Any body positive warrior can rail on and on about the importance of loving yourself. We can tell your spouse, for very good reason, that the only person’s opinion of her body that matters is her own.
Unfortunately, there is one instance can where this logic looses traction. Any woman, anyone, wants to remain attractive for their partner. What my husband thinks of how I look carries a considerable amount of weight with me. There are many times, especially for special occasions, when I dress purely to please him. I want to know he still finds me desirable. Even when my body changes with the seasons of life.
My husband has made, what he believed to be, simple statements that changed the way I did things for years. I still have trouble dancing in front him, because one simple, alcohol fueled, comment he made when we were dating.
So, partners, please do not under estimate the power of your words on your partner’s self esteem.
Let me let you in on a little secret. The way you treat a woman’s mind, and the effort you put into caring and cultivating her self esteem will be returned to you ten-fold. Women are like flowers in that respect. If we do not get sunshine, good soil, and plenty of water, we will never bloom for you. The more you starve us of your warmth, your care, and your support the more quickly we will wither away, and our feelings for you as well.
Make no mistake, the more your partner begins to devalue herself because of your hurtful words the quicker she will also devalue you as a partner in her life.
I get it. Bodies change. You are surrounded by the same media she is, and probably also have a tough time believing that beauty goes beyond the societal standard. You might just be a decent guy who wants his “old” partner back who had the young body and youthful smile. Let me give you some advice to help you out.
- Look in the mirror: Have you looked in the mirror lately? I’m guessing you don’t look like your 21 year old self, either. Does your reflection in the mirror look exactly like the one when you first met? My guess is, probably not. Time is not kind to anyone. Even though society has a kinder approach to how men age, keep in mind that you may not be the hunk she first fell in love with, either.
- Be Supportive. Be Kind. Don’t Be A Dick: Truth bomb. Women who are participating in sabotaging behavior, especially when they weren’t before, may be having a crisis of self-esteem. You may think your being helpful when you tell her to get to ass off the couch and exercise, or that her ass looks like it was beat with a bag of nickels, but your doing the exact opposite. You are reinforcing the negative feelings and emotions, which most likely will send her into more unhealthy behavior. Don’t want your wife to eat so much chocolate? Here’s a tip: Don’t be a dick. On the other side of the coin: Sudden, unexplained weight gain could be caused by any number of health issues. So, maybe instead of worrying about your wife’s outward appearance, you should focus on her internal health. If she’s healthy, then it is what is it. Again: Don’t be a dick.
- Remember She Is A Human Being: She is not just some sex doll. She is a human, with feelings and emotions. If you truly love her, then you love her for more than just what she looks like. Focus on those things. Again, bodies change. But her mind, her sense of humor, all the other things that attracted her to you won’t change. Guys, do you realize your wife created life for you. Her.Body.Created.Life. Perhaps you can back off it a touch, eh? (Side note: If the only thing that motivated you to commit to her was her looks, then I can’t help you. You will probably never find a long-lasting, long term relationship with a woman until you take a look at your shallowness. Just sayin’)
- Don’t Sabotage Her: If she (not you, SHE) decides she wants to make some lifestyle changes, don’t sabotage them. She may need more time to herself, so she can go to the gym a few nights a week. She may not be able to eat red meat every night. For her to make these changes, it sometimes means making changes to the whole family’s lives. If I were you, not only would I support her new goals but I would get on board with them. (Remember tip #1?) But, at the very least, don’t complain or get in her way.
- Is It Really Her Weight?: I’m not a marriage counselor. But, when people start being dicks to each other about things that make no sense (and trust me, being a dick about her appearance is one of those) sometimes it’s because something else is bothering you. I’m sorry to go all psycho-babble bull*#&^ on you man, but it’s true. Take a second to figure out what is really bothering you. Again, if your the decent guy I’m hoping you are, I’m guessing her weight isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is.
Five simple suggestions, my friend. Number two sums it up well, though. Be supportive. Be kind. Don’t be a dick.
Love your partner. With everything you have, and everything you are. Real love goes beyond how a body changes. Bodies change. Lives change. A real relationship learns to morph and grow with these changes in both people. If you want to grow old with her, then love what her body is turning into. You see those stretch marks? She earned those stripes creating life for you. See that cellulite? It’s proof she has lived. See her mid section? She has had some amazing meals that she has created memories over, memories that probably light up her face and remind her of amazing times.
Let me leave you with a couple of videos. Body shaming is a real thing. It causes real damage. You may think your being funny, but your really just hurting the person you love. Treat her like a flower. Give her warmth of your support. Give her fertile, rich soil in the form of a supportive home. Give her your love, and let it rain down on her. I promise, you will get your “old” partner back. She might not look the same, but she will love as strongly, if not more strongly, than when you first said the worlds.
P.S.: It is hard to write a post like this without using gender identifiers. Body shaming happens to everyone. I know this speaks a lot of men shaming women, but that can go both ways. Women, follow the same advice. Be supportive. Be kind. Don’t be a dick.