In the spring of 2007, I spoke in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at an intergenerational sexuality conference where women gathered at one location, and men gathered at a nearby venue. On Saturday afternoon, the male speaker and I switched places, allowing me the opportunity to address the men for one session. As I was leaving the building to return to the women’s conference, one tall man with a weathered complexion and a worried look on his face asked if he could have one moment of my time.
“When you go back to speak to the ladies, will you deliver a message to all of them, my wife especially?” he asked.
“Sure. What’s on your heart?” I asked.
He replied, “Please tell them that they don’t have to be modest.” Suddenly his eyes filled with tears, and he explained, “I’ve been trying to tell my wife for eighteen years that she’s beautiful, but she won’t believe me. She makes me feel like I must be crazy to think she’s sexy, and sometimes I’m tempted to just believe her. But I refuse to do that. I want her to believe me instead. I know what I see when I look at her. I just want her to feel the same way about herself.”
I fought back my own tears as I sensed this man’s gnawing pain and growing frustration. As I delivered that message to the women in the next session, I sensed that every female in the crowd wondered if it was from her own husband. Every woman seemed to acknowledge her own guilt in this matter. We’ve all questioned our own sexual attractiveness, and questioned our husband’s sanity if he disagreed with our negative assessment. This breaks my heart.
We must remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in a marriage relationship, there are two sets of eyes beholding your naked body — your husband’s and your own. Joy comes from knowing that the two of you are seeing the exact same thing — a beautiful, sexually confident woman — a woman whose inner attitudes about herself carry far more weight than any external factor.