One of the most common questions we receive from our blog readers reveals a growing trend in insecurities related to body image and how those insecurities negatively impact a married couple’s sex life. We frequently get messages like this…
I want to be at my best for my husband/wife, but I’m so uncomfortable with my own body. I don’t even want him/her looking at me because I feel gross. I feel fat. I have stretch marks. I feel unattractive. I can’t compete with the images of ‘perfect’ people I see all around me. My insecurities are creating sexual frustration and friction in our marriage. What do I do?
We ALL have some level of insecurity. Even those “picture perfect” models often struggle with body issues. Being in perfect physical shape isn’t the solution (although better overall health can be a positive factor), the real issues are deeper than the surface. If you want to improve your sex life, but you and/or your spouse have insecurities or body image issues, please consider these three simple principles.
1. Remember what it actually means to have a “naked and unashamed” marriage.
Our first picture of the first married couple in the Bible’s Book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed.” I’m sure they were in good shape, but they weren’t “naked and perfect.” There were no other humans around to compare themselves to. It wasn’t about comparison. It wasn’t about looking in the mirror (because mirrors didn’t exist).
They had a beautiful connection and intimacy because they were focused on each other’s souls, not each other’s physical imperfections. Find the courage and vulnerability to be “naked and unashamed.” It will take time, but it will create such comfort, security and intimacy in your marriage bed (and every other part of your marriage too).
2. If you’re uncomfortable making love with the lights on, try candlelight.
I know you might feel uncomfortable being seen, but your spouse wants to see you while you’re making love. Especially for men, most guys are wired up to be more engaged and connected to their wife through visual stimulus. You might not want to see yourself, but he wants to see you! If having all the lights on seems too intimidating, start with candlelight. The soft light is flattering to the figure and it also sets a romantic tone that could make you both feel more comfortable.
3. Remember that confidence is sexy (and confidence is a choice, not a feeling).
When we have physical insecurities it starts a domino effect. You don’t feel sexy, so you don’t want to think about sex, so you get uncomfortable when your spouse initiates sex, so your spouse gets hurt feelings and the marriage gets stuck in a negative cycle of perpetual frustration and miscommunication. If this is accurately describing the current dynamics in your marriage then you need to rewire your thinking.
Confidence is not just a feeling. You might not feel confident about yourself right now, but you can choose to project confidence and before long, you’ll actually start feeling it. I’m not making this up! There’s plenty of research out there to back this up. Like the bestselling book and TED talk “Presence” point out, even your posture can make you feel more like a superhero and take your mind off your own insecurities. There’s nothing sexier than confidence.
There are, of course, many other ways to improve beyond the three I listed here, but these three will give you a great start. Above everything else, remember to communicate to your spouse about everything. Better sex starts with better communication, and you’ll discover that communication will also help you improve on the other aspects of your marriage as well.
For additional resources to help you and your spouse grow closer together both inside and outside the bedroom, I encourage you to explore the many marriage-building resources available here at XO Marriage and check out our new book, The Naked Truth about Sex and Marriage.
Dave and Ashley Willis have built a strong following, reaching millions of married couples through their blogs, books, and videos. Get Dave and Ashley’s most popular resources for couples and groups. Their mission is to create resources focused on building Christ-centered marriages and families. They have four young sons and live near Augusta, Georgia.