Body Issues, Self Esteem in Marriage

Updated on August 09, 2014
M.K. asks from Washington Mills, NY
9 answers


I hope someone could help me move through something that is really affecting my marriage. I wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences and could offer some advice?

I have been with my husband since my last year in high school, he is a few years older. We fell in love and have been best friends / lovers for 23 years and have children. He was really into fitness and was a player when I met him. He said a lot of comments over the years about how fit women look, what a nice shape for a butt is, how skinning is yuck, likes curves but fit looking etc etc etc. He never rudely commented about other women when we were out or anything but just made it very clear what he likes and I don't have it.

Over the past year he started glancing at women all over the place, especially the ones with the waist / butt shape he likes. He said it became a bad habit after hanging out with his work colleague all day everyday who is a shameless voyeur with ADHD (I've seen him in action). I said I have started feeling insecure due to this and he apologized, pulled himself together when we are out and about out of respect - but it still showed me a lot of what he really wants.

The problem is that now 20+ years of comments about the perfect this and that is hitting me like a tsunami! I am feeling ashamed of my body and paranoid. It's not enough that women have an onslaught of rubbish to contend with from the media, I had hoped my marriage would be a soft place to land in all this. I am slim ish but have high hips which gives me a shorter waist and can make me look a bit more blocky rather than the shape he prefers. He tells me how much he loves me and that he couldn't care what I look like because our love is beyond that. But I feel so off now and don't trust what he says because he has shown me over and over again his deepest desires. My body image has taken a dive and I have really pulled away from him emotionally. I only feel good about myself when I'm not around him now.

Has anyone been through similar and come out the other side? How have you done it?

Also with respect, for anyone who may offer the advice 'get over it, he's with you', I have truly tried and it doesn't work with a mother load of conflicting messages over 20 years, especially because he has not recently chosen to be with me, we've been married for 20 years and had 3 kids. Thank you for understanding.

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So What Happened?

Thanks Everyone for your replies. I have thought a lot about your advice and believe my best course of action is some counselling. I think this issue is about something bigger such as a lack of basic self esteem and want to figure that out. Thanks again for your generosity.

More Answers


answers from Erie on

Saying "I don't care what you look like" is not what you need to hear. You need to hear that he thinks you are beautiful and sexy. I bet if he changed that one comment, it would help you feel better, I would feel horrible if my husband told me he didn't care what I looked like. Even when I started my diet, he supported me without ever mentioning how fat I had become. You need compliments, not for your concerns to be brushed off like that.

And you two really need to take some time away to talk about this if it is bothering you that much. He needs to show you through words AND actions that he finds you attractive.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Because he admires a specific shape it does not mean he is unhappy with your shape. You assume that is the shape he prefers. I suggest that if having that shape were important to him he would have moved on to be with it. Sounds to me that he loves you. He's just very visual and admires the shape.

You are more than a shape. He married you and all that you are. I urge you to get counseling so that you can feel good about yourself on your own. It's unreasonable to expect him to build your acceptance of your body.

I suggest it may help for you to focus on all the rest that he does love. Find the bigger picture. And start counselling.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

It sounds to me like this is really knocking you for a loop, and as a result you are focused on what your believe your husband perceives as your physical shortcomings more than you ever have. We all have times when we just can't get our minds past something. I would suggest that a counselor might be able to help you with an adjustment to the way you are thinking--and if you can get your husband to join you for a few sessions, all the better, but I think that you are someone who could benefit from some short-term therapy. I know that I have found it helpful in dealing with issues like this, where I get into a thought pattern I can't seem to break on my own.

I'm not sure how much anything anyone says to you is going to help until you get a different perspective, but with regard to your last paragraph, your husband may be terrible at communicating his attraction to and desire for you and your body, but he IS choosing to be with you, every single day. Don't overlook that choice just because he is also choosing to be a cad and ogle other women.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

OK first let's recognize that this is about you and your self esteem, not about him.
I say that because whether you have noticed or not, he has ALWAYS checked out other women. He is a man. It's in his DNA. Trust me....I have been closer to men than women my entire life. He has been looking, you just haven't noticed.

That said...he also recognizes how lucky he is to have you, and loves you. This doesn't mean a thing about how he feels about you.

I have a feeling that you are feeling more your age and noticing things aren't in the shape they used to be. (Me, too.) That's natural. The key is to focus on what makes you feel good.

And a serious suggestion...have more sex with hubby. Even if you don't feel like it, or don't feel sexy, etc... Force yourself to do it.
It will help you feel more connected to him and secure in him being with you, despite "not having what he's eyeballing". Because from the sound of it, you've never been shaped that way. You just need a reminder that he's still hot for you, too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I used to think that just because my husband looked at thinner woman he could not be attracted to me, but the truth is that when he looks at me he seems me through different eyes, there is a reason they say love is blind. I am fat, but he sees me as perfect. Your husband sees you the same. I know it is hard to accept that when we don't love ourselves, and for that I would suggest you might try counseling, I know it helped me a lot with my self worth issues.

Also ask yourself this, do the men you check out always look just like your husband? Does that make you love or desire your husband any less?

Best of luck and Blessed Be

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

M K.
I can only imagine how frustrating it is to have listened to & internalized those types of comments for 20 years. I'm not excusing anything but I am saying that many people are very visual and just because you notice a particular shape or look and find it attractive doesn't necessarily mean you want to jump on it. For example, I've always been attracted to guys that are built somewhat lanky yet muscular - think skinny ranch hand; when we met, that's what my husband looked like. Fourteen years latter the look has completely changed but I wouldn't trade him for someone else even if I do still appreciate the other body type.

I've struggled with body issues off & on for as long as I can remember (I'm 37 now). I can tell you from experience that the absolute only thing that has ever made a real difference in my mind is how I feel about myself. My husband (14 years) would tell me every day how he loved me & found me attractive & IT DIDN'T MATTER! Why didn't it matter? Because I absolutely hated my body. In the past year I've lost a significant amount of weight & have been able to do things that I haven't done since my military D.. Even though my boobs have shrank considerably & my husband loves big boobs, I just shrug it off. I'm stronger than I've ever been & appreciate the body I do have more than any other time in my life. My mind is what had to change & since I've got a healthier outlook about my body it has made a world of difference in my marriage. The crazy thing is other than my weight (the body issues), I actually have pretty healthy self esteem. I'm smart, funny, caring, and generally pretty awesome ;-).

Hope you find the strength you need!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think you are being overly self-critical. Slim-ish with high hips and a shorter waist, making you look a bit blocky, hardly qualifies as a bad body.

Has your body changed significantly from when you were first together? Because your body doesn't sound bad to me.

The issue is your husband, rudely commenting on the perfect this and that. Is HE perfect? He needs to stop being rude. And other than that, I think you need to trust that he loves and is attracted to you, because it sounds like he is. And some compliments from him would be helpful.

If you're not fit, start working out. But stop beating yourself up, you really are being too hard on yourself. No body is perfect, or almost none, anyway. Hang out at a gym where people are showering or go to a naked music festival. You will feel better instantly. Clothes hide a lot.



answers from Binghamton on

Could the body image issue be hiding something deeper on your end? We all deal with how our bodies change with age and children, and it can be really hard. This sounds like a bit more though, from the husband who can't stop commenting on other women even though you have made it clear how painful it is for you to the wife who only feels good about herself when she is not around him. It sounds to me like you are dissatisfied with other aspects of your partnership and the body issues between you are a 'safe' place to put that dissatisfaction. On my end, I imagine a partner who cannot seem to stop doing something hurtful might be inadvertently hurtful or uncaring in other areas. Is this something you can explore with a therapist? Looking at possible other issues might help you move on from this one.


answers from New Orleans on

I know how you feel. I been with my high school sweetheart for a total of 13 years and married for almost 9 years. 4 kids later... had my last one about a year ago this month on the 17th. Still have 15 pounds left on that I'm having problems losing since I have low thyroid and got a birth control shot that messed me up. When my husband and I dated I was around a size 9 pants size with b breasts. Now I wear around a 10 pants and c breast since having 4 kids. My body doesn't look the same like 13 years ago. My waist and hips have more curves. Butt is a little more rounded. Chest size went up of course. My husband likes big natural tits. Mine is "normal" size but he said he likes them. I compare myself to other women and of course that doesn't help. All it does is bring me down. My husband tells me he loves me for me. My husband is a little bit smaller than me so I feel fatter than I always like bigger guys than me with facial hair. But I fell in love with my husband for who "he" is. The Smart, caring , loving man that would do anything for anyone. We have that connection. I remember the time I screwed my hair color up when I dyed it. I had lighter hair on top and dark in the middle. I sat and cry. When he got to work he text me and told me he loves me no matter what color my hair is. It brought a smile to me. He loves you!! :)

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