Shmuley Boteach’s recent article, “No Holds Barred: Why Wives Put On Weight ”, was a sorry attempt at getting husbands to appreciate their wives’ beauty. Shmuley advises, “When told by the man she loves that she is beautiful a woman is given the incentive to live up to the compliment.” Women are not puppies that husbands can train to be thin with a “sweet” compliment. In his attempt to renew a husband’s lust for his wife, Shmuley degrades women to mindless machines. Hey men! Just flip our physiological switches with a compliment: happy wife= thin wife, unhappy wife= fat wife.
Boteach surely knows it is not that simple, and at the drop of a hat could name dozens of wives in very happy, fulfilling marriages who are overweight, and thin women trapped in unhappy marriages. I understand the author is trying to get husbands to view their wives in a different light. But you will never get a man to respect a woman more by debasing her in his eyes, which is exactly what Boteach’s article does. So, dear unsatisfied husband, allow me to give you a reality check when you say your wife “let herself go.”
Imagine a wounded soldier comes home from war, perhaps he has lost a limb, and much of his body is scarred. No one whispers behind his back, “He really let himself go.” It is obvious that the physical changes he has endured were not his choosing, and they are his badges of honor, showing everyone what a brave, selfless warrior he is. When a woman becomes a mother, she too becomes a warrior, and the physical changes she endures are her badges of honor.
There’s a horrible expression people, mothers themselves included, use to talk about getting their “pre-baby body” back– they say a woman “returned to herself.” There is no need to return to a pre-baby body, nor is there any possible way to achieve this. I’ll never forget the moment I realized the fallacy of this expression. I was 6 days post partum after my third birth, my only cesarean. A friend saw me getting out of my car and hurried over to hug me and congratulate me. “Oh my gosh,” she exclaimed as she ran her hand down my stomach, “you’ve already returned to yourself!” My eyes stung as I fought back tears from both the physical pain searing from my incision after her hand brushed it, and the emotional pain, knowing my body had been cut in half and stapled back together and, no matter what it looked like on the outside, would never be the same. Today I look at my scar as one of my warrior badges. Your wife didn’t let herself go, she earned warrior badges.
A study out of the University of Chicago found metabolism was up to 40% slower in sleep deprived people. You know what kind of people are sleep deprived? Moms. Between feeding babies, helping with last minute science projects, taking care of sick kids or just consoling someone after a scary dream, your wife isn’t getting much sleep. You can see it in the bags under her eyes, and she’s feeling it all day. Your wife didn’t let herself go, she gave up her nights.
So now, dear unsatisfied husband, go take a good look in the mirror. Do not look at your love handles and beer belly, as Shmuley would have you do, rather look at the wonder of a human being that you are. You were created in, and emerged from a woman’s body! Now go call your mother and tell her thank you, and then go to your wife and tell her thank you. Look at her body that brought your children into this world, her belly that housed your children for nine months each, her breasts that nourished those children, her hands that spent long nights feeling fevers and administering tylenol, her legs that carried her from parent teacher conference to grocery store to bank, her ears that listened to endless childhood worries, her mouth that sang countless lullabies, gave infinite kisses. Your wife never let herself go, she gave herself over. She selflessly gave her mind, spirit and body to her family. Tell her thank you, thank you, thank you.