SO's Self Esteem

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by Meshuga, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    Hi.

    I've worked up a pretty decent streak but I have a problem. My porn use predates my relationship with my wife. It has nothing to do with her, but it's easy for her to blame herself because she always does with everything.
    Likewise, her body image issues predate our relationship, but her learning I abused porn didn't help. She regularly indicates other women saying, "if I looked like that you would love me more." How the hell does a person respond to that? Of course I deny it, but my credibility is in the sewer for obvious reasons, not that it matters because she said the same things before she knew I was addicted anyway. She didn't believe me then, either.

    She has her own problems and I know I can't fix them, any more than she could have fixed mine, but I want to help. Should I encourage and support her when she talks about diets and exercise programs, or should I slap that quinoa out of her hand and give her a quart of Ben & Jerry's because dammit, she's beautiful the way she is?
    How do I regain her trust?
    What do I do?
     
  2. Rav70

    Rav70 Fapstronaut

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    Tough call. As a woman when my bf was pmoing and our sex life took a major nose dive he would say how sexy I was and how he loved my body, how much he loved me but it was really hard to believe.
    His actions spoke louder than his words. If he loved my body how come he was watching porn?
    You know why and I know why... Just like you love your wife, but your addiction came first.
    When he quit pmoing and his ED was cured it made me very relieved and I gained a lot of my old self confidence back.
    I never had issues with my appearence before all this.
    I guess show her and tell her how sexy and beautiful she is. When she beats herself up tell her to stop it. If she wants to exercise let her... Ben and Jerry's... Go for it.
    Does she believe the porn had nothing to do with her? That is came way before she did? Has she checked out the forums? Talking to others might help her.
     
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  3. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    She thinks everything is her responsibility, whether she was around for it or not. Part of this is just her personality. She's a perfectionist, a chronic overachiever, and a people pleaser. The other part is from her involvement in a misogynistic cult while in her preteens until about 18, and the Church's persistence in treating the single section in the Bible that says "this is not divinely inspired" as the most hallowed passage of the book. So no, I think she still thinks my addiction is her fault.

    I think she follows my journal, but I don't think she looks at anything else.

    Her body does not conform to modern, popular standards of beauty. I have been trying to tell her that beauty is subjective, but given that she's been told since 8 years old by her father that she's ugly, my words are like a puff of cotton on a nicked femoral artery. She's already bled out, I'm here about 23 years too late. She also has congenital injuries in her feet/ankles, with multiple surgeries on both so she can't do any high impact exercise on them. One flared up due to a sprain, so she's been feeling broke and substandard from that. She's also currently in the "fun" part of her cycle, which I understand makes you feel pretty much as sexy as a slug.

    I just don't know what to say or do when she doesn't believe me anyway. I'm not giving up. If I was giving up I wouldn't be asking here. I just don't know what to do.
     
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  4. TheDeceived

    TheDeceived Fapstronaut

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    Don't be condescending...just support her in we diet/exercise choices she makes...just try to be mindful of her sensitivity & keep it neutral cuz u really don't care either way right...I mean ur a guy...it don't matter if she's skinny, athletic, built, thin, curvy, big boobs, big butt, thick legs, chubby rolls floppin all over the place, long hair whipping around, short hair all messed up, dark skin, light skin, native, foreign, young, old, cute, ugly...physically u want it all, all at the same time...maybe not to that extreme but I swear men are incapable of being sexually satisfied...its more believable wen ur specific...take time to think about things that make her unique...maybe things she prides herself in like her hair, teeth/smile, voice/singing, eyes, lips, her laugh/sense of humor, hospitality, intelligence &try to be even more specific like how perfectly curly her hair is or straight or wild or we, how infectious her laugh is, how passionately knowledgeable she is about parenting or traditional values or we shes interested in...and don't forget about the way she moves, the way she looks at you, the way she knows you like no one else does...that comfort only she gives you...how at home ur with her...just get real man...don't be afraid to get all emo with her & open up...wen ur vulnerable it makes it easier for us to trust u all ya kno...wen ur vulnerable, ur nonthreatening & it paves the way to build a new relationahip, but first u gota break down...at least that's wut I wud like from my man...he's still in denial...won't even admit he's got probs...but best of luck to u...hope that helps.
     
  5. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    This is a great suggestion and I think it would work for most. I certainly would be willing to do it, but we run into another physical problem. I am on the other end of extremes. I'm 6'1'' and 160 lbs. I eat any and everything I can get my paws on, but the only way I gain weight is if I'm actively working out. Then I put on five to eight pounds of muscle that clearly shows because I have no fat. Making my body conform to societal standards is unjustly easy, so when we work out together, which we have done in the past, it makes her frustrated.

    I am the stay at home parent, though, which makes me arbiter of mealtimes. I do low carb when she requests it, and eat everything she does. For this reason, I have a huge problem with the way our culture values bodies. We reward a very narrow range of body types, and largely write off fat people as unhealthy, having low self esteem, and poor impulse control. The prevailing attitude is, "You are fat because you don't care about yourself," and since large people have a tendency toward low self esteem, it appears to be true. But I think it's the other way around. If two people can eat the same things and one works out more than the other, but the one who works out less is leaner, there are clearly more factors at play than diet and exercise.

    When I was enlisted, I knew a guy who smoked, lived on a diet of snacks and Dr. Pepper, and never worked out more than he absolutely had to. On fitness test day, he consistently ran the two mile in 12:20. For those who do not run, that is an absurdly quick time. I knew another guy who struggled to qualify on his run, but he could sling around full cast iron bottles of argon like they were jerry cans. It's all anecdotal, but I think these show how our perceptions of fit and healthy are off. You can't tell by looking at a person. It's unfair to arbitrarily call one attractive and the other disgusting.

    So many people are beating that drum, I think I'll have no other choice :)

    I'll talk to her about this as well. She's super busy, though, so I don't know if she'll be up for it right away.

    Thanks for the input!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
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  6. BlueDevil

    BlueDevil Fapstronaut

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    Man, "It's all anecdotal, but I think these show how our perceptions of fit and healthy are off. You can't tell by looking at a person. It's unfair to arbitrarily call one attractive and the other disgusting," that's so true.

    If it's any consolation, that whole subconscious process of "that person is thin or fit looking, so I assume they are healthy, and thus it makes them a more appealing mating candidate for better offspring" is a waaayyy deeply ingrained evolutionary process instinct, which pretty much everyone has, and most people never think about consciously at all. My points being,
    1) Yes, I think it's fair to say that it's not entirely accurate
    2) Yes, that makes it unfair to be a thing
    3) No, it'll probably never change
    4) On the bright side, you can throw her a bone and say it's not really her fault or some weakness on her part to fall for that fallacy. She couldn't help having that feeling, and while it's not accurate and definitely undermining, it's normal to feel. It makes it understandable on your part, and gives you a foundation to not let "it bothering her" bother you. Maybe that can be parlayed into empathy and understanding?

    I feel like it's funny for me of all people to be telling you this, I deal with this in spades from my wife, ha. Hang in there buddy, you're not alone.

    Personally what helps me is thinking more about how I should look at things and what I should do, rather than what she could do or what I should tell her. It's a little narcissistic to say "it's up to me to pull her through", but by the same token, I think women appreciate being lead, to some degree? Of course, trust has to be in there, and that's the whole issue... But more importantly, I have a little more control over what I think, than what she does.

    By leading in the sense of not allowing myself to get too frustrated about it, knowing it's all in her head, part of a subconscious process, and trying not to think of it as a self-defeating attitude on her part, I can let her know I don't think she's dumb, it's okay to feel how she feels, reassure her that I chose her among others deliberately and still think I made the right choice, I can plow through and drag her into stability again, based on doubling my strength rather than trying to brace up her weakening strength. When I have the presence of mind to do that, it works for us anyway.
     
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  7. Bartimaeus

    Bartimaeus Fapstronaut

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    If she's doing the right exercises at the right pace, she should feel so damn good that she doesn't care how you look or are doing in comparison.

    Whatever the answer is, it cannot be one that justifies not exercising. The benefits of exercise are just too important.

    Consider doing Strong Lifts or Startibg Strength with her. There are women-tailored versions. Those are simple, but extremely effective real-deal lifting programs. You can't help but be confident when you know the first thing you did this morning was bench press 150% your body weight 25 times, while the rest of the world slept. You feel like superman, regardless of how you look.

    Another thing to remember is that your disparity of body types maybe driving a lot of this. If you're naturally fit, she can have an unconscious resentment to you and maybe is even discouraged about trying to "keep up" with you.

    I have a similar situation that is reversed. My wife is naturally fit and gorgeous without any effort at all. I've bounced from being very muscular to flabby our entire relationship. I used to kill myself trying to get my body on par with hers. But it just can't keep up.

    Finally, I just said "fuck it." And I decided that I'm going to listen to my body and do what it needs. In that process, I learned my body just isn't made for and doesn't really respond to cardio. I learned it responds very well to weight training. I learned that I can do all I need to do in 45 min. 3x a week. That's it. Before, I used to have 2 hour gym trips.

    Help her find what her body responds to and then help her schedule around that. Try heavy lifting. Most women avoid it for fear of bulking up, but that is not going to happen unless hormone supplements are being taken. Heavy lifting is the most time-efficient way to burn fat, and it's extremely good for your brain.

    All that said, no clue on how you broach this.
     
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  8. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    @BlueDevil
    I think the best thing you said was about reminding her that I picked her, and stand by my choice.

    We do want attractive mates, but "attractive" is a fluid concept. Tell a woman her "belly is like a mound of wheat, encircled by lilies" and you'll probably be slapped, but it seemed to work for Solomon.

    @TheShortOne
    You are clever. It was a safe assumption and a great suggestion, I just didn't provide those details. She's also temporarily going nuts on a work thing, once that settles down she may have more time.

    @Bartimaeus
    I'll see about lifting. She doesn't want to be strong, she wants to be thin, but I have heard before that lifting can help with that. She hasn't tried that yet.

    She's not lazy, either. She's very active at her job, often works out (not currently, temporary hiatus due to milk supply and an ankle re injury), and she's good with diet. It just doesn't seem to make a significant difference. The returns on positive stuff she does seems to be half of what other people get, while the negatives she gets back double. As an example, after we got married she was doing P90X on schedule and still gained 80 lbs in 2 months. It was the birth control pill. For a tiny percentage of women who start on it in their 20s instead of early teens, it plays havoc on their metabolism. Just one of the many things that the body can do in rare circumstances, but hers has done. It's like she's cursed.
     
  9. Bartimaeus

    Bartimaeus Fapstronaut

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    Definitely try lifting. Stronglifts or Starting Strength in particular. My bet is it's the one thing she hasn't tried. If her body wants to get muscular, it will. If not, it'll just tighten like most women's bodies. Either way, she'll feel damn good and confident, and it won't leave her overworked like 90 mins. of cardio does. At some point, she just has to take what her body gives her. I can't be lean, but I can be solid.
     
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  10. MsPants

    MsPants Guest

    I gained 30 pounds quickly because my thyroid went out of whack, also I find that I have food sensitivities that make me bloat and gain 4-5 ponds in a day or two. That combination makes it extremely difficult to lose weight. It is a horrible feeling when you try everything you can to lose and nothing happens or weight keeps increasing. If she is really worried about her weight, when she vocalizes it to you, suggest she try an allergist, as well as a full physical/blood work up at with her dr. She may find she is carefully watching what she eats but the healthy foods are actually working against her. Please make sure you only bring it up when she is verbalizing her frustration about it. And there may be other birth control options to try instead of the ones that cause her weight gain symptoms.

    Her body may also only really respond to certain activities. The best weight reduction really is brisk walking, especially with incline. It helps with water retention and works well on stiff joints (I experience joint problems myself), also swimming is extremely easy on the joints and works the entire body. Extreme exercise can actually work against the body for some. She needs to find what actually works for her, and sometimes that also means not working out as much, since her body may need a longer resting period to gain the benefits that some experience with daily exercise. Experiment with routines to find what works for her. It is so difficult to work out when we have physical issues (I have fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism which both cause major joint and muscle pain, weight gain and other crazy symptoms).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2016
  11. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    Thanks for everyone's support here. After a conversation or two, I've concluded that the problem isn't with the type of exercise or her body at all. It's her self perception. I don't think she could ever be thin enough, so any suggestions toward that direction just exacerbate the problem.
     
  12. MsPants

    MsPants Guest

    Not sure if she is already doing this but she should consider looking for a counsellor to help her deal with her body image (and this addiction). It is a horrible feeling to deal with. And obviously you just want her to be happy. I hope she can find a way to feel happy about herself!
     
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  13. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    She's on schedule to see someone, but that someone's schedule is super full. She understands. Her specialty is in demand disproportionate to the providers, so her schedule is also packed for months. I know this will all get worked out eventually.
     
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  14. September

    September Fapstronaut

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    Oh, I know what she feels...My heart goes out to her. It's a disaster especially when there is a P addiction on your site- that's dangearous.
    Actually what could help, but not 100% sure- tell her you have same insecurities. Tell her you are so afraid she may notice somebody more handsome,smarter,sexier than you. That she means a word to you and you desperately don't ant to lose her. Than she may realise that she her fears are not true, because she will see them on a flip side.
     
  15. September

    September Fapstronaut

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    Actually workout may help in terms of dealing with pain and depression. It helped me to turn soul pain to phisical one and to feel better.
     
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  16. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    She's done the workouts and the diets. She has seen professional weight loss experts. She's had an eating disorder, and doesn't practice any more but still has the mentality. Basically, she has believed since she was 8 years old that she has an ugly body and no one could possibly enjoy looking at it, and has done everything she can to change it. She has been able to demolish every other challenge in her life, so I don't think it's a discipline problem. It's just the way she is shaped.

    She has never had another boyfriend, another date, anything. She says she's never even been catcalled on the street. She says she has felt beautiful exactly one time in her life: on her wedding day. But she was half convinced that, on our wedding night, after seeing her without clothes I would pack her back in the car and get our marriage annulled. If I told her I was worried about her finding another man, she'd think it was a joke. This isn't because she's unattractive. She really is gorgeous, but she believes she is unattractive, and I am pretty sure this belief is so ingrained, no physical change could alter it. Not even if she weighed 120 lbs; her frame is too wide. Not even plastic surgery, which I have had to talk her out of more than once.

    I blame her dad, mostly, for fostering this belief from that young age. It's a self fulfilling thing; if you believe you are ugly, you hide yourself and don't bring out your best attributes. And now that she's had three kids and counting, and has breastfed them all, she'll probably never believe she is beautiful. I might be able to convince her that I think she is, maybe. She says I say it because I'm stuck with her, that I don't have a choice, so I am making the best of a bad situation. She says she doesn't blame me for turning to P.

    I seriously don't think this is a problem that can be solved from the outside in. It's got to be in the mind.
     
  17. September

    September Fapstronaut

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    I would add that it's also really important how you are looking at her. To me it's non verbal communication that matters more. When I see that adoration in the eyes that's great!
    And I really respect your approach, your willing to help your wife! Sure that's smth to be changed from inside but your concern shows you are a good husband!
     
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  18. Hotshot

    Hotshot Fapstronaut

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    To be clear, unless you're tracking your caloric intake and weighing your food you aren't eating "everything" and gaining weight... 6'1' and 160 lbs is a beanpole. You can gain weight at 3,000 calories. It WILL happen.

    So just like she'll track food to lose weight, you can track it to gain it.

    I always let my wife do whatever she wants and I help her in any way I can. If she tries to lose weight I do it with her. If she wants pizza every Friday night, I get some stuffed crust pizza and kill it with her.

    I'm just saying don't make excuses if you really want to get on different trains with her to help her feel better about herself since THAT is your goal.
     
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  19. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    What I meant by "I eat everything" is that I permit myself to eat anything I want, as much as I want, when I want. If gaining weight was my goal, I am sure I could make that happen. However, I don't really have a problem with my weight or the way I look.

    This isn't about me, though. It's about my wife. In her family, everyone was trying to either lose or gain, depending on gender. Her brothers played football, and she and her mom were pressured to look "good," which there meant "petite". Only my wife inherited a Nordic frame from her dad, so petite was never in the cards for her. If she saw me wolfing down dairy and loading my plate higher, it would cause a regression in all of the worst ways.
    But here's the part that shows me you didn't pay attention:
    She had an EATING DISORDER. She's tracked food. She doesn't lose. She's starved herself for weeks. She doesn't lose. She's purged her meals. She doesn't lose. She's seen and followed experts. She doesn't lose.

    It's not about how she looks, though. I like the way she looks. It's about the way she thinks about herself. I already said, I'm pretty sure she would never be happy because her actual skeleton is not in the dimensions she wants. It's going to have to be a brain thing, not a body thing.
     
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  20. Hotshot

    Hotshot Fapstronaut

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    Sorry let me share a post that might be more relevant to self esteem that I just shared in another thread.

     
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