Welcome to my His Needs, Her Needs series where my husband, Rob, and I share our thoughts and reviews of this great marriage resource. If you are just joining us, you can check out our opening post here.
He Needs an Attractive Spouse
I think the title of this chapter was poorly-chosen, because “He needs an attractive wife” leaves too much room for misinterpretation. Does that mean he needs other people to find his wife attractive? Does that mean he needs his wife to look good at all times? Isn’t that shallow? Upon reading, you realize that none of that is the case. Still, to avoid the confusion, I would have named it, “He needs to be physically attracted to his wife.” There’s no mistaking what this means, and I think most people would agree with it.
Of course a man needs to be attracted to his wife. Attraction, on all levels, is what brought them together in the first place. What’s most important is that he finds her attractive and she finds him attractive; nothing and no one else matters. It’s a cliché, but “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” is really true. There are people getting married where you might think, “what does she see in him?” Well, to put it bluntly, who cares what you think? She’s attracted to him, end of story.
The suggestions he offers for “prettying oneself up” should have been more two-way, in my opinion. Seems like too much emphasis was placed on the woman. Glad he mentioned the smelly farmer story, but the other areas could have had man examples too – a lot of men need to lose weight as well.
After 11 years of marriage, I’m still surprised when Bethany has doubts about her physical attractiveness to me. She might not like the way she looks, there might be other people who don’t like the way she looks, but I LIKE THE WAY SHE LOOKS. Isn’t that enough? For me it is, but not always her. I get that. She has to be happy with how she looks. I just try to reaffirm that she is attractive to me.
I would say this need is not in my top five, but maybe that’s only because I really don’t think about it: Bethany meets it for me. She looks stunning when she dresses up for a nice occasion, she looks pretty most every day in “normal clothes,” she looks adorable bundled up on a cold winter day… I could go on. To sum up, I have no complaints.
I find this chapter interesting. I agree that this is a totally legitimate need, even though my first instinct upon reading it was that it felt shallow. But I guess to some men, when they fall in love with a beautiful woman they want her to stay beautiful. I appreciate that Harley notes that aging is a natural part of life and unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean the same thing as giving up any pride in your appearance. I have seen many gorgeous older women who I think “wow, I hope I’ll look that great when I’m that age.”
Yes, I’m sure there are men out there who use their wives natural changing of appearance as a result of age and bearing children as an excuse for why they stop loving them an ultimately cheat or leave them. That being said, these are not the men this chapter is addressing. This chapter is talking about men who adore their wives and fell in love with them because they found them physically attractive. But after marriage their wives became different people. They didn’t want the work and upkeep of looking nice so they let themselves go and now their husbands feel cheated.
Like many of the previous needs we’ve discussed here I think this really comes back to the importance of open communication and honest expectations. There was a time when I thought my husband would like me to dress more stylishly and wear more makeup. (Admittedly I was never much for this even when we were dating.) But it turns out, he really doesn’t care. He likes me to relaxed and happy. His only concern is that if I stay in my pajamas all day (as I sometimes did during the postpartum days after our children were born) that it makes me feel depressed. But it didn’t make me less attractive to him. Sure he likes when I dress up, but it’s not something he expects on a daily basis. But that’s also not a standard I set early on.
I also want to highlight another important distinction. There is a difference between the need for a spouse that is attractive to you and the need for a spouse that others find attractive. To me this is the difference between wanting a beautiful wife and a trophy wife. It is absolutely natural for a man to want to be attracted to his wife. However, in my opinion, it borders on inappropriate for a man to want his wife to be the envy of others.
Bottom line ladies, if you got all dolled up every time you went out the whole time you dating your hubby, he probably fell in love with you at least partly for your looks. This isn’t a bad or shallow thing. It’s just one of his needs. (There are men who are exceptions to this, though truthfully what defines attractive varies so much from person to person that I’m not even sure if we can properly judge). So if we love our husbands we need to be willing to make some kind effort. It may be something simple like wearing makeup or even just wearing attractive pajamas (not even necessarily lingerie but I’m sure it helps). Let him know that you recognize this need and want to fulfill it. Ask him what he would like.
I think some women assume their husband’s ideas of attractive are so beyond their reach that they shouldn’t even bother. Maybe he doesn’t care if you wear makeup, but loves it when you wear your hair down. Perhaps he would like to see you in skirts or loves a particular blouse that you already have and would like to see you wear it more often. But remember, he did fall in love with YOU. So it’s YOU he wants. You have everything you need, it may just require some intentionality on your part.
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