Wednesday, December 2, 2009

for women only (part 9) - how you look

for women only:
you need to know about the inner lives of men
Shaunti Feldhahn

Chapter 8 - The truth about the way you look
Why What's on the Outside Matters to Him on the Inside*

Very wisely, Feldhahn starts this chapter suggesting that we (women) pray before we read it, because we may struggle with what it says. And this is the point where I wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew!

She opens with this statement:

The effort you put into your appearance is extremely high on his priority list. Yet the chances that you know his true feelings are extremely low. (p156)

Some things she clearly states:
  • we need to recognise and celebrate our bodies given to us by God with our individual appearance, she is not taking about fitting into a standard of beauty defined by the media;
  • most men actually wished their partners weren't so oversensitive about their bodies; and
  • the issue was not about the size or shape you are, but about the effort you make.

So, why does it matter to our men?
  • "When you take care of yourself, I feel loved" - when we bother to make an effort, they feel cared for by us.
  • "When you don't take care of yourself, I feel unvalued and unhappy" - this also related to how we might, as a result of not looking after ourselves, be unwilling to play together (romantically), see part 8 - unwilling to go for that walk, or swim together.
  • "When you take care of yourself, your expectation that 'I only have eyes for you' feels fairer (and easier to accomplish)
  • "I want (and need) to feel proud of you" - because you bother and care
Here, Feldhahn stops and says: do not ask your husband about this! The reason is, chances are, we are all sensitive in this area, and they either don't want to hurt our feelings or they have tried to talk about it before, and don't want the pain of that again. She says instead, take her general rule instead:

If you are not realistically happy with your overall appearance and fitness level, assume he's not either. (p171)

Do you know what though? I completely ignored her advice and went straight to Husband on this one! I wanted to hear it straight from him. I found his comments really helpful. Can I suggest though, if this is a particularly sensitive topic for you, and it is for many women, don't ask your husband what he wants, ask yourself if you want to and need to change your level of fitness or effort. My guess is you know the answer honestly yourself, without having to ask him.

She concludes with some good news:
  • He wants to help you - almost all men interviewed would help in almost any way to help you out - with time, money, etc.
  • There's a lot of resources to help you these days - with lots of good eating and health advice out there
  • God will help you in your desire to have a 'healthy temple' - I was less convinced by this argument biblically!

I realise, this may have been an uncomfortable chapter for you. Before you do anything, make sure you have a realistic and healthy view of your own body and appearance. And, I suggest you think about it from the perspective of health, rather than appearance.

Some things to think about:

For men:
  • Do you agree with this chapter?
  • Do you feel able to discuss this with your wife?
  • If this is an issue for you, concentrate on the things you love about your wife and tell her what they are.
For women:
  • How do you feel reading this chapter? Are you angry, frustrated, defeated? Remember that you are made by God in his image, and that he (and your husband) love you very much.
  • Have you let the busyness of life prevent you being able to take time to stay healthy? Do you want to change anything so that you can be healthier?

Next time: Part 10 - conclusions (& words of great encouragement!)

* these are her titles and subtitles - not mine!

No comments: