Not too long ago, a wife quietly admitted that she was struggling to feel attracted to her husband. She explained that he wasn’t making wise food choices, he was avoiding exercise and that he just wasn’t taking care of himself. This wife adored her husband and was wrestling with the guilt of having negative thoughts about his appearance. She asked for advice on how to improve the situation.
So many of us can relate to this question. There will be at least a season or two of life where we aren’t looking as captivating as we usually are. The fatigue of early parenthood, the physical demands of illness, the time crunch created by helping extended family in need…there are countless reasons for a husband or wife (or both) to not be able to take care of themselves. As I prayed about answering her question, I was led to Matthew 6:22.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.”
Clearly seeing her husband the way that the Lord sees him is the answer to her question. What I mean is:
Consider Where He Is. What has life been throwing at her husband? Have they recently had a baby and he is still transitioning into the responsibility of supporting a larger family? Has the overall stress level in his life been higher due to employment insecurities, a death in the family, extended illness or some other event? Sometimes, husbands and wives do not arrive at the “new normal” or bounce back from adversity at the same pace. Though she might feel like she can come up for air now, he may be still swimming toward the surface. A lot of grace is needed, as is creating a safe place for him to open up. She can lovingly communicate her genuine concern to him and ask how he is feeling. Hearing his perspective may reveal challenges or influences that she didn’t expect and give her insight into how to support him.
If the decrease in attractiveness is physical, then she can encourage more family activities like walking together, playing together, riding bikes and encouraging any positive steps she sees him take along the way. Keep in mind though “that beauty is fleeting” (Proverbs 31:30). We are all going to get to a point of being less physically attractive, whether it’s sooner due to illness or later due to aging. Increasing physical attractiveness is less important than deepening your emotional and spiritual connection that will carry you through all of life.
If the decrease in attractiveness is more out of concern for him displaying laziness, then she can pray about gently talking to him about that. He might not be loving where he is himself right now and that self-discouragement could be at the root of his eating and activity choices. She can strive to lovingly figure out where he feels he needs to grow and help support him in that.
Focus on the Positives. She can live out of fullness by focusing on the attributes that she loves about him. In terms of physical attributes – is it his eyes? His broad shoulders? His arms? I encouraged her to sit down and make a list of the things that she loved about him – physically, spiritually, character traits, etc. – for herself but also for him. She can affirm him through verbal comments and/or notes to show him appreciation. Focusing on the positives will build him up but also turn her perspective upside down! Remember how Solomon’s words moved his bride from insecurity to confidence? Our spouse’s praise impacts us more deeply than anyone else. I truly believe affirming our spouse is part of God’s design for their growth and maturity.
Reconnect on a Spiritual Level. Pursuing spiritual intimacy is essential regardless of our current level of physical attractiveness. As we age, our bodies will lose sensitivity, but deepening spiritual and emotional connectedness over the years will more than bridge the physical gap in the bedroom. Pray together, read Scripture together, share how God is stretching you and what He is showing you right now, hold hands during church and sing out during worship! She can ask her husband if they can make __<fill in whatever connects them to God>__ a priority. She can also encourage him in his walk with God and help carve out time for him to be alone with God. I challenged her to see where growing in spiritual intimacy takes them in terms of attractiveness. Internal beauty will certainly blossom.
Keep Her Eyes Pure. She needs to be careful to avoid making comparisons of her husband to other men at church, the store, the gym or wherever she goes. Having eyes only for her husband will positively contribute to realizing just how perfectly he was created for her. Even if this is not a big issue, intentionally guarding her eyes even more will only positively contribute to the situation.
God calls us to love our spouse well regardless of their current level of attractiveness. If we are struggling to see our spouse’s unique beauty or to understand why they are not taking care of themselves, then we need to ask God to give us new eyes. He is faithful to share His perspective of the man or woman that He perfectly prepared to journey through this life with us.