Ack! I can’t believe I’m still beating this dead horse. At least, I was hoping it was dead. But according to popular opinion in my circle of friends, it’s still kicking. Maybe it’s a mule, not a horse. Regardless, here comes one more beating.
Women need to feel pretty. We hate this need (especially those of us who are Christ-followers – we desperately wish we could rise above this temporal, self-esteem nonsense, and keep our hearts solely fixed on our worth in Jesus). But it’s still there. It’s not going away. We need to know that our husbands think we’re attractive.
Allow me to share M and R’s story. (M has given me permission to use this example. R is, sadly, unable to comment. But as long as there’s one woman on the jury, M will be just fine.)
M recently tried to point out to her husband that something he’d said earlier was a bit hurtful to her. She didn’t come right out and say that she was insulted, which she now realizes was her mistake in the whole scenario, but she tried to bare her soul in a private and gentle conversation. R didn’t pick up on the message behind M’s subtle words, and instead of apologizing and immediately rectifying the situation, he teased her about it.
R is generally a great guy. I know him, and I like him a lot. I know that he loves his wife and didn’t intend to hurt her. In fact, he probably doesn’t even remember this conversation (subsequent head trauma notwithstanding). The lesson to be learned is this: subtlety just ain’t gonna cut it. So I’m going to be blunt.
Men: tell your wife she’s pretty.
Flowery speeches are not necessary. Don’t feel like you’re at gunpoint to go on and on about all kinds of intricate details. You can keep it simple. You can keep it casual. “You look pretty” says a lot. A LOT.
Back-handed compliments are never okay. Here’s an exaggerated example: “Those bags under your eyes really highlight your cheekbones.” Don’t do that sort of thing. Ever.
You don’t need to lie. We know when we look like crap and we don’t need empty and insincere flattery. But you can always find something. Again – keep it simple. “That colour looks great on you.” Or “I like when you wear your hair down like that.” Or “Looks like you got some sun today. You look very nice!”
You don’t have to say it constantly. If it doesn’t happen naturally every day, that is really okay. But once or twice a decade isn’t convincing.
You may think you compliment her all the time. Take a moment and consider the words that you use. Now imagine overhearing a young man use those same words on your adolescent daughter. Do you suddenly have the urge to hurl that hormonal, lecherous scum-wad into the middle of 2014? That may be because those words have a sexual connotation. For some reason, men find it easier (safer to their masculinity?) to use those kinds of compliments.
I am not suggesting that you need to completely eliminate those from your vocabulary. Please do keep telling your wife she’s hot or sexy or smokin’ or whatever. But those are sexual compliments and should be limited to sexual context. (And just so ya know: for women, not everything is a sexual context.) If these are the only compliments you pay her, she is going to think her hoohah is the only thing you are attracted to. That does not bode well for your marriage.
Other types of compliments are welcome, too. If you appreciate the clean house or the happy kids or the yummy meal or the folded laundry or the extra income…say it out loud. If you already say those things, great! Sincere compliments about other things will lend credibility to your compliments on how we look.
This is important stuff, guys. This is a part of your wife’s inner being that wants to blossom and flourish under your attention. And if that attention doesn’t come from you, there is always a lurking temptation to catch an appreciative glance from someone else. I don’t mean that to come across as blackmail or a threat to your marriage. It’s just reality. And I’m begging you to take personal responsibility for nurturing that hidden part of your wife’s psyche.
Please, just tell her she’s pretty.
Women: I realize I’m painting us all with the same brush here. I’m basing this on my own feelings and conversations I’ve had with my own friends. If you think I’m way off, I would love to hear about it. Is there another common point of view on this that I’m completely ignorant of? Or if you’re totally with me on this, chime in.