Sniffling and wiping at her eyes, Marie stared at her reflection in the bedroom mirror. “Ben thinks I’m overweight and unattractive,” she moaned.
Ben was right – she had gained extra pounds during their ten year marriage. “He’s probably fallen out of love with me. It’s not fair that men get better looking with age, and their bodies don’t sag, bag, and drag from having babies.” Marie stomped her foot like a petulant child.
Ben never actually said those things to her, but then he wouldn’t. He was a pastor and a man of God. “Humph,” she mumbled. She did some jumping-jacks, but groaned when everything wiggled and jiggled, mocking her.
Sighing, she mentally prepared for the women’s Bible meeting at her house later. She glared at the cake sitting on the kitchen counter, resisting the urge to devour some. Since Ben’s remarks last week, she’d only been eating salads and fruit.
It had been a typical morning last week, getting three kids out the door to school, and fixing Ben breakfast, so she was only half listening to him. She caught the words extra weight, and excess baggage, though. Then Ben said,” It happens so gradually, most people don’t realize they’re carrying extra weight. Don’t you agree, honey?”
He couldn’t even look her in the eye, just stared out the window with that detached look he’d get sometimes. When he left, she’d cried, staring in the mirror at the extra pounds she’d gained.
That night confirmed her fears. She’d taken a perfumed bath, and donned that negligee from their honeymoon – the one she hadn’t worn in years. She’d sashayed into the bedroom, using her best seductive smile, and pirouetted at the foot of the bed. Somehow her feet got entangled in that too-long gown – which is why she quit wearing it years ago. She went sprawling on the floor, black silk floating around her like a cloud.
Ben had laughed. Laughed! “Honey, are you okay?” he asked, helping her up. “You looked so funny. What were you trying to do?” He yawned then, mumbling, “Gotta be at the hospital at six AM for Aunt Jenny’s surgery,” and fell asleep.
Marie determined to shed the extra weight and wow her husband. After a week of exercising and dieting, she’d only dropped three pounds. Ben didn’t even notice. He only noticed she quit eating desserts at night, even had the nerve to ask why.
“Because I need to lose weight, Ben.”
He’d smiled absent-mindedly, saying, “That’s nice, honey.”
It only added to her insecurities that he had been distracted and preoccupied lately. That started after he announced he’d been asked to speak at Sexual Counsel. “What in the world is that?” she’d asked.
“You know, the annual statewide meeting for ministers and church leaders,” he replied.
“You? Why would they ask a young man to talk to pastors and leaders about such a thing? Wouldn’t an older pastor be more appropriate?”
“Now, Marie, don’t you have confidence in me? I think it’s an honor.”
Perhaps because Ben got so focused about speaking on sex, he noticed she’d gained weight, and obviously thought intimacy in their marriage was lacking. Why else would he ignore her attempt at seduction that night?
“How can he talk to ministers about sex when he won’t even talk to me about what’s wrong with us?” she said aloud. Squaring her shoulders, she decided to have a piece of that cake with the other ladies, and hash this out with Ben when the kids were in bed that night.
That’s just what she did. She started with, “So, is it my extra weight that makes you not find me attractive anymore, Ben?”
Ben looked puzzled. “You’ve gained weight? Really? Well, you’re beautiful. I always thought you were too thin before.”
Flustered, she could tell he was being truthful. “Uh, well, why have you been so aloof since you announced you’re talking to pastors about sex?”
“Sex? Where did you get that idea?” His puzzlement turned into laughter.
“Don’t laugh, Ben. What else would you talk about at Sexual Counsel?”
“Is this a joke?” He couldn’t stop laughing. “It’s Sectional Council, the new name for leadership meetings where we divide into different sections of the state. I’ve been really nervous about preaching to my peers. I’m using Hebrews 12:1 where it talks of laying aside every weight and sin that besets us. Not sex, Marie. Is that what’s been bothering you?”
Marie felt her face flush, before collapsing with laughter.
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