My weight has been an issue since I had my children some 20-plus years ago. I never lost my pregnancy weight—instead I have added extra pounds to it. Because I grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive home where a thin body was idealized (along with many other issues), I have struggled with lots of self-loathing concerning my body. The problem is I use food to comfort myself when I don't like my emotions, which has just complicated the body-image issue.
Because of my own contempt toward my body, I have physically hidden from my husband, Vince, for at least 20 years. I have not allowed my husband to see me naked because of the shame I’ve been carrying around. I have always made sure that I was covered while making love. I would dry off in the shower, grab my bathrobe, and put it on behind the shower curtain so he wouldn't see me naked. I spent so much effort trying to keep safe and protect myself from his eyes. I truly believed that if he saw me naked he would reject me and want nothing more to do with me. Many times, I said no to intimacy with him because I didn't want him to touch my body. I really never took into consideration how all of this was affecting him.
Did I ever ask Vince how he felt? No. I didn’t give him a chance to tell me that he loved me despite what I looked like. When Vince did offer compliments, I would push them away and respond with something sarcastic. My belief system about myself seemed more true and became more important than what he tried to offer me. I was putting my comfort above our relationship.
I know he wishes I would lose weight, but I have to believe him when he says he loves me for me and not what my body looks like. How well am I loving my husband if I don't allow what he says to impact me? My protective strategies are pushing my husband away. I now know they are hurting my relationship with him. If I want to grow, I have to put down the protective wall, or bathrobe, and be vulnerable and trust Vince to love me like he says he does.
Very recently, I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable with my husband and let him get a quick peek. He didn't reject me! He let me know how much he loved me, and you know what? Something huge changed in me. I realized how much I had been cheating him all these years. The lies that I held so close to my heart had been dividing us and causing me to cheat my husband and me from a more intimate relationship.
It is so wonderful now to be naked in bed with Vince during our intimate times. I still do not prance around naked in front of him, but I don't work as hard at hiding. His body is a gift to me, and my body is a gift to him. His gift to me is just more neatly packaged—mine has many more lumps.
And now God is smiling over both of us, rejoicing in the fact that his truth has set me free.
Want to experience this kind of freedom? Passion Pursuit is a 10-week Bible study for wives about sexual intimacy in marriage. It walks women through issues and barriers such as body image.
Ginger Taddeo lives in Brunswick, Ohio, with her husband, Vince, and volunteers for Juli's ministry, Authentic Intimacy. Being married for 31 years, Ginger and her husband have a passion for marriages and have facilitated the marriage classes in their church for at least 7 years. She also has a heart for women who have struggled in various areas of abuse. Ginger loves to read, write, garden, and enjoy the outdoors.