Enjoy a Plus-Size Sex Life, Part 1


It is possible to enjoy a thriving marriage bed, even as a plus-size woman?

Being a plus-size woman brings challenges in many areas of life—including the area of sexual intimacy.

I know first-hand how painful this subject can be.  I was a thin and active child, but when I was a young adult I began to put on weight. I am now quite overweight. Fortunately, Big Guy adores my curves and always has.  Yes, I want to be healthier. I would like to be thinner. For the most part, though, I’ve come to terms with my weight. This is who I am and how I look. This is the body I have right now, and it’s the one with which I live my life.

Still, writing this post is a struggle.  I’ve never had any problem sharing about the sexual intimacy in my marriage here. This feels different. Harder. More vulnerable. Nakeder. (I totally made that word up. It works.) I was not prepared how difficult this post would be to write.

I’m not going to lecture anyone about health here. We all know we need to be healthier.

I’d like to be honest about the unique sexual challenges we plus-size women face. In this post I’m going to talk specifically about body image and our feelings about our weight. I have a follow-up post that will address some physical realities of plus-size intimacy.

Some overweight women are married to men who are critical of the weight. If your husband’s attitude has added more weight to your burden, I’d like to encourage you to do what you can to make sexual intimacy easier and more enjoyable for your own sake—but not to carry the burden of your husband’s attitude. Your husband’s attitude may have far more to do with him than with you.

As much as we may struggle with our weight and getting healthier, sometimes the bigger struggle is how to live our lives to the fullest in the bodies we have right this moment.

I’ve seen lots of advice for my “extra-beautiful” sisters and me about what we should do. Some advice focuses on getting healthier and learning about all the horrible things that will happen if we don’t lose this weight. Other advice is all about embracing—and even flaunting—the glories of a large size, accompanied by a dismissal of any challenges we face. Christian writers often remind me that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that in being heavy, I’m dishonoring God.

Should I make changes so I have a healthier body? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean that I put my life on hold until that happens. My marriage needs tending even when I’m in the middle of trying to make those changes. I like the idea of embracing who and what I am, but that seems partly inauthentic. I don’t think I should pretend that being overweight has no effect on my sex life. Advice that tells me I’m dishonoring God by being heavy is just a guilt trip with no grace.

The fact is that even while we are working to make changes, we need help in dealing with the realities of the life we have today.

My Body, My Self? (Sigh)

The most significant way that being overweight can affect sexual intimacy is in how it makes us feel about ourselves. Many women struggle to feel beautiful or sexy even when they aren’t overweight. With extra weight, it is an even heavier burden.

We hear so much about men being visual. It’s hard to understand that our husbands enjoy the way we look—even when they tell us so.

Sometimes, we may feel sexy and believe our husbands, only to be distracted by our own jiggling and drooping parts while we’re in the middle of sex. It is easy to lose confidence when we’re confronted with the evidence of our inadequacy when we’re at our most vulnerable.

Overweight women may find it particularly difficult to be naked in front of their husbands. Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy to find sexy or pretty lingerie or underthings to help us feel attractive or cover up our problem spots. As the clothing sizes increase, the options for us decrease. Larger women have more difficulty finding things in their own sizes, with fewer styles and colors from which to choose. Plus, these items cost more in large sizes than in smaller ones, which can be difficult in a tight budget. Something that could be fun—shopping for sexy stuff—becomes yet another painful experience.

Many overweight women feel embarrassment or shame about their weight. We may struggle with this out in our daily lives. Hearing smaller women complain about being bloated or getting fat is difficult and embarrassing. Then we walk into the bedroom, which should be a sanctuary away from the difficulties of the world—only sometimes it’s hard to leave the embarrassment behind. We then bring feelings of shame into the marriage bed—where we should be naked and unashamed.

Dealing with Body Image Issues

It is possible to enjoy a thriving marriage bed, even as a plus-size woman.

Remember that the goal is intimacy. Being sexual with your husband can strengthen the connection and oneness in your marriage.

The best way to tackle body image issues is to work on your own feelings about your body. Although it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about the things that don’t work so well, it’s much better to think about the joy of being able to be sexually intimate with your husband.

One of the women who responded to my survey said something I love:

“My husband and I still have great sex, actually better now than the first time 16 years ago. Weight is just weight. It doesn’t change how we feel for each other or our desire for one another. He still chases me and I still let him catch me.”

If you are being sexual with your husband, you are pursuing sexual intimacy—and that is a good thing!

Wear things that help you feel pretty and sexy.

  • Wear a nightgown that has a sensual feel to it. Something that slides across your skin taps into your sense of touch in some sexy-feeling ways.
  • Decorate your body with temporary tattoos or body paint.
  • Wear veils and scarves and feather boas.
  • Wear the sexiest, most dangly earrings you can find.
  • Invest in at least one nice piece of lingerie that allows some skin to show through. Lace can provide a sense of coverage while showing some skin.

Focus on what your body can do and feel.

When we’re overweight, our sexual confidence is easily punctured—but when we reclaim that confidence, we can feel powerful and erotic.

Imagine how you would act if you were a sexier woman—and then do that. Enjoy the fact that your heart, body, and words can inflame your husband’s passion. Savor the ways you affect him sexually.

When your husband is touching you, focus on the physical sensations. Allow yourself to think about the ways he shows you he loves you. Fill your mind with the physical and emotional expressions of love to help push away thoughts about being unattractive.

Let your husband see you.

I know how very hard this can be. I spent years insisting on sex in the dark or with minimal lighting. My husband told me he loved my body, but I didn’t believe it could possibly be true.

Seeing each other sexually contributes to intimacy and feelings of closeness. It is good for your husband to see your sexual enjoyment, and it is good for you to see his.

So be brave, and take some baby steps if you need to—but work toward letting your husband visually enjoy the bounty that you have for him. (This post gives suggestions for baby steps you can take.)

This was a difficult thing for me—but I paid attention to my husband’s eyes. When he would see any part of me naked, his eyes would light up. I hadn’t believed his words that he found me physically appealing, but his eyes did not lie.

You Deserve Sexual Intimacy

Our size shapes how we see ourselves as women. We often equate too much girth with too little worth. We may find it hard to feel sexy.

Whether we’ve always been extra-beautiful or it is something that has happened only after a particular season in life, being heavy can put us in conflict with our bodies. The thought of sharing those bodies with our husbands can be intimidating and overwhelming.

It is tempting to absorb the world’s messages about our size. We’re told that we’re unlovable, unattractive, and unworthy of a man’s interest.

Dear sweet ones, I know how powerful these messages can be. I know what it is to have those messages wash through me during private moments: unexpectedly catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror, trying to brave a full-frontal look in the mirror, or having to change how I do something I did for years because my size makes it difficult.

I know—but I also know that as powerful as the world’s messages are, God’s truth is even more powerful:

God loves you, no matter your size and shape. He knew you when He knit you in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

All of God’s gifts are for you, no less than for any other woman—from His Son’s sacrifice on the cross to the beautiful gift of sexual intimacy and oneness with your husband.

An abundance of body does not disqualify you from an abundance of God’s blessings—and that includes sexual intimacy.

It is possible to enjoy a thriving marriage bed, even as a plus-size woman?

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Comments on “Enjoy a Plus-Size Sex Life, Part 1”

  1. You did a beautiful job even in the midst of feeling exposed!

    There’s a problem in the American church culture (maybe beyond)… they are teaching a “false gospel” as talked about in Galatians. When I have done my own study and have read “our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” in context, so, so many have used it out of context, usually to promote a “diet” or “healthy living”. In context, it has nothing to do with food or exercise. They are adding to the gospel, and that shouldn’t be. It makes me angry! This message adds a shame that shouldn’t be there, and you are correct, it’s missing grace. The message received is “any extra weight equals sin”…wrong!

    We can find healing and have transformed thinking in Christ. Only our Creator, whom created us in His image, gets to say what our worth is. Christ took our shame upon Himself on the cross, paying a price, with His blood, and that shows us our worth and the love He has for us. When we are baptized into Chriist, we are clothed with Christ. His glory covers us!

    I am praying for each woman who reads this post, to find freedom. May any bondage to shame and feelings of worthlessness be broken. May the Lord’s favor and glory be poured on her, in her and through her. May there be a radiance and a glow shining forth, where ALL will see the beauty of a transformed woman! May she walk in the grace, that has been freely and abundantly been given to her. We are going from “glory to glory” and we can do that “in all our glory”! 😉

    1. What a lovely prayer!

      Many husbands have said that they don’t understand why their wives don’t want to be seen naked: “I like what I see, so why does it bother her?” But here is why: Being truly and fully naked in front of our husbands can require such vulnerability. Not only are we exposing our private parts, we are also exposing what we see as the source of so much shame. Finding release from that shame is an important step in being comfortable sexually.

  2. Excellent post, Chris. “Not only are we exposing our private parts, we are also exposing what we see as the source of so much shame.” I felt I was exposing my failure. My husband is naturally lean, constantly ogled women and commented on their beauty and sexuality, and articulated his disgust at the sight of overweight people. Looking back, I realize this was a form of verbal/emotional abuse.

    I remember struggling with the Rolodex of other women my husband kept in his mind, according to “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn. I finally concluded the game was rigged. Regardless of my attempts to look appealing, he would still look at other women. And even if there was a perfect face and body and I had them, he would still look at other women. The return on investment for all my efforts was unimpressive.

    Eventually, I realized all this focus on physical appearance had become an idol for me. I began to invest my energy in other areas: passionate ministry, meaningful work, trusted friends. Sexual intimacy grew because it was no longer such a big deal for me. I do not have the body the world says I should have and I may not have the body my husband desires. I have something much better. I have the life I created.

    1. Your husband’s comments and behavior say so much more about him than about anyone else–including you. You seem to have figured out how to deal with his issues in a healthy manner.

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