Naked: 1. Not covered by clothing. 2. Devoid of natural or customary covering. The word “naked” may make you giggle like a Jr. High kid or force a giddy “I’m gonna get laid” smirk appear on your face. Maybe feelings of shame or embarrassment show up. Or maybe you are just plain terrified about being naked. Whatever it is for you, the word naked definitely causes some kind of response. Today we are going to look at how physical nakedness in marriage is important, but also how difficult it can be for many of us.
I (Megan) don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least some insecurities regarding physical appearance. Most of us can easily make a list of things about our looks that we would change. Women tend to struggle more openly and obviously, but men have body issues too. The case could easily be made with statistics and examples of how our body image affects our lives. How our confidence and self-esteem take a blow when we gain a few pounds or get a boost when we lose a few. But for today, I am just gonna assume you’ve got some body image issues that at least, on occasion, cause problems in your marriage.
The struggle with body image often starts in childhood. Many of us probably wouldn’t even care to know how many hours we have spent worrying and obsessing over how we look, how much we weigh, what hides our flaws and accentuates our positives. But you see, the problem is not that we have physical flaws it is that we have flaws in our thought processes. The way you feel about yourself is not directly correlated to the number on a scale or the number of heads that turn when you walk in the room. Instead, the way you feel about yourself is directly related to the way you think.
When you think you are fat you feel fat. When you think you are unattractive you start believing you are unattractive. When you don’t feel sexy you stop wanting to have sex. The thought of becoming naked is horrifying and when your spouse tells you that they love your body you don’t believe them. This cycle of thinking poorly about your physical appearance can easily destroy your sex life. So what happens when body image issues threaten to hijack your marriage and sex life? And what can you do to stop it?
1. Stop being so critical of yourself! You regularly give grace and acceptance to your friends when they believe they are not measuring up. Learn to do the same for yourself. It is not easy but it’s necessary. If you happen to be a spouse who is critical of your mate, STOP IT! You are only making the situation worse and you will never affect positive or long lasting change by being critical.
2. Believe your spouse when they say they find you sexy/attractive. They chose you and they want to be with you. Trust that and choose to believe that. Many marriages have past hurts, broken trust and hurtful or critical comments, however focusing on these moments will never bring about good results. Nakedness in all areas of our marriages can only be found when we choose to trust our spouse with all of who we are. So continue to work on trust if it has been breached.
3. Understand you are more than the sum total of your parts. There is so much more to you than a number, a size or a body type. You are God’s creation and He has made you for a purpose. There was never a doubt in His mind when you would enter this world, how you would look or what your personality would be. Lean into Him to discover who He made you to be. Don’t let the world around you dictate your happiness, allow Him to direct your joy.
Truthfully there is so much more I could write on this subject. I certainly have a very sordid past (and sometimes even present) experience with body image. Over time I am sure I will share more on the subject but for now I just want you to know that your marriage and sex life can survive and thrive despite what you believe are physical flaws. When I used to hear the word naked my immediate thought was “horror” but I can honestly say now the word that comes to mind is “freedom”. That can be your story too!
Sheila Gregoire: has a great post about loving the skin you’re in. I encourage you to check it out.