How Much Should Your Spouse’s Opinion of Your Appearance Matter?

 

When you marry you inherit a second set of opinions into your life, into your decisions. You’re no longer free to make decisions without input – even decisions about yourself.

 

My question is, how much of this is healthy? Where is the line between molding yourself to fit the other person and not giving a flip what they think? I don’t think either extreme equals a happy or healthy partnership. How much do you tailor your appearance for your spouse’s preferences?

 

Several months back I quit wearing makeup. I did this of my own accord, without a real soapbox or principle. My husband has always sworn that he thinks women are prettier without makeup and I’m sure that factored into my decision somewhere though it wasn’t the catalyst.

 

Well, recently I decided the no makeup phase was over and lobbed on a bit of mascara. It made me feel pretty and so I told the husband that I was going to start wearing it again. He wasn’t happy about it, insisting that he doesn’t think it’s pretty. I was disappointed. After all, I barely wear any (just mascara) and it had been making me feel a tiny bit better about myself all day.

 

This isn’t the first time we’ve had different opinions about appearance. I’ve held off on getting my nose pierced for years because he doesn’t like the idea. I’ve also refrained from more visible tattoos and never braved the heavy bangs I have a secret crush on – all because I know he strongly dislikes those things.

 

At the end of the day, I just don’t want to change my appearance in a way that makes me less attractive to my husband. And I always reverse the scenario in my head. What if he wanted to grow a mullet or something (a hairstyle I think is hideous). I would beg him not to. Beg. And insist. And in his reality he truly thinks that, oh say, heavy bangs are basically a girl  mullet.

 

So, what do you think? Where’s the healthy line? Should I run out and pierce my nose, tattoo my wrist, and get a bangin’ new hairstyle? Or should I respect my husband’s wishes and opinions.

 

How has this played out in your relationship?

 

-Jessica

Comments

  1. That’s a tough one, but I agree with you that it’s a balancing act between the two. Sometimes we’ll ask each other “On a scale of 1-10, how much would you hate it?” There are things David wasn’t excited about initially that I did anyway because I really liked it and eventually he got used to it and is now a fan of (the ring in my nose instead of a stud), then there are other things he never ended up liking so I quit because I didn’t care as much (having really short hair) and I want him to think I’m a sexy beast. :) He’s made similar decisions for me (which is why there is no septum piercing in his near future).
    Jenna recently posted..Sex After ChildrenMy Profile

    • That 10 point scale is a good idea. Sometimes my husband will say he hates something off the cuff, but once I wear it 2-3 times he doesn’t mind. One sunday I wore something and he complimented me that I looked cute. I was like “waaaa? I though you hated this outfit?” His response: “what? when did I say that? It’s cute!” And of course I could name the date and time lol. He told me, “Wear what you want…don’t get rid of something until I tell you 2 or 3 times that I hate it…I might just be in a bad mood the first time.” lol

      Also recently I bought a dress. When I showed it to him he made the puke face… But then I wore it and he told me that I looked so cute and made me pose for a picture. So, sometimes once it’s on with you in it, it makes a difference. Men are a little fickle like that.
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  2. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve never had a strong opinion on anything related to my husband’s appearance. He grows out a Grizzly Adams beard at periodic intervals that drive my mother-in-law and sister-in-law nuts but it doesn’t bother me a bit. If he’s happy with eight pounds of hair on his face he’s welcome to it. By the same token, when he gets tired of the beard and shaves it all back off again that’s fine by me. It’s his face. Same for his haircuts, his clothes, and the general shape of his body (I’m not talking health factors here – that’s different because I want that man to live to be a hundred with me – I’m just talking natural shape vs. resculpturing via working out etc.).

    The hubs, however, has fairly strong opinions about my appearance. Everything from the length, style, and colors of hair he thinks suit me most to my makeup, clothes, and jewelry. On one hand, I want very much to be attractive to my husband. But on the other hand sometimes I feel oppressed by the sheer number and vehemence of his opinions. And beyond that, on the rare occasions that I do ignore his opinions I tend to get a lot of spontaneous compliments from others which makes me feel even more torn. I love the way I look and feel when I’m wearing a pretty scarf on my head but the hubs insists that it makes me look like a pirate or a gypsy. But last Sunday when I wore one anyway, three different ladies at church complimented me on how nice my scarf looked and how they wished they could get away with such accessories. Meanwhile I will NOT wear hats ever again (something I used to greatly enjoy) because the hubs constantly carped on how awful I look in hats. I disagreed with him for a long time but at this point I’ve so internalized his criticism that I can’t bring myself to even try on hats anymore.

    Where’s the line between honoring your spouses opinions and pleasing yourself? I wish I knew. If you ever figure it out, let me know.

  3. Sally Roach says:

    My husband only notices drastic changes to my hair. He says he likes me just fine without makeup, but I wear it on occasion because it makes me feel pretty. He thinks my graying hair looks great, but I dye it so I don’t feel frumpy. His opinion is important to me and I want him to be happy with how I look, fortunately, he is easy to please.

  4. My husband isn’t picky, which is great. He likes dreads and has had them several times over the years, so when I made the decision to dread my hair he was totally on board. We’re both not very appearance focused, but more interested in staying healthy. I don’t think I would have been attracted to him in the first place if he’d been the kind of guy who wanted to change how I looked to suit him, and vice versa!
    Erin recently posted..Literary ConstipationMy Profile

  5. Ok, wait a minute. I’ve re-read your post and noticed your very defined question –it was written in bold; how did I miss it the first time?! :) Personally, I think the line is flexible. We respect and value each other’s opinions, and in spite of both of us being very strong-willed firstborns, we rarely have stand-offs about anything. If my husband preferred for me not to wear make-up, I’d want to know exactly why. If his reason didn’t seem great, we would debate about it until he either produced a better reason, or came round to my way of thinking. But I’d be prepared to support my argument, too. I think it also depends on the type of couple you are. We’re very opinionated but always present evidence to support our opinions. No, we’re not lawyers! ;)
    Erin recently posted..Literary ConstipationMy Profile

  6. I must have the best husband because he complains about NOTHING. Literally. For 19 years now. He prefers my hair long, but says it is my hair and he loves me no matter how it looks. He prefers me with less weight on my body, but loves me and still finds me sexy in all my chunkiness.

    When I ask him for an opinion, he tells me I’m beautiful. Daily. Even when I barely showered and didn’t wear makeup. He LOVES me with makeup, btw.

    I’ve been feeling VERY convicted of this stuff lately. I want him to be happy. He’s SO good to me and never asks me to change. I think he’s learned how to love me unconditionally. Growing my hair long for him isn’t going to kill me.

  7. i’ve been asking myself this question so much lately. Growing up I had an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with my mom so my style and hers were pretty much infused (picture a teenage girl wearing matching plaid jumpers with her mom…yeah…me…) Now since I’ve been married I realized that my style is much more mine but still SO influenced by my husband. He has very adamant ideas about certain patterns and colors and a lot of stuff makes him “want to puke.” Hence, I wear a lot of solids. Which I actually don’t mind so much. And then he likes my hair straightened…which my mom HATED and always told me I looked pale and sick with straight hair. The other day, I straightened my hair, and looked in the mirror…and I couldn’t decide what *I* thought about it!! It’s kinda frustrating and scary not knowing where your own opinions even are! With hair, my husband likes it LONG. I’ve been growing it out…but it’s getting kind of annoying. It’s on my bucket list to get to my waist. But I told him once it gets that long, I’m going to donate it. (another thing on my bucket list.) I told him it would take another year or two to get to that point, and I won’t go shorter than my shoulders. He didn’t seem thrilled but at least I gave him advance warning!
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  8. I think one factor to consider is whether you trust and respect your spouse’s opinion. My husband really doesn’t care about my hair, he has a preference but knows that it is my hair and has told me I will look great any way I choose to wear it. On clothes, he has told me that he downright does not like some items that I have bought. My mom was shocked that I took his advice and returned them to the store. The reason was because I trust his opinion. If he says a skirt is not flattering to my figure I take that as helpful advice, not a diss. Our relationship is great because we have never really placed a lot of emphasis on how “good” our partner looks. We are both content with each other and so I think we trust each other’s opinions about appearance even more – because there is not some ulterior motive wrapped up in our advice.
    Aadel recently posted..Strew A Little Here And There {Places To Strew}My Profile

  9. I’m a husband on the opposite side of this equation. I would like to sport a buzzed head and a few tattoos, but my wife likes my hair longer than a Marine’s and thinks tattoos are ugly.

    Marriage is 2 people becoming 1. That doesn’t mean you lose your identity as an individual, but everything you do has a magnified impact on the person you’re bonded to.

    That being said I think there is a lot of room for compromise in marriage. Sometimes I think people get a little too opinionated about stuff. As a guy I don’t always “get” why my wife likes certain fashions or hairstyles. However, I do understand that when she feels pretty it’s in my best interest not to get in the way (to a point). I remind my wife that I’m her mirror and think she is beautiful regardless of style or makeup. But if a little touch up makes her feel sexy as she’s walking out the door, that’s fine by me.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..1 Reason I Will Never Be Steve JobsMy Profile

    • Awesome response, KC! :) As a woman, I certainly feel that my husband’s apperance has an effect on not just me, but also on my children. Since I have 3 boys, how their dad dresses/grooms himself and carries himself models to them a way of presenting yourself to the world. There have certainly been times where we’ ve had discussions about this and I have had pretty strong opinions about his appearance-especially as it relates to facial hair and visible tattoos. We make decisions together about the big stuff. There are def times when he gets dressed and I’m not a fan, but I also don’t really care enough to make a big stink about it. Unless, ya know, it’s for family pictures or something. :)

      He doesn’t seem to care much about what I wear, but I certainly strive for cute and modest and generally well kempt. I am hopeful that the image I portray to my boys helps them to develop a healthy image of women in general.
      Keri recently posted..Frugal & Trendy Fall Decor at Fred MeyerMy Profile

  10. I think our husbands should like the way we look, yet I believe they need to be “with the program” when it comes to what is in style and what isn’t. What is age appropriate and what isn’t. What is modest and what isn’t. I believe men who hold too strong of an opinion and won’t allow their wife to experiment with different things may be too controlling in my opinion. Yes, if I’m going to do something too extreme like change my hair color from dark brown to Marilyn Monroe bombshell blond..I’d want his opinion. But if I’m wanting a few highlights around my face to brighten up my dull looking over 40 face, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Of course I respect his opinion when he says he prefers that my hair be longer then short. But I also explain that age 48, that my hair won’t look good too long because it has thin due to pre-menopause and the fact that I have hypothyroidism. That I need to keep my hair length at least at the shoulders to prevent my hair from looking stringy and unkept. He of course understands this and doesn’t demand that I let it grow anyway. I would hope the husband would want his wife to look good, not frumpy and would want her to be comfortable in her own skin.

  11. Hey there, I thought I’d chip in too, since I’m part of the equation for this one :)
    I like to think of it sort of like a flow-chart or something (because I’m a dork):
    Step 1: is it highly permanent and highly visible–like a forearm tattoo? That’s a big deal. Your spouse should be 110% on-board with it. I’m not. Mostly because we would love more than anything to move to Asia one day and those things are really taboo in some cultures (Islam…) especially on women. We would be hurting our ability to relate to people and losing chances to show God’s love, just because we wanted to look cool once in our 20′s. Also, because she is a very elbow-y person–lots of leverage happening, and I’m afraid that she’d just look like Pop-eye :) and that’s not sexy.
    Step 2: is it not permanent, but still really visible–like dreads? If it is, and the spouse doesn’t think that’s sexy, then don’t get upset when you get them and the spouse doesn’t think that you’re sexy. The end.
    Step 3: if you’ve recently posted about your libido, throw the guy a bone, and do what he thinks is sexy, since he’s the only one (hopefully) you want to look sexy for anyways. Because guys are really visual, and the pressure is on for them to perform anyways :)
    Jeremy recently posted..How Much Should Your Spouse’s Opinion of Your Appearance Matter?My Profile

  12. Julie Williams says:

    Oh Jess.. what a can of worms you have opened my dear! I have struggled with this nearly my entire marriage in one way or another. We want to think their opinion doesnt matter..but in the long run it does. I have done the no make up time too in my marriage. He prefers me with it, and i dont take offense. My skin isnt what it used to be when we got married 29 years ago…then again neither is my body..or my hair.
    He prefers my hair long, i like it short and pixie. I have worn it both ways in 29 years. Right now i am growing it out. BUT for the first time in my marriage i am growing it out for him, and its not that hard this time, as i have found it, it is the attitude of my heart that makes things hard for me. I really do care what he thinks, and i want to be attractive to him still…:)

  13. Jeremy’s Step 3 made me giggle.

    I think that with hair, it shouldn’t matter as much if you try something new. I dye my hair a lot, and some colors my husband has loved, some he has hated. But that’s easy to change. And bangs will grow out, ya know? But I do agree with Jeremy’s take on the tattoo. I think you/I should have agreement from the spouse before getting things inked or even pierced.

    It’s not that hard for me to find the balance between losing myself and not caring at all what my husband things about my appearance. I am married to a very kind man who is still smitten with me after 15 years of togetherness, so I can get away with a lot in the hair & makeup department. But I do try and take into consideration his opinions when he gives them.
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  14. This is a great post. My husband and I have been married for 15 years. I love that he gives me the freedom to be who I am. That is a great gift.

    And who I am changes over the years, necessarily. I am not the same person I was when we married in our early 20s. (Thank God.) I’ve gotten more into the natural thing in a lot of ways, and as long as I don’t grow out my body hair or get dreads, my man’s fine with the physical changes. (He has his limits.) :)

    Mascara is a tiny thing. It’s temporary and I’d venture to say that most men don’t even notice it. I don’t think I’d budge on something so small and that gives you such a boost. It’s one of those little womanly things that give us joy. Men don’t have to understand it.

    I read a quote in a simplicity book that said, “Know thyself, and adorn thyself accordingly.” So the question is, who are you? Does your outer self reflect your inner self? If it doesn’t, what needs to change?

    It’s not about radicalness or rebellion. It’s about authenticity.
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    • My husband is so easy going about what I do.
      He knew when we met that I liked changing things up…I have a nose hoop, a tattoo, piercings in my ears, and have dyed my hair many different ways (all prior to getting married).
      When I wear make-up, it’s only mascara and a bit of soft eyeshadow, and while my husband doesn’t care whether I wear it or not, he likes that I don’t wear heavy makeup.
      I want to get more tattoos, which he is cool with.
      I’m growing my hair out from a pixie, and he’s really liking it long (he’s only seen it short), but wouldn’t care if I chopped it all again.
      He teases me about all the metal in my ears, and prefers that I not get any more piercings…which I wasn’t planning on anyway :-)
      The only thing he’s asked me NOT to do is dreadlocks, which I think can be beautiful, but aren’t for me.

      I like what Danielle said…”“Know thyself, and adorn thyself accordingly.” So the question is, who are you? Does your outer self reflect your inner self? If it doesn’t, what needs to change?
      It’s not about radicalness or rebellion. It’s about authenticity.”

      My husband knows I’m an artsy person, and that right now, the nose hoop, ear piercings, tattoo…those are things that I like to have as an expression of a bit of me :-)

      • Thanks, Shi!

        Your comment reminded me that I asked my husband last week if he thought my 6 tattoos were manly. I plan to get one more, and I am conscious of crossing the line from artsy/creative to looking like a dude. He said he’s fine with them. I would still get the 7th one if he said he thinks I have enough (because it will be a hummingbird in memory of my grandma, and she was very special to me), but maybe I would have made sure it was smaller or more girly in style if he’d expressed a concern. I think that because he “allows” me (offers me) so much freedom in so many things, I respect and honor his opinion more than I would if he were the Adornment Nazi.

        Every marriage is different. Some are more traditional. And that’s healthy and perfectly OK when both partners are on board.

        As for me, I think God loves a benevolent leader. ;P
        Danielle at Yeah I Said It Blog recently posted..Audition VlogMy Profile

  15. Brigett C. says:

    I say if a girl puts a little mascara on to make her feel better, then husbands shouldn’t be snarky about it. I will say that I have found that I haven’t worn alot of makeup in months and I feel clean and comfortable without it. Also I’m 42 and I have also found that less is best. Makeup actually makes all the lines and wrinkles stand out and thats the last thing we want to do. I think you are beautiful!

  16. I think it’s kind of a heart issue. My husband is very easy-going, not demanding or pushy in general. I trust that when he says he thinks something looks bad or inappropriate for a situation, that he’s saying it because he’s got my back. He would never “put his foot down” over what I’m wearing or other temporary things. He has said he doesn’t like certain looks (like dreads) but like Jeremy said, he told me flat out he’s not going into them so I can’t complain if he doesn’t like them if I were to get them, so while I’ve considered getting them, I ultimately haven’t yet, though I did cut my hair super-short even though he likes it long, and it was no big deal to him. Oh and my husband had a mullett the day I met him, and I complained how weird he looked, and he cut it off that night and he swears to this day that it was a co-incidence and was getting it cut anyway. (I’m such a meanie!) He is so much more gracious than me about appearance and about life in general.

  17. *he told me flat out he’s not into them* not “going into them”

  18. When I’m happy, that’s when my husband thinks that I’m the prettiest.

  19. It’s kind of like free speech. You can say whatever you want to say, but it’s not always the best choice to do so. You can wear or tattoo or pierce or whatever you want to do to your own body, but it might not always be the best choice. But maybe it is. That’s what’s so awesome about freedom, you get to have a choice.
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  20. I lost our daughter during my 2nd trimester, I really want to get a tattoo on the inside of my wrist. Nothing crazy – a purple gerber daisy. But hubs does not want me to get another tattoo so visible.

    I don’t think hair style changes one’s personality – as your heart shines. God is clear about how we “judge” outward appearance. Now if it was unhealthy love handles / overweight problem I could see concern. But – bangs? Not so much.

  21. Okay, I completely wouldn’t want to appear ugly or unattractive to my husband. I wouldn’t do anything he really hated. (For the reason Jeremy said: my husband is the target of my attraction in the first place.) Mine hates my hair short. I’ve made the mistake of trying that one and found out I probably should have taken his opinions on short hair to heart before I did it, lol!!!

    That said. Husbands: If your wife feels a little bit more attractive by wearing something different than her usual style.. or if she is a little more confident because she’s thinking a little lip gloss takes the focus away from the fifteen extra pounds she has after carrying your children… it just might be worth it to try to bless your wife by going with it. Because a wife who feels fresh or new by doing something just a little different will probably be a little more pleasant to be around than the one who gets shot down for doing so.

    (Ahem. And let’s face it for tiny little changes like a different dress or a touch of make up chances are it will only take a day before my husband doesn’t even notice it anyway.)
    Traci recently posted..Friendships in the Storms and SunshineMy Profile

  22. So here’s a flip side – I have a hubby like yours that likes less make-up, no tattoos (shame, that, since I have 3) and the like. But where I have always been pleased with my naturally straight hair, hubby loves curls. So the thought that goes through my mind is when (and I do have intentions this way) do I pay overmuch to chemically damage my hair to please him. He would LOVE it.
    When you flipped the question to say . . “what if hubby wants a mullet” .. . hehe . . .genius!
    To look pretty for him. Because I am wooing him, too, in this commitment.

  23. It is a fine line, especially for a woman like me who likes to spontaneously change things up. The most drastic change I made was getting a super short pixie cut. I was worried my husband would not find it feminine or appealing. On the contrary, he found it the sexiest hairdo he’d seen in our 9 year marriage!

  24. I’m late to this party, but I saw you post it on Pinterest, and it piqued my interest. My husband loves my long hair, which I enjoy too. But I also enjoy growing it out and chopping it off to donate to Locks of Love. I like the cute new cut, and that I’m able to help someone else. Although my husband loves that I want to help others, he is not so fond of the short cut. I chopped it off shortly after we got married, without really thinking to ask him. When he expressed his opinion, I had the gut instinct to respond, “It’s MY hair, I can do what I want with it.” But I realized he had a really good point. I should consider his opinion.

    So, for the most part, I leave my hair long. I have donated it one more time during our marriage, but it was in honor of a friend that was fighting breast cancer and losing her hair. Even though he preferred the long hair, he supported my decision to cut it. And now, a year and a half later, it’s long again.

    It’s all about give and take.
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  25. I don’t know. I struggle with this myself. I have thin stringy easily tangled hair that I have long because my husband really wanted me too grow it out again. I feel much better about myself when I have a cute above the shoulder haircut. He is against tattoos and I have always wanted a pretty little one on my ankle. He doesn’t like makeup either but I am allergic to most of it anyway.

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