I hated hearing the words come out of my mouth, but I needed an honest answer.
A few days earlier, a little girl came up to me while I was wearing the same outfit and sweetly asked if there was a baby in my tummy. Since I definitely was not pregnant, I now felt trapped in front of the mirror, hyper-analyzing my appearance and wondering if I dared to allow this shirt to see the light of day again.
It’s not a secret that I have gained a few pounds over the past couple years. When I was a teenager, I actually had to work to keep weight on. But as I’ve grown older, I’m no longer “model thin” (whatever that means). With my once flat tummy now a thing of the past, I don’t always feel super confident heading to the beach in a bikini.
My husband loves my curves, and I’m a lot healthier now then I was then. But certain outfits look much better on me than others, and the time has come to admit that I’ve outgrown a few of the old favorites in my closet. And I appreciate being able to receive loving and honest feedback from my husband when I ask him how I look.
Like most couples, my husband and I have had a few bad discussions about the touchy topics of weight and appearance over the years. There have been compliments that were misunderstood as critiques and advice that was meant to be helpful, but felt like harsh criticism.
My husband has had to learn which body issues are the most sensitive for me and why, and I’ve had to learn to be receptive to advice or criticism that isn’t always what I was hoping to hear. Our dynamic now is based on never being dishonest with each other yet always considering how the other person will react before giving advice.
So on the day that I asked him if that particular shirt made me look fat, he gave what was probably the most tactful response by a husband in the entire history of marriage.
Instead of blatantly telling me that I should never wear the shirt again or giving me a sheepish, “Yeah, um, I guess that outfit makes you look a little pregnant,” he thought it over for a minute and replied, “If I was self-conscious about my tummy, I would pick one of the better shirts from my closet.”
His response to my loaded question was so thoughtful that I felt comfortable asking him if there was anything else in my wardrobe that unnecessarily highlighted my stomach. He mentioned a couple other dresses that he also felt weren’t ideal on my new figure and assured me that I looked awesome in several outfits that I regularly wear.
I’m sure that my husband was sweating under the collar throughout the whole situation, but he totally nailed it. I subsequently passed the offending articles of clothing to other people, and now I feel more confident than ever in the outfits remaining in my closet.
I know that the situation of a wife asking her husband if she looks fat is a total cliché and usually a set up for disaster. But if two people have loving and supportive communication, it doesn’t have to be.
It can be hard to be honest with your partner about something that you know is a sensitive topic, but it is so much better than either lying or ignoring it. His gentle honesty has enhanced not only my style and comfort with my body, but more importantly the strength of the communication in my relationship.