Appearances

Recently a young man said of his wife, “I make a lot of money [meaning they can afford nice clothes and make up], but she doesn’t take care of herself anymore. She doesn’t wear makeup when she goes out, she doesn’t wear nice clothes; she doesn’t even try to look nice. She’s even gaining some weight. It’s disappointing.”

We’ve talked about this often out here. Yes, they have some young children, but they also have enough money for her to buy nice clothes and good make up and to hire a baby sitter. He feels like his wife has stopped caring about herself and her appearance, and it’s bothering him.

I found it interesting that the weight, though a point of note, was not as important as her overall lack of interest in caring for herself. It bothers him that she doesn’t dress nice for dates. I would speculate that, if she did continue to care about her appearance even though she was gaining a few pounds, he would probably not mind. She’s a career mom with a full schedule. Men are understanding.Is it okay to run to the store without make up and wearing sweats? Sure. And if your husband doesn’t care for make up, then don’t wear it (there are some men who truly prefer the natural look without make up). But if he likes it when you get dressed for him, then do it.

This isn’t rocket science, though we have a Rocket Scientist in the house who would be glad to pitch in here. It’s basic common sense. It’s even innate – we’re born knowing that girls/women like being attractive and boys/men like girls/women who look nice. I remember when my Oldest was in kindergarten that a mom of a little boy in her class noticed her pretty red sweater she wore one day … so much so that he told his mom about it. I’ve also heard mom’s of boys say that their little boy often says blonds are pretty or brunettes, etc … they know what they like.

We aren’t perfect, and most men are reasonable. Do the best you can with what you’ve got under the circumstances you’re in right now. Really, it’s that simple. If married, know your man and what he likes, and choose to show respect toward him by doing the things you know he likes. My husband likes long hair, so I keep my hair long. My husband loves it when I get all “Dolled Up” for him, so I do, especially when we go out.

If you are single, it is good to know that, in general, men like a pretty appearance – long hair, soft makeup, honest and sincere and warm eyes which reflect an honest and sincere and warm heart, and feminine dress. Style is personal, and men are attracted to different styles. Don’t try to please the masses; be yourself. Be true to your unique personality and style. These aren’t rules, and they’re not stuck in concrete. They’re general.

I have one daughter who is a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl, but she’s not sloppy, and she’s very pretty. My other daughter is all girly-girl and frills and lace and would rather wear a dress than anything else. When of dating age, my one daughter would be most comfortable in nice jeans and a nice shirt and simple hair (and decide in about ten minutes what to wear) while my other daughter will probably wear a dress and heels and fix her hair and make up a bit fancy (and spend three hours trying to figure out exactly what to wear).

Appearances are important to a man. That’s not bad at all. Appearances are also important to women – many men will report that their wife changes their wardrobe after they’re married – it’s more two-sided that we sometimes choose to believe.

We live in a fast-paced world. Take the time to be the best you that you can be. And if/when married, do the little things your spouse loves. They’re worth it.

17 thoughts on “Appearances

  1. “Eh, I got my man; I don’t have to compete with anybody now. And I’ve had my children too- which is really what I wanted out of sex. Why should I bother anymore?”

    I wish it weren’t true, but A LOT of women feel like the above. I can’t understand it on an emotional level though; why would they think like this?

    • Over at Boundless, we get a fair number of single guys who have observed that dynamic among married couples they know. It REALLY breeds cynicism.

      And while, in those discussions, weight ends up being the overriding topic, it is a lot more than that.

      Weight is understandable: that can creep up on a person. As you get older, your metabolism drops. And if you take on a sedentary job–and most jobs today are more likely to be sedentary unless you work in a factory or other manual-labor environment–it gets tougher. Unless you are intentional about fitness, excess weight can pile up and bite you in the butt. Before you know it, you’ve put on 20 or 30 pounds and are wondering WTH happened.

      (That’s the voice of experience. I’m intentional about my fitness, but not many folks–percentagewise–in my age group are.)

      But when a woman stops caring if she’s looking good–and by that I mean being unkempt, not wearing good clothes (even if they have them), and even not bathing, that’s a symptomatic of something really bad.

      If a woman takes the attitude that Russ is observing, then shame on her. (Ditto for the guy who lands a really good gal, and then lets himself go.)

      Like I said, that only stokes cynicism in the men, giving singles a marginal reason not to marry.

        • i’m sure there are some women out there who are like that, and i would guess that as a pastor, you’d hear more of the negative than the positive. and i think i explained this further in a later comment.

          i think that most women do care about their appearance. when the husband is not happy, then i think he needs to communicate that to his wife in a way she hears what he’s saying without being critical – i addressed that in another comment, too. if there’s still a gap in communication, then someone needs to get help.

          i hear the single guy angst Amir stated, and i do not doubt it’s out there … but i wonder how much it is focused on the ones they hear about and not the ones they don’t – b/c i’m guessing men who are happy are not complaining, therefore the single guys wouldn’t hear about them.

          i’ve spent a good amount of time discussing this whole thing with my husband, and i really do think that communication is important – and not just relaying information, but learning your wife/husband’s love language, learning how they process information, and speaking to their heart … rather than speaking from anger or disgust or disappointment. anger or disgust or disappointment are symptoms or responses to something that needs to be taken care of.

          i wonder, too, if there’s an unhealthy perception of marriage out there, for both men and women. marriage is not the other person satisfying me all the time. marriage is more about giving and sacrifice of who we are. will there be spouses who spit in the face of that? absolutely – i can name more than a few. but i also know more than a few marriages where they really care and do the best they can with what they’re given in the situations they’re in.

          the fear of single men and women is real … marriage is a risk, and with the legal world taking over and feeding off anything that makes it money, the business of divorce has exploded.

      • Amy- I’ve heard it put just this bluntly from the lips of women a time or two; but no, it not USUALLY put quite as clearly as I said it. Nevertheless, it seems a common attitude in action often expressed.

    • the more i think about your comment, the more it disturbs me. i’m sure there are *some* women out there like this, but to be very honest, i don’t know any … and i married the first time when i was 21 years old, was married for 20 years, and have been married again for three years. i’ve been around a LOT of married women and heard their stories. and i honestly have not heard any woman say she didn’t have to compete now that she was married. quite the opposite, i’ve known MANY women who still feel like they’re competing for their husband’s attention. also, the women are competing with other women.

      and most of the women i’ve known have loved sex … and not simply to make babies. i’m not saying there natural aren’t “low” times in a marriage where a woman’s sex drive is not as strong as others. a mom with babies/preschoolers at home, especially if she’s nursing, is simply exhausted. it’s usually NOT that she doesn’t want her husband, it’s more that she’s plain bone-dry-exhausted. it’s a level of exhaustion that is difficult to describe to a man.

      also, i don’t know any woman who dressed ‘up’ all.the.time before she was married. if that’s all her husband saw, then he didn’t see her enough.

      i think it’s natural for couples to get to a more comfortable place with each other – actually, this is good and healthy. when it starts to make their spouse feel disappointment or resentment is when it’s crossed the line. in these cases, there is also a responsibility on the disappointed spouse to share these feelings with their partner in a nice way (not judgemental or offensive or mean-spirited). it could very well be that she didn’t even notice the slow descent to that place. it could mean there are other issues in the marriage. it could mean about a billion jillion things. which is why this is SUCH a difficult subject.

      what a woman needs to know is that, in general, when she stops taking care of herself at the level that her husband likes, he sees that as not being respectful of him – or, interpreted for women – he sees that as she doesn’t love him as much as she used to. if her husband never tells her that these things bother him, then he needs to take some of the responsibility here. a wife ‘letting herself go’ can be personal and case-specific to each man. what is important to my husband may or may not be important to another husband.

      communication is critical here and is probably the root of many of these issues. if the husband does not feel he can approach his wife with these things, they he needs to get help to find out why. [read – and very important here – he does NOT need to tell his wife she has a problem and needs to get help … he simply needs to get a little wisdom, professional or from a trusted friend or pastor or mature older man, to help him out. IF it turns out it’s a bigger problem, THEN he can ask his wife to join him in getting help or to get individual help – individual help is usually much more productive than couple-help].

      the reason why i think this post is important is that women and men need to know it is okay for men to be men and to like certain things about their woman. women need to know this is not bad, and they need to understand that they, too, like certain things about their husband. i think women often miss this … they sometimes miss that they like certain things about their husbands and that it’s natural for husband’s to like certain things about their wives. it’s more of a two-way street than the general women’s world likes to admit.

      rather than women telling other women that their husband’s should love them no matter what, they should tell and teach them that they should strive to be the best they can be with what they’ve been given and under the circumstances they’re in. sometimes that’s a lot; sometimes it’s a little. women need to diffuse other women and conversations that women have with each other and not let them get to a point where they’re critical of men. i’m assuming that’s true for men, too.

      • i should also note that many women will strive to loose as much weight as possible to fit into *that* specific wedding dress and for their wedding. they’ll starve themselves and/or eat poorly. once the wedding is over, she’ll relax and eat healthy. naturally, she’ll gain some of that weight back – and she should … she should not be unhealthy.

        • I would submit that they should not have been trying to fit into their dresses via unhealthy means.

          That may be contributing, in fact, to the problem. If they are using unhealthy methods to lose their weight–starvation, over-exercise, purging, etc.–that can cause eating and/or metabolic issues that can lead to serious problems.

          • absolutely, it can. but it’s very much a ‘girl-thing’ to loose weight for a specific occasion. probably does not make much sense to men (i’m guessing here) but it does to women.

            and i can see where this would be confusing to men, though i honestly hadn’t thought of it before now.

  2. Don’t get me wrong: I understand about the weight loss angle for big occasions. Women generally are going to want to look their best, especially on an important day as their weddings.

    All I’m saying is getting there through imprudent and unwise means can create a mother lode of problems that surface after the wedding.

    As a former wrestler, I know what the dynamics of hardcore weight loss can do, and the extent that athletes can go in order to “make weight”. Occasionally, wrestlers die from the practices.

    (The same is true in other sports, such as gymnastics and figure skating, where a athletes are rewarded for being pixies. Nadia Comaneci–the Romanian gal who went perfect in the 1976 Olympics–struggled with bulimia long after her gymnastics days were over.)

    That can be a very nasty world. While everyone wants to look good on those important days, it’s important to get there the right way.

  3. absolutely. and i have intentionally kept my girls away from those sports b/c of the high numbers of eating disorders. eating disorders are a HUGE problem with women. going on a fairly healthy diet to loose weight for a specific occasion is okay … going to extremes is really bad. i work HARD to raise my girls to love and appreciate who they are and who others are, not comparing them or their bodies to anyone or anything else, teaching them to value themselves, and teaching them healthy ways to eat as a lifestyle.

    i struggled for years and years with my perception of myself. i ALWAYS thought i was fat even though i was very tiny. i had lost a ton of weight before my first wedding and didn’t know it – it wasn’t intentional – the stress from my family caused me to loose weight (some bad things happened then). i learned later that some of my friends were very concerned about me. i bought into the low fat, eat-as-little-as-possible, fad for years. i was often dizzy and weak to the point where i couldn’t stand up. i didn’t understand because i was not gaining weight and i was eating very very low fat, low sodium. only recently have i learned more about healthy fats and healthier ways of eating. most of what i’m following now comes from Nourishing Traditions – there’s a book and many websites with info. and i’m beginning to feel better than i ever have in my life. i hope to be able to teach my girls to think about their health and what they eat and how active they are – to make it a natural part of who they are and not to be extreme. i’ve experienced it and seen it in way too many women. learning to be happy with our own body is VERY VERY hard.

  4. Kelly: There are no easy answers on that. If the metabolic issue is a thyroid condition, then there are medications for that, although those have side-effects.

    For those with slower metabolism, it’s a slog, and any progress on the weight front is going to be slow-going. You have to adopt the mentality of a marathon runner and accept that you’re in for a very long haul. Keeping the weight off–once you reach your goal–will require a level of vigilance that exceeds most others.

    But there are some things you can do that improve your chances (WARNING: CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE EMBARKING ON ANY DIET OR EXERCISE REGIMEN):

    (1) On the food discipline front, Weight Watchers is good. Their points system is better than most.

    (2) For exercise, do a fair amount of strength training. This is important, especially for women because they don’t have the same muscle mass that the men have. Muscle uses up more energy than fat, so building muscle means boosting your metabolism. I recommend doing strength work at least 3 times a week.

    (3) On cardio, ditch the 30 minute rule. Instead, go for a hard hour. At least 5 times per week. Once a week, you might even extend that to 90 minutes or more, but–as you do that–cut back the intensity a bit.

  5. Kelly – something to think about: depending on your budget, there are doctors out there who think ‘outside-the-box’ when it comes to things like this, especially concerning women. our hormones and thyroid and whole make-up can get really messed up. finding a doc who doesn’t follow the status quo and go straight to traditional meds will take some research. it’s difficult to find a doc who will see you as an individual and work with you on a personal level, who will look at the big picture as well as the little things and see how they all work together. often docs will look at one specific area, and i find better results with docs who will look at the big picture and how everything works together.

    as Amir said, you want to ck with your physician first … but do some research when finding a physician. look for one who deals with women’s metabolic issues. try to find patients who have see this doc. our bodies are so interconnected, and i prefer a doc who doesn’t simply isolate one thing and only treat that. that’s not to say there isn’t a place for specialists – we have our share of those in our home and need them. sometimes, though, you need a bigger picture.

    be cautious and thoughtful when choosing a physician. do your own research. for me, Nourishing Traditions is making sense and working with my body.

    i also agree with Amir that this is not a simple thing that will be fixed quickly. the whole process of establishing good health takes time – often much more time than we care for it to. be patient with yourself and celebrate the little things – they’re important!

    pray for endurance and drive. pray for God to enable you not to want to give up. and if you have a bad day, forgive yourself, remember tomorrow is a new day, and pick yourself up by your bootstraps again and move on. pray for God to lead you to the right people, physician(s), information, that is best for you.

  6. The reason Weight Watchers is successful is that they stress a points-based approach that is based on your weight. As your weight declines, your point needs get adjusted. It also allows you to account for “activity points”.

    One can count calories–and keep tabs on fat grams, carbohydrate types, protein content, etc.–but the Weight Watcher point system accounts for all of those things. That makes things easier for folks trying to find a systematic method for food discipline. It also forces you to account for what goes into your mouth.

    What kills a lot of folks is portion size. They don’t realize how much they are actually eating until they start accounting for it and writing it down.

    As a humorous aside, during my single days I used to eat at Panera Bread about 3 times a week for lunch. I would usually have an entire panini sandwich with chips and a coffee.

    It didn’t dawn on me that I was knocking down over 1,000 calories for lunch, and that was with sandwiches that I thought were HEALTHY!!!

    Good thing I was working out like a madman…

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