I recently read something that talked about how men are visual creatures and can easily be distracted or lead astray by attractive women who didn't accept a sparkly ring from them. I totally understand that and I'm not planning to talk about any of those technicalities. What bothered me about this author's take on the situation was one of the things she suggested we wives do to help our husbands have eyes only for us. The first thing she suggested was to pray for our husbands, that they would honor God and honor us, their wives, in their thoughts and actions. That's a totally awesome suggestion. The next thing on her list though was "stay attractive." Wha?
Let me first say that I totally understand a husband preferring that his wife not gain 200 pounds or be a total slob. But this author suggested that a wife gaining weight is equivalent to a husband going from corporate exec breadwinner to a minimum wage earner. She explained that "guys like to be proud of their wives" and want their friends to slap them on the back and tell them they got a "nice catch." (Whose eyes are wandering in that situation, hmm?) She polled some women about what they do to be attractive for their husbands. One response was "I color my hair, exercise, control my eating, and wear clothes he likes." Another was "I know he likes my hair long. He requests certain clothes." The author stated "If he wants you to lose 30 pounds - and you agree that you need to - try your best to do it."
My first question is how are these husbands making these requests known without totally crushing their wives and making them feel inadequate, fat, not pretty and like they have no style? My second thought is, I don't know what guys these women got, but I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't really care that much what I do with my hair and I know for a fact he is clueless about women's fashion (and admits it any time he is shopping with me).
About this time last year, I was the heaviest I have ever been and was wearing totally frumpalicious clothes because of it. It wasn't anything terrible or drastic, but I had gained about 20 pounds from my "wedding day weight", which is an artificial landmark or ideal statistic for a lot of women. I didn't like it. I wanted to take control of the issue with exercise and smart eating and shed some of that frumpy weight. Once I had decided on that, Trent was on board to support me in my efforts. But not once, either prior to my decision or during my efforts, did he suggest that he thought I needed to lose weight or even agree with me when I said I felt like I did. On the contrary, he would repeatedly insist that he loves me just the way I am, would gently pull me away from the mirror on occasion when I was having a pity party, would congratulate me for a jog well done (at at least a jog well attempted) but never once did I feel like I was doing it just for him or because he wanted me to as a condition to our relationship. It was my own undertaking and he was a great motivation for me but also great accountability when I got a little cuckoo about calories on occasion, to pull me back to reality and remind me once again that he thinks I'm beautiful no matter what and that he will always love me just the way I am.
I know, I have the best husband ever. I love him and will shamelessly brag on him any time I'm given the chance. :-)
But back to my temper tantrum about this author...
She wrote "Loving unconditionally and unselfishly means doing things that aren't easy but will make your husband happy." Um, last time I checked, that was simply loving. Relationships naturally involve some give and take, doing some things to make the other happy that aren't necessarily easy or natural for you. In my opinion, husbands who request that their wives wear certain clothes or ask them to lose 30 pounds in order for them to be attracted to them are so totally not even close to loving unconditionally and unselfishly! Maybe some people out there think those are legitimate requests for a husband to make, no different from a wife asking her husband to be more intentional about participating in conversations with her or spending quality time with her. I think the difference is the personal cut down involved in the question of appearance and 'staying attractive.' We women these days are already worried about how we look; confidence and self esteem are in short supply for a lot of us. We need caring, loving husbands who married us "for better or worse", "for skinny or curvy or even a bit chunky," who build us up and think we are beautiful no matter what and TELL us that, not husbands insulting our style by requesting we wear certain clothing or making us feel fat by requesting that we lose weight. How is there any other result to those requests but to tear down instead of build up?
Ok, rant over. Ladies, if you have a husband who makes you feel like you have to look perfect for him to be attracted to you, please prayerfully consider the situation, determine if you are making efforts for yourself and your own goals or his alone, if you are ok with that, and most importantly, communicate your thoughts and feelings to him. And ladies, if you have a husband like mine who constantly, faithfully, repeatedly tells you you are beautiful, that he loves you just the way you are, that blah hair and acne and untanned skin and a few extra pounds could never make him love you less, believe him.