Healthy bodies are important for healthy sex, but healthy mindsets are just as important—if not more important. One way that we can sabotage our sex life is by having poor health, but this doesn’t just affect our physical bodies. Our poor health can also create insecurities about our own physical appearance.
One of the most common questions we receive on The Naked Marriage Podcast and on our social media channels 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 them 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 we follow on social media and see on television often struggle with body issues. Being in perfect physical shape isn’t the solution (although better overall health can be a positive factor). 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 a deep 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 great 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. 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. Then, 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 change your thinking. It is in your power!
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. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s bestselling book and TED talk, Presence, even your own posture can affect how you feel about yourself. When you hold your shoulders back and raise your chin up high like a superhero, your mind will shift away from your own insecurities. Isn’t that amazing?
We are also affected by what we put on our bodies. Ladies, when was the last time you bought yourself some nice lingerie or sexy sleepwear? If it has been a long time, go treat yourself (and your husband)! Maybe the thought of being in lingerie makes you feel a little insecure and uncomfortable, but I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try it. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and it is nice to go to a department store or lingerie shop where someone can help you find what fits you best and makes you feel sexy. You just might be surprised by how confident the nice, new, and well-fitted lingerie or silky sleepwear makes you feel! There’s nothing sexier than confidence.
Guys, think about what makes you feel sexy and confident. Treat yourself to some new underwear or clothes that make you feel your best and are something that your wife has told you that she finds sexy. Let it be a surprise, or shop for these items together. Whatever you do, make sure that what you wear to bed (even though it ultimately comes off) is something that brings out your confidence.
There are, of course, many other ways to improve your self-image when it comes to sex beyond the three I listed above, but these three will give you a great start. More than anything, when it comes to sex, remember to talk to your spouse about everything. Healthy sex starts with healthy communication, and you’ll discover that communication will also help you improve on other aspects of your marriage as well.
This was an excerpt from Dave & Ashley Willis’ new book, Naked and Healthy.