Low Self-Esteem in Marriage and Why It Needs to Be Addressed
Do you ever roll your eyes when your spouse says you look nice?
Do you find yourself watching your spouse in public places – wondering if they think someone else is more attractive than you?
Are you constantly looking down at your spouse’s phone when they receive a text message because you are fearful that they are texting someone of the opposite sex?
Do you find yourself disgusted or saddened when you look in the mirror?
Are you too timid to engage in physical intimacy with your spouse because of the way you feel about your body?
Do you find yourself afraid to build relationships or attend social events because you feel embarrassed or afraid to be yourself?
Do you find yourself afraid to remove the emotional mask and let your spouse see who you really are?
These are signs that you may be struggling with low self-esteem that can significantly impact your marriage and relationships. Low self-esteem can lead to a number of marriage problems and can leave a metaphorical wall between you and your spouse, preventing you from giving all of yourself to one another.
Effects of Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem can impact your personality and marriage in a variety of ways:
InsecurityInsecurity is the constant voice in your head that is fearful of failure, needs constant affirmation, and becomes jealous if you hear someone else being praised. Insecurity makes it nearly impossible to find peace because you are always looking over your shoulder, comparing yourself to everyone around you, and being frightened to be vulnerable and show the real you.
Low self-esteem can lead to social, emotional, spiritual, and physical withdrawal. It is the desire to belong but instead, it pulls away. Withdrawal can mean scheduling social outings, but always coming up with an excuse of why you cannot attend. Withdrawal, in and of itself, can lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
Low self-esteem can lead to becoming overly sensitive in all areas of your life. The voice of being overly sensitive is thinking someone is mad at you because they do not say hello first. Being overly sensitive is becoming angry when someone else is acknowledged or is praised and instantly assuming you are not good enough.
The personal impacts of low self-esteem are vast because of the emotional walls that continue to layer when you feel insecure, withdrawn, and become overly sensitive. Low self-esteem causes you to put yourself in a box, making it nearly impossible to know who you really are, what you love, and where you are headed.
The marital impacts of low self-esteem are many, including fear or lack of physical intimacy, not living up to your marriage potential, and not allowing someone to love and accept both positive and negative parts of you. Sex is important to the overall health of a marriage; however, a lack of emotional intimacy is also detrimental to the marriage relationship.God designed marriage to be threefold, with God as the center of the relationship and with the husband and wife there to pick one another up. For a marriage to function, it is essential to learn all components of your significant other. This allows you to see the world through a different lens – one of acceptance, compassion, grace, mercy, trust, patience, and peace.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
For the threefold cord to function properly, you must be willing to admit weakness, ask for help, and allow your weaknesses and shortcomings to draw you closer to God and your partner. To do that, you first need to know your worth, as an individual and in your marriage.
Steps to Emotional Health and Self-love
1. Know your worth.
Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God designed you and created you for a great purpose. He sees beauty when He looks at you and intricately fashioned you to walk with confidence. He created you to love wholeheartedly in your marriage, which means offering a hand when your spouse falls. Marriage is allowing someone else into the dark parts of your heart so the light can seep in and you can begin to see things through a different lens.
2. Be who you are.
A crucial part of mental, spiritual, and relational health is to be who you are. Instead of trying to be like your co-worker who was just praised in front of the office, you need to be confident in your talents and abilities. Continue working hard, offer help to others, find activities that you enjoy, and take time to soak in God’s creation and appreciate the world around you.
Take time to cultivate authentic relationships and find other couples that you and your spouse can get to know together. Attend a Bible study where you can challenge one another on a deeper level and find a support system for you and your spouse.
3. Don’t compare yourself or your marriage.
Social media can be a powerful and helpful tool, however; those struggling with low self-esteem need to be aware of the impact it can take on your overwhelmed or insecure soul. Know that just because someone is always doting on their spouse does not mean they have a perfect marriage. Everyone has different areas of their lives that need work.Just because someone has 8,000 more followers than you does not mean they are more valuable or more important. If you find yourself sad, anxious, or feeling unloved because your following is not increasing, your pictures have not received more likes, or someone else appears to have the perfect life; it may be time to re-evaluate your usage of social media for a season.
4. Dig deep – get to the root of the issue.
There may be lingering trauma from your past that is contributing to low self-esteem. Adults who experienced childhood trauma or dealt with physical or emotional abuse of any kind may not notice the effects until much later.
It is important to work through any lingering heartache to wholeheartedly offer yourself to your significant other. Trying to compartmentalize past trauma or hide the past from your spouse may lead to additional withdrawal and feelings of hopelessness.
Marriage is a beautiful gift that allows you to get to know someone more and more each day, making it a relationship that can completely change and transform your world.
Marriage offers you a best friend who will be there when you finally receive that overdue work promotion, when you decide to enroll in the dance class you have always dreamed of doing (but felt you were too musically challenged to do), and when you finally have the confidence to admit your love of to-do lists and freshly vacuumed carpets.
5. Remove the metaphorical mask.
To experience the fullness and beauty of marriage the way God intended it, you must first remove the metaphorical mask. You do not have to always be right, do not always have to wear makeup, and you do not have to hide any past abuse that erased your ability to dream big.
Allow your spouse into all parts of your heart. Allow them to whisper how beautiful or handsome you look without rolling your eyes. Allow them to hold your hand as you work through the pain from your past.
Signs of Bigger Issues
If you have trust issues because of your past or your spouse’s past, then marriage counseling would be beneficial to help your marriage thrive. Regardless of what journey you have walked, it is imperative to realize that your past does not define your future.
Low self-esteem needs to be addressed to help you thrive personally and in your marriage. Low self-esteem may be holding you back from reaching your potential, personally, and in your marriage.