I am so jealous of my husband’s ex-wife. When they met, she was 27, he was 46. She was sexy in every way. I, on the other hand, have endured an abusive marriage for 18 years. I do not feel attractive. My husband and I are 52 and 50. His ex-wife is now 34. How can a 50 year old woman look better than a 34 year old? I just love my sweet, wonderful, husband, but I am so intimidated by his very young ex. I have to believe in myself, and I can’t.

Dear Struggling,

The comment you made was very insightful: “but I have to believe in myself, and I can’t.” You will never feel good in this marriage or any other marriage, for that matter, until you feel good about yourself. That is the issue. The insecurity you feel about yourself will haunt you and destroy you in any relationship whether you have an ‘ex’ to worry about or an old girlfriend. Or whether you have a friend you are trying to measure your worth against. So, what can you do about this? I believe it starts with a change in your mind and heart about your value and worth as a person and your value and worth in the relationship.

What is it that you are telling yourself?

It’s obvious that you are telling yourself, “I can’t believe in myself.” Where is that coming from? Is it something your parents told you or indirectly expressed to you? Was there bullying from friends in the past? Some past failure which you can’t forget? No matter where it comes from, the fact is that you are a person of worth and have a purpose in this world.

If you met someone with low self-esteem, wouldn’t you tell them just that? How come you can’t believe the same thing about yourself? You are a unique person made in God’s image. God doesn’t make junk. Read the book, The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s sold more than 10 million copies. Why? Because people are looking for purpose and meaning in life. You are looking for purpose and meaning in life. Knowing your purpose will change you and give you a zest and a reason for living. You won’t just be living and longing for the approval of your spouse – thinking that will satisfy you completely and give you purpose. You won’t be trapped in the mire of coveting his ex’s body.

Secondly, you need to believe something different about this relationship. What is the purpose of a marriage? Is it just to have good sex and be the ultimate in the bedroom for your mate? Relationships are much more than sex. A good marriage is made of two people who are committed to one another, are good companions, friends, and lovers. A good marriage is made of a man and woman who are growing together spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

Further Reading: Remarriage: Oversized Baggage (for those struggling in a new marriage)

How are you growing together in the other ways of marriage that I mentioned? Companions and friends have fun together, take hikes, bike together, take trips and explore the world together. Companions and friends share burdens with each other, forgive and encourage each other. Friends support each other’s goals for learning and progressing in career and educational goals. Sex is only one part of the marriage. When the other aspects are growing – sexual intimacy will grow. Go to church together and grow spiritually. God can give you wisdom to make your marriage strong.

What about boundaries? You need to make boundaries with the ex. You don’t need to know what your husband says to her or she says to him unless it concerns a decision you need to make. He should have strong boundaries with her – for example never being alone in the house with her when he picks up their child for a visit. Read together the book Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It by Jerry Jenkins.

Finally, determine to grow on your own spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. God bless you as you face the future with confidence and begin to take your eyes off the ‘ex’ and onto your purpose in life and what is really important in your relationship.

This article was written by: Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC

Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle