Loving Her In The Flesh

Don’t take her breath away for all the wrong reasons

by Sheila Wray Gregoire

I’m particularly fond of breathing. I do it with great regularity.

Married couples often share a certain activity that changes one’s breathing, making it far less regular and more prone to panting.

That’s all for the good. The problem comes when that same activity makes a woman breathless because she literally can’t breathe. And that’s too often the case when her husband grows rather portly.

You tread on thin ice when you say anything like this to a woman. Women already have body image issues, so to imply that part of loving your spouse is keeping healthy sounds like a coded version of, “you need to stay hot, even if you’ve pumped out four kids and have C-section scars, or your husband will start looking at other women.” Being warned that your husband may be prone to temptation if we begin to inflate is hardly an aphrodisiac, let alone a motivator.

We Christians like to spiritualize what it means to love our spouses. Women are urged to respect and encourage our husbands, not nag them or demean them. Husbands, in turn, are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church.

It sounds very high minded, like something one is able to do after much prayer and fasting and dedication. It is our hearts that are at the centre of how we love.

Sometimes, though, loving our spouse requires more body parts. Our bodies, after all, have a lot to do with how we experience our relationship with our spouse. It’s our arms that we wrap around each other. It’s our lips that kiss. It’s our bodies that are joined.

Yet there is a difference between a wife needing to keep her body healthy for her husband and a husband needing to keep his body healthy for his wife. When a wife is overweight, sex will still work, even if he struggles to find her physically attractive. When a husband is overweight, sometimes things diminish. Or slow down. Or suffocate.

Even if extra weight isn’t an issue, your body could still betray you in the bedroom. Let’s face it: a woman can pretty much always make love. That doesn’t mean we’ll always enjoy it, but we’re physically capable of it. A man, on the other hand, can be a victim of parts deciding not to jump to attention, and no amount of willpower can change that.

Two years ago, my husband, a pediatrician, began to find it difficult to read medicine bottles. He had to start holding them away from his face, and did that “I’m playing a trombone in a band” imitation as he tried to find the right distance. He finally broke down and bought reading glasses.

The whole world opened up anew. He could play Angry Birds on his iPhone! He could read the paper! Life was stupendous. His eyes hadn’t been working, so he went and bought something to compensate. He didn’t bemoan how his youth was gone, or how this meant his best years were behind him. He bought the glasses so he could live fully now.

Sometimes stuff just stops working. We’re okay with that when it comes to our eyes, but when other body parts fail us, we take it personally. Because sex is so wrapped up in a guy’s masculinity, the humiliation is so great that many men give up.

Intimacy is something we were created to crave, and we experience it best through making love. If you give up on making love, you leave your wife without the best route to intimacy. Manliness, then, shouldn’t be defined by one’s ability in the bedroom as much as it should be by one’s dedication to maintaining fun in the bedroom. Getting help, when you need it—that’s being a man.

Besides, rest assured that if you show up in your doctor’s office and explain that your performance is becoming sub-par, this likely will not even rank as among the top 10 weirdest things the doctor has heard that day, let alone that week. And seeing the doctor shouldn’t be optional, because when those things stop working, it could be a sign of something more serious, like heart disease.

If your libido has plummeted or you can’t perform, don’t just accept it and find hobbies outside the bedroom. Get your testosterone checked. Effective treatments are numerous and common. And if you’re so heavy that sensation is diminishing, or certain activities are becoming uncomfortable for her, then make a decision to do something about it.

Sometimes the most romantic place you can take your wife isn’t a fancy restaurant, but a gym. Show her you don’t just love her now, but you want to love her for a lifetime. And not just with your heart.

Sheila is a speaker and author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. She blogs everyday at tolovehonorandvacuum.com.


THE ARTICLE ABOVE WAS FEATURED IN THE MAY 2013 ISSUE OF SEVEN MAGAZINE. GET SEVEN FREE

Image Attribute: Selected by freepik