The Unglamorous Life of a Porn Star–and Why We Don’t Have to Compete

PureEyesCleanHeartIt’s Wednesday, that day that we always talk marriage! Today’s guest post is from Jennifer Ferguson, whose husband, Craig, battled through and recovered from a pornography addiction. Together they’ve written the book Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. Today she tells part of her story and how she had an attitude shift, regarding the unglamorous life of a porn star.

I used to think the voluptuous girls with the sleek bodies, cascading hair, and pouty lips were the enemies.

I would think horrid thoughts about them, judging them as they flaunted their goods in front of a camera to be broadcast for the entire world to see. I judged them the first time I saw them by accident on my husband’s computer screen and every time the incident replayed itself in my mind.

Unglamorous Life of a Porn Star

I couldn’t ask him, “What do they have that I don’t?” because the answer was obvious to me: Everything.

And it seemed that everything I had was detrimental to my ability to even try to get close to achieving what they had:

  • Baby fat…from 2 babies
  • An “A” cup
  • Stretch marks
  • Cellulite

The only time my lips were pouty was when I was complaining about lack of sleep. Not sure that jives with the sex appeal I was going for.

Even though I knew I could never look like them (at least, not on my budget), I tried to do what I could. I lost weight. I became a runner. I started trying to look better generally (a.k.a. taking five minutes to throw on some mascara).

But a shrinking me didn’t equate to less porn use by my husband. Trying to become more like them did not draw him more towards me. And the bitterness and rage building in my heart towards these porn stars started making me a jealous fool regarding any woman.

I gave anyone the power to make me feel less-than without the utterance of one single word. All they had to do was walk by. Wear a low-cut shirt. Breathe.

As Craig started his journey to freedom from porn addiction, God pointed out I had been ensnared by images of fantasy, too. Where he had been trapped by lust, I had been trapped by comparison.

Somehow, while working on our book, a miracle happened. I found myself filled with compassion for these women who had paraded across the screen and in my husband’s mind. Those whom I perceived as home-wreckers, I now viewed as women with wrecked hearts. Those whom I thought had it all, I realized had very little: safety, self-worth, family who cared. Those I thought were the definition of sexy were actually sex slaves.

Instead of spending so much time pitying myself, I found myself weeping for them.

And repenting. I had judged deeply and wrongly. I had let hate obscure my vision, not only of them, but also of myself. I thought I knew their world, but the truth is, I knew nothing. I started to turn my harsh language into compassionate prayers, that the women in the industry would find freedom, hope, and Jesus.

Because no one should think this is the way to live. No one should think they are worth nothing more than what the porn industry has to offer. The grass is definitely not greener. Consider these facts:
• One male pornographic performer, Rocco (600 films and 3,000 women), said: “Every professional in the porn-world has herpes, male or female.” (www.covenanteyes.com)
• The average life expectancy of a porn performer is only 37.43 years. The average American lives to be 78.1 years old. (www.shelleylubben.com/porn-industry)
• The US adult film industry earns between $9-13 billion annually. Performers make $400-$1000 per shoot and are not compensated based on distribution or sales. (www.shelleylubben.com/porn-industry)
• “Nobody really wants to date a porn star, stripper or escort. Also the whole family thing and having kids, I’m like ‘who’s gonna have kids with an ex-porn star,’” Belmond said, according to the Christian Post. “And even when I’m 60 I’m still gonna have this porn on the Internet. It’s like having a virus or something that never goes away.” Vanessa Belmond, former porn star (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/24/ex-porn-star-reveals-the-horrors-of-working-in-the-sex-industry/)

Ladies, these women, or any woman, you deem as prettier, sexier, whatever-ier, is not your enemy. As Paul writes in Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV)

When you feel the need to compare, pray.

Pray for yourself that God might show you how intricately you were made.

Pray for the woman you feel you’re up against, that she might know the same – that there is a God who loves her passionately.

Pray thanksgiving for beauty – that which is in you and every other sister – the beauty that is worn on the outside as well as the beauty that blooms on the inside.

Pray against the forces of darkness that belittle, that lie, that damage – those things within the porn industry and all the other dark places in this world.

And pray there would be no room for bitterness or rage to take root, for there is little beauty in those things at all.

JenniferFergusonPure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple's Journey to Freedom from PornographyJennifer Ferguson and her husband Craig are the authors of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography.

WifeyWednesday175Now it’s your turn to be part of Wifey Wednesday! What advice do you have for us today? Leave the link to your marriage post in the linky below.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

Is the Christian Modesty Message Causing Women To Be Ashamed of Their Bodies?

Does the Christian Modesty Message inadvertently get it wrong? A look at healthy modesty messages for girls that don't teach shame.Today I’m beginning a 3-part series on how we should reframe the messages that we give young people about sex and Christian modesty. As a Christian sex blogger I get so many emails from women who grew up in the church whose marriages were really hampered by shame that never should have been theirs, and I think we simply need to take a good look at what we’re actually saying, and then figure out how to say it differently.

Heads up: I’m about to challenge the Christian modesty message: the one that says that women need to dress very modestly, because unless they do, they will encourage lustful thoughts on the part of guys and lead them into sin.

I think that’s a dangerous way to frame it–dangerous to girls, and dangerous to guys, too.

But before I do that, I need to point something out. Let’s look at a pendulum, with “Girls can cause guys to lust and so must cover up” on one side, and “Girls can wear whatever they want and guys should deal with it” on the other. The problem is that when you argue against the first premise, people think you’re arguing FOR the second. So if you’re not arguing A, you must be arguing Z. But what if you’re actually arguing M?

I’ve written before that modesty DOES matter, and I do believe that. So please don’t accuse me of saying Z when I’m really saying M!

Okay, now with that intro, here goes! I’m going to deal first with how the Christian Modesty Message errs, and then look at how we can reframe it so that we’re still honouring God, respecting ourselves, and respecting each other.

How Christian Modesty Got Off Base

The Christian modesty movement gets its starting premise from this statement by Jesus:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt. 5:28)
 (NIV)

So lust is a really big deal! And if that’s true, then women should do what they can to reduce the chances of lust, right?

Well, let’s take a look at this for a moment. Why did Jesus say this? Basically, in those days if a Pharisee saw a woman coming down the street, they would avert their eyes and walk to the other side of the street. Women were seen as temptresses, as evil, as shameful.

And Jesus put the burden right back on the Pharisees: “It’s not her fault if you lust. Lust is YOUR problem.”

Jesus was trying to remove shame from women and replace it with righteous sorrow for sin. That’s a good thing.

And yet what have we done?

We’ve placed the burden back on the girl again when we start making rules for how women should dress.

I’ve sat through events aimed at preteen girls which told them how many inches below the clavicle their shirts can be. I’ve been at homeschooling track meetings where girls were given measurements about what they should wear when running, and I’ve seen some families requiring their daughters to run the 1 km race in a long “Little House on the Prairie” skirt. And I wonder: What does this do to the girls?

I asked that question on Facebook last week, and one woman wrote this:

I grew up covering my body and its curves to help men not sin. We had to wear skirts and dresses to the ankle (at least that’s what we preferred: that allowed to to play Little House on the Prairie and hide my unshaven legs.) sleeves couldn’t be shorter then four inches off the shoulder. The neck line had to fit two fingers from the pit of the throat. Anything that cut deeper into the chest was immodest and “oh my gosh! Fix your shirt!” Nothing could be tight so as draw attention to the chest or hips. We weren’t even allowed to wear smooth fitting skirts-they all had to have enough gathering at the top to just flow over the body and not stick to it. How ridiculous we must have looked to others when we played homeschool baseball or basketball on the driveway. At fourteen my mother accused me of looking at my father with a sexual eye and told me that all men only want “one thing:sex” and that it was on their minds all the time. The way I dressed would help them not to sin.

I know that is an extreme example, but I have seen it in real life. And I think even when Christian modesty isn’t enforced to that extreme, it still has some negative repercussions, like these:

Legalistic Standards for Modesty Teach Girls Their Bodies Are Dangerous

If your body can cause someone to sin, then your body is a source of shame. It’s something dangerous, lust-inducing, almost sinful, in and of itself. If the mere sight of your curves can cause someone else to err, then your curves must somehow be bad.

I know this is not the intention when people teach modesty. I’ve heard of the “secret keeper” approach which says that what you have is lovely, but it’s just yours, and it isn’t to be shared, and I think that approach can work. But often it’s laced with the message that if you don’t keep the secret, you lead others into sin.

What happens, then, if someone really does sin? Let’s say that you’re date raped, or someone says some derogatory things about your body. You now believe that it is your fault because you’ve grown up thinking that men cannot resist seeing curves, and so if they act inappropriately, it must be because they saw too many of your curves. It puts the burden for sin in the wrong place. And if women start feeling shameful of their curves, as if their body is the enemy, how in the world are they supposed to start liking their bodies and being comfortable sharing their bodies with their husbands once they get married? If you’ve been taught from the time you’re small to worry about your body, it’s really difficult to start seeing it as a good thing that can bring you and  your husband pleasure. The very fact that he wants pleasure from your body seems somehow twisted already.

When I was a teenager I worked in a Christian bookstore. A woman who had only recently become a Christian worked there part-time. She was 30, single, and drop-dead gorgeous. She could have been a Victoria Secret model. She dressed very fashionably, but also very modestly. No cleavage, lots of turtlenecks (it’s Canada, after all), and nothing too tight. Yet week after week the elders would sit her down and tell her that she needed to dress more modestly because men were lusting after her. Her clothes were not the problem–it was her beauty, and she could do nothing about that. They were calling her beauty sinful. She finally just went to another church.

Legalistic Christian Modesty Teaches Girls that Boys “Only Want One Thing”

The Christian modesty message also says that boys are basically helpless to withstand this onslaught of seeing girls’ curves. All guys, including all older men, will lust if they see you. I’m not sure how that message is supposed to make women like men.

When I was 19 years old I went on a summer missions trip to Tunisia. It was very scarring for me, because every time we were on crowded public transport (which was quite a lot), men would literally feel me up. I could never tell which man it was, because we were jammed into buses, but I’d have hands all over me. When I got back to North America it was about  two months before I could look a man in the eyes again. I had tried so hard the whole time I was there to not catch anyone’s attention, and it didn’t work. Men became the enemy.

We’re doing the same thing. But let’s face it: If a guy will fall into lust because he sees a girl with a V-neck T-shirt on (even if there’s no cleavage), what in the world is he going to do if he walks through the mall?

Legalistic Modesty Teaches Girls that THEY Don’t Lust

I’m going to let my daughter explain this one. I think she does it very well:

Legalistic Christian Modesty is Just That: Legalistic

We’re told in 1 Timothy 2:9:

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,

Dressing modestly is important. But notice that the text does not define what decency and propriety is. When we start to define it rigidly, then we are becoming legalistic. What is modest in one culture is not modest in another. There aren’t absolutes. When I was in Kenya, showing cleavage was less offensive than showing bare shoulders (though the children’s home where we were didn’t show either). Things vary by culture. The spirit is important: we all should be modest. How that is lived out, though, is ultimately up to the individual, and should not be imposed, or else you are adding to Scripture.

It’s interesting, but one of my friends pointed out that in the Old Testament, the dress that was criticized was unisex. It was very clear: men should look like men; women should look like women. Women have curves, and I think that’s okay.

 Let’s Change the Message!

1. Point to God, not rules.

Whatever we do, we are to do it to the glory of God. So when we dress, we should be glorifying to God. Teach young people, both guys and girls, to ask themselves that question: am I portraying myself as a child of God? If everybody asked themselves that question, a lot of problems would go away anyway. And having girls dress modestly for the wrong reasons doesn’t glorify God. He cares about the heart, not the outward appearance.

2. Don’t give a double standard.

Dress codes are fine, especially at teenage events, I think. Most schools have dress codes (no spaghetti straps, no low-rise jeans, etc.). But if you have a dress code, it should be focused on both guys and girls, not just girls. So say something like, “Girls, no string bikinis, guys, no speedos. When out of the water, T-shirts should be worn by all at all times.”

 3. Allow for beauty

Another woman on Facebook wrote this:

I too was taught that it was my responsibility to dress so that guys didn’t lust after me. Even if I dressed modestly but looked pretty that was a problem because when a much older guy made unwanted physical and verbal advances toward me it was my fault. After all, how could I blame him? I was told that If I wasn’t “so pretty” or if I wasn’t “so fun to be around” then none of this would happen. It was hard because I was never really taught how to enjoy my body. Things were either unflattering / too big or were “too sexy.” The line between the two extremes was not explained… I developed my own style and have loosened up, but even after a year of marriage, I still struggle with knowing how to be sexy at home and what is too sexy for out in public.

So many households and churches talk so much against what clothes to wear that they never talk about how to be beautiful. Most girls yearn to be beautiful. Let’s start talking about how all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made; how the urge to be beautiful for women is universal and God-given; and then show girls how beauty doesn’t need to mean sexy. You can be totally lovely without twerking, so to speak. Beauty is not the enemy, and we need to acknowledge that girls want to be beautiful, and guide them about how to be truly beautiful.

Tomorrow we’ll ask whether the purity culture contributes inadvertently to sexual hang-ups, and whether there’s a different way to frame it, too.

Now I’d like to hear from you: how did the Christian modesty message affect your view of your body (or did it?) How are you teaching your children? Let me know in the comments!

Good Girls Guide My SiteIf you’re struggling with understanding sex, enjoying your body, and not being ashamed of it, please take a look at my book, The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. It’s a fun book, and it explains in detail how God made sex to be intimate emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I think you’ll find it really helpful in dispelling some of the negative things you were taught!

 

Other Posts in The Healthy Sexuality Series:
Does the Christian Purity Message Make Women Ashamed of Sex?
Do We Need to Stop Using the Term Virgin?

 

 

5 Tips for Choosing Attractive Summer Sleepwear for Moms

Choosing summer sleepwear when you're a mom--and don't want to just wear ratty t-shirtsHow many of you wear ratty t-shirts to bed at night? Maybe it’s time for some better summer sleepwear!

Last week a reader from Hawaii sent me this question, and I promised to answer it before summer slipped away:

I have a conundrum.

I’m a mom of a 13, 10, and we do foster care for ages 0-6 yo but on the other side I have been married for 15 years and realized that my poor husband has been seeing me in ratty shirts and holey shorts for the last 13 years and he deserves better.  My problem is that I have to get up and feed the babies that come to our house and don’t necessarily want to redress while the baby is crying and if my 10yo son gets up that he wouldn’t see too much of me.

The other glitch is that I do have a robe but we live in paradise and have no AC so when it’s 80+ in my house I’m not interested in covering up more.

Is there any hope for me?  am I over thinking this?

Yes, there’s hope for you, and HOPEFULLY I’ve got some answers for you today!

I actually really enjoy clothes, but I know many of my readers HATE shopping. So I’ve put together a pictorial guide of nightgowns I think are modest enough for your sons to catch a glimpse of you, but still fun for your husband!

Here are some main things to consider when you’re looking for summer sleepwear that will actually work for you! You want:

1. Summer Sleepwear Needs to be Comfortable

It can’t be tight or fit weirdly around the bust/waist. The reason we turn to ratty T-shirts is because they are comfortable. They’re not tight, they don’t hug us wrong, and they move when we roll over. But so do lots of other sleepwear possibilities!

2. Summer Sleepwear Needs to Be Cool

You don’t want long sleeves, or anything that’s stifling. You don’t want stuff that sticks to you.But you also want these things:

3. Good Sleepwear Should Have Shape

You are a woman. And it’s okay to be a woman. It’s okay for your children to see that you’re a woman. The problem with ratty T-shirts is that they have absolutely no shape. You could be a man under there. And if you’re heading for bed–where very distinct man/woman things tend to happen–you don’t want to look like you couldn’t care less about being a woman. First, because it’s not nice to your husband. You’re the only woman he’s allowed to look at–so let him look! But second because it sends a message to  you: I’m not a sexual being. I’m not really a woman. And that’s not a good message if you want to get in the mood later!

4. Good Sleepwear Shouldn’t Let Everything Hang Out

At the same time, you can’t be mortified if your teenage son were to see you. I have some sleepwear that my teens don’t see me in, that I really only use for special occasions (like anniversaries, etc.). It’s NOT sleepwear, actually. It’s what you wear BEFORE you go to sleep, and you often don’t wear it for very long. But there is fashion that falls in the middle. It isn’t shapeless, but it doesn’t show a ton of cleavage or reveal anything to your sons you wouldn’t be comfortable with them seeing.

Yes, modesty is important, but you are in your own home. And it’s also important that your children see that you are comfortable in your skin and take pride in your marriage. So let’s try to find some summer sleepwear options that satisfy all four conditions:

1. The T-Shirt Look

Some women just LOVE t-shirts at night, mostly because they’re cotton and they’re comfortable. But LOTS of things are cotton and comfortable. And even if you want to do the t-shirt look, you can do it in a way that is at least a little bit more attractive.

Jockey makes some sleep shirts that are like T-shirts, but they’re longer. And they pull in at the waist and have a V, so they show you have some shape.

Here’s the Regular Summer Sleepshirt and the Plus Sized Summer Sleepshirt:

Jockey Women's Plus-Size Sleep ShirtJockey Women's Sleep Shirt

These are JUST as comfortable as T-shirts, but they’re much more attractive. So you can’t tell me that the only thing that’s comfortable enough to wear is an old T-shirt. It’s just not true!

2. The Classic Cotton Nightgown with Some Detail

Then there’s your classic cotton nightgown, with a very lightweight material but still some detailing around the bust to make it look feminine, like this Eyelet Trim Pleated Summer Nightgown:

Handmade Eyelet Trim Pleated Sleeveless Nightgown

Definitely looks feminine, but still very long so that you don’t have to be embarrassed if your preteen boys see you.

Here’s another one with smock tatting–this one emphasizes the bust more, but I still think it’s fine for your boys to see you.

Handmade Smock Tatting Lace Lady Nightgown

3. The Satin Nightgown with Some Sheen

Here’s a short flutter-sleeved nightgown that isn’t cotton, but is still cool because it doesn’t stick to the body. It’s feminine (V-neck and detailing at the shoulders) and it’s attractive, but it doesn’t let things “hang out”.

Vanity Fair Womens Short Flutter Sleeve Gown

You could even wear this one through most of your pregnancy because there’s room for baby, and it’s an ideal shape for those who are rather big on top.

Here’s another option with lots of detailing around the chest, but still really loose in the sleeves and waist/hips:

Shadowline Women's Beloved 40

This is your typical “Aphrodite“:

Precious Curves Women's Aphrodite Waltz Length Nightgown

Here’s another option that Precious Curves names “Hera“. This one’s a little more risque–there’s an opening under the bust–but I still think it’s an attractive option.

Precious Curves Women's Hera Waltz Length Nightgown

5. Full Length Nightgowns

There’s something about a full-length nightgown that is just very luxurious–and even sexy!  They really aren’t hot when you’re sleeping in them.

Shadowline has a wonderful line of nightgowns that are comfy and not too expensive (most, again, under $40).

Here’s a modest nightgown with straps that’s really cool:

Shadowline (31275) Beloved Lacy Nylon Braided Strap Long Gown

And here’s one that’s more form-fitting, and much more romantic, but still not mortifying if your sons see:

Shadowline Women's Silhouette 53

Precious Curves nightgowns  (the ones I mentioned above) also come in full-length, but here’s another option for a full-length nightgown:

Precious Curves Women's Cascade Full Length Nightgown

Personally, the nightgown that I wear the most is a full-length satin one (it actually was my mother’s 40 years ago!), and it’s so vintage and pretty. I just feel nice in it. So I think every woman who can afford it at all should invest in a full-length nightgown.

For summer sleepwear, I think you can by with one full-length and one shorter, more casual one. There are also the two-piece choices, of course, but I thought I’d just focus on nightgowns here. My feeling is that it’s perfectly okay for teenage boys to see you in any of these, though some of you may not be so keen on the ones that do outline the bust more. That really is a personal choice.

You can be comfortable and cool while still being attractive.

And that’s important–it shows our husbands that we respect and appreciate them enough to put in an effort, and it sends a signal to our own bodies that “I am a woman, and I like feeling like a woman.” If you want to keep your sex life alive, you need to send that message!

If you like some of these nightgowns, but there’s no money for you to buy something for yourself right now, you can always add them to your Amazon wish list, or–here’s a tip I love–create a Pinterest board called “Gifts I’d Like” and add things to it. Then show your husband how to access the board. Add stuff throughout the year, and then for birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas, your husband can go choose something from that board! It’s easier for him, and it’s fun for you.

So there are my choices for summer sleepwear for those of us who are also moms. What do you think? What do you wear to bed? Let me know in the comments!

UPDATE: I’m getting some requests in the comments for ideas for 2-piece summer sleepwear that isn’t a nightgown. Sounds like a great idea for a follow-up post (and it will be fun because I had fun putting this one together!) So look for it soon.

This post contains affiliate links.

Love Your Lashes: Super Fun Younique Giveaway

I’ve got something different for us today!

I have to admit that I just love makeup. I know not all of my readers do, but I just love the fact that makeup can be such a quick pick-me-up: put on a bit of lipgloss and some good foundation and some mascara, and you just feel better. I’m not talking caked on makeup; I’m talking makeup that’s natural that helps you look put together.

But one problem I’ve always had is my bottom lashes. I don’t have very many. So it doesn’t matter how much mascara I put on; they never really “pop”.

So when reader Christy Mather asked if she could share her Younique 3D Fiber Lashes with my audience, I said, “sure!” (especially since she sent some for me to try out! :) ).

Here I am wearing it on one eye and not the other:

Sheila YouNique

And here’s an “official” picture:

Younique Lashes 3

How does it work?

You get a really pretty case:

Younique Case

With two wands in it. One is a gel that provides the “binding agent”, I suppose, and the other the tiny fiber lashes.

Younique Products

You start with your own mascara:

 

Sheila Mascara

Then you add the gel, and then the fiber lashes.

Sheila Gel

And then your lashes look a ton longer!

Sheila Younique Done

Younique isn’t just 3D Fiber Lashes–it’s also a full line of makeup and skin care. But the lashes are what makes it truly unique. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and it’s so fun! I wore them at a wedding I went to recently, and they stayed on beautifully.

And Christy wants you to know that if you love makeup, and if friends are always asking you for tips, this may be a great business opportunity, too. You can become a Younique distributor. Here’s lots more info about that.

Want to see more? Here’s the official video of how the 3D Lashes work:

Christy is generously giving away one set of the fiber lashes. I’ll do the draw next Friday, and the winner will be notified by email. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And remember to check out

The Battle of Insecurity as a Mom

Today’s guest post is from Sarah Ball, aka The Virtuous Woman Exposed, talking about insecurity as a mom. I dare you to get through this without laughing!

Insecurity as a Mom--one mom's funny story about Pap smears, surgery, and The Perfect Butt

I had 2 health care appointments recently – one for an overall health examination, the other for an overall women’s health examination. It doesn’t look good ladies. The diagnosis? I have saggy breasts and a saggy stomach full of stretch marks and there is no cure.

My first appointment was an overall health exam. I sat there obediently waiting for the doctor to come in, all dressed up in my wrap-around blue cotton gown. (What does one wear to accessorize?) The doctor examined me from head to toe. Asking mental health questions along the way. First my reflexes, then my throat, then my stomach, then my breasts.

“You don’t have any body image issues do you?” the doctor asked as he mechanically circulated my mamos. “Um no” I answered. “Should I?” I thought to myself. That was an odd question for a doctor to ask while doing a breast examination.

My 2nd appointment was a few days later for an even more thorough women’s health exam. The dreaded PAP. Thank goodness they changed the recommended checkup to once every 3 years. I chose to snub my family doctor based on his handsomeness and go to a women’s clinic at the hospital instead. A friendly female doctor came in, casual and confident.

“She does PAPS for a living, this should go quick and easy.” I thought to myself. I answered her standard questions, got dressed into my blue gown (I hate wearing the same thing twice in one week) and I positioned myself into THE most socially awkward position known to Woman.

Being near 40 and having had 5 children, I know they are going to ask me to scoot forward, more…(awkward) a little more… (awkwarder) and a little bit more (death by awkwardness). I am always hesitantly but obedient.

After the dreaded PAP test, the doctor examined my lower abdomen. “You know…” she said in a friendly tone “There’s nothing you can do about that, you could do 500 hundred crunches a day and you’ll never fix that.”

If I had an Adams Apple (which obviously I don’t or that appointment would have been even more awkward) I would have choked on it.

“A lot of women have opted for surgery, that is an option,” she said as she moved her examination upwards. She began her breast examination. “Nothing you can do for that either” she said as she checked for lumps. “There is surgery though, lots of women just go and get both done at the same time, they call it the Mommy Makeover.” Unprompted by me, she preceded to explain the surgical procedure and options.

I swallowed my imaginative Adams Apple and came out of my awkward trance just enough to say, “I’m actually not that bothered by it. I work out, I feel good, my husband is attracted to me, and I’m a pretty confident person.” She responded with a sympathetic smile as if she thought I was lying.

I am glad to say my smear was clear and I am lump free, however, I came away from that experience a little confused about my self-image.

My thoughts took over…

“Should I have surgery?” I asked myself “Do I want to give up my baby scars for a giant smiley scar, only so I look good in a bikini and lingerie?”

“Do I want to have higher breasts, when I have nursed 5 babies and I am super proud of that?”

“Should I be insecure?”

“Does my husband secretly wish I would get surgery?”

I know that insecurity is a battle all women will face from the time they are a developing little girl to an aged woman.

I have a teen and a 7 year old and I can see it in them. But how do we surrender to this fight when society is in our face about it? We can’t escape it; it’s everywhere. Just when we seem to have crawled back to confidence (either post baby, or hitting a new age, or succeeding at weight loss) we receive another blow.

I remember getting hit hard with insecurity right after the birth of my 5th child. I had gone to a hotel swimming pool with my husband and my 5 children, one being my 2-month-old newborn. Bathing suits and new baby bodies are the biggest clash of a mom, but I had ‘been-there-done-that’ and I had gotten over it. So I thought.

We walked into the pool area; the older kids dove in with dad as I yelled, “don’t run!” I looked around, proud of my cute baby, and then I saw Her and I froze.

There she was, in the flesh, ‘victoria-not-so–secret,’ in person, leaning over the poolside table. She was standing and leaning over a laptop with her perfect butt propped in the air, leaning in her string, no nothing bikini.

Frozen, I grabbed my baby boy and held him close to my body like I was nude and he was my towel. I ran to the hot tub and quickly submerged my 5-times over imploded baby body and sunk. I sunk literally and figuratively.

She leaned for ten minutes with her butt purposefully and seductively in the air and I molted. My husband was off swimming with the other kids and I kept wondering, if he had seen her. “Of course he has! EVERYONE has!” I thought to myself. Later my husband reassured me that without his glasses (which he had taken off for swimming) he was blinded and oblivious. (Good answer)

But in that moment, I imagined myself thrust onto a bare stage in my full piece full figured bathing suit standing next to her and her butt. The world and my husband were the judge. I felt humiliated

“And the award for best breeder goes too….drum roll……Sarah Ball”

“And the award for sexiest body and playboy bent over a lap top leaning position goes to…It’s unanimous! The Butt!” The crowd goes wild.

This attack had come out of nowhere. I was instantly thrust into an inner battle and I was forced to come to terms with my stretched baby badges and cellulite and face this demon head on.

This was probably the most insecure moment of my life.

“Should I hate her?” I questioned,

“Should I blame her for dressing and standing so provocatively?”

“Is she purposefully trying to mark her territory, including my husband?”

I closed my eyes, I tried to imagine her giving birth to triplets, and it didn’t help. I told myself she would be fat and old someday too. Nope, she still won. I was losing this battle and losing it fast.

I went home in tears. I cried for days, with my reassuring husband who would look me straight into my puffy face and tell me he would love me and always find me attractive no matter what. (How that translated into “So you DO think I’m fat!?” I will never know) I didn’t believe him. I was a wreck.

Soon, The Lord led me to a very hard question… Was I enough? That was a 2-part question. Was God enough AND Was I enough for God?

I faced this question with truth. Not with some superficial denial that my stretch marks are a gift from God to remind me of the most amazing experience life has to offer. REALLY?! The experience of puking bile for 3 months because there`s nothing left in your stomach, excessive heart burn, bulging varicose veins all leading to the climactic moment of torturous pain?! No thank you!

The truth was – I am grossly imperfect in the world’s eyes. I am technically “disfigured” as far as the definition of a perfect body goes. I am an overweight, stretched out, saggy mom, but I am beautiful, I am adored and I am enough.

I had to come to the realization that my self worth does not and cannot come from myself, the world, or even my adoring husband. My self worth comes from God.

I choose not to have surgery because the battle is within, not external and no scalpel is going to win it for me. I am determined to meditate on becoming the most beautiful woman in God’s eyes.

 Song of Solomon 4:7 You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

I WILL continue to eat right, exercise, look up 5 Ways to Make my Skin Glow, and drink plenty of water to make me look younger. I WILL still plan on wearing push up bras, pull in SPANX, and under eye concealer and I WILL always hate wearing a bathing suit in public.

However, I WILL keep meditating on God’s adoration for me, I WILL keep trying to respect my body’s changes, I WILL find victory in each insecure battle I face with the truth of God, and I WILL still go for regular awkward PAP tests.

Psalm 34:5 Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

sarah ballSarah Ball is a freelance writer, blogger and a mother of 5 children ages 3-15. She lives with her husband in a small town (by choice) in Alberta, Canada. You can follow her blog at Virtuous Woman Exposed.

Sarah says, “Head on over to my Virtuous Woman Exposed Facebook Page so we can be friends! You can also find me on Pinterest and Twitter.

The Right to Act Like Your Child’s Parent

The RIGHT to BE a PARENTEvery Friday my column appears in a bunch of papers in Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s column encourages parents to take back their responsibility and right to train up their children.

I often gaze wistfully at that fashionable fall outfit: an oversized tunic with a belt over leggings. It looks so comfy cozy. But even though I like it, I can’t quite bring myself to buy it. Leggings on someone on the wrong side of forty doesn’t quite work for me, even if the tunic does cover a multitude of flaws.

Yet increasingly leggings aren’t working even for those on the right side of forty, namely because people aren’t pairing them with long tunics; they’re wearing them with shorter shirts. What was once fashionable becomes floozy. It’s not even flirty; it’s just gross.

There are some parts of one’s anatomy which should never be covered in thin, skin tight fabric.

As terrible as it is when adult women commit this fashion faux-pas, it’s worse when teen girls do it, because it means some parent somewhere has allowed a child to dress in public like that. One mom I know is heartbroken about her daughter’s clothing but feels rather helpless. Her daughter refuses to wear anything except tights as pants.

I do not understand this helpless attitude, whether it’s about clothing choices or other teenage behaviours, and I would like to tell parents, loudly and clearly, you are the parent. You have the right–indeed the obligation–to set standards.

If you do not exercise your right to act like a parent, then you are abdicating your responsibility to our culture. Our culture is the one that adores Miley Cyrus’ new persona. Do you really want to turn your child over to that?

Parents should not feel guilty for acting like parents, and yet so many of us are insecure.

Do we even have the right to tell our kids what to do, or what to wear?

The insecurity is understandable. In 2008 in Quebec, a 12-year-old girl took her father to court for grounding her from a class field trip. She had been using the internet inappropriately and sending inappropriate texts, so he put his foot down. She sued. And the Quebec courts, even on appeal, have decided the girl was right.

With this sort of ridiculousness around us it’s easy to feel like we don’t have a right to demand things of our kids. The schools should raise them, and if our culture has decided that Miley’s antics are the new normal, who are we to say they’re wrong? We may be uncomfortable with all the texting, and with all the explicit shows kids watch, and with the sexual activity, but these things are normal today. To fight back is like trying to hold a tsunami at bay. It’s too much.

Yet is it really?

What does it matter what the rest of our culture says?

It is not our culture that is going to have to deal with the repercussions of a teenager dropping out of school, or feeling great shame for something he or she has done, or getting hooked on drugs. It is you, the parent.

It is not our culture that will have to pick up the pieces, patch a broken heart, or help someone detox. It is not the school that will be there when a girl derails her educational future because she gets pregnant, or a boy decides to waste his life on video games instead of investing in college. It is you. You are the only one who loves your child more than life itself. You are the only one with a vested interest in how your child turns out. You’re the only one, then, that really matters.

So do something! You have power. You control the wifi, the television, and the money that pays for the cell phone. Use that power. Say no. Be a parent. And please, no tights.

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Fighting the Frump with andRuby–and Giveaway!

andRuby J Crew Inspired NecklaceAs part of the Mom it Forward Blogger Network, I was compensated for this post.

Remember last year when I invited you to Fight the Frump? We took a week and I challenged you to first get dressed (no yoga pants and baggy T-shirts!). Then I encouraged you to find clothes that fit and flatter, to buy great undergarments, and to find some accessories.

Honestly, we women spend so much time hating our bodies, and yet spending just a few minutes putting on things that make us feel put together can give us a blast of confidence, which has repercussions even in our marriages. When we feel better about ourselves, we’re more energetic. We’re more motivated. And we’re often friskier!

So when Mom it Forward asked if I’d like to review some products from andRuby, an awesome new deal site I found, and give you all a chance to win a $75 gift certificate, I said yes because I think we all need a little push to fight that frump once again.

Oh, and I also really liked the necklace they were offering! :) It’s normally $50, on for just $7.99. Here I’m wearing it:

andRuby J Crew Inspired Necklace

And here it is on my oldest daughter (who is hanging out with me in Kansas City while I’m getting ready to speak at the MOPS conference tomorrow!)

andRuby J Crew Inspired Necklace

At andRuby their product is always changing. You get awesome deals–as much as 80 or 90% off in some cases–but it’s always unique stuff. When you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get the inside scoop when they have new items being added.

I’ve been browsing through their site, and here are some other lovely things I found:

andRuby--discount beauty, jewelry, and more!

Gorgeous Maxi-Skirt

I know many of my readers LOVE maxi-skirts, and here’s one that’s available in black and teal. Normally $47, on for $16.99

NuMe Curl Jam Set

You get three curling wands in one! You get a flatiron, but then also a curling set with three different sizes. Normally $250, on for $89.

J Crew Inspired Color Mix Bracelet

This is gorgeous! And it’s 88% off. Normally $39, on for just $5!

BeYOUtiful T-shirts

Teach your kids they are beautiful–just the way they’re made! Normally $20, on for $8.99.

Luxe White Crystal Statement Necklace

This sits at just the right length, and brights up any top! Normally $40, now $15.

Simply Shabby Blooms

This baby headband flower is adorable! Normally $7, on for $3.

Their items are made by individual merchants, and I received my necklace in a lovely box, all done up with black ribbon. It was quite spectacular for a necklace that is on such major sale (from $50 to $7.99). The site offers a chance for merchants to connect with new customers, so each deal is very time limited. The benefit, though, is that from home decor to jewelry to clothing to kids’ items, there’s always something new and fun to find–at a price that won’t kill your pocketbook.

I’m a big fan of jewelry, because a beautiful necklace can dress up a T-shirt and help you feel so much more “put together”. If you want to fight the frump, sometimes all it takes is a necklace to make you go “pop”!

Find andRuby:

andRuby on Facebook
andRuby on Twitter
andRuby on Pinterest

And they’ve given us all a coupon code you can use to get 10% off–good until November 30. Just use the code love at andRuby.

One of my readers is going to win a $75 gift certificate towards andRuby! Just enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. All entries MUST sign up for andRuby’s newsletter, where you’ll get notification of all their new deals. And there are other ways to get “extra” entries, too. Just read below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

These occasional sponsored giveaways help to pay for the costs of maintaining this site. And I thought you’d enjoy the chance to win, too!

Why I Couldn’t Get Undressed on my Wedding Night

Good Girls Guide to Great Sex--AmazonWhen I wrote The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, one of the main reasons that I did so was because of my horrible wedding night. I had read some Christian books about how to make sex great right off the bat, and they left me a nervous wreck. I tried to write a book that would help people calm down and relax and just get to know each other, because there are so many changes all at once. And you have a lifetime to get it right!

And as I started talking to other women about what their own wedding nights were like, I found that I wasn’t alone. Many of us had difficult honeymoons. I think we need to talk about this more, dispel some myths, and tell ourselves that it’s okay not to be perfect.

When Emily Weirenga sent me this guest post, I was so excited to run it because I know so many of you will relate. Here’s Emily:

Why I couldnt get undressed on my wedding dayWe borrowed my aunt’s cabin, by the water.

We arrived late with a bottle of wine and I stepped on the back of my wedding dress as we crossed the threshold.

I didn’t see anything but the bed, with its nicely folded corners and my new husband already in his boxers and grabbing us glasses from the kitchen cupboard.

I leaned against the wall, drinking the white, in white, and we were 23-year-old virgins who’d never seen each other naked, had only felt each other’s skin and I couldn’t unzip my dress.

I stalled, pulling out my bobby pins and he helped me, and we made a nice little pile of pins and then he asked if he could help me with my zipper.

And I asked him if he wanted another glass of wine.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to make love with him.

It’s that I didn’t want him to see me. All of me.

Not because I didn’t trust him, but because I didn’t like myself.

I didn’t like my skin and I thought maybe if we got the room dark enough first and we could do that every night, till death do us part, and he’d never see my flat chest or my wide hips or my pear shaped body.

I ended up slipping the dress around my ankles and then quickly sliding beneath the sheet and it’s taken me 10 years to learn how to walk into the bedroom naked, with the lights on. To look my husband in the eye, standing there in all of my skin, my stomach stretched with marks from two sons and my chest even flatter than it was before.

I am not beautiful because of my skin, nor because of my husband, nor because of my children, but because of my heritage as Abba’s creation.

But even though I was raised in the church, as a pastor’s daughter, who was baptized by the age of eight and went to youth group and memorized Scripture, I didn’t know that womanhood was something to be embraced. I didn’t know there were two different kinds of pride—a hubris kind of pride, which is a lifting up of the soul in defiance of God—and then, the other. The good kind of pride. The kind that Isak Dinesen defines in her book, Out of Africa:

Pride is faith in the idea that God had when he made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realize it. He does not strive towards a happiness, or comfort, which may be irrelevant to God’s idea of him. His success is the idea of God, successfully carried through, and he is in love with his destiny.

I thought I was supposed to feel ashamed of my female curves. Of my body.

My mum was insecure and my dad, emotionally absent, so as children, we all battled low self-esteem. We weren’t allowed to watch The Little Mermaid because she had a bare stomach and Mum would get embarrassed if Dad caught her changing. I would be mortified if Dad saw my bra hanging on the clothesline. We thought we needed to be hidden away. Fig leaves, and such.

But Jesus came to change all that.

Jesus came so that shame would go. Jesus came, so that we could know, again, the full idea God had for us when he created us.

I am learning what it means to be a woman —what it means to embrace all of my femininity and to see it as a loving calling. To know the difference between love of self, and loving myself, and to treat myself as tenderly as I would a friend.

My friend, Celeste Steele-Perez, puts it this way: “As I meditate on what it means to be a woman, I marvel. I feel strong… I celebrate every curvy nuance of the feminine mystique. The memory of birthing makes my blood rush with the knowledge that … I, too, am made in God’s image!”

I have partnered up with Dr. Dena Cabrera of Rosewood Institute to write a book which celebrates this very thing: our femininity, our calling as women, and how to learn to love ourselves fully so we can, in turn, love our husbands and our children. It’s called Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy.


I’m excited to GIVE AWAY a hard-cover copy, so please leave a comment below telling me ONE thing you love about yourself, and we will choose a winner at random by the end of the week.

Otherwise, you can pick up your own copy of the book on Amazon (for 40% off!) or at Barnes and Noble bookstores or wherever books and e-books are sold.

Women? We are beautiful. Our bodies are temples. And it is good.

Emily Wierenga(For the book trailer, endorsements and sample chapters, please visit the official book website HERE)
(Originally posted at Prodigal Magazine: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/my-wedding-night/#sthash.jcml8p9c.dpuf)

Emily Wierenga is a wife, mother, artist and the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

When Your Marriage is in Crisis–Fight!

Fight for Your MarriageThere’s a great scene in the movie Laws of Attraction when Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan, who have been in crisis, meet up in a grocery store. And Julianne Moore says, “Sometimes they say you have to fight for your marriage. Do you want to fight?”

So let me ask you today, “are you willing to fight“?

Because sometimes we’re too quick to give in to defeat and feelings of anger and bitterness and disappointment and even just plain hurt and heartache.

Let me tell you of one email I received today, which is quite typical. Here’s the situation:

She’s always been sensitive about her body. She’s a little overweight and not very well endowed. But she used to have fun buying cute lingerie and making herself pretty for him. Then, when she was pregnant, she found out that he was watching porn and that he had cheated on her. He’s now done a complete 180. He’s strong with God. He’s a great dad. He’s truly repentant. He’s got accountability, and he’s not using porn.

It’s not really about forgiving him, she says. That’s not her problem. The problem is that now she doesn’t feel sexy. What’s the point? She used to do all these “fun” things to attract him and they didn’t work. He strayed anyway. All that work in preparing herself and all the while he was looking at women with totally different bodies. He simply isn’t attracted to her. And every time he touches her she feels that. So they just don’t make love anymore, and she doesn’t know how to get past it. How can she ever feel attractive to him again?

Do you feel her pain? I certainly do. That would be so awful; to feel like your husband went for a totally different body type. To feel as if no matter what you did, you could never be good enough. The rejection would be huge.

But here’s the thing: it’s precisely because that hurts so much that it is such an effective weapon. And so you now have a choice:

1. Do I give in to what are perfectly legitimate feelings? Do I let the anger drive a permanent wedge between us?

2. Do I fight against these feelings and try to rebuild intimacy?

Most people choose #1 because they don’t see a choice. That’s how I feel, after all. I can’t change my feelings. And he’s the one who cheated! It’s not me who is wrecking the marriage; it’s what he did.

I realize that. But so what if you’re right? What does being right get you? It lets you feel perfectly righteous all the way to divorce court. It doesn’t rebuild a relationship. Or maybe you never split up, but you lead two completely separate lives under the same roof, and that is not good for your children.

I truly think the only option is #2. You’ll never find peace or intimacy if you pursue #1. You may say, “he needs to make it up to me,” but how can he? He can’t take it away.

And so the ball is in your court–even if that feels unfair.

So fight! Here are some thoughts on how:

1. Recognize that your husband is not the enemy

This is a tough one. Your husband was the one who did wrong. Your husband cheated on you. But right now, he is not the enemy. He loves you and wants to rebuild the relationship. The enemy is Satan, or, if you don’t like that, the enemy is all of these negative thoughts that are in your head trying to pull the two of you apart.

Think about it this way: what would you do if someone threatened your child? You would fight with every ounce of strength that you had to protect your child.

Divorce hurts kids. And what is threatening your child right now? It’s not what he did. It’s those thoughts that are tearing you apart.

If you would fight a stranger tooth and nail who was trying to hurt the kids, then put that same energy into fighting those thoughts.

Yes, it’s hard. They’re legitimate feelings. But that’s why you have to FIGHT. Fight is not a calm word. It takes energy. It takes emotion. It’s difficult. But you have to do it.

2. Rebuild Trust

Right now you’re fixating on all the ways that he chose other women over you–again, very understandably. But if you’re going to move ahead, you have to build something new–build some place in your relationship where he’s obviously choosing you. So work on your friendship. Do things together. Go for walks after dinner just to talk. Share dreams. Plan about where you’d like your family to be in five years. Make financial plans together. Make vacation plans. Plan for what you want to do with your children.

If you can play together, and do things together, and look at the future together, you’ll start to think of yourself as a unit again.

3. Pray

Sex is more than just physical. Sex is also supposed to be a true spiritual connection. Making love is not the same as having sex. What your husband did was have sex with other women–and fantasize about other women. But what he has with you is far deeper. It’s about a total becoming one flesh. It’s a complete connection. And ultimately he chose you. Maybe you worry he did that because of the kids. That’s understandable. But even that shows that there is something special that you share that no one else does. Your connection is deeper than theirs.

So deepen it. Spend time praying together, even if it’s tough (that’s where the fighting comes in again!). If you can start to feel like you’re spiritually one, it’s easier to break through other barriers. And it’s easier to want to feel intimate in other ways again.

4. Be Honest

You’re insecure. It’s okay to tell him that. It’s okay to ask him to go slow and to try to woo you again. Ask him to show you that he enjoys your body, too. And if he’s having a hard time because he’s all tied up in guilt, take things slowly. Don’t necessarily make love, but spend time naked together. Be intimate. Just kiss. Start small and see if feelings return.

It’s okay to make love while you’re crying for all the things you’ve lost. It’s okay to make love while your heart is breaking. And his probably is, too. That’s just being honest, and sometimes when we’re honest the sexual feelings come even more powerfully. So be honest, but don’t avoid intimacy. Just try to build it based first and foremost on you being one flesh, not on it just being about sexual desire.

5. Take Pride in Yourself

One last thing: if you become so insecure about your body, and say, “there’s no point in even trying because I wasn’t good enough when I did try”, who do you end up punishing? Your husband? Certainly, because men are visually stimulated.

But I think you punish yourself more. If you let yourself become dumpy, for lack of a better word, how are you going to feel about yourself? How are your children going to see you?

You are a beautiful woman. God created you just as you are. Whether your husband rejected you or not, you are still lovely in God’s eyes. It’s not about how your husband sees you; it’s about how you see yourself and how God sees you. If you become dumpy, you’re letting the world know, “I don’t think I’m worth much.” But if you put effort in, and take pride in your appearance, you’re letting the world know, “I like who I am. I’m comfortable with me. If other people don’t share that feeling, that’s their problem, not mine.”

Which do you think is more beneficial to you, and your kids, in the long run? Putting in effort, or letting yourself fall apart?

You see, my friends, if you give in to those negative feelings, all you do is punish yourself (and your kids, and your husband). They’re legitimate, sure, but it’s not worth it. So FIGHT. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes effort. But God loves a good fight, and He is there to do battle for you. He is waiting for you to put on your armour and say, “I’m entering the battle field.” Do that, and He will show up, big time, and will fight for you.

It reminds me of this graphic I put up on Facebook this week:

RippleEffects

What if My Husband Doesn’t Find Me Attractive? A Round-Up

"My Husband Doesn't Find Me Attractive." How to process this hurt and decide how to deal with it.

Last weekend I caused a bit of a hullabaloo by posting a Reader Question that said, “I’ve gained 25 pounds since we had kids, and now my husband doesn’t find me attractive. He wants me to be skinnier. He apologized for hurting me, but he frequently turns me down when I proposition sex. What should I do?”

There were some not very helpful comments left on that post, and I thought it was an important enough subject to revisit and post some of my thoughts! So here goes, in no particular order:

1. Don’t Mess Around with Your Spouse’s Confidence

Being attractive to your husband is HUGE. If your spouse tells you you’re not attractive, that’s devastating, and it’s hard to recover from. We’re supposed to delight in our spouses, not tear them down. So this is something that is likely best to keep to yourself.

That being said, sometimes we do need to be honest. Let’s say your husband has gained a tremendous amount of weight and sex is now just plain uncomfortable (I like to be able to breathe, for instance). Or perhaps you have gained 150 pounds and he does find it difficult to become aroused just seeing you now.

How do you handle that?

Address the health issues. Be part of the solution–like cooking better meals, initiating walks after dinner, and finding active habits to enjoy. If your spouse is  severely overweight, talk to him/her about how you don’t want him/her to die early, and you think that part of loving your spouse is taking care of yourself so you’re actually here to help raise the kids and see the grandkids and share old age with. But don’t make it into a “I don’t find you attractive” issue–or “you need to be skinnier” issue. In general, that’s not helpful.

No spouse should tell the other they're not attractive! Read on.

2. The Onus is on the Husband to Delight in the Wife; not on the Wife To Make Herself Delectable

Proverbs 5:19 says,

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;

It does not say, “Make sure YOUR breasts delight HIM”; it says to him, “delight in your wife.” Biblically, the onus is on the spouse to stay enthralled.

And that verse was directed at an older, married couple, too, where likely gravity had taken its toll!

3. That Being Said, We Are To Try To Delight Our Husbands

I believe that part of loving your man and helping your man is being as attractive as you can be. After all, you’re the only woman he’s allowed to look at and take delight in! So make sure you’re attractive to look at!

That does mean keeping in shape as much as is realistic. Watch what you eat. Incorporate as many active things into your life as possible. Eating well does not take any more time than eating poorly, and so it’s a blessing we can give our family and our husbands. Choosing to walk places or choosing to take up biking as a family are all good things that can help us keep our weight manageable.

But even if you’re not a size 2 (and very, very few of us are), you can still be attractive! Fight the frump everyday. Get dressed. Wear clothes that flatter (and you can do that even if you’re plus-sized!). So much of being sexy is about attitude, not just what we look like. If you’re passionate with your husband, and you present yourself well, you’re choosing to love him.

4. Let’s Not Forget the Main Thing

At the same time, let’s not forget the point of this life.

1 Timothy 4:8 says:

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

So there’s nothing wrong with exercise; but let’s remember that our lives should not be about creating the perfect body at the expense of other things. I weigh about 22 pounds more today than I did when I was married. I walk a lot. I eat well. I exercise moderately. For me to get back to the weight I was when I was married would require a tremendous amount of effort. I’d have to be at the gym likely for about an hour and a half a day.

Is it worth it?

I don’t think so. I’m not saying exercising is bad; for many people, it’s their stress relief and their hobby, and that’s wonderful. But I have other hobbies. If I were to exercise for an hour and a half a day, that time would have to come from somewhere. Should I write this blog less? Should I stop writing my next book (or take about 3 times as long to write it?) Should I speak less? Should I homeschool my daughter less?

In other words, there are opportunity costs. And right now I think speaking and writing and spending time with my kids takes precedence over trying to look like I did when I was 20.

Now, if I were 250 pounds and this were a serious heath issue, then I’d feel differently. But we must weigh the costs, and not see the whole weight issue in a vacuum. When people tell someone, “just lose the weight”, you have to look at how difficult that would be, and whether it’s actually worth it. Much depends on the weight you’re starting at, and how realistic that target weight is.

So if you’re really hurting because your husband wants you to lose weight, think about it logically like this. Is it a health issue or not? Would it require a tremendous amount of effort? Is he only attracted to skinny women because he watches porn? Don’t immediately take on the guilt of gaining weight until you’ve put it in perspective.

5. Our Bodies Aren’t Supposed to Stay the Same

For someone to tell their spouse “I don’t find you attractive anymore because you don’t look like you did when we married” is a little harsh, because our bodies are not designed to stay the same. They are designed to slowly fall apart. That’s what aging is. After you have babies, you sag. You have stretch marks. You are bigger. You just ARE.

And as you age, you get moles. You get more hair growing on your upper lip and chin (where did THAT come from?!?!) Your veins start to stick out.

Your metabolism slows, and while you could eat a ton at 20 and stay 120 pounds, now you eat less and you’re 145. That’s what our bodies do.

Maturity means recognizing this and delighting in having a spouse to grow older with, not in expecting that person to stay 20.

He has made everything beautiful--even you!

He has made everything beautiful–even you!

6. We Put Way Too Much Emphasis on the Perfect Body

Sex is supposed to unite us in multiple ways–spiritually, physically, emotionally. The physical is only one. And when we put so much emphasis on needing the perfect body in order to make love we’ve lost the point. We’ve cheapened sex.

Yes, the body is important, and yes, we need to do what we can to keep ourselves attractive to our husbands. But that does not mean looking like you’re 20 when you’re 35 and you’ve had 4 kids.

By the time you’re 35 and you’ve had 4 kids, sex should be about celebrating who you are together. It should be a way to relax. It should be a way to cement your relationship as you parent together. It should be about saying, “I’m still crazy about you.” It should be ALL of those things.

Unfortunately, in our pornographic society it’s all too easy to think that “sexy” means a certain body type. And when we constantly feed our minds with what those bodies look like, through consuming media or even porn, then it’s hard for our spouses to measure up.

We MUST fight against this.

If your spouse is telling you that you aren’t attractive and that they don’t find you sexy, then perhaps it’s time to sit down and have a big talk about what intimacy really is.

You can make a commitment to get healthy and to keep yourself attractive, but that’s only half the story. It’s also about recognizing that godly intimacy is a meeting of bodies AND souls, not just bodies. And if you say, “your body isn’t attractive, so I don’t want to make love”, you’re also basically rejecting the soul. God designed sex to help us feel like one SPIRITUALLY, not just PHYSICALLY. So if you say, “I physically don’t want to have sex with you,” you’re also saying, “I don’t want to feel like one with you.” That’s harsh. And it’s wrong. And it means that you’ve bought into a shallow version of sex.

31 Days to Great SexMy 31 Days to Great Sex book can help you work through this, because it shows us how sex can unite us spiritually and not just physically. And there are exercises to reclaim that part of your sex life. I also walk through several days where we talk about what to do when each other’s bodies aren’t as attractive as they once were. So if this is a struggle in your marriage, pick it up!

Weight is a really complex issue. I do think our marriages are worth the effort to look good, and to stay within a reasonable weight (definitely NOT what you were at 20, mind you!). Your spouse SHOULD matter to you, and making love is a huge part of marriage. Continuing to try to entice your spouse is a huge way of saying, “I care about you.”

Nevertheless, sex is best and most meaningful when it is not just about the body. Put too much emphasis there, and you buy into the world’s idea of sex. And that just cheapens it.

And that’s it–all my thoughts on the subject on what to do if your husband thinks you’re not attractive! I think I’ll keep putting up Reader Questions once a week, but I’ll answer them instead and set the tone. A number of you have said you appreciated the feature, so I’ll keep it up there. I think if I set the tone, the chance of the comments becoming too outrageous is a lot lower.