy program we viewed and apparently that was the first he had ever heard that.

              I wonder why you put the burden of burning my image into my husband’s mind on me alone? Should that not be his mission? Or our mission?

              1. libl says:

                It is NOT your sole responsibility to burn your image into your husband’s mind. For one thing, you can’t hold him down and brand him. He had to be the willing acceptee. He has to do his part. But you do have the responsibility to be the wife God wants you to be regardless of whether or not hubby accepts the blessing right before him.

                1. IntimacySeeker says:

                  Agreed, thanks.

              2. HopefullyHelpful says:

                Didn’t put any burden on anyone. That’s why: should you choose to accept. Problems are best solved by those who see them, and he is not here asking how to avoid staring at women. Active measures, sort to speak.
                I could have just whined forever about my wife denying me, since, after all, it’s her sin. I could have fought, pounded, etc. for her to change–it is my right. But would that have been the most loving way? Instead I chose another two years of denial to make changes in myself I shouldn’t have had to make for the sake of making her render what she should have never stopped rendering in the first place. And while the denial is easing up little at a time, things like disrespect, undermining in front of the children, fits of temper, cruel words, bossiness have all gotten worse in that time because I chose to grant her peace to learn I do love her and appreciate her. And I’m going to give her the time she needs to work through these other things as well. Did anyone put that burden on me? Of course not. I chose to pick it up because I really do love my wife, and Jesus would do the same (except with his wisdom and insight I’m sure he would have fixed everything in less than a week with one parable). All I can do is show you a door. You have to go through it. If you choose. You pick up the slack this time and maybe your husband will pick it up next time.
                But sounds as if you had a breakthrough, anyway. Read Jay Dee’s post on “why me”
                It took me a year to figure all that out on my own. But it did make a larger impression that way, I think.
                Prayers to you and yours.

                1. IntimacySeeker says:

                  Perhaps “burden” was a poor word choice. I think you, libl and I are all saying the same thing actually: we must each assume the responsibility that is ours to assume and let the other work out their own issues with God’s help.

                  1. HopefullyHelpful says:

                    No. Burden was quite a good choice of words. You, libl and I are having quite a good discussion. You are also correct. All three of us are basically saying the same thing, but from different viewpoints and in slightly different ways. And that is what I like. We aren’t really preaching to each other. But there are plenty of readers here who are not posting (and either won’t ever or are building up to doing so) and it is good to show multiple views and paths to solutions from those of us dealing/having dealt with similar problems. What motivated each of us towards our goals can let those needing to know that there is hope for them, and that the approach they take might even be different than ours. So I do like the word Burden. It is accurate and it is what you meant and it is also what libl recognizes. And those dealing with these issues see it as such, and need to take heart that lifting it is not impossible if they listen to our Teacher:
                    Matthew 11:28-30 (ERV)
                    “Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.”
                    Hearing from ladies like you two shows me the light at the end of the tunnel.

        2. libl says:

          Here’s the thing. I believe men have a natural response to stimuli, but I also think it is how men perceive women.

          For example, a 14 year old boy is curious and opens up his dad’s Playboy. He is clueless about lust, innocent, but discovers an erection. and rush of dopamine.

          On the other hand, 10 years later, he is feeling lusty and buys a Playboy to masturbate to. It is premeditated so the desired response is already started.

          Really, I think as a man matures and grows closer to God, he can stop seeing women as solely or mostly sexual beings. Women are undeniably beautiful…even I as a woman responds sexually to sexualized women sometimes. But, women are not just a collection of body parts and what we want to do with them. Women were not put on earth to be looked at and used…..ESPECIALLY without their permission. My sexuality is none of any other man’s business.

          I am here as a feminine counterpart colaborer in Christ.

          How many men think, “wow, she’s really filled out that blouse now that she is breast feeding” rather than offering up a prayer for her and baby to be blessed?

          It isn’t a sin to realize new mom’s breasts are full. It is a sin to apply it to yourself somehow. Her boobs are noticeable, but none of your business.

          Bathsheba was noticeable on the roof, but none of David’s business.

          1. IntimacySeeker says:

            AMEN! David abused his power.

            1. libl says:

              Thank you. What I mean to say in a nutshell is if men continue to see women solely or mostly as sexual beings instead of God’s daughters created to do His work alongside man, they will continue to suffer from problems with lust.

              I tell my sons that gentlemen respect a woman’s privacy, even and especially when she doesn’t respect it herself.

              Abusing, misusing, and not actively maturing in how God made men does not excuse lusty behaviors. God made man to respond to woman so he could enjoy and be blessed and fulfilled by his wife and his wife alone. Every other woman out there is a sister, NOT a potential second wife!!

            2. HopefullyHelpful says:

              Yes. But you can’t have it both ways. She could have said no. Or confessed to her husband. Or to Nathan. The child did not die just because of David’s sin. Unless you feel a mother will mourn less? Bathsheba had no business bathing on an open rooftop. Or didn’t she know who was living across the street?

              As libl said, “I am here as a feminine counterpart colaborer in Christ.” As such, women should be making *very sure* the only way men can “catch a peek” is through a concerted effort. Why should all the burden of decency be placed on men?

              And no one older than 16 buys a “Playboy” to masturbate; they’re too “artsy”. 😉
              HopefullyHelpful recently posted..The Denied One Strikes Back (or Time To Change)

              1. IntimacySeeker says:

                “She could have said no” Not sure this is the case given the patriarchal society and David’s inherent power and authority as king. Many details are not revealed in the story, but we DO know David was in a position of power. ‘Tis why this story is used in boundaries training among pastors and leaders. Those in positions of power and authority have additional responsibility as they represent the church as Christ’s body in the world. David saw, wanted, and took, and then all !@#$ broke loose.

                I also realize that in our current culture, heterosexual men are bombarded with images and live women who are very eager to show more than should be revealed. I agree we all bear responsibility.

                1. libl says:

                  I know men over 16 who still use playboy to do their thing. And I was taught Bathsheba was pretty much raped. Regardless of the story’s interpretation, I agree that women should mske efforts to be modest, but I have spoken with Christian men who have such a problem that nothing short of a burka would suffice. Instead of pointing fingers at women, men must control themselves. And instead of women being lewd, they should adorn themselves with modesty and sobriety as the Bible says.

                  Pointing a finger at the onslaught of lewdness doesn’t fight the battle within. It merely blameshifts and continues to feed the problem.

                  1. HopefullyHelpful says:

                    No finger pointing here, libl. Just saying “self control” should apply equally to both sides in both ways (modesty AND manners), as even women glance after lifeguards in beef-cake outfits.

                2. HopefullyHelpful says:

                  Women had tremendous power in Israelite society compared to most others. Especially in marital/sexual matters. Remember, she was a married woman, and not just some lowly housewife, but the wife of one of David’s top men. This was adultery, punishable by death for both partners. Not only that, the episode also took place while she was “unclean” which was also punishable by death if it was her menstrual period.
                  David’s true abuse of power came in the aftermath, the cover-up and sending Uriah to die.
                  Remember Nathan’s rebuke: It was for killing Uriah and then using that opportunity to take Bath-sheba for his wife. 2 Samuel 12:9

      4. HopefullyHelpful says:

        “I know I am beautiful and I act like I know it.”
        (Standing up clapping) Workit, baby, workit!

        SELF worth. That should say it all, don’t you think?

      5. Kitty says:

        Then is it okay. for you and all other women to let go and admit that we have desires and thoughts and images of other men, and bring those images into the bedroom when we have sex with our husbands?

        1. HopefullyHelpful says:

          It is perfectly OK (and healthy) to admit. Just not to do. That is the nature of the struggle: To overcome the sinful desires of the flesh. I long ago mastered that particular aspect. Even exposed to porn occasionally now just lead my thoughts to my bride and how deliciously sexy and beautiful and warm and soft and how her curves go around just “so” and how she looks when she is posed like “that” and how touching her in a particular way feels like “this”. I guess you get the picture.

          It is only when going through a drought that this effect begins to lose it’s sway, and I need to exert control. But just as soon as I see her ready in the bedroom, all my thoughts just clamp down on her. There is no room in my head for anything else at that time.

  7. IntimacySeeker says:

    @HH “What if you noticed your husband was aroused by what *you* feel are ugly, unattractive women?”

    My husband tended to comment on women who looked nothing like me. My thought process was: he finds her beautiful + I don’t look like that and never will = he does not find me beautiful / he doesn’t want me. It took some intense counseling to figure this out. The message I was hearing echoed the message I heard when I was 16, pregnant, unmarried, and my boyfriend broke up with me because he thought we were too serious and he wanted to see other girls. I rolled into a deep depression and I attempted suicide.

    What was a minor thing for my husband was significantly painful for me. When I saw him light up at the sight of another woman, my fear of abandonment button was triggered and the wall between us grew. Through a series of steps, I went from “does he find me beautiful” to “am I going to hurt so deeply that suicide seems the only alternative?”

    1. HopefullyHelpful says:

      Well, yes. I thoroughly understand if you’re carrying that heavy a load, dear lady.

      My point was this: We should try to avoid depending too much on other’s opinions for our self worth. Take them under advisement but not as a standard.

      Perhaps because I was raised mostly by my grandmother/mother/aunts (dad just never was there; too busy with other ladies) I learned different attitudes towards women, would never insult one by doing something like that. In the past (or after a few weeks of drought), my eyes have glanced; but actually turning your head to gawk–let alone mouthing off–I think earns a knee below the belt–maybe I’m being too conservative?

      What took me a while to learn was not to answer one of women’s favorite (in my experience) questions: “Is she pretty?”

      Over the years, I’ve found the best answer to be “Who? Didn’t notice anyone.”

  8. Ricky says:

    Not that I’m proud of this but having been with quite a few women I can definitely vouch that the ones that are confident in their body are definitely better in bed or at least like sex a lot more and are confident in their sexuality. But there are so many factors that go in to them feeling good about themselves or being confident that their body and a lot of it has to do with maybe the way they were raised and how they were taught to view their body and how the person that there with makes them feel.

  9. Keelie Reason says:

    I agree, the way a woman sees herself has everything to do with how she responds in her marriage. That is why I have been writing a whole series on how to feel beautiful. It is really important that a woman have self confidence.

  10. naivewife says:

    I am a petite size 0, and I still have insecurities about my physical appearance… I know its not our husbands sole responsibility to make us feel confident about ourselves…but when you pledge to be with one man your whole life… and not attempt to get any attention from any other man… you just NEED to know you are attractive to your husband… through being pursued, through words of affirmation, through your husbands commitment to turn his eye from the victorias secret ad you pass in the mall, or the 18 year old at the water park… when I have gone through periods of time when my husband wasn’t pursuing me… I would subconsciously(and admittedly consciously) find myself doing certain things to get validation from men out in public… whether that be the way I dressed, or carried myself… when I would get their attention… Im not going to lie… it felt amazing to be noticed… to feel worthy of a mans gaze… sometimes I feel like my husband doesn’t even look at me… 6 months after our first baby, I felt sexier than I ever have… because I regained my petiteness, and had boobs(never had them before, so was loving it!)… I did some boudoir photos of myself…I am a photographer…they were a little cheesy because its hard to take photos like that of yourself, even with a pro camera… I was actually super super nervous to send them to my husband… which is totally stupid right… but his response confirmed why I was so nervous…there was very little response… I think I got a two word response from one of them…but not what I was hoping for… here I was looking better than I ever thought I had in my life… and I got almost no response… it was a killer for me…it just makes me think, what do I have to look like to make my husbands jaw drop? Did he think I just looked stupid, like I’m trying to be sexy, and Im just not? I almost felt tempted to post them online anonymously just to see what other men’s response would be… I just wanted validation… I would never cheat or anything…I have brought it up to him before, told him I needed more affirmation…but who wants to have to ask for your husband to tell you you are attractive to him… I will give him credit, I have gotten, “you look pretty today,” a few times out of him… which means more than he realizes… Im getting older, and I just feel more insecure that he will not be attracted at all to me when I am an old lady…

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