I believe that if my husband would more frequently tell me that I’m beautiful, if he’d look at me as if I was desirable, and if he’d talk to me more about what he likes about my body, I wouldn’t wrestle my body image so much. But, instead he barely says a word. Sure, if I’m dressed up, sometimes he’ll comment that I look nice. But, it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. I need to know that he still finds me attractive. And, after several years of marriage and a few children, I don’t really feel like he does. What should I do? I long for this type of affirmation. How do I get my husband to affirm me more?
Thanks for your insights,
-M in California
Oh, wow! I know this question, well, my friend. It’s one I’ve wrestled for a decade now and finally feel that I’ve found some peace on this topic.
First, I have to ask you: Have you told him you’d like more affirmation? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of making him aware that you aren’t getting as much as you would like in this area. If you haven’t said anything, assume he doesn’t know. And, don’t be upset with him for not knowing. Like I mentioned in this post, men can’t read minds like they do in chick flicks written by women. And, seriously, although there are times I wish my husband knew what I was thinking–most of the time it’s better off that he doesn’t!
Second (this is the harder point): Are you looking to him to improve your body image issues? I’m guessing your first instinct answer is, “No!” But, can I encourage you to really search your heart on this one?
This is what I did for the first few years of my marriage. I wrote about how I expected my husband to fix all my body image woes here. It didn’t work. He had no ability, with any words, deeds or gestures to actually change the way I felt about my body.
What I’ve noticed about myself (and heard from a number of friends who wrestle their body image) is that we have a hard time hearing affirmation until we get our own issues fixed internally. We are like Teflon–and every compliment thrown our way slides right off our non-stick surface.
For years I didn’t believe I was valuable, worthy of my husband’s or anyone’s love. So, no matter what he said, I couldn’t truly believe him. I’d tell him he “had to say that” because we were married. Or, I’d tell him he didn’t say it convincingly enough.
Truth is, it was never enough–because I had work to do in my heart. I had to come to a place where I found my true value in Jesus and felt loved and secure in Him before I could ever accept the fact that my husband valued me too.
Third: Ask yourself what his affirmation means to you. During our first few years of marriage, my husband was my idol. So, having his approval was my oxygen. I literally felt like I could not breathe unless I knew he was accepting and proud of me. It sounds crazy, but it’s honestly what I felt deep down. And, why I’d get so angry at him if he couldn’t make me “feel” like he affirmed me. I (thought) I needed that affirmation to live.
So, how did things change? I could write a book on that one. But, the short story is, God took me on a journey where he weaned me off of needing the approval of others and showed me how to live on his approval alone. I’m not done with this journey! I still hunger for other’s approval from time to time and have to come back to repentance and seeking Him only again. The transformation changed our marriage though. Completely. It took the pressure off of my husband to keep me affirmed and instead, allowed me to learn that God alone had the power to make me feel valued and loved and secure. I soon learned that my husband’s words were never effective enough because he’s not Jesus! I wanted him fill a hole that only Jesus could, and it didn’t work.
I pray this helps you!