Today I’m diving into the topic that I have a lot to say about…yet it’s the topic I’m the most hesitant to discuss — and you know how I have no problem talking about the hard things here! In fact, I’m usually pretty difficult to shut up about those types of things!
My approach today is making the whole topic of body image even more uncomfortable because I’m talking about it within the context of my marriage. Not because I just long to share every single personal detail of my life with the internet, but because I believe there are other women who are going through this same struggle or there are those of you out there, maybe not married quite yet, who are believing some pretty crazy lies about body image and marriage.
So, today I’m talking about the 3 Reasons Marriage Didn’t Solve My Body Image Issues. And please don’t see this as a negative thing! In fact, I think it has actually strengthened my marriage in a lot of ways. But what I want to shed some light on today is the lie I believed about how having a husband would solve all the body image problems I have fought since childhood.
- My Husband Is NOT Responsible For My Body Image
From childhood I have believed that my husband should be the person who makes me feel beautiful. So, on the day I got married I think I mentally shifted my body image issues onto my husband’s shoulders, relieved that I no longer had to work on the way I see myself. He would just take care of that for me!
Fast forward a year and a half and I’m still ugly crying about body image. I’m still questioning why he even married me! I’m actually getting angry and hurt when he can’t read my mind as I’m silently begging for a compliment. I have believed the lie that my husband doesn’t find me attractive simply because he isn’t constantly reassuring me of my beauty. How crazy is that?!
Here’s the harsh truth I finally had to tell myself: It is NOT my husband’s job to overcome all of my body image issues and make me feel like the most gorgeous woman on the planet. Is he to love me and encourage me and lift me up? Absolutely! Should he remind me from time to time that he actually likes my unique shape? Sure! But nowhere does it say that he now has to carry the weight of all of my body image problems simply because we are married.
Now, hear me out. I 100% believe that when David and I married each other we also agreed to marry all of the baggage we both brought into this partnership. But what I had to come to realize is that just because he needs to accept me along with my struggles that doesn’t mean that he needs to rescue me from those struggles. This body image battle is MY BATTLE. And though I love having this amazing person stand beside me on the battle field, I know that he can’t fight for me. I have to be the one who takes a deep breath and presses on even when the odds seem stacked against me.
2. My Husband Doesn’t Have The POWER To Change My Body Image
Though I like to believe he can do anything and that he is strong in every way that I fall weak…I finally had to realize that no amount of compliments he can give me will ever change how I feel about myself. Because I have to choose to believe them! I have to choose to let go of all of the lies and impossible expectations I have allowed to creep into my mind.
David would probably tell you that he can call me beautiful until he’s blue in the face and I will still ask him an hour later if he thinks my nose is crooked or my hips are too wide. Poor guy…he just can’t win…maybe pray for his sanity!
Seriously though, it all comes down to my decision to push past the lies. My decision to hold my husband’s opinion of me higher than the distorted opinion I have of myself. He can’t pour truth into me if I’m not willing to receive it. He would tell you I’m the most stubborn person EVER….so why did I expect him to have the power to make me change my mind? No one else ever has! Only I can do that. Only I can choose to ignore the lies, listen to the kind words of my husband, and learn to see myself differently.
3. My Husband Is NOT my Savior
This is where it all gets confusing, right? Because if you grew up anything like I did then you spent your days pretending to be Snow White and Cinderella. To this day I still wish I were a Disney Princess. These days it’s more for the perfect hair than it is for the perfect prince…but still! I thought that my happy ending meant my future husband rescuing me from all of life’s problems. Even though I realistically knew that was not going to be the case when we got married…I think on some level I was still that little girl believing that my husband was going to be my savior.
So that brings me to this: if my husband isn’t responsible for fixing my body image and doesn’t have the power to in the first place….and he isn’t my prince come to slay all my dragons…then where does that leave me? Fighting through this all on my own? Going up against my scariest demons alone?
Not at all. It leaves me running straight into the arms of my actual Savior. To the one who really has reached out to take this weight of body image off of my shoulders. It leaves me learning to let go of my thoughts toward myself and learning to see myself the way He does. It leaves me falling into the embrace of the only One who can take everything that hurts and everything that makes me feel less than and turn into healing. Into real beauty. Into something that shows the world just how amazing He is.
So, whether you’re a wife, a bride-to-be, or maybe just a girl praying for a prince….can I just tell you a little secret? Marriage is never going to solve the problem that lies deep within you. It’s never going to undo all the years of putting yourself down and believing lies about what you should look like. In fact, don’t be surprised to find that body image issues magnify when you promise to spend forever with someone.
Here’s the really beautiful part of it all. That marriage that doesn’t exist to solve your problems is an amazing picture of the relationship your actually Savior wants with you. Jesus isn’t just the one who did the dying for you. No. He wants to be the One you call on every time those body image lies creep in. He wants to be the One who convinces you of all the beauty that He created you with. He wants to be the One that everyone sees when they look at you. And that…well that makes you more beautiful than you could ever dream of being.
So, the relationship you share, or will share, with your husband is never going to erase your deepest rooted problems. Only Jesus can do that. But it will give you a loving partner who can fight right along side you.
So, if you’re married, and especially if you’re going to be married soon or plan to be some day, I encourage you to do two things. First, go running to your Savior. Let Him know all of these burdens about body image that rest so heavily on you. Secondly, talk to your partner. Tell him your struggle. Tell him all of it that you can. And let him know that you don’t expect him to fix it. But that you do hope he will stand with you, lift you up when you’re weak, and pray for your mindset and your health. Ugly cry if you must — you still won’t beat me on that record! And ask for some help in this battle. A lie I have believed for a large portion of the time I’ve been married is that if my husband isn’t going to do it FOR ME then I have to do it ALONE. And that is so far from the truth! That’s what this whole marriage journey is about — being there and being strong for each other when the struggle becomes too real. Let him in, let him fight with you, and you might just find that this whole struggle with body image can be one of the most strengthening experiences for your marriage.
And friend…never ever forget…you are so unbelievable loved by the One who made you. And because of that TRUTH, no lie that this world tells you can ever make you less than beautiful. Because the most comforting truth of all is that even though we face the battle every day, this war has already been won.