My husband relished the fun of reminding me that right after our wedding he was going to “let himself go.” He would jokingly say that once he “had me” he didn’t need to try any longer. Of course, I threatened to do the same if he ever made good on his promise but without the slightest intention of loosening up on my personal grooming, fitness level, and standards of dress.
But quite recently, I’ve noticed that the sweatpants and baggy T-shirts have started creeping into my daily routine a bit too often. A serious trip to the mirror left me shocked to realize that nearly a year had gone by without a single visit to the hair salon! My roots had grown in and the split ends were everywhere. How could I have let this happen? On top of all that, I had added a few extra pounds–It was only five–but I know how it works, five pounds today is fifty pounds tomorrow!
In fairness to myself, I have a demanding work schedule to partially blame for my lapse in appearance, but still, my neighbor with two small children manages to keep herself together. She puts me to shame as I see her during her morning jog.
On the other hand, everyone knows that girl–no sooner is the ring on her finger when she goes from fascinating to frumpy seemingly overnight!
Men are no less guilty. How about all those high school and college guys who traded in their six-packs for beach balls after saying, “I do”? Sometimes, both husband and wife get on the frumpy train together and the only response is, “Oh dear, what happened to them?” Of course, there are those individuals or couples who were already on the frumpy train long before the wedding and don’t seem to care. (You know who you are!)
So just how important to marital bliss is this topic anyway? Does it really matter if our standards of health, fitness, and appearance are not quite what they used to be? First of all, I know how a busy life and a packed schedule can reorganize priorities and make it very difficult to keep ourselves looking our best. But as I began to examine my own situation, I was reminded that a relationship is multifaceted. Each part of what makes us who we (intellect, personality, appearance, etc.) deserves some portion of our attention and shouldn’t be tossed by the wayside because life gets crazy.
We know that inner beauty is more important than outward, but let’s not let ourselves off the hook too quickly. Our outward appearance can send a strong message to our spouse and those around us. It says, “I respect myself.” If a healthy, clean, up-to-date appearance is important to your husband or wife, a little effort on your part says, “I care about you!” A spouse may very well take it personally when we start to let ourselves go. They may see it as a kind of disrespect or they may feel taken for granted.
Most of us probably went to great lengths to look our best in those early weeks, months, or years of our relationship. Why? We cared what the other person thought about us. We wanted to do justice to the admiration being bestowed on us.
If you are like me, and you’ve been neglecting yourself just a bit, there are some steps you can take. Start gradually. Don’t try to fix everything at once or you just might get overwhelmed. Start small with basic gestures that used to come naturally back when wooing your man or woman was a high priority. Little changes will go a long way with your spouse and you’ll begin to realize the rewards. Gentlemen, pick up that cologne bottle, the one sitting on the counter collecting dust for the last five years (it’s still there!), and spray yourself before sitting down to dinner. Ladies, toss out the “painting” shirt you’re so fond of sleeping in and replace it with that cute set of matching lingerie you bought three anniversaries ago. Spend a few extra minutes on your makeup and hair in preparation for a quiet evening alone together, even if it is just a Netflix night.
Starting with small steps will add a little freshness and sparkle to those ordinary days of married life in order to revive a bit of romance.