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Readers React To ‘A Disappointed Husband’ (Chronicles 9-29) (Part 1)
I was very surprised when I read your answer to the husband who is turned off by the way his wife looks. I am a married woman with two children, and while I know it’s easier than caring for five children, I take care of myself and expect my husband to take care of himself too. “Disappointed” is not asking for her to look like a supermodel, but to at least lose some weight and put herself together. Every Shalom Bayis class that I have ever attended has discussed the need for both the husband and wife to maintain themselves and look good for their spouse. The fact that she is in the same snood and robe every day shows a lack of caring for her husband.
I work outside the home full time and never put on a robe when I get home. On Friday night I always get dressed to honor the Shabbos and my husband. How hard is it to put on a nice shirt and skirt as opposed to a robe to put yourself together for your husband? By the same token my husband puts himself together and makes sure to keep his weight in check.
While men should not be looking at other women, the fact is that he does work in the business world and will see well-dressed, pretty women. Her children are not babies (he mentioned they are of camp age), and therefore the baby weight excuse is long gone. Taking care of oneself is the Torah way. She should make it a priority to cook healthy meals and to make regular exercise a part of her life. There are many ways to work in some exercise without expensive gym memberships. I go bike riding with my kids, take walks around the neighborhood with friends and work out to videos right in my own home. All it takes is 30 minutes, three or four times a week to make a change in her life. I am sure that her husband would watch the kids for a half hour while she exercised.
I am married for over 17 years, and my husband is still very attracted to me and does not have the need to look elsewhere. He has what he needs right at home.
Boruch Hashem, happily married
Good for you! You obviously have what it takes to keep yourself (and your marital union) in top form. As life would have it, however, different circumstances call for different strategies. (Read the letter that follows)
In truth, we have really no way of knowing what transpired between Disappointed Husband and his wife all this time. An ongoing lack of attention/communication, for instance, may have contributed to their current unfortunate situation.
What is certain is that both man and woman have an obligation to take care of themselves, and that husband and wife are to have a genuine concern for one another. (When a woman feels loved and appreciated by her man, she will more likely take steps to please him.)
Past columns have addressed the need for wives to look after themselves (i.e., Chronicle of 8-4). Even the response you refer to alludes to a wife’s responsibility in self-maintenance. To quote from my reply, “By neglecting to maintain an attractive appearance for her husband, she runs the risk of having him drift away, mentally (if not physically as well).”
Let us all exert every effort to motivate our partners to feel and look their best – and suppress the inclination to sit in judgment of another in whose shoes we have not walked.
P.S. A becoming Shabbos/YomTov robe can be as fitting to the occasion as a “nice shirt and skirt.” It is but a matter of personal preference and comfort.
I would like to add a few points to the letter by a Disappointed Husband (Chronicle 9-29), which I think you answered well. I am a fat woman – obese through no fault of my own (medical problems). However, we did go through a very difficult time accepting it. We revamped our marriage by doing our utmost to respect one another. I have limited ability to do household chores. My husband helps out and does so gladly because I try to keep him happy.
If all you care about is having a body for a wife, I pity you. Look how long it took you to realize that your wife, as you say, is neglecting herself. Where were you before you went on holiday? Have you not been neglecting her?
Do one thing and say one thing every day to make your wife feel good. She will be surprised to begin with, but I am sure she will begin to try and reciprocate.
Suggestion: Try to obtain Rebbetzin Braunstein’s tapes on Shalom Bayis.
Good Luck in the New Year
You have taken your G-d-given challenge and have met it head on with fortitude and intelligence. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and wishful thinking, you have zeroed in on the real test of true love: appreciating and treasuring the beauty within. May you and your husband grow old together and continue to focus on the good things in life conferred upon you by the Ribono Shel Olam.
Thank you both for your wonderful tips and pointers in how to improve the quality of married life.
Confidential to Besta Shvesta: May you continue your long-standing tradition of dressing your best in honor of Shabbos to please your husband (while exercising your good-natured tolerance for the robe wearers who grace your table) – for many more years to come. Happy Birthday!!