“You are beautiful.”
Those are not words I (Megan) heard much, if at all growing up. So, when Justin and I started dating, got engaged and then married, those words were very difficult for me to hear. What’s more than that, they were hard for me to believe. At the time I was not the least bit secure in the area of physical attractiveness and although Justin had never once led me to believe he was lying, a residual doubt rose up in me. “Does he really believe I am beautiful or is he just saying that because he is supposed to?”
“I am proud of you.”
Just as Megan struggled with doubt in believing my (Justin) words about her beauty, I struggled immensely with verbal affirmations of pride, respect and admiration. I never heard those words growing up and I have the insecurities to prove it.
Doubt. Distrust. Insecurities. These can all be symptoms of a much larger problem of disbelief in marriage. So often we talk to couples who just can’t bring themselves to believe their spouses when they compliment and say nice things about them. Marriage is a two way street of both giving and receiving. When heartfelt words are expressed but cannot be received, a divide is created in the trust and intimacy necessary for a strong marriage.
To be sure, we all have insecurities. We are all flawed and broken human beings. It’s just that marriage, unlike any other relationship in the world, reveals those insecurities to the highest degree. It’s impossible to live authentically and vulnerably in marriage if we don’t believe and trust the person we married. That includes the words they speak about us as well as the words they speak to us. When we are sensitive, guarded or closed about the kind words and affirmations our spouse gives us, we miss out on the ability our spouse has to reprogram our thoughts and change our negative self-doubt.
As with most (OK, all) things in marriage, we need to recognize the problem and commit to do something about it. Yes, that means we need to work at it. Sometimes, we would like to think life doesn’t require us to work to overcome obstacles, but that simply isn’t the case. There is no easy way to become a believing spouse without working on it. Here are a few suggestions on how to begin trusting your spouse and learning to believe them.
1. Learn to Release Your Insecurities.
Undoubtedly, this is an incredibly hard task. For some, insecurities run so deep that there are barely moments, let alone days that go by without one or more insecurities being revealed. But to begin living in your marriage in an authentic way, you must discover ways to release these insecurities.
This means that whether you have insecurities about your beauty, your behavior, or anything else, you need to discover the root of where they come from. Are you afraid to believe you’re beautiful? If it’s not fear, is your definition of ‘beauty’ incorrect? Like us, do your insecurities simply come from the fact that you never heard the words before? Taking the opportunity to discover where your insecurities come from will help you to release them. Once you understand that your insecurities come from a not-so-good place in your life, you can learn to rest in the goodness your spouse so willingly, and desiringly longs to provide.
2. Learn to Trust.
When your spouse offers a compliment, is there a reason you don’t believe them? To be honest, the most likely reason you don’t believe them is because you’re insecure in your own insecurities. Wow, that’s a tough pill to swallow, now isn’t it?
So, think about this just for a moment: Is your spouse saying something wonderful about you in order to get what they want, or are they saying something because they believe it’s true. Assuming it’s the latter, then take opportunities to not simply think about the words they’re saying, but think about their heart attitude. Chances are that they love you, and they love you so deeply they want to express it in the best way they know how. If you’re unwilling to accept their compliments, it’s your heart that’s in the wrong, not theirs. So, listen to their heart and their words. Trusting them is one more way to let those insecurities be released.
3. Learn to Love.
Accepting positive words from your spouse is one way you can be loving toward them. Think about it, when you don’t believe your spouse you’re completely robbing them of an opportunity to love and serve you. By robbing them of this opportunity, you’re being unloving toward him or her. Instead, learn to accept what they say and believe about you at face value. It may take a while before their words completely sink in, but as you allow their thoughts and actions to permeate your being, you will not only be receiving their love, but you’ll be more loving toward them at the same time.
What kind of insecurities has your spouse helped you overcome? If you’re willing to share, what step(s) did you take to overcome them? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.