I am so jealous of my present husband’s ex-wife. When they met, she was 27, he was 46. She was sexy in every way. I, on the other hand, endured an abusive marriage for 18 years before meeting my present husband. 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 fundamental issue. The insecurity you feel about yourself will haunt you and harm any relationship whether you have an ‘ex’ to worry about, an old girlfriend, or 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 are you 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? Why not try believing the same thing about yourself?

You are a unique person made in God’s image. To discover more about how knowing who you are in God's eyes can change you life, you can read the book, The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s sold more than 10 million copies. Knowing your life purpose will change you and give you a zest and a reason for living. It will also help you enjoy being the unique person you are.

Secondly, you need to believe something different about your relationship with your husband.

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 that. 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)

Are you growing together in the ways mentioned above? 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. They seek to grow spiritually as well by exploring issues of faith together. Sexual attraction is only one part of the marriage. When the other aspects are growing – sexual intimacy will grow.

What about boundaries? You need to establish boundaries with the ex. You don’t need to know what your husband says to her or what she says to him unless it concerns a decision you need to make together. Ask him to establish strong boundaries with her – for example, never being alone in the house with her when he picks up their child for a visit. To discover ways of setting up healthy boundaries, you could read Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It, a book by Jerry Jenkins, together.

Finally, determine to grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically as an individual. As you do so, you will learn to face the future with confidence, begin to take your eyes off the ‘ex’, and begin to focus on your purpose in life and what is really important in your relationship with your loving husband.

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

Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle