Me: Wow. I look very like a whale.
Him: You’re lovely.
Me: I’m HUGE! For crying out loud! I have, like, half a year left! And I’m already carrying a watermelon! (turning around) Two watermelons!
Him: You’re beautiful.
Me: I can’t believe this. What am I going to end up wearing?!?! I’ll stock up on tarps. Big tarps. I’ll cover the windows and doors of this room in tarps and stay under the covers all day.
Him: Darlin’, shut up.
Now, don’t misread me. I’m not looking for a forum to discuss my fabulous, gibbous beauty as, objectively, I was neither born with it nor is it Maybelline. What I do want to point out is my husband’s rather endearing habit of thinking of me as “lovely” in spite of my “never the same river twice” figure and in spite of the good view he gets of those swimsuit models in the diet ads that keep popping up on our homepage. He seems to like me, and God bless him, he is not about to let my constant self-hag sessions stop him from saying what he thinks. I am deeply grateful to have this man as my husband, and not only because he’s so nice.
More to the point: I’ve had some time (at 3 a.m.) to think about the impact of my words upon my marriage. And because I can, I’m going to share those thoughts with lucky, lucky you.
Most women I know naturally want to be admired and appreciated as beautiful. We do not wish to be leered at with those poor creatures on the Victoria’s Secret runway; we want to be genuinely appreciated—Venus rising from the sea foam, chaste, pure, lovely, and loved.
Such appreciation is not achievable in the minds of the general populace. The boys who looked upon us--who today look upon our daughters—as innocent girls fresh from the sea foam, thought: “Smoking hot, made to order with onion rings at Appleby’s.” Regardless of hair color, height, jean size, and modesty, there is no avoiding it. Shudder The general populace is such a vile thing.
The gods that feed the depreciation of feminine beauty are too numerous to be named. Their prophets are everywhere, from cosmetics counters to Super Bowl commercials, and their message is very, very loud: You do not measure up. You are old. You are just a baby. You are fat. You don’t fill out a swimming suit. You are in desperate need of this product, this outfit, this surgery, this diet, this pill, this technique, this shampoo. Buy it, do it, wear it, strut it, sister, or no one will ever, ever love you.
We then carry these prophecies into our homes and into our relationships with our husbands. We look in the mirror, stand on the scale, or accidentally fall into a triple-layer dark chocolate strawberry ice cream cake and we just can’t help but reiterate all we’ve heard: I’m old. I’m fat. I’m scarred. I’m ugly. I am not worthy of anyone’s appreciation. I cannot be loved.
On the other hand, the good, Christ fearing, long-suffering husband does not see what his wife has been taught to see. He sees the wife of his youth, the mother of his children, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. How frustrating, how infuriating it must be for him to hear his most precious possession wrongly called worthless, to hear the object of his love called not worthy of love. How devastating when those terrible words drop from the very mouth of his bride, her features twisted as she spits at her reflection.
I daresay Paul’s admonition to submit to one’s husband comes into play here. Note to self: shut up. When your husband dares speak his heart and tell you that you are beautiful swallow the bitter pill of your disagreement. What you think is not of any importance whatsoever, for it is the filthy residue of that first lie hissed into the ear of our mother, Eve. Your dear husband is your head, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and what he says is not only final, it is truth. You long to be loved, appreciated, seen as one who shares in the very image of God. Here is a man who sees your flaws, your scarred up flesh, and by the grace of God sees with eyes of faith that which you already are in Christ. What a great gift you have been given in this husband who, as a metaphor of the Bridegroom, declares that you are worthy, whom Christ in His mercy uses to communicate the fact that your not yet is now.
Marriage is great. Here’s to casting off the corset in favor of the crew neck. Come next brownie night, I’m really going to enjoy my half of the pan. ;)