In our modern world there is still a great emphasis on physical attraction between couples. Not only do men desire “sexy” women but women too desire “sexy” men regardless of how you choose to define sexy. With the media’s emphasis on what a man and women’s appealing body image is, the personal struggle of man and woman to achieve or maintain this certain body image to remain desired – not just by their partners but by society too- has become a marital struggle. I see more and more couples struggle in their marriages, losing their emotional and sexual desires towards one another due to a frustration with their own or their partner’s physique.
When evolutionary psychologists talk about mate selection, they emphasize that humans choose their partners to ensure their survival and secure reproduction. Both men and women share the desire to be with a partner who is physically appealing; women prefer men who are strong to protect them and their offspring, and men prefer women who are physically apt to bear children (curvy hips). Hence it is inevitable that this emphasis on body image is a key element in relationships.
As dynamic beings, not only do our beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviors change but so do our bodies. Perhaps women’s bodies change more over time than men due to pregnancies and biological alterations in metabolic and hormonal levels. We seek novelty for excitement, so one can think of a change in body as a new thing and enjoy exploring it. Embracing change is an important coping skill that involves our own body image as well.
Luckily when it comes to body image, in the past few years, the sporty, more muscular, more curvy body for women is becoming trendier than the skinny look. This doesn’t mean that one should blindly and obsessively follow the trend but use the opportunity to improve their perceived body image.
One of the main problems that flare due to a negative body image is the decrease in self-esteem which could be detrimental to a marriage. Women who feel unattractive and lose their self-esteem will begin to feel unhappy in general and eventually in their marriages. This could happen to women of any size, big or small, especially that research has shown that most women are not fully content with their bodies.
When a woman dislikes her body, the most destructive thing a man can do is reinforce what she is already trying to hide. Many times women would shut down from sexual activity just to escape being seen or touched in a body part she is ashamed of. She finds it very difficult to push away thoughts like “I’m ugly”, “he’s just sleeping with me because he has needs”, “I cannot do this position, I would be too exposed”. A woman’s mind is not in bed she is focused on trying to escape this very hurtful and threatening situation. As a result, this creates a very dissatisfying sexual relation. If a man wants to support his wife in improving her body image, the most effective way to do so is to reassure her about everything else that is positive in her and drop any comment regarding her body. A happy woman is a confident woman.
Research has shown that men prefer to be with a curvy confident woman than a skinny model. Also there are several studies that reveal that most men hardly notice a woman’s body during sex. So women, embrace your curves (or bones) and rest assured that real men want real women; always work on your personal growth and development which will definitely reflect on your self-esteem and self-confidence and probably on your self-image as well.
A relationship counselor with a Bachelor in Psychology and Masters in Counseling Psychology from AUC. Rasha has always had a passion for travelling and enjoys new adventures. In 2017, she founded the RE, the first couple retreat service in the Middle East with the aim of helping couples enhance their relationships.