When I got married 27 years ago to my wife - quite a pretty young woman - I made sure we'd get a professional photographer to take wedding pictures. The pictures turned out to be very nice. However, my wife always resists my showing those pictures to family and friends. There are some mysteries in couples relationships that may never get resolved in this life. Maybe more testimonials from our female Latter-Day Saint readers would help...
I agree that we have so much pressure to look young and perfect forever and this creates issues of self confidence, there is also trauma in some cases that might have started the issue. However, as a therapist myself I don’t quite see the point in ignoring the issue and just focus on the other qualities of the partner. In a relationship, mutual attraction is not an option, but a pillar. This means that despite being imperfect, and not beautiful, we find something in the other person that draws us to them physically too. Maybe their quirky expression or the way they touch their hair. But it all counts. When a person becomes upset for a sincere compliment, I would suggest going to the root and ask them, how do you feel when I say this? In a therapy setting, I would go down to the root issue, the moment when she started to develop such a negative image of her body that no one can compliment her looks. It’s very unhealthy. It talks about feeling you are not enough. It could have started when a relative made a compliment she found creepy at age eight. It could be that a school friend called her names because of her body. It could be her mum comparing her to the sibling. Whatever it is, the root can be identified and there are psychotherapy techniques that will enable the client to move on from old beliefs that are hindering her. I had a session last week with a 47 y.o. Man. Since he was a child he has suffered from social anxiety. One of the aspects of it was that hand he was young he was teased a lot at school, and once his dad teased him because at age five he gave a kiss on the cheek to his best friend, who was a girl. His parents teased his for months about it. He felt very uncomfortable and confused and side then he failed making meaningful connections with women until in his 40s. He always waits for women to start because he is terrified of being teased again just like the little boy he still has inside. So, while it is good to give compliments about a spectrum of qualities, it is indeed fundamental for any person who can’t take a compliment, to get some help and be able to accept, enjoy and celebrate his or her human body. The human body is beautiful even with scars, disease and imperfections because it has been created after the image of God. It is not superficial to appreciate the body of our partner. We are wired to find it attractive and to enjoy the warmth, acceptance and comfort of another human being close to us. As a columnist of this magazine myself, maybe I should submit an article about the damage we do with our words when we talk to young children about their body in unhealthy ways. One of them is to make them believe that it is sinful to have a nice body, or to look at it. In appropriate settings it is perfectly fine indeed.
As a wife who doesn't want compliments about my body, I think Geoff answered this fairly well.
In my case, rejecting these types of comments was not really about insecurity or body shame as much as wanting reassurance that I was actually seen and known by the person who has the best opportunity to reflect back to me who I really am. I want to know that my "other half" sees my talents, my struggles, my strength, my vulnerability, and that these things are precious and lovable. When comments are about superficial things like body shape or beauty, I don't feel like he is seeing me at all.
I don't want to hear that I am okay in a competition of looks, when I know that aging is inevitable and there will always be someone who can outshine me. I want to know that what he sees and loves is deeper than appearances. When that need is met, the compliments about my body and looks are icing on the cake, and I enjoy them also.
Email (will not be published)
Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.