I’m in deep soup with my wife, and I don’t know why. We went out for a really nice dinner last night – an actual date without the kids. We were both excited about it beforehand, but by the time we got in the car, it was obvious she was bummed. At the restaurant, she finally told me why: “You knew I bought a nice new outfit for tonight, and you didn’t say one word about how I looked. In fact, you never say anything about how I look.” She tried to rally during dinner and have a good time, but I could tell she was kind of depressed, which is crazy because she’s a beautiful woman who always looks good to me! And now I don’t really know why I’m in this hole or how to get out of it. Help.
– Deep Soup
Dear Deep Soup,
Yeah, you’re not just in deep soup, you’re getting cooked. And with good reason. How on earth would she know that you think she is beautiful, if you don’t tell her so?
You may be surprised to learn that even the most secure-looking, confident women are still very much little girls inside. Even as adult women we are asking the most important man in our life: “Do you think I’m pretty?” On my surveys of women, it is clear that most of us have a deep desire to know that even after years of marriage, we are still beautiful to our husbands. And that need never goes away.
Your wife did herself all up, probably spent a lot of time on hair and makeup, and bought a new outfit to make your eyes pop. Only it didn’t. And now she feels like if you don’t really find her beautiful after all of that, you never will.
It might help you to look around at the magazines and the billboards and realize that your wife is bombarded all day, every day with completely unrealistic expectations – images that shout to her “this is what you must look like if you want to be beautiful to your man.” These images tell her she must lose more weight, look younger, be sexier, dress better…. That pressure can get to even the most confident of women. The good news is that if you take the time to tell your wife that she is beautiful to you, day to day, with all her wonderful individuality, you will be providing the best antidote for that pressure.
So here’s what you do. Take a sticky note, post it on your desk at work, or in your closet, or somewhere only you will see it, and write on it in big letters: “My wife won’t know that I find her beautiful unless I tell her so.” Then look for opportunities to say it. Especially, the next time you’re headed out somewhere, make sure you stop and notice her—before you get in the car—and I think you’ll find the evening turning out very differently!
Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only and her newest, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. A Harvard-trained social researcher and speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times.