Meet Jim. He’s the average nice guy . . . good provider, loving husband, faithful church member, caring father. After work one day his wife of 20 years asks him to run to Safeway to pick up a gallon of milk. He replies, “Sure, honey. Be glad to.” Little did he expect, however, that this experience would prompt him to make a dumb comment about his wife’s weight.
As he pulls his Jeep into the Safeway parking lot, he notices a new billboard for Hooters. Shoot, he thinks, now I’ll see that everyday. After he grabs the milk, he detours to the magazine section to scan the recent Field and Stream. Immediately, though, his eyes catch Sports Illustrated’s current cover, the swimsuit edition. He says to himself, I shouldn’t look at that. As he shifts his eyes, he notices the cover of a hot rod magazine that showcases more hot girls than hot cars. He decides not to linger any longer at the magazine section and heads to the checkout line.
As he waits and scans the cover of National Enquirer perched next to the Tic-Tacs, the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine lures his eyes to the cleavage-revealing supermodel on the front. After he pays for the milk and walks to his S.U.V., a scantily clad, curvaceous women strolls by him. He thinks, Good grief. I’m getting bombarded today!
After dinner and some time with the kids, he sits down to watch “C.S.I.” The storyline that night involves a strip club murder with several images of strippers. As he channel surfs, a Victoria’s Secret commercial adds to the sensual assault.
After the show he heads to bed and notices as his wife changes clothes that she looks pudgy in spots, nothing like the magazine models. Then he makes his dumb comment. “Honey, are you staying on your diet?” Oops . . . he’ll spend a few days in the doghouse for that one.
Uncommon experience? Not for many guys. Our culture confronts us daily with air brushed images of personal-trainer-sculpted, breast enhanced, hard bodied women. When we compare these fantasy body images to our wives’ bodies, we can damage our marriages with hurtful comments. Although I’ve let a few slip myself, I’ve discovered that some well-placed questions I now ask myself can reduce those comments. Those questions follow these true dumb comments husbands made about their wives’ weight.
Kinda’ dumb comment: “Honey, weight loss is simple. Just eat less and exercise more.”
This husband reduces life to cause and effect equations. As an engineer, his left brain tells him his wife’s weight problem lies in a solution as simple as E=MC2. The only problem? His wife was probably an art major.
Plain ol’ dumb comment: “How much do you weigh now?”
This guy just wants the facts, like the man who kept a daily record of his pregnant wife’s weight on a spreadsheet. He reasoned this would provide a good way to keep tabs on junior’s weight. Yeah, sure.
Stupid dumb comment: After a guy’s wife lost a lot of weight he said, “You sure were one big girl.”
He tried to compliment his wife for her weight loss but he blew it. He didn’t realize that she now knows how he really felt about her with those extra pounds.
About-as-dumb-as-you-can-get-dumb comment: “What are those flappy things hanging under your arms? Looks like they’re swinging in the wind.”
This guy left his brain somewhere. Enough said.
Fortunately, my wife Sherryl loves me enough to confront me when I say something unkind about her body. Such experiences helped me frame these four questions I now ask myself which minimizes my verbal blunders.
Do I guard my eyes?
In an average day men see scores of sensual media messages. Jesus cautioned us to guard our eyes that he described as “lamps,” which let “sunshine into your soul” (NLT, Mark 11:34). The more we guard them, the less likely the temptation to compare our wives to these fantasy images.
At my request, my wife and daughters have put away their women’s fitness magazines with sensual covers. When I browse a store’s magazine racks, I don’t linger around those with the buxom women. I always delete the “How’s it going?” emails from such email addresses as [email protected]. An internet filter will also help.
My wife and I enjoy movies, but before I decide to go I check it out on www.screenit.com which lists all the sexual material in a movie. I asked the cable company to block the stations that carry sensual programs. I also review the content of TV programs before I watch them. Although I still struggle with temptation, these choices help decrease that struggle.
Do I give my wife emotional support?
Researchers discovered that happily married women gained only about a pound a year during 12 years of marriage whereas unhappily married women gained over three times as much. Dr. Louis McBurney, a Christian physician wrote, “Three factors are frequently associated with weight gain in women: pregnancy and childbirth, genetic patterns, and eating associated with emotional issues.”
We can’t change our wives’ genetic patterns nor the weight gain that comes when they bear our kids, but we can provide emotional support. Non-sexual touches and a listening ear give our wives emotional nurture which lessens their temptation to use food to meet emotional needs.
Do I encourage a healthy lifestyle by my example?
God designed women with more fat cells than men–about 17,000,000 more. Their weight tends to cling to their hips and thighs whereas ours shows up as an innertube around our waists. If I model a healthy lifestyle through my diet and exercise, it encourages my wife to do the same. If I never exercise and keep lots of junk food in the house, it can tempt my wife to indulge in unhealthy lifestyle patterns.
I swim for exercise and my wife attends a local health club. We also ride bikes together. We eat a healthy diet with little fried food, stick to lean meats and stock fresh fruit for snacks although I still enjoy pizza buffets.
Do I compliment rather than criticize?
Researchers discovered the greatest predictor of a healthy marriage lies not in the amount of affection, how couples fight or how much in love they are when they begin their marriage. Rather, they discovered that among the couples that stayed together, only 5 out of every 100 comments to each other were putdowns. Among couples later divorced, 10 out of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the first ten years of marriage until unhappy couples would fling five times as many hurtful comments at each other as did happy couples.
My wife feels motivated toward healthy life choices much more when I compliment her successes rather than when I point out her failures. As Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24, NLT).
Sometimes I still let dumb comments slip. But, as I ask myself these questions I act less “dumb and dumber” and become more “smart and smarter.”