Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thick Skin

My husband didn't marry me for my looks.

Now, that's not some saucy way of hinting that my boudoir skills are on par with Angelina Jolie. No way. Not that I know her skills either, but if she can keep Brad Pitt happy in the bedroom, I'm assuming there's some serious Kama Sutra going on in there.

So, to review: NOT Angelina Jolie. Just your averge Bonnie Hunt type of boudoir skills. I'm assuming. I don't think she's married so hopefully I am gettin' some whoopee more often than she is.

WHEW I am already WAAAYYYY off topic. Okay, regroup. Focus.

Now, I have to tell you, the reason I know my husband didn't marry me for my looks is that he told me so. Yes, exactly that. He meant it as a compliment: He married me for my inner beauty, not for outer beauty - which fades over time. The first time I heard him say this, I was all, "Aww, that is so sweet!" And now, I'm like, "What? You don't care if I'm pretty or ugly? So, in other words, I could be a total hag and you'd still be okay with that. Gee, what discriminating taste you have."

Is it so bad that I want my husband to think I'm pretty? Is it superficial? Is it vain? I guess I should be glad that he doesn't make comments about me gaining weight or getting more and more stretch marks. Please don't make me even get into the whole deal with my sagging stomach and boobs. But he still finds me desirable. I guess. I mean, I'm the one he wants to have "alone time" with (as we say to our kids). But, I could count on ONE HAND the number of times he's complimented my looks, without me having to ask first.

And trust me, I have communicated to him how I feel. I have gently told him that I need to have my ego stroked. I have explained that yes, it has something to do with a fragile self-image, but please just indulge me from time to time. And, yes he is the person who I try to look good for so it would be nice for him to acknowledge the effort once in a while. But, can a leopard change his spots? Can an old dog be taught new tricks? Would I even want him to change? Didn't I know all this going into our marriage?

D'ya know what I want from him, more than anything in the world? For him to say JUST ONCE "Wow, you take my breath away." or "You look absolutely stunning." or "You're the most beautiful woman in the whole room." But I want him to mean it. I want it to be HIS idea. I don't want to plant the idea in his head, only for him to follow through later. That would be fake. So, I guess the problem is, does he really think that of me? Or not?

Which leads me to... why is this so important to me? I know he loves me. He respects me. He is an honorable man. He is incredibly loyal. I have complete certainty that he would never, EVER cheat on me. He has a good, dependable job. He's an amazing father.

But what I really really want is for him to desire me. I want him to be passionate for me. Not necessarily romantic, but I simply want to know that he thinks I'm sexier than his fishing tackle. Right now, I'd say it's a pretty close race.

It's hard, because this "lackluster" (no pun intended) attitude of his contributes to the whole line of thinking that goes... "Why should I lose those last 10 pounds? He doesn't care anyway." and "I don't really need to shave my legs. The honeymoon is over, baby!" I am definitley not going to place blame on him for my own esteeem issues. But, seriously, I'm not in the market for a new mate. So, if present company doesn't give a shit about whether I have cellulite or a grown-out haircut or dry scratchy skin on my elbows, what motivates me to give a shit either?

IN A PERFECT WORLD, I would care about all these things to make myself feel better! To be proud of my looks! To be healthy! To project a positive self-image! Well, ever heard of the expression, "All dressed up and no place to go"? That is how I feel if I do even the bare minimum. If I get all ready to go, with makeup and hair done and even pantyhose, my husband acts bothered that I'm taking too much time to get ready.

So now, after nearly a dozen years of marriage, I am wondering what's happening. I know that I am just in the beginning of my marriage and I have many many years worth of learning to do. But, I'm constantly torn between how to think about my husband:
  • He needs to change. He needs to tell me I'm gorgeous even if it's not true. He must get in touch with his lusty XY-chromosomed self. He needs to man up and act like a typical hot-blooded American male. Testosterone and all.
  • I need to change. I need to just get over the fact that he doesn't do compliments. I need to love myself for who I am and not rely on him to pump up my ego, even if it means that I could choose a flannel housecoat over Victoria's Secret without him batting an eye.
  • I need to work harder at burying my feelings of neediness. Give me a cork for this bottle. Speaking of bottles, does anyone have any wine? I could use some to drown my sorrows right about now.
What do you think?


Kat @ www.TodaysCliche.com said...

Just loved this post... coming from SITS. Random, but are you going to Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore?

Gigi said...

Must be a guy thing. I think they figure since they are still here, doing all the right things, helping with the kids, the house, working, etc. that is all they need to do. What they don't realize is a compliment can go a long way.

Here's a thought - why not start complimenting him? Let him see how good it feels - maybe then he'll reciprocate? Hmmm, I think I may try this on mine.

Mama B said...

It's cliche but its' true you have to love yourself and you have to do things for you. I know, I have struggled so much with body and self image. I have a husband who tells me I am beautiful when I am un showered and wearing old spit on clothes and no make-up....it doesn't help if you don't feel it on the inside. If you are comfortable in your flannel then embrace it and be comfortable but if you are striving for Victoria's Secret than by all means you should pull out the secret but if you are happy and radiate it from the inside he will notice (and on a completely different note so will your daughters and that's probably even more important!)

Big hugs, and if I could I would share a bottle of wine with you becuase I could use some now too!

Anna See said...

Hmmmm... I can relate. I've had guys who gushed all over me, telling me how good I looked.But I didn't marry them. My husband NEVER does that. I have asked and begged. Now, if he ekes out a compliment like that, I know it is just forced. So thenI get mad again for him not coming up with it on his own. UGh.

Bear and Bones Mama said...

Yeah, I dunno. My husband is pretty good at complimenting me, especially now that I'm working out with a trainer. Which makes me feel good. I wish I could share a bottle of wine with you over this one.

Sturgmom said...

I agree with Mama B that you have to strike a balance. My husband thinks I look great just the way I am, which gives me very little motivation to improve (and trust me- lots of improvements needed!). But if he was constantly criticizing, I would get defensive and probably still not do anything about it.

I think there's a point where you do things for yourself because it's for you.

There are several areas that I wish my husband was better at, but you hit the nail on the head- he is who I married. No surprises. I think we all change over time, but there are some things men just don't "see" and therefore I'm not sure they can ever change. Does that make sense?

Meagan@Megs7827 said...

Have you read the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman? Sounds like you are needing some words of affirmation which is completely ok!

Sugar said...

First, CHEERS to you for the post. Good one and clearly this probably hits home for a lot of us. I have to say the obvious...the fact that you have 5 kids says y'all have got some passion for certain! BUT...I tend to agree with Sturgmom. You definitely have to do things such as shaving the legs, etc for YOU. He doesn't care what you're legs look like....he's not aiming for the legs. BUT, when you feel pretty it will radiate. There's nothing wrong with asking him how you look when you get dressed up. If he says you look great, tell him how much that means to you. It's okay to let him know what you need. He's your soulmate..he just may need a few more directions.

Jennifer said...

Maybe you it is both, you need to change a little and so does he. Maybe (and that is a big maybe) you shouldn't care quite as much or maybe (and this is more likely the truth) he should care. If it is important to you then it should be important to him. Period.

Luckily this is one area we don't have a problem (unless it goes the other way with me not offering enough compliments), but I get told that I'm beautiful/hot/sexy at least once a day. I know David thought that when I was 18 and tight in all the right places and fresh faced and I know that he thinks it now that I'm fat and loose and getting saggy in all the wrong places. Every woman deserves to feel valued.

Something else, we also tell our kids every day how beautiful we think they are. BOTH of us tell them. Sometimes just a simple, "you look really awesome today" is all a person needs. And with a girl Lord knows she will have enough hits to her self esteem that she needs all the building up now that she can get (but we do it for the boy too).

Wendy said...

The other side of this coin is a husband who is horrified by the changes wreaked on your body by age & motherhood & chocolate, who doesn't desire you any more because of it. Who doesn't want you to have any more kids so it won't get any worse.

I'm running, playing tennis, lifting weights, and have turned into the Squats & Lunges Queen because I wasn't meant to live like a nun.

Count yer blessings, girl.

Kacie said...

Your honesty is poignant and refreshing.

I wonder if you asked your husband if there's anything he'd LIKE if you did it. I mean, sounds like he's a mans man in most ways, so he probably doesn't think about it, but does a certain kind of outfit, or a haircut, or makeup, or perfume, or shaved legs, or anything in particular draw his eye?

He'll probably never communicate the way you dream of because... well.. he's a man, and they think differently than we do.

But maybe instead of "woah you take my breath away", he might pull you close at night - and that's his man way of expressing the same feelings of appreciation.