Friday, April 17, 2009

A Reader's Favorite- Lack of sexual confidence with body image

One of my readers voiced concerns about this topic:

"How about a discussion on accepting our bodies as they are? I'm sure this would be more geared toward women, simply because we tend to be much more critical about our physical attributes. (Who of us hasn't cringed when looking in a mirror!) But isn't accepting our own bodies one major step in being able to fully enjoy our sexuality? If we can get over that hurdle, don't our husbands respond with even more enthusiasm? (I'd love to hear from men about this.) Maybe being comfortable and confident in our own skin can be just as much a turn-on as any negligee we might put on."

I have not thought about sexual confidence much in my own life. From what I have read, though, there are many wives who struggle over this in regard to their own body image. Those of you who understand this, please share your thoughts. Tell us what you think causes the problem for many wives in the first place and if you can, share ideas for permanent solutions.

23 comments:

DecemberGirl said...

Ugh! Yes, I cringe sometimes when I look in the mirror. And, I get disgusted when we are bombarded with beautiful women on every magazine, TV show, billboard, etc. I just came from the store and there was an exercise video at the checkout counter for women over 40. The woman on the cover was beautiful and had these big, perfect (although I'm sure they were fake) boobs. How many women over 40 look like that? None that I know!

It's just really hard when we're hit with it everywhere. It's hard to feel like we compare, and yes we try to compete, when we know 'those' women catch our guys' eye! :(

Gemma said...

Awe, DecGirl, when did you start that habit of cringing at your mirror reflection? Why do you worry about what's on magazine covers and such? And I don't believe in getting fake breasts just so you can have large ones. Why do you try to compete with other women? Doesn't your dh want YOUR body? Is it that your dh oogles at the other women?

We have the ability to hold our dh's attention and keep perpetually keep him in a sexual OD mode. That is what most dh's want-- a wife who is hot to trot, not an image from a magazine cover.

Anonymous said...

From Gemma's post "We have the ability to hold our dh's attention and keep perpetually keep him in a sexual OD mode. That is what most dh's want-- a wife who is hot to trot, not an image from a magazine cover."

That is a great way to say it. I would love for my wife to keep me in sexual OD mode.

My wife is a plus size and my perspective is that her attitude is the biggest determinant of how sexy she is to me not the weight on the scale or the dress size.

I can handle it if she says "I struggle with feeling fat and ugly" etc. but if I am telling her that she is sexy and then she is saying things like "I am fat and ugly" instead of saying that's how she feels- I can start believing her.

On the other hand, if she puts on some makeup, lingerie that I like, and becomes more aggressive- I feel so hot for her and wonder how I could even consider anyone else.

My huge struggle is how to help her to get from the negative mode to the positive one-because somedays nothing I say seems to help.

Bottom line ladies is if your husband says your're sexy to him, and he gets turned on- believe him, go with it, and enjoy it.

Gemma said...

Anon,

Keeping a husband in sexual OD mode is not difficult. I view it as part of being a good Christian dw. I love my husband so I want him to always, ALWAYS be sexually satisfied. We go to bed at night, I take care of him. We wake during the night, I take care of him. In the morning before we leave the bed, I take care of him. He does the same for me so this is mutual, sexual satisfaction at its best. This is a delightful way for husbands and wives to live when they love physical and sexual touch but it's also nice for dw's who crave emotional bonding. In general, with two healthy, mature adults, the more sexual satisfaction a dh receives the more he desires to lavish emotional intimacy onto his wife. Once these good habits are established, it's a win/win for both spouses.

It's a hard problem to solve, Anon, when a wife is lacking that positive attitude that allows her to be comfortable and to even delight in her sexuality. Some wives are trapped in that "good girl" mode where, if they were to allow themselves to be "bad girls" for their husband, they would feel like they were sinning. They would feel ungodly. They would feel like they were lacking as a Christian woman. The trick is to help them see these lies for what they are. But how? How do you help them get past that negative attitude and help them to stop believing the lies? It's really a matter of a wife learning to see herself as the beautiful creature she was created to be. She has to decide whether she will believe that God made her to be beautiful and hot for her husband or else she may as well call Him a liar. It takes a drastic renewing of her mind and it takes a strong desire for her to want her marriage to be healthy and whole in every way possible.

One more thought before I go---

I'm not saying that this is you, anon, but I wonder if some Christian husbands don't place their wives on a pedestal which really stands for false purity. It's an image which is far from what God intended but, unfortunately, the image is still prevalent in so many churches. Let's face it--- In many church circles wives are only rewarded for being quiet, meek, humble, modest, etc, etc... not for being bold, hot, erotic, passionate for their husbands and for their marriage bed. I fell into that same trap of false purity and it darn nearly cost me my marriage but for the grace of God. In time, I will write more about this but for now I just wanted to mention it as food for thought, something to ponder.

midwestman said...

While my DW is unhappy with her current body state, I don't believe it affects her from the sexual POV. It did used to keep her from completely feeling comfortable but I believe she is past that. I always tell her I love her just as she is (and I DO!) and that I find her very sexy (to which she usually replies that I have on my rose colored glasses again!). Would I like it if she were slimmer? Sure. I'd like it if I were slimmer too. But the way she is doesn't keep me from thinking she is very sexy and desireable. And it really IS all about the attitude. The more enthusiastic my DW is about sex, the better it is and the more it makes me think about her instead of what it could possibly be with other women.

Gemma said: "Keeping a husband in sexual OD mode is not difficult. I view it as part of being a good Christian dw. I love my husband so I want him to always, ALWAYS be sexually satisfied. We go to bed at night, I take care of him. We wake during the night, I take care of him. In the morning before we leave the bed, I take care of him. He does the same for me so this is mutual, sexual satisfaction at its best. This is a delightful way for husbands and wives to live when they love physical and sexual touch but it's also nice for dw's who crave emotional bonding. In general, with two healthy, mature adults, the more sexual satisfaction a dh receives the more he desires to lavish emotional intimacy onto his wife. Once these good habits are established, it's a win/win for both spouses."

I think you two have a very uncommon relationship - and it's wonderful! We're definately not like that, and while I would like it to be, my DW just doesn't think that way. On the one hand, I want to say that she's just not wired as a high SD person. But if I think about it I do believe that she does have some of the "good girl" mentality that you talk about. I think she does believe that you "shouldn't talk about sex all the time", that its not right. Sometimes I do think she thinks I am sex obsessed. Doing something like going on your blog or on TMB every day and participating would just be wrong in her eyes. I think she is afraid that talking sex will somehow lead her into sin...I don't know, its hard to describe. But then she is also a very private person when it comes to sex. She's definately in the camp of gotta be absolutely certain that the door is locked, that no one hears, etc. I mean, doing something even slightly risky is not even in the realm of possibility (OK, like parking in a car or ML outside even when we are back in our woods because "somebody might see us", etc.).

I do envy you and your DH Gemma, in the very free and open sexual relationship you have!

mwm

midwestman said...

Oh, and Decembergirl, there is somehting to be said about the "mature look". As I have gotten older (48 now), I have come to appreciate the more mature look of my DWs body. Yes, her breast hang down farther than she would like but I really love them! And it is such a myth that every guy likes huge breasts - my preference is small and I know a lot of other guys that feel the same. So if you don't have big ones, don't sweat it! Does your DH tell you that they are sexy? Then believe him!

mwm

Gemma said...

mwm said: "I do envy you and your DH Gemma, in the very free and open sexual relationship you have!"

You know we weren't always this way. But after 25 years of little to no sex and the little sex was only out of duty... The other day GR told me, "We're just making up for lost time!" We are just thankful that we have what we have. I mean, GR's in his late 50's and he's still going strong. Just late last night after sleeping a bit, we began what I thought would be a quickie but instead, I had an O and he O'd 3 times. That's my man! :-)

bunnyhunch said...

I don't know how many TMB posts I've read where the wives are either denying their husbands sex or who only reluctantly give in due to their negative body images. It makes me very sad, because it just shouldn’t be that way - but I completely understand.

I have always been self-conscious about my body, even when my husband and I were first married. It makes no sense, really, as I had a “Barbie doll” figure at the time. But I was/am fairly tall, and with plenty of curves I felt huge next to my more petite friends.

Early in our marriage our children were born. My babies were very large and left me with an expansive stretch-mark sunburst that I considered ugly. I gained weight with each child, then with each passing year. I did not feel in control of my life, and the more out-of-control I felt, the more weight I gained and the less desirable I felt.

While I wouldn’t say I was ever really a ‘refuser’, I certainly got to where I would often avoid sex if possible. With little ones I was tired, but mostly I just didn’t want him to see my body naked or touch it where I thought it was gross. I didn’t understand how he could be so turned on by what I saw as repulsive.

He started telling me that it was up to HIM whether I was desirable or not; my body was for HIS pleasure. He said I should either accept the way I am or do something about it. Either way was fine, but if he said he wanted me, I should quit doubting him all the time. Ouch!

It took years, but finally I listened to him. I hadn’t realized before that by telling him he was wrong about how he viewed the body of the woman he loved was to insult him, and that was not okay. I quit telling myself I had no right to feel sexy, and started allowing myself to feel the way he has always treated me: like a desirable woman. The irony is that most of us want so badly is to be considered attractive and desirable by our husbands – to be loved completely. Yet we fight them so hard by now allowing them to. We keep complete intimacy just out of reach because we don’t believe what they tell us.

Once I let go of the ‘you can’t possibly love me or find me desirable’ tapes that went through my head, I started feeling sexy. Now, if my husband wants to see me naked or touch me in places I never would have before, so be it; he gets whatever he wants. I love that look in his eyes and his crooked grin when he wants something from me. Sex is hotter than ever, and he's quite enjoying the new, uninhibited me. I always say the old Barbie doll is still there, just in hiding. ;-)

“She has to decide whether she will believe that God made her to be beautiful and hot for her husband or else she may as well call Him a liar. It takes a drastic renewing of her mind and it takes a strong desire for her to want her marriage to be healthy and whole in every way possible.”Absolutely, Gemma! Now how can we help other women realize this?

bunnyhunch said...

"Some wives are trapped in that "good girl" mode where, if they were to allow themselves to be "bad girls" for their husband, they would feel like they were sinning. They would feel ungodly. They would feel like they were lacking as a Christian woman."This was a big hang-up for me. In fact, it through overcoming false beliefs due to erroneous teachings (not so much from my church; mostly from a negative mother) in general that I finally decided to let go of my body image issues. Somehow for me they went hand-in-hand.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I have struggled with body image all of my life. I remember feeling HUGE when I was a teenager. My family constantly made comments that made me feel fat and ugly. Throughout my life I have ALWAYS believed I was fat and ugly. I now weigh TWICE what I did in high school when I "felt" huge... now I am huge.

In my marriage, my husband has always said he loved me regardless of my weight. Sadly, I rarely wanted to have sex and was just embarrassed to have him see me naked and never felt relaxed enough to let him see me orgasm.

It was only after I read the Big Beautiful Woman's Guide to Sex that I finally saw myself as sexy and beautiful. I TOTALLY changed my outlook and my husband and I are now having lots of hot sex after years of me finding excuses not to. It changed my outlook by 180 degrees!

The turn around in our sex life has also encouraged me to start exercising so I can get into some of those great sex positions I read about! Great sex...it's a great dieting aid!

Who am I said...

Congratulations to both BunnyHunch and Anonymous for the strides you are making to allow your husbands to enjoy you sexually regardless of body image issues. I admire and applaud you.

When things come to your mind that husbands can do to help their wives change their mindset in this area, I would love to hear them.

Also- Anonymous- do you have an author for the Big Beautiful Women's Guide to sex, or where to get it.

Thanks and keep up the great attitudes, I am sure your husbands will enjoy it.

Gemma said...

Gemma said: “She has to decide whether she will believe that God made her to be beautiful and hot for her husband or else she may as well call Him a liar. It takes a drastic renewing of her mind and it takes a strong desire for her to want her marriage to be healthy and whole in every way possible.”

bunnyhunch replied: "Absolutely, Gemma! Now how can we help other women realize this?"

BH, I honestly don't see that as my ministry. It could be yours, though. I was not raised to view my body in a negative way and for the most part, I didn't practice that thought line as an adult either. It's really hard for me to relate to so many women who keep saying, "I hate my body." I just think, "But why?"

Mark 9:24 said...

Gemma wrote:
In general, with two healthy, mature adults, the more sexual satisfaction a dh receives the more he desires to lavish emotional intimacy onto his wife. Once these good habits are established, it's a win/win for both spouses.

Remember to put this in your book! :-)

Mark

Mark 9:24 said...

bunnyhunch wrote:
He started telling me that it was up to HIM whether I was desirable or not; my body was for HIS pleasure. He said I should either accept the way I am or do something about it. Either way was fine, but if he said he wanted me, I should quit doubting him all the time.

This is so So SO TRUE!
Beauty truely is in the eye of the beholder and if only more wives would accept this truth.

Mark

bunnyhunch said...

Gemma, it is great that you always had a positive body image. I think it is a rare thing. I do try to encourage women I come in contact with to move past it. On TMB it seems it is mostly the husbands who comment about their wives having a negative self-image, mostly because their sex lives are suffering because of it. At this point in my life, I too am saying, "But why?", because it is so much better to be free of that crud. I pray for those women.

I never had a positive self-image. Being a tall Barbie doll when I was younger brought on a lot of attention that men that made me very uncomfortable. Confidence was always an issue, too. Too bad it took me until I was in my mid-40's to gain self confidence and self acceptance. A lot of years have been lost, but that's that. There are good years to come, and yes, I will be encouraging women accept themselves for who they are.

Actually, I'd just like to scream "Get over it!" I never used to think of my holding back from dh as a selfish act. I do now.

bunnyhunch said...

"I get disgusted when we are bombarded with beautiful women on every magazine, TV show, billboard, etc."I'm not sure it is the media that we are comparing ourselves to so much. At least I'm not - at 47, it just doesn't make sense to me. I think it's more a matter of comparing ourselves as we are now (often bigger, with more wrinkles, stretch marks, etc.) with what we used to be. Think about how we're always thinking we can't go buy a new outfit until we lose the weight... which, of course, rarely happens. Which comparison is worse?

Gemma said...

Both comparisons are self-destructive. I don't know about you ladies but I look at my dh and absolutely love the mature look he's developed through the years. He's hotter now in his late 50's than he was in his 20's when we married. He feels the same way about me. That's what he tells me and that's what I believe. Does your dh's older body turn you off?

Why would you compare yourself to how you looked 20-30 years ago? We are empowered, if we choose to embrace that empowerment, to be hot mama's at any age. I'm comfortable with my sexuality. I know I can turn my dh on in a flash and rock his world. It has nothing to do with how young our bodies look. Just face it and get over it. Our bodies are not going to look like 20-something year old bodies again. They just won't. Accept it and then accept the way you've become.

Think about this--- I know I do---

When I was in my 20's I was much more insecure, worrying about other females around my dh and worrying about my dh looking at other females. Now, it's not even an issue. Even if I saw some young thing trying to flirt with my dh, I could politely put her in her place and walk away with my head held high. You can do this too.

We don't have to compete with youth, not even our own youth. Quit wasting your energy worrying about it. Be proud to be older hot mama's. Begin praying and thanking God for your age and your body. Yes, I said, "Thank Him!" If you can learn to thank Him, you will learn to love your age and your body.

I can't say this enough-- Quit believing the lies that youth rules. In my marriage my own age and my own body rules. If asked to choose, I'd much rather have my older dh who is consumed with ravishing my body than have a younger dh. Don't you feel the same? And don't you think your dh feels the same way about you? Ask him and then when he tells you, believe him.

DecemberGirl said...

See, I don't ever hear "You're so sexy" or "You're so beautiful" or anything of that nature from my husband. I hear it from everybody BUT my husband, but he's the only one I really want to hear it from! I think if I did hear it from him, I probably wouldn't feel the way I do about this.

I admit I'm envious of those women on TV and magazines and billboards, because those are the women my husband looks at. =(

bunnyhunch said...

Anon 1: My huge struggle is how to help her to get from the negative mode to the positive one-because somedays nothing I say seems to help.When a woman is convinced she is undesirable, you probably can't talk her out of it. There are two things my dh did that helped: 1. He made love to me so passionately that I couldn't help but feel sexy; 2. He told me what I stated before - that my body was for his enjoyment, and if he found it desirable, it was up to him. He did not try to reason with me or talk me out of it. I'm actually grateful for that. It forced me to deal with how I perceived myself and with how it affected him.

You know, if my dh withheld any part of himself from me because he was ashamed of it, I wouldn't stand for it, yet I thought he should.

Anon. 2: The turn around in our sex life has also encouraged me to start exercising so I can get into some of those great sex positions I read about! Great sex...it's a great dieting aid!Yea! Same here! It's like we just don't need our security blankets (the extra layer) anymore. (Congratulations, Anon., by the way!)

Here's an example of how things have changed since letting go of those demons: I have always craved DH's affection - I wanted lots of kisses, hugs, touches. For many years, he wanted more sex than he was getting, but I often didn't want to give in because I hadn't gotten the affection I wanted and felt undesirable. He never had been overly affectionate (it just wasn't in his nature), but unfortunately I attributed it to him not finding me attractive. (Man, can we wives convince ourselves of anything!) Fast forward many years: Having shed those negative demons, I feel sexier than ever and I accept what DH says. We are having sex frequently AND he is lavishing all kinds of affection on me every day. I had been shooting myself in the foot all those years!

bunnyhunch said...

I don't know about you ladies but I look at my dh and absolutely love the mature look he's developed through the years.Ditto here!

Gemma said...

DecGirl, have you addressed those concerns to your husband? What's going on there that your husband's looking at and admiring celebrity women rather than admiring you? He should be showering you with those affections. What gives in your marriage bed? Are there sexual struggles between you?

Anonymous said...

When my wife and I are fucking and I am almost to orgasm, I sometimes think to myself- would this feel any better if she wasn't overweight, if I wasn't overweight? I tell myself,no I don't think it could feel any better.

Yes, there are positions that would be easier- but I am not going to wait around to enjoy passioanate fucking until we are both at our perfect weight.

I do think at those times that yes- if she was so well proportioned she could be on the cover of Playboy- I might have this psychological boost- like oh- I am such a stud with this gorgeous woman- but I don't think it would feel any better.

I would much rather have the sex we have now than live in some fantasty land of not getting turned on until she is perfect.

The you wonder-some men like Christie Brinkley's ex who have beautiful women- apparently that didn't satisfy him.

bunnyhunch said...

See, I don't ever hear "You're so sexy" or "You're so beautiful" or anything of that nature from my husband. I hear it from everybody BUT my husband, but he's the only one I really want to hear it from! I think if I did hear it from him, I probably wouldn't feel the way I do about this.DecemberGirl, does your husband let you know how attractive he thinks you are in other ways? I sure hope so. But I know what you mean about longing to hear the words from his mouth. I felt exactly the same way for years. I knew in my mind how he felt, but it was important to me to hear it.

If your dh is the strong, silent type like mine, he may not verbalize how he feels very easily. My husband rarely tells me I am beautiful or even says "I love you." That bothered me for years, but then, I am a very verbal person; Maybe you are, too.

Over the years we have talked about the issue off and on, but it really hasn't changed much. Thankfully, once my attitude started changing, I could accept that he was showing me his love constantly, and that became more than enough - he is awfully good to me. That he finds me beautiful or desirable shows in his eyes and elsewhere. ;) He does say "I love you" more now; it goes along with him showering more affection on me these days. I hope you will find it be much the same in time.