Why it's important to take care of yourself after you're married
Robin McGraw in her book Inside My Heart says, "God means for me to be an advocate for myself, both in my marriage and every other aspect of my life."
I strongly believe this. There's an old saying, "to thine own self be true." I believe if you are not being a good friend to yourself, it will show up in your marriage, and in every other aspect of your life.
Some people believe that a good marriage is based on the principle that a woman selflessly sacrifices everything for her husband and children, to the detriment of herself. While I'm not opposed to sacrifice and have certainly done so for my family, I do believe there is a limit. We have to stay healthy - spiritually, physically and emotionally or we will not be what we need to be for ourselves or our family.
Luke 10:27 and 28 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Notice the Bible says that we are to love ourselves. Until we love ourselves we are not truly able to love others with the depth of love that God has ordained for us. Part of loving ourselves is having self respect and treating ourselves as worthy of love and care.
I love Robin McGraw's book because this is a theme woven throughout the book. She goes on to say, "I realized that loving your family and neglecting yourself are not the same thing; that, in fact, if a woman truly loves her family, she must not and will not neglect herself."
While we as women are to respect our husbands, we are also to respect ourselves. Respect is something that should go all the way around in a relationship - I need to respect my husband, he needs to respect me, and we both need to have a healthy dose of self respect.
There are times, I do not do as my husband wants me to do. (What??? Shock!!!) If it is going to be harmful to me personally, I exercise my right to say no. While my husband doesn't ask me to do unreasonable things all the time, I do reserve the right to say no if he does ask for something that would be harmful to my spiritual, emotional or physical health. God has entrusted me with myself- to be a good steward and to care about myself enough to say "no" sometimes when it's best.
I don't ask my husband if it's alright if I make a doctor or dentist appointment for me. I just do it.
It's not up to him if I'm going to have my prayer time, or take some quiet time to myself. I just do it.
Certainly I meet my husband's sexual needs (and his wants too!) however, if I'm sick I would exercise the right to say that it would be better at a later time and expect him to respect that. (Let it go on record that I do believe if either spouse is not sick they should always meet the sexual needs of their spouse. However I have known some really bad husbands --not mine thankfully! -- who don't care about the well being of their wives and have even forced them. Translation: raped them.
I don't ask my husband for "permission" to purchase basic things that are needed for my health or hygiene or spend the time that I need in order to take care of myself properly. This is part of stewardship that God expects of me.
Now please understand - I don't have a husband who is trying or has tried in some way to stop me, or harm me! Not at all. However my point is this - I would never let him if he tried. I believe many women have never made a conscious decision to respect themselves and be an advocate for themselves and therefore they get trapped in a downward spiral of self disrespect and "letting themselves go."
Some people think that being a Christian wife means you do as you are told, never question anything, put yourself last, ask permission for everything, say no to nothing, etc. That's not true. God called you to be someone's partner, not their slave or their child. You are called to walk beside your husband, not behind him.
Should we practice being selfless in our relationships, especially in our marriage? Yes. But to the point of neglecting ourselves? No. The best partner is one who respects themselves and expects their partner to do the same. One of the best things about having healthy self respect is that it makes you more attractive for your partner.
In Bible times, women prepared for months in beautification rituals for their husbands. Read the story in the Bible about Queen Esther and King Zerxes. The King asked for all of the women to be brought together to undergo beauty treatments so that he could select his queen. They were taken to the palace and prepared for 12 months -- six in frankincense, and six in myrrh. I look at it that Larry is the king of this house and I'm the queen. I want to be at my best for him, (physically, emotionally and spiritually) but also for me. It's a win-win situation.
Some women look great on the outside, but underneath their clothes (to save money or just out of laziness) they will wear underwear with holes, a bra being held up by a safety pin, or pantyhose with a runner. I don't do that. God, myself and Larry are the only ones that see what's underneath, but I happen to think God, myself and Larry are worth it. So I like to "feel pretty" right down to what's underneath. It matters and it doesn't cost that much extra to do, and it's worth it.
Ladies, just realize - you are worth it. Don't ask permission to take care of yourself...just do it.