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Katie Allison Granju is the married mother of five children, ranging in age from toddler to teenager. In addition to blogging for Babble Voices, she also publishes her own blog, Big Good Thing, and she works full time in digital media with a large cable network. When she isn't at work, blogging, or washing someone's socks, Katie enjoys working in her flower garden, riding her bike, and feeding the chickens she keeps in the backyard of her family's large and totally impractical, 113-year-old Victorian house.

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What would you do if your partner asked you to lose weight?

By Katie Allison Granju |

My hair, lately.

I’ve had some variation of short hair for my entire adult life.  It’s just always felt more…me. When Jon and I got married in 2006, I was sporting a supershort pixie cut, something I’ve continued to keep as my go-to haircut for the past few years since then.

I assumed that Jon loved my short, short hair, since he never said anything to indicate otherwise. But now, I find myself growing it out….for MY HUSBAND. Because he ASKED me to.

There was a time in my life when I might have been offended by Jon making such a request, or would have considered it sexist of me to grow my hair out just because THE MAN asked it of me. But I guess I’ve mellowed out because I was not offended, just glad he still notices things like my hair enough to have a preference at all. And he is very, very good to me, so I like to be good to him, if you get my drift.  And I’ve done a few other things specifically for him since we met. For example, he hates it when I wear eye makeup, so I pretty much stopped. He just isn’t a fan. And there are probably other things, too. But growing my hair out just because it makes my husband happy feels kind of like a big deal to me.

Proof positive that Jon did, in fact, at one time dig my supershort hair...

Because I tend to overthink things, Jon’s gentle request, and my acquiescence have me pondering this issue lately. How far would my tolerance go, I wonder? What am I – or are most women – willing to do with regard to physical upkeep or sexuality, if they were asked to make a change. I’ve thought about how I would feel if Jon asked me to get off my ass and lose the 26 pounds (yes, I’m counting) that I am still carrying from my last pregnancy. Indeed, I weigh 26 pounds more than I did when I got pregnant with G, and about 30 pounds more than I did when Jon and I got married. That’s not insignificant, and if it bothers me (and it does, A LOT), I can only imagine that it probably also bothers my husband.

But to be honest, I’ve not made any real effort to do the single thing it will take to get the weight off, which is walk 30 minutes a day, 3 or 4 times a week. That’s really all I would need to do, and I know it. But what if Jon suggested that I do that? How would I react? (He never has, by the way. He’s not totally insane ;-)  )

I think I would be defensive, irritated….and yes, suddenly motivated. Look, I know what a great guy I managed to land, and frankly, I have no intention of losing his interest. So maybe he should ask? Or is weight something that’s just totally off limits for partner to partner requests? What do you think?

I used to have a very wise, much older (than me, at the time) friend who was happily married for many years. She told me that the best advice she ever got as a newlywed was to sometimes – more often than not – say yes to sex with one’s husband when he asked, even if one did not really feel like it at that particular moment. I argued vehemently with her at the time, telling her that this was retro sexist garbage advice, and that it bordered on suggesting that women should allow themselves to be sexually abused within a marriage.

But as I say, I’ve mellowed.

Now I know that Bonnie was only making her recommendation within the context of an otherwise loving marriage, and I also have come to believe that she was right. People –  and dare I say MALE people, in particular –  like to feel like the most important person in their lives wants to please them – whether that’s with longer hair, less mascara or saying yes to sex even when she’s super tired after a long day of office + kids.  Even typing those words out, I feel a bit like that woman who wrote “Fascinating Womanhood,” and who famously suggested meeting one’s husband attired only in Saran Wrap at the end of his work day (I would DEFINITELY need to lose the 26 lbs before trying that, or I would frighten Jon away. He would seriously run, screaming at the sight, no matter how hawt my longer hair looks…)

So where does the balance lie? For you, and for women in our culture? Where does pleasing one’s partner in a healthy way end, and loss of selfhood begin? What’s a reasonable request by one’s partner, and what’s a sexist request? How do you handle this in your own romantic relationships. Let’s grapple with this one in the comments below.

 

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About Katie Allison Granju

katie-allison-granju

Katie Allison Granju

Katie Allison Granju is the married mother of five children, ranging in age from toddler to teenager. In addition to blogging for Babble Voices, she also publishes her own blog, Big Good Thing. Katie also enjoys working in her flower garden, riding her bike, and feeding the chickens she keeps in the backyard of her family's large Victorian house. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie Allison's latest posts →

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94 thoughts on “What would you do if your partner asked you to lose weight?

  1. [...] Jon has asked me to change something about the way I look. Find out what it is, and join what I think will be a lively discussion about pleasing one’s partner vs. loss of selfhood over in my latest Babble blog post. [...]

  2. Mel says:

    I’m not sure what my limits would be now but when I was young, naive, and 21, my fiancé said he should be allowed to sleep with other people if my weight rose above 90 pounds. Yes, 90 pounds (I couldn’t absorb nutrients at the time). He wasn’t a Nasty person and he was usually incredibly loving and supportive of me. So I accepted it. Our engagement ended for other reasons but now, at 26? I wish I’d kicked him in the balls.

    1. kgranju says:

      Mel – I wish I could kick him in the balls ON YOUR BEHALF. What an abusive JERK. Let me know if you want his kneecaps broken or something. We can probably figure out a way to make that happen…. ;-) (I KID! I KID!!!)

  3. Jillian says:

    As you point out, context is everything. I have a loving, supportive husband who is happy to have me just as I am. Since that’s my context, I’m delighted whenever he gives me an indication of a preference when it comes to my appearance. If I do what he likes (which I will) I don’t necessarily feel prettier in general, but I feel prettier to him and that feels great.

  4. jeneria says:

    My husband asked me to do that once. After a few months, he realized the error of his ways as my curly mop doesn’t grow into long hippie girl girls but instead, into a giant triangular afro.

    It’s not a loss of self-hood. It’s an experiment. I think it’s sweet that he would ask you do that. And it’s not like he’s asking you to get plastic surgery or lose weight or wear contacts to change your eye color. He’s curious about how you’d look with long hair.

    If you’re really nervous about it, ask him to grow a mustache, a beard, a goatee, grow his hair out, shave his head, or something equivalent.

  5. Lissa says:

    I have been meaning to write a blog post on this topic in the context of Biblicly based Christian marriage … What the instructions to wives (and husbands) in Ephesians 5 really means and how, if both parties in the marriage are obedient, it makes for a wonderfully blessed, enriched and happier marriage, and how submitting to such a husband is liberating and empowering. Maybe I will finally get that done ….

  6. Lauren says:

    I’m growing my hair out at the moment, to my husband’s dismay. I think that, on the verge of having my first baby, I want to go back to a younger me for a little while (my hair was very long for a long time). But I know I’ll cut it again sometime and I’ve told him to just be patient. He’s also a big fan of red hair. I had been thinking of dyeing my hair darker when I get it cut again, but I think I’ll do red instead, just for him. If I didn’t want to dye my hair in the first place, though, I don’t think I’d make that drastic a change for anyone’s sake but my own. But hair length… eh, you can always cut it again if it doesn’t work out and he’ll know you gave it a shot.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I wish my husband would tell me when I am gaining weight, nipping off five pounds when it starts is so much easier than suddenly finding out you have no jeans that fit… And I’ve told my husband appearance things about himself… I’d rather he admit that he’d like to see a simple change than have him silently lust after someone with “longer hair”…

  8. Angie says:

    My mother gave me the same advice as Bonnie did, and like you, I also vehemently argued against doing *anything* (esp. having sex) that I didn’t want to. Fast forward 15 years into a marriage, and I now know that a happy relationship is built upon many compromises, to include things like sex and hair and asking for directions. If my husband asked me to lose weight, I know that it would hurt me terribly on one level (because my weight has always been an issue) but I also know he’d be asking out of concern for my well-being, not because he wanted a thinner wife.

  9. El says:

    I change my hair color a lot, and my husband has asked for certain colors at times. I do not think there is anything wrong with that, and doesn’t cause me to lose myself in anyway.

  10. Rachel says:

    Around 1969, my mother’s best friend wanted to cut her hair but her husband wanted her to keep it long, so she cut the front and left the back. We believe she begat the mullet.

  11. K. C. says:

    Hmmmmm, definitely an interesting topic. I sense fireworks ‘a brewin’. ;)

    I think I personally would be more offended by the request to grow my hair than to lose weight. Coming from my husband, who thinks I’m the hottest thing since the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, the request to lose weight would come out of concern for my health. I know he wants me around for a long time, and not just because the kids would roll right over him if I weren’t around. ;) But if he asked me to quit coloring my hair or grow it long, I would honestly say no. My hair, my makeup, my body lotion that gives me a summer glow-these are things that make me feel good about myself. As a SAHM, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to be who I am because I’m too busy being everything to everyone else. My physical appearance is one thing *I* get to control, and control it I will. :)

  12. Therese says:

    Katie,

    I think you are so right on this in that context is everything! I am happily married and feel very much respected in my relationship. Therefore, any request related to appearance (i.e., hair style, clothing…) is probably going to be fine. And you are right, sometimes you just have to do things (sex, change your hair…) for the other person because they love you and you love them and that’s how it goes. Again, this is all within the context of a healthy and respectful relationship.

  13. Teresa says:

    I will never forget the day that I was raging about my weight, crying about how my clothes don’t fit, and my husband said “then DO something about it.” I was shocked. I thought men weren’t supposed to say anything about weight. But really, what he was doing was supporting me. I was obviously unhappy. And knowing that he was supporting me and that he would LIKE me to lose weight for my mental and physical health helped me so much. Its sometimes hard to do things for yourself, but so easy to do them for others. After a couple years of running and dieting and figuring things out (and getting pregnant again), I know that his preference is when I haven’t gotten TOO skinny (which, ironically, is still considered overweight by the BMI) but I am running regularly. so, healthy.

    He also doesn’t like me to wear makeup at all, which is nice, but infuriating when I want to dress up and it makes ME feel pretty. and I know he’s disappointed. And I usually ask opinions on haircuts before I get them, mostly because I care what he thinks. (He gets overridden most of the time. tee hee)

    As for the sex thing, I totally agree. Honestly, most of the time, being wanted leads to me wanting sex even if I don’t at first. And saying no only leads to precedents and resentments that can’t be fixed later. Like you wanting him to want you, but he knows if he does you’ll probably say no. So you feel unwanted and he is resentful because he thinks you never want sex. Its a baaaad cycle.

  14. Nelson's Mama says:

    I am prematurely gray and mentioned no longer coloring my hair – my husband nixed that idea and I’m good with that. However, I do wear it in a super-short pixie and even though he’d like me to have long, flowing hair it simply overwhelms my features, it’s limp, hard to do and does nothing for me. Sorry honey, just not gonna happen.

  15. Earth Muffin says:

    I am currently sporting hair below my shoulders, which is longer than I’ve ever had it, at the request of my husband. I was always a short bob kind of girl because my hair is very fine and wearing it long requires more effort than I was willing to put forth. After our last baby was born 6 years ago, I started growing it longer, mostly because it was hard to find time for a haircut and it was easy to pull it back into a ponytail when I hadn’t found time for a shower. My husband responded ENTHUSIASTICALLY, saying that he hadn’t felt comfortable “asking” me to grow my hair longer, but that he really, REALLY liked it that way. I had a similar reaction to yours…who did this man think he was, asking me to alter my appearance? And, who the heck was I, doing it for him?! But, also like you, I realized that I was married to a wonderful man who was the best partner I could ask for and if wearing my hair a few inches longer than I would like is all he asks of me, I could easily accomodate him. And, no pun intended, the longer style has grown on me. I can’t see myself with a short style any more. The weight thing would have to depend on the context. If he asked me to drop weight for health reasons and approached the subject as delicately as possible, I’d be hurt but I would understand. If he wanted me to drop weight so I could look hotter? Notsomuch. As far as your friend’s suggestion about sex goes, early in our marriage I’d have said, “NO WAY!” I would have considered that borderline abusive too. Now that we’re 13 years into this almost-perfect relationship, I see what she means. It’s easy to push your partner’s needs to the back burner when it seems like you spend the whole day taking care of other people’s needs. We’ve found ourselves in that rut before and it was painful for me to hear how neglected my husband felt. Compromise is very important to a successful relationship.

  16. ABC says:

    I think if it’s a change you’re not opposed to, the request is reasonable. Shortly before my husband & I started dating, I started wearing my hair curly almost every day, just because he’d told me he really liked it curly. He didn’t ask me to stop straightening my hair, just indicated that he liked it curly. And I still wear it curly, 8 years later. I like it this way, and I know if I preferred it straight, he wouldn’t hate me, or my hair if I straightened it every day. But if he asked me to change something I’m not interested in changing, I’d probably say no. I wouldn’t be willing to stop wearing flats just because he asked, for example. I might wear heels more often, but I wouldn’t throw all of my flats out if he suddenly decided he preferred me in heels.

  17. Khandi Howard says:

    I think that one must also consider this from the other side. Have you ever asked your husband to do something ‘just for you’? Etc. I’ve been married for 27 years (which is now a few years longer than I was single), and right off my head I can’t think of anything that I’ve asked my husband to do, but I’m pretty sure that if you asked him he’d come up with something. He is also very, very good to me. I consider him a one in a million as husband material, and I think that he thinks the same way – at least that is what he keeps telling me (one of the reasons that I think so highly of him). I must agree with one of your other posters that marriages contain many small compromises. Good luck on the weight loss if you ever get serious about it – I am right there with you and I haven’t gotten serious either. Maybe later this summer. Ha.

  18. Leslie says:

    I think I am too old to have long hair any more. But my husband wants it long, so long it remains. He doesn’t tell me to cover the grey, and I don’t think he would, but I know he likes it when I do it. I tell him NOT to cut his hair, so it all works out in the end.

  19. Alison says:

    This is a really interesting one. I was about 20-25 pounds heavier than I am right now (and I’m still slightly overweight) when my boyfriend and I got together at the beginning of last year, and he thought I was the bee’s knees, then. He still does (as far as I know), but so do I. One thing I didn’t anticipate (he’s my first serious boyfriend, so my experience was limited) was that my desire for svelteness and style and fitness was going to be a lot less superficial than I’d imagined. I was already making big efforts to lose weight (for my own good) before getting together with him, but my perspective shifted after that. And it absolutely wasn’t about “he’s not going to love me unless I’m hot”, or even “he deserves a smokin’ girlfriend”, so much as “he deserves the best of me as I deserve the best of him, and as /I/ deserve the best of me.” And so, that translates in lots of ways (I’ve been on a journey of becoming a lot more patient, a lot less sarcastic, and more openly loving than I ever was before), but one of the biggest of those is that I want to house all my non-tangible traits (my patience, my openness, my generosity, my love) in a body that matches them in ferocity and dedication. Being healthy and fit is just part of what it’ll take for me to be able to offer him the best I have. While I don’t always meet the goals I make, or try as hard as I could, I am proud to say that I feel as though my motivation for weightloss and fitness is a fairly healthy one. He’s never asked me to lose weight (as I said, we got together when I was noticeably bigger), and I can’t imagine that he will, but he does support and encourage my desire to give him the best I can, and does the same.

    When I look at photos from last year, when I was noticeably chubbier in the face, a little less stylish (for range of choice in clothing as a result of being bigger), and rounder through the middle, admittedly, there IS a part of me that feels grateful for the fact that he was interested just the same. :)

  20. Nina says:

    This made me giggle, because I don’t think we worry about the opposite too much: women telling their husbands what to change about the way they look. At least in my marriage, I never hesitate to tell my hubby that he shouldn’t wear stripes with plaids, that he needs a haircut, a shave, etc. And I’m pretty sure he has always said yes to sex when I’ve suggested it! (I think I would draw the line at suggesting he lose weight, but he’s okay in that department.)

  21. Tasha / To-Fu says:

    I think others who have suggested context is key are probably right. If it’s coming from a misogynistic, controlling, selfish jerkwad? Yeah, it’s uncool. And if it’s a cascade of requests (cut your hair, lose weight, wear sexier clothes, paint your toenails, etc.)… then it seems crappy, too. I mean, at some point, something at the core of you would get lost.

    That said, if it’s a gentle, genuine request coming from a supportive, loving partner? It’s cool, especially if it’s phrased just right (a concern for my health and happiness, for example). There are work-arounds that would make it easier on both parties, though–like, if I wanted my partner to lose weight, I might suggest we start going on walks together a few times a week rather than saying, “Hey, I was thinking you would look hotter if you lost some of that baby weight.” ;)

    Still, there are some things that probably just hurt to hear no matter what, and for me a weight loss request is right up there. But that has nothing to do with my partner and everything to do with me and my relationship with my body, you know?

    And Katie, I LOVE your sassy pixie cut and will miss it, but look forward to seeing your new hair and what you think of it.

  22. Lia says:

    I asked my husband to lose weight. He has high blood pressure and extra weight is dangerous — and he listened and is working hard to drop the extra 20-30 lbs. I will point out that his doctor had also recommended he try to diet, so I just reinforced it for him without nagging.

    He doesn’t care what I do with my hair as long as I keep it straight. It doesn’t hold a curl, so no problems there. I have had everything from a short bob to middle of the back, and he’s fine with whatever I do.

  23. Kari says:

    I think it’s fine to make changes your partner desires if they are changes you can embrace as well. But if, for example, you just didn’t want to grow your hair AT ALL or really, really liked wearing eye make-up, he needs to respect that. It’s your body, first and foremost.

  24. Steph says:

    I have a loving, wonderful, supportive, helpful husband. If he asked me for something, which he rarely does, I would feel happy to oblige. There are obviously limits, but if the person loves and treats you right, they wouldn’t cross those limits. For example, my husband might comment how he’d love to see me with long, brown hair, but would never suggest plastic surgery or weight loss bc I think he knows it would hurt my feelings. I might suggest we shop for his clothes in a hipper store but I’m not dropping male enhancement brochures on the table. ;) not that he needs it! Love you honey! (I digress…)

  25. Adi says:

    My SO recently asked me to grow out my hair (I’m currently sporting a shortish cut, not unlike Katie’s).

    He has also asked me NOT to lose weight, which is a bit more problematic. I’m currently in Russia, and my “normal” weight is 150lbs on a medium 5’8″, very athletic and healthy for my body. I’d weigh ten pounds less, if I had it my way, and I’m sure he’d have me ten pounds heavier, if he could have his.

    That said, I’m currently in Russia doing research, and my weight, I’m sure, is DROPPING FAST. My colleague’s partner asked her NOT to gain weight while in Russia, whereas mine has noted that I’m looking thin in photos—I’m feeling the pressure, for the first time in my life, to keep it on.

  26. Beth says:

    I really love how you look at this, he loves you enough to still notice things like your hair….sweet way to look at his request. My husband likes long hair too and after 30 years of marriage and fighting it I take your words to heart.

  27. Rachel says:

    What an interesting topic. I think on the whole, if the thing your partner asks makes you feel better about yourself or makes no difference in how you feel (i.e. less eye make-up or the sex you already enjoy at other times), then go for it! Making your partner happy is something to be enjoyed, and hopefully he’ll return the favor at some point. But if the thing he asks makes you feel badly about yourself, or makes you feel badly about him (i.e. comments about weight for some people, or requesting certain sexual acts that you just don’t like), then I say don’t do it. Marriage is a balancing act.

  28. Lipstick Jane says:

    I don’t think it’s an issue as long as it isn’t a controlling thing.

    My husband LOVES my short pixie haircut. So much that he doesn’t want me to grow it out much to my chagrin. I loved having long hair. He’s also asked me to do silly things like dye it pink. And why not? It’s only hair; it will grow back or out. And really if this is something that makes him happy – who cares. My hair doesn’t define me.

    And I think it’s OK for a man to say something about our weight as long as it is not done maliciously. I need to lose a few pounds and so does he. We joke about it together.

    He is not a saint though. He let’s his mother walk all over him and has asked me to make accommodations that most women wouldn’t. It is a very abrasive and I become extremely defensive and irate. However, this is the life I chose and if I don’t want to modify then I can choose to leave.

    There is always a choice.

  29. Leah says:

    Maybe the test is what you suspect would happen if you didn’t listen? I assume that you expect that if you said no, Jon might be disappointed, but he would continue to treat you just as well as he always has. For me, at least, that would be key. It’s the difference between a favor and a threat.

  30. Meg W. says:

    My husband is one of the few men brave enough to have told me once that I needed to lose weight, but like many of your other commenters have stated, it was the way that he said it that made it ok and ultimately it was his comment that kicked me in the butt enough to change it. He was not coming from a place of judgment or really even one of wanting me to look a different way, but it was him wanting me to be healthier and I was on a very unhealthy and lazy path. I’ve always believed that a marriage is no place for a “you do this for me and I’ll do this for you” kind of a deal… I think you should be your most selfless and giving side of yourself with your partner and wanting to give them a healthy, confident and happy spouse is key. I also agree 100% with the saying yes to sex thing… although Dr. Phil can be a quack sometimes, one show a long time ago talked about understanding your partners currency when it comes to love. I think about this when I am tired and lazy after a long days work… that this is something that really makes my husband happy. I think about if he never made the time to really talk to me or to just hold my hand. That is my currency… his is sometimes sex.

    Katie, I am so happy you wrote about this subject. Its so very interesting!

  31. kgranju says:

    These are all very reasonable, thoughtful comments. But let’s dig into the TOUGH question: is it ever okay for a man to suggest to the woman he’s involved with that she needs to lose weight, and if so, how should he do that? ;-)
    – Katie

  32. sunshine1 says:

    I didn’t get the same advice you got from Bonnie, but I realized it on my own at some point. I have never once regretted having sex with my husband, no matter how tired or how “not in the mood” I felt prior to it! It made a huge difference in my marriage overall when I realized that you should never underestimate the importance of that part of the relationship. In fact, I would take the advice one step further…make sure you’re not always waiting for him to initiate the festivities!

    And the only way I think it would be a bad idea to change your appearance for your partner is if the change is one you yourself absolutely despise, but you do it anyway. If you’re indifferent, if it’s not a big deal, then why not?

  33. Laura says:

    Awww, I think it’s so sweet that you’re growing your hair out for him! I can’t wait to see it too – your short hair is adorable, but I think you’ll lovely with it longer as well. While I do understand about gender power imbalances in society at large, within a relationship, I see these compromises as loving, thoughtful gestures. Influencing one another is a privilege that comes with trust. Also, the older I get, quite frankly the happier I am to have a partner who finds me attractive! :) My (female) partner *loves* curly hair, so I’ve stopped straightening mine. I love her hair long and so she’s grown it out longer than she would have otherwise (she had a more practical, easy care mom haircut when we met). We compromise and accommodate one another’s tastes in other areas too – movies, food, etc. – but also give each other enough freedom to feel respected and whole. It’s all about balance. Seems to me that you two have it down.

  34. Laura says:

    Re: the weight question – honestly, I think it’s ultimately about health and life enjoyment. Being able to be active enough and have enough energy, preventing long-term health issues, etc. Maybe the safest way is to say something like, “What can I do for you that would help you free up the time you need to take care of yourself too? Can I [fill in the blank]?” – and then offer to take care of dinner or the kids’ bedtime routines or whatever would give one’s partner that half hour for daily exercise. As for whether it’s “ever” ok for a man to suggest weight loss to a woman – if she is unhappy with her appearance or it is somehow having a negative impact on her life, I think it would be the caring thing to do to talk about it and ask her what she wants, just like if she were unhappy due to some other situation (abusive boss, too many volunteer commitments, ongoing problem with a relative, etc.).

  35. Jeannie says:

    I agree with Leah — the test is what happens when you say ” you know, I love myself this way and don’t want to grow my hair / dye my hair / lose weight / etc”

    Having said that I also think that compromise is key to a happy relationship, so why not try to please your partner in life?

  36. Bliss says:

    When your hubby starts spending a week away from you on a vacation with his best girl friend Amy in Chi-town, it’s oh so past time to grow the hair out, ditch the comfort carbs and up the protein! You’ll lose the weight without even walking and your long hair will shine like it never has.

  37. Sara says:

    My husband has suggested that I lose a little weight. Here’s how he phrased it (My bulls*%# detector is pretty finely tuned with respect to him, and it sounded honest): “Are you going to start doing your Jillian Michaels DVD again? I’m asking because you felt a lot better about yourself when you were working out, and I think it’s pretty hot when you’re confident about how you look.” Technically, he didn’t ask me to lose weight, but that’s what makes me feel good about myself when I’m following a workout plan. It worked for me…

  38. Moi says:

    It’s a shallow generalization, but men are visual. Stuff like this (hair length/color, makeup, clothing styles, etc.) has a different meaning to (most) men than to (most) women.

    I kinda wish I had known how important these things were before my own refusal to play along contributed to the demise of my marriage. In the long run, it wasn’t a big deal to dress a certain way if it meant the difference between a (relatively) happy husband and one who bolted.

    Weight is such a fraught issue — most of the time when I’m heavier it’s because I’m dealing with major stressors or depression. Beating my body up with inactivity and bad food is a stupid coping strategy, but it seems to “work” for me at some level when my life is really rotten. Some people drink, some people are workaholics, some people have affairs, I go for the carbs. Yes, it’s unhealthy, and at the time when life is good and I’m able to focus on taking care of myself, I marvel at how much better I feel and wonder how I could ever let things slide so badly.

    So to me, a man saying “you need to lose weight” (whatever kind terms it might be couched in) will always, ALWAYS be heard as “you need to not be having problems right now” — as in “you have no right to be upset” or “you have no right to feel those feelings”.

  39. Ariel says:

    I think weight is a much more fraught topic. Especially since so many women (me included) have dealth with eating disorders (and really, our whole dominant culture is eating-disordered). I’m also about 25 pounds heavier post-marriage and baby, and if my husband asked me to lose weight, I’d be horrified and I think very depressed. My husband knows about my history eating disorders and would never ask me to lose weight as a result. It also helps that his mom was not obsessed with appearances and is not a very thin person – healthy, but not thin, and so that is his role model.

    When we were dating, I had things like free time in which to do more physical activities – now I work full time, have a long commute and a kid, and that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for exercise. I eat healthily and all, and generally try to take care of my health, but I can’t do more than that right now and he understands that.

  40. Adele says:

    Absolutely. Health and fitness are very important to me, maintaining an ideal weight is part of my lifestyle. I expect the same from my husband. If I needed to lose weight, he would suggest some things that would help me accomplish this. It’s all about staying healthy as we age, not trying to look like a super model.

  41. Lia says:

    I think it is okay to ask you to lose weight IF it is for your health. If he prefers skeletal women and you are at a healthy weight, then I think it’s rude at best. It’s all in the tone and the way he asks: if he says “my God, you’ve gotten fat!” vs. “Honey, how about we both try low-carbing and walking after dinner to get in shape?”.

    And…if he’s hefty and wants YOU to drop weight without noticing he needs to, that’s not cool.

  42. sophie says:

    This is certainly an interesting topic, and the discussion is less controversial than I might have expected. I think my opinions are a melange of what others have said. Mel–we can all kick his balls on a rotating schedule…just on principle. ;-)
    Lissa–I would love to read that post. I am not a Christian, but I always understood the biblical “wives obey you husbands” had to be balanced with the “husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church.” Meaning to me that the husband would not ever ask the wife to do anything that would diminish her.
    I said in my 20s that I would “never move for a man.” I ended up moving across the country to marry my husband at the age of 40. The marriage ended for other reasons. I am independent, stubborn, and have had a job since I was 14 years old. However, in a loving relationship, I think saying yes as often as possible is probably the best answer–for both parties. It is so easy to get tied up in cultural intricacies that make women be independent in a way that is fierce, but unnecessary. Unless I feel strongly about something, I try to say yes to people in general. If my sister, my father, a patient or patient’s family member (I’m a nurse) asks something of me that I am able to do, why not do it? As long as “it” does not make me uncomfortable–or as Leah said if there is not a threat involved in saying no.

  43. Mare in ATL says:

    Weight is a very touchy subject. I actually married someone who told me I needed to lose 10 lbs before he would marry me. ( I did lose it but his request was not in concern for my health ). In our very short marriage he also tried to control other thngs, for example- which jeans I wore to a party………. Add lies, and a few other issues and ~~ exit Mare.

    I weigh more than I should now and have for years. I am unhappy about it but enjoy food and a pretty lazy lifestyle. Any discussion about weight is difficult to hear but goes better if it is about health not some ” ideal mate” vision.

    On a lighter note………. I am about to wack my hair off and have driven my dear boyfriend nuts with photos for approval. He says it’s my hair, I say he has to look at it.

  44. anais says:

    I pretty much agree with you. If anybody asked me in the early stages of a relationship to change something about myself, I’d bolt. But, in the context of a loving and supportive long term relationship, I’d be open to hearing the occasional suggestion. Nicely worded, of course! An ex of mine once asked me when we were shopping if the sweater I had chosen came in a different colour because it didn’t suit me. THAT felt kind of controlling and pissed me off. However, if an SO who has been kind and accepting mentioned that they thought I looked sexy/nice/whatever in a certain colour, I might make an effort to wear it more often. It’s all about delivery. “Your short hair is ugly” will not fly, “Your short hair is sexy but I sometimes wonder what you’d look like with long hair, have you ever considered growing it out?” is ok.

  45. sophie says:

    Okay, Katie, the weight(y) issue. My ex-husband and I were both heavy when we married. I gained about 10-15 pounds. Towards the end of the relationship, he lost about 60 pounds. I was thrilled for him, but not at a point to make the commitment that he had. He started out nicely enough–concern about health, offers to walk with me, etc. Then it turned to nagging, and I got pissed off–asking him to stop talking about my weight. At one point he told me he was “less attracted to me than before” due to my weight.” That went over as you might expect–my inclination to say “yes” to sex dropped like an anvil off a cliff. He is a good man (that may very well be the most hurtful thing he ever said to me–up to and including the divorce process), but he did not get what he wanted by making that statement. I think it is okay in when the relationship is on very sturdy ground for a husband/partner to gently address the situation. However, if any of the comments are insulting, focused on “shoulds,” or have a threat implied, they are out of line. Also, once the woman has acknowledged the request, it is probably best not to continue requesting.

  46. anais says:

    Oh, and as for weight? Depends. If my partner knew I was feeling uncomfortable with it and wanted to change, I’d probably feel upset if he brought it up. I don’t know, maybe that would motivate me as well. Hard to predict.

  47. Jill says:

    No one is more aware than I am that I need to lose a lot of weight. Since puberty, weight has been the biggest issue in my life. I’ve been bulimic on and off since I was a teenager. Three pregnancies in the last five years hasn’t helped my weight. I now weigh more than I ever have, and I HATE it. But my loving husband has never asked me to lose weight. When I bring up the subject of my weight, he tells me that he loves me and that it doesn’t matter to him. If he asked me to lose weight, it would crush me. Even though I intellectually would understand his request, I would be an emotional mess. I also question whether it would accomplish his goal–me losing weight. My issues with food and my body would not be cured by his request. If only it were that simple.

  48. Mandy says:

    What a good topic. I generally believe a lot of the response, and the way the topic is viewed, comes from the way one is asked or approached about it. If my husband were to say something about my weight passive-aggressively infront of other people, or angrily, or as a put down, I would find that offensive and mean, however mostly because of the way he approached it. If my husband were very sensitive, and approached it delicately in a loving and concerned manner, then yes, i’d likely still be defensive and at the very least hurt, but I wouldn’t be angry. My husband and I have discussed this before, because we’ve agreed that (besides natural ageing etc) that we owe it not only to ourselves but to eachother to try and maintain our physical appeal. I always want my husband to think I’m sexy, and visa versa. A friend of mine had her husband approach her and tell her that he’s not sexually attracted to her anymore and she needs to lose weight. Is that offensive? Yes. Could he have approached it better? Of course. Is he wrong to think that….I think no. She’s put on a solid 60 + pounds since they’ve been together, and no longer looks at all like the women he fell in love with. I think its important to have open communication in a relationship, and if he’s feeling a certain way he owes it to her to tell her, he just needs to be very careful and sensitive while doing so, as well as supportive and encouraging.

    The sex thing…I’m with your friend. I have in the last 5 years only told my husband “i’m too tired” once, and “i’m too sick” once. And both were super ligit. I think as a couple its important to make the other person feel wanted and appreciated etc., and if I (or he) were to ignore one anothers advances, it makes you feel rejected, and making your partner feel rejected is the last thing you want to do. Of course, I’m married to a man who is on par with my sex drive, so it’s quite a bit easier for me, then someone who is married to someone with an opposite sex drive.

  49. Alesa says:

    Interesting thread. I’m on my first and only marriage, which began last year at age 45 for me and 35 for him. Neither of us ever really dreamed of marriage or thought we’d ever be married. And then we met and the rest is history.

    One of the best of many, many great aspects of our marriage is the ability to be mutually respected for brutal honesty. If I don’t want to KNOW FOR SURE if those pants make my butt look big, then why the hell would I ask anyone, much less my husband? I want to know, and I can trust that he’ll always be straight with me in this and all matters. No cajoling. No games. Just the honest truth.

    One of the funniest incidents in our marriage was several months ago, and I can still remember exactly where we were when it happened. Somehow the issue of weight came up while he was driving, and he took an opportunity to ask how far I am overweight – “about 30 pounds now?” We both had a good laugh, knowing that it’s the truth and that we’ve both packed on a few after finding each other. What’s the big deal? The truth is the truth. I AM about 30 over the limit, I know it, my family knows it, he knows it and everyone who knows me knows it. I just don’t see any problem with this kind of honesty. He didn’t ask me to do anything about it, but hey – I know I should and we both should. So be it.

    I agree that it’s nice that Jon notices enough to make a reasonable request. Why not? Let us know how the hair thing goes.

  50. Erin/Only I Am Allowed to Yell says:

    I guess this issue might be easier for me because my husband is really, really kind and I have no doubt that he loves me unconditionally.

    Knowing that, I would be fine (I think – it hasn’t happened so I can’t be sure) if my husband wanted me to have different hair or other things like that. But I know that he views those choices as being ultimately mine to make. If he didn’t, we would have us some big problems.

  51. Karrie says:

    I agree with the previous poster who said that she likes knowing her husbands preferences. Rarely does my husband give me insight on what he likes as far as my appearance goes–he’ll tell me I look cute when he comes home from work and I have on “cleaning clothes” and he’ll tell me I look cute when I’ve spent an hour getting ready. So for me, if my husband ever told me he preferred the way I look with long hair or whatever, I’d jump all over that! It doesn’t mean I’d keep it that way forever (depending on what the request was) but I’d try it out. And who knows, I may discover something about myself that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

  52. Andrea says:

    My husband has indicated a preference for my hair longer instead of shorter, but he was also supportive when I went in for a trim one day and came home with a pixie cut. It’s currently in a mid length bob and he likes and so do I, so I’m maintaining it there. As for my weight, wellllllll, let’s just say that my two year old didn’t take it all with him when he left, and I’m not happy about that. My husband suggested to me recently that maybe we could work on getting into better shape together, for the sake of our son, so that we can be active with him, and for the sake of having sixty years together instead of forty. I thought that he phrased it very delicately, and was right, so it didn’t upset me. And I agree with the sex advice. There have been many times when I thought, man I’m sooooo tired, but after the fact, I never regretted it.

  53. Jenn says:

    This was on that show “What Would You Do?” the other night. Love that show!

    I think most comments negative in nature should be kept to yourself, unless you know the person and depending on the context then as described in posts above.

    I am from the thought that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I wouldn’t want anyone commenting on my weight…male or female. It takes me back to my issues with my mom always talking about weight and being on random diets.

    You never know a persons’ history. A simple comment could carry much more meaning than you ever intended.

    From my husband, I know that he would be coming from a place of caring for me. I think it would make me angry if he commented on my weight, but only because he was telling the truth. (It’s kind of like Suzie Orman. The lady bugs me when she talks about saving and spending wisely, but only because I know what she is saying is something I NEED to do, but usually am not.) It’s a strong motivator.

  54. noot says:

    My husband is like yours: hates make up which more or less works for me.

    Aside of that my husband has no fashion sense at all. His work attire is safe solid pants and shirts. His weekend attire is another matter altogether. His staples are a safari hat, hiking boots that he tromps through streams with the dog and mid-calf blue hiking socks.

    After years of this I finally gave up. The biggest reason was because we kept losing him in crowds. The kids and I would all be in the crowd together and suddenly he was gone. My daughter says he has a “shiny” affliction. As in, “look shiny, I must follow.”

    Our solution; We started buying him the UGLIEST shirts we could possibly find and telling him to wear those when we were going out. At our son’s graduation from Ohio State University in the Horseshoe he wandered away. We spotted him within minutes across the stadium.

  55. kgranju says:

    This is a fascinating conversation. Thanks to all of you who are willing to share. – Katie

  56. RHNIreland says:

    When it comes to physical appearance the only deal I have is that if I cut my longish curly hair my balding partner has threatened to grow a ponytail… So I think I’ll have long hair for a while!

  57. manfred says:

    I agree with Bliss. After many separate vacations, Jon’s prodding over your child”s first birthday, and your spoken fears of bathing suits in front of your husband, a messy vermin-infested house and a refusal to cook, I think it’s past time to make some compromises that show your marriage is important to you or to consider other options if it is not.

  58. kgranju says:

    Oh Manfred, you really need to get over your crush on me. I’m already spoken for! But I’m sure there’s someone out there for you. Just keep that positive attitude you always have in all your comments on my blog, and love WILL find you. I’m sure of it!

    xo,

    -Katie

  59. brandi says:

    I need to start by saying that I’m 33, married for 9 years and have a 2 &1/2 year old and a 14 month old. I’m non-feminist.

    Before I married my husband (been with for 8 years before marriage) there was a running joke about the Fat Clause. If I were to gain more than X amount of pounds (and it was something as stupid as 10) he could divorce me. We laughed because it was totally absurd.

    That being said, I know my husband’s complete aversion to, ahem, pounds. He does a lot to stay trim himself, therefore I work hard to maintain my weight. I’m about 15 pounds were I should be, but that is due to kids. He doesn’t say anything because he knows that I’m working on them and I keep him “updated” when the scale changes in my favor.

    He won’t come out and say, you’re fat – lose weight, but he will start suggesting things like – wow, that’s a big bowl of food. Or, are you sure you want to eat ice cream this late? I know that’s his way of saying…the pounds are dropping, don’t do anything to stop it.

    I’m sure that a lot of women would completely disagree with this. However, I married him knowing he was like that. And honestly, what’s a little motivation to keep me looking good. (I won’t deny that it saddens me to think that my baby girl has to grow up in a society that worships the thin instead of the smart.) As long as I don’t feel abused by it, there’s no harm.

    Oh, and I’ve tried to dye my hair red for fun – he doesn’t like it. And I want to get a second (or third) tattoo, but he doesn’t like them so I don’t. But there are things that he doesn’t do because I don’t like them. So it’s a two-way street.

  60. Broken Barn Industries says:

    Let’s not overthink this. Do the Saran Wrap PLUS 30 minutes on the treadmill 3-4x per week. Do not let Jon actually see you in the Saran outfit until the 30 lbs are gone. Lest you think I’m insane, you should know that Ronnie from “Jersey Shore” regularly works out attired in a garbage bag. The results speak for themselves.

  61. Kate says:

    I had a conversation with a group of girls, when we were in college, about this sort of thing. The context was slightly different: a friend’s boyfriend had asked her to wax off all of her pubic hair, with the threat that if she didn’t do it, he would no longer…ahem, perform oral sex on her. Opinions ranged from “hell no, what a sexist pig” to “well, he does have to put it in his mouth…” I don’t even remember what she ended up doing, but many years later I find myself in a relationship with a man whose preferences in this area are different from mine. We compromise. He’d love it if I waxed it all off, I’d love it if I could leave it to do its own thing. Instead, I trim and groom. (Sorry, TMI.) What it came down to was him saying that his preference was outweighed by mine because he’s rather I be happy with myself than have me resentfully conforming to his preferences. And this willingness to let it go was the only thing that got me to compromise. So yes, asking is fine, as long as you’re willing to take “no” for an answer.

  62. jzzy55 says:

    So…why does he want you to grow your hair longer? How do you decide if you’re ok with the request if you don’t know the answer to that question? Maybe you do and I missed it in the article, or you don’t want to say.
    I have long believed that many men, from many cultures, have a “thing” about long hair. Biologically, it signals something about fertility. Even when the hair in question is no longer shiny, pretty or even healthy, they still believe in its magic powers. Are there any fairy tale princesses with bobs besides the one in Munch’s Paper Bag Princess?

  63. Erika says:

    My husband likes long hair as well. I kept it long for 14 years but then I decided I no longer wanted chemicals in my hair so I cut it all off. He loved it! He didn’t know he would. I am now growing it out because I want it long again. I said all that to say that I find nothing wrong with trying to please your spouse in certain ways as long as it doesn’t make you feel abused AND if you have a wonderful spouse as you and I do.

  64. Kim P. says:

    I always ask Rikki what he thinks about these things, and he’s so sweet. I too have quit wearing mascara upon his advice (not given, just based on his general comments about liking me better without eye makeup), though I still do a light eye pencil since I’m blonde…it looks pretty good I think! He’s never commented about my weight, though he once said after I was bitching about it, “Sweetie, you are built for comfort, not for speed” which amazingly I thought was really sweet. I want him to be proud of me and like the way I look, so I think it’s great when he gives me input.

  65. El says:

    Yep, my DH mentioned I should lose some of the 50 post 3 babies pounds. He mentioned casually that the sister of his personal trainer was back in town and was looking for new clients, then he offered to watch over the kids for me so I could go. I didn’t take him up on it, but I did lose about 35 of the pounds through dieting. Now, I am finally ready to do the trainer thing and lose the rest. He didn’t pressure, he just mentioned it in passing a few times and I got the hint. No insult to me since I knew I needed to lose the weight.

  66. Anonymous today says:

    All in the context, absolutely.

    I can see how a critical “maybe you should grow it out/cut it/dye it/lose it” would rankle.

    But a view from the rocks (where my marriage is these days): a husband who actually cares enough to notice how you look, to have a preference, to be willing and trusting enough to put it into words – I’d ***kill*** for that.

  67. manfred says:

    That’s funny! I don’t do girl crushes though. I’m pretty content with my own husband.

  68. Cricket says:

    I remember on your old blog, a picture of you on the beach with your longish hair blowing in the wind while your arms were around one of your children…

  69. Audrey says:

    Hmm, my husband made a comment once that “You don’t need to shave for my benefit.” Which I believed, but considered that it was perhaps also underlain by *not* liking that in-between-shavings prickly legs. So I stopped shaving my legs. It felt awkward for the first few months, but it has been 3 years now. OTOH, I am a bit of a granola girl, with fair-ish hair. Hubby also loved my long hair, which I have had for at least 75% of my life. But last winter I just *had* to have a change, and cut it above the shoulders. He’s ok with that.
    On the weight issue, we are both pretty active, but have our peaks and valleys of weight and distress over it. I usually try to encourage an activity if I feel he is getting “lazy.” Or I try to set an example — I complain about my weight then say, “I’m going to start running more.”
    Totally agree on the sex thing (better not to say no). Went down that road in my first marriage. *Shudder.*

  70. Monika says:

    I had to cut my hair for mine…

    All my male gay friends loved my hair — it was almost to my waist. Alas, my husband would always roll onto it in bed, and accidentally yank it out by its roots. (and he umm, would find it in the darndest places!) So, he asked me to cut it.

    That’s when I was 24.

    Now, our 7.5 year old daughter has wavy hair to her waist. She has never had a hair cut (except for the times my husband has succeeded in snipping off ends when she was in the bathtub), and refuses to ever have one. I have to laugh! Poor man! (at least our son gets haircuts!)

  71. Gina says:

    I shave because my husband wants me to. I have no interest in it, and I have skin problems that make it really uncomfortable. He also requests that I wear lingerie pretty frequently, and that I mostly just ignore. I do not look good in it, I am not comfortable in it, and all of the fussing over it is distracting and sex-ruining for me despite the fact that it has the opposite effect on him. I indulge him once in a great while, but grudgingly. I know he would also like it if I wore makeup more often, and if I wore heavier and darker makeup when I do wear it, but this too I ignore. Death rock was a long time ago, and I have no desire to relive my Robert Smith makeup days. So I guess shaving and occasional lingerie is where I draw the line.

  72. CM says:

    My husband asked me to lose the extra 30 lbs of baby weight because his sex drive has been negatively affected. I knew that he liked svelte athletic women when I married him but I never thought he would actually ask me. I felt very hurt by it, especially that he asked pretty soon after the child was born at a time in my life when I was really struggling with a full time and very stressful job, returning to work after maternity leave, breastfeeding, and work travel (all the while he was unemployed and caring for our child full time, something I wanted to do but could not afford due to his lack of work). It was not a good time in our relationship. In the meantime he has mellowed out about asking me, and we have worked through a bunch of the surrounding issues like my job, his job, who cares for the child full time. But I know he still would like me to lose the weight, even though he doesn’t talk about it anymore. His request has not motivated me to lose weight one bit, in fact part of me resented him so much for asking that I ended up eating more. My child is 19 months and I am still carrying the pounds. I tried losing the weight but I haven’t yet found a good balance with healthy habits. I am still working on recovering emotionally and being good to myself and making healthy choices. I am hoping soon I’ll actually be able to think about this and do something about it without the resentment I used to feel.
    What would you have done?

  73. Kristin says:

    The weight issue is so complicated. When my husband and I were dating, I was really skinny — as in, you could see my ribs and see them too much. He commented one day in a very loving way, while caressing my body, “We have GOT to put some meat on these bones!” We were in our 20s and when I told my girlfriends about his comment, all of them pretty much swooned and went on and on about how wonderful he is. And he was right — it was a LOT of work for me to remain that skinny and I am a lot happier at my current weight (thin, not skinny) and it’s much easier to maintain. But he was gently asking me to make a change. It took the pressure off me to try to have the body of a model and made me feel great about myself and our relationship because a previous boyfriend had always pressured me to be skinny and toned. Getting rid of that pressure was great for me.

    But the opposite request is a lot more tricky. We all know there are men who are always on their wives’ cases about weight — even women who are not remotely overweight. What is great is that so many women here have commented in lovely ways about how the men in their lives have encouraged them in loving ways to get healthier by losing weight. It’s all in the approach and in the women’s own sense of self. If a person gains 50 or 100 pounds or more after marriage, I think that is a lot to ask a spouse to simply be okay with and continue to find the person attractive. But the partner of someone who is struggling with weight has to be sensitive to the causes and very, very careful about how it is expressed. I just think it’s terribly complicated and how best to deal with it is different in every single case.

  74. Bam says:

    My husband has a pretty laid back attitude toward anything about which he doesn’t have a STRONG opinion. In the course of our time together I’ve gone from nearly waist length hair to a pixie cut and all he’s ever really said was that the super short hair required more upkeep than was practical to look good (meaning that I didn’t put enough effort into keeping it looking good so it wasn’t really practical for me ;) but that all the long hair ended up in umm…the strangest places… He almost never mentions my weight and only ever says he wants me to be comfortable with myself since I’m kinda vain and if I don’t think I’m hot, his assurances don’t mean much. He’s occasionally made comments in passing about how I dress at home (I’m a SAHM and took a little bit too much advantage of the new dress code at first) and I’ve since accumulated a more acceptable range of what I call ‘house clothes’ =)

    Like everyone else has said, in the context of a generally supportive relationship, I think it’s no biggie. But I’ll take that a step further and say that one of the responsibilities of a long term relationship is for both parties to make an effort to maintain compatibility with regards to personal appearances (including and especially weight) and libido. It wouldn’t be acceptable for your partner to start treating you like crap or quit brushing his or her teeth either.

  75. anonymous says:

    That’s a tough one. I really agree with almost all you said. It doesn’t hurt to make small compromises in a relationship. You need those types of changes (hair, etc.) to keep things interesting in a relationship, and it is a good sign when your husband/partner is still interested enough to care about little details. When men aren’t interested, they don’t take the effort to make suggestions like that. BUT I think it is better to make these changes in a safe, healthy relationship. I dated a guy for a long time who was obsessed with me not working out (enough). I didn’t have a weight issue and just didn’t enjoy running and some of the other activities he was interested in. I encouraged him to do it with other friends but he kept pushing me to do it. After a few years of dating he finally asked me if I exercised more if my breasts would shrink! He was self conscious about other men looking at my breasts, and I think he thought I would be more “athletic” if my breasts were smaller. That relationship didn’t last much longer, and I kept doing yoga and the other activities that I (with a capital I) enjoyed.

  76. anonymous says:

    Oh and on the weight issue….My husband has put on about 40 pounds in the 7 years we have been married. I am finding that while I am still completely in love with him and attracted to him, my physical attraction is less than it used to be. I would like to ask him to lose weight, but he’s hard enough on himself so I just try to support him by cooking healthy meals and encouraging him to make the time to exercise. I feel asking someone to lose weight, while valid in some respects, is a really hard thing to do simply because it can be so hard to lose weight and there are so many physical and emotional challenges related to gaining and then losing weight. Asking someone to cut their hair is in a different league in my opinion. Most people who need to lose weight already know it, and the discussion should be more around what else in your life needs to change so they can meet those weight loss goals. It feels superficial, but I think we should all do our best to look good for our partners just like we try to be better partners in other ways.

  77. Michele says:

    I think it’s perfectly fine and normal for Jon to ask this, and I agree that it’s nice that he does care and take an interest in your appearance! I also had short hair for a very long time–sometimes very, very short. It wasn’t until my husband sheepishly asked me not to cut it too short once that I realized he even had a preference. I think this goes both ways and, in a loving, respectful relationship, is perfectly fine. Same for the sex. Especially if we’re expecting a monogamous relationship, we need to take care of each other’s needs, and that means keeping up our physical appearance within reason and occasional sex when you’re not feeling ravenous– and that goes for men too!

  78. Tiffany says:

    I wouldn’t be offended at all by my husband asking me to lose weight…actually, I depend on his honesty to help me keep things like that in check. When he makes suggestions that are related to my appearance, I know that he is doing it in love. I think it’s also important to remember that I ask the same types of things of him. I like him with longer (not long, but not short) hair and a goatee, so he wears longer hair and a goatee. He does these things just for me. Why should I not also be willing to do the things he likes? The problem comes in when one partner, the man OR the woman, demands that the other do all the changing when he or she is not willing to budge at all. Regardless of whether it’s him or her, it’s totally unfair in that context.

  79. liz says:

    I guess I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if my husband wanted me to change something about my appearance, since I am on his case about his appearance. I wish he would grow out his 1/4 inch haircut but he won’t. Also, I am always making him change his tie or his shirt because he has no fashion sense and if he looks bad, I feel like it is a reflection on me. He recently agreed to do something about his weight when he tried on his tuxedo and needed about 6 inches in the waistband. I put us both on the Atkins diet so fast it made his head spin. Livin’ la vida low carb agreed with both of us and he lost 33 and I lost 17 in about 4 months and we both look and feel great. I’m 49 and he’s 51 and it’s not always easy to lose at our ages, granted we weren’t that big to start out with. Anyway, he has never asked me to change anything and if he did, I might feel a little hurt but now that you have made me think about it, I guess I would do it if it seemed reasonable. I have some curly, curly hair though so growing it out might not be reasonable.

  80. [...] I was reading, with great interest, a blog post on Babble.com by a woman who is growing out her hair to appease her husband. She goes on to say that she also [...]

  81. john cave osborne says:

    are boys allowed to chime in?

    here’s my take: any man or woman can ask his or her spouse to make any kind of change which he or she would like to see made.

    then, the spouse who received the request must process said request. was it a shallow one? was it one within reason? my wife and i have both made requests to one another, but they tend to be along the lines of things that would undoubtedly be best for the other one.

    PS — i think you’ll look hot (wait, don’t all the gals write “hawt” these days?) w/ long hair.

  82. Artemisia says:

    Asking your partner to lose weight would be just fine if you could check into a spa for the morning, pay a few hundred bucks, and come out with the weight gone.

    The reality is, it’s very, very difficult for many people to change their weight significantly and completely impossible for a few. You are asking your partner to make a major life change – an often unpleasant one – knowing full well that after doing so, there might not be much of a change and if there is, it might not be permanent. And if the weight loss is not significant and permanent, she (or he) will feel like a failure. And that’s without getting into all the cultural weirdness and shaming about fat that surrounds us and makes the whole thing completely fraught.

    So, no. It’s not acceptable to ask that of anyone in your life. Asking them to move towards a healthier more active lifestyle along with you is great; just don’t stake your relationship on the weight part.

  83. Lillian says:

    It depends on the context of the request. My husband is constantly pushing me to lose weight. It started off with subtle comments about exercising together, staying healthy, etc and then grew into not-so-subtle digs about how I’ve let myself go after having kids. His comments hurt, and they have actually reduced my motivation to lose weight. I want to be reassured that he would love me whatever my weight, but instead I believe this is a major issue for him. I’m overweight because I work 50+ hour weeks and take care of two small children when I’m not working. I’m the main breadwinner and the main caretaker. If my husband really wanted me to lose weight, he should step it up at work and also help more with the children. I love him, and I know he loves me. But he just doesn’t understand how sensitive this issue is for a woman. So my answer is no…I do not think it’s ok to ask someone to lose weight for you. Anyone can grow hair. It doesn’t take effort. Anyone can have sex when tired. Anyone can stop wearing eye makeup. But losing weight is incredibly hard work for some of us, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect an overworked mother who barely sleeps to diet and spend time working out. Hollywood stars are thin because it is their JOB to stay thin. They have time for the gym. My time is spent working or caring for children. I will work out once I start having time to sleep more than 5 hours a night or once I can eat a meal in peace without dealing with a toddler or a baby. Until then, give me my comfort food and lay off the weight comments.

  84. Talora says:

    It’s been said, and I agree, assuming a loving relationship it depends on the context and how much effort needs to be exerted. Growing hair, makeup, push-up bra, high heels for a dinner out etc… Totally fine for most people. Weight loss (if you don’t want to or can’t lose), plastic surgery, clothes that are unrealistic in price or style etc… Danger areas. It *could* be fine depending on your relationship, or it could be terribly damaging.

    In general, doing something to be more appealing to your spouse is the give and take of a relationship. But it goes both ways.

  85. KP says:

    I am 26 and my husband and I have both gained some weight since we started dating 8 years ago. He recently asked me if I thought he should lose weight, and although I think he should be more active, I said no. I know that our weights are only temporary at this point and our lifestyle will eventually change and we will find balance as we get older. I asked him the same question and he told me he would like it if my stomach was flatter. It was the only negative thing he has ever said about my appearance. I was pretty offended, a little mad since I was probably searching for a compliment, and my generally high self esteem took a SERIOUS hit. When I thought about it, however, I realized that I am constantly complaining about that area and he probably is sick of listening to me grumble. His critique made me motivated to make real changes. I have lost 7 pounds so far and he showers me with compliments. I think it’s important to be secure enough with yourself and your marriage to be able to look at the critique logically and figure out if it is reasonable for yourself.

  86. lolismum says:

    I don’t know, if a partner is constantly commenting about every morsel that goes in your mouth, asks you to be super skinny, I can understand how that would be unacceptable. But a partner who asks you to lose weight because you are 30-50lbs overweight, I don’t see how that’s a problem. So many people let themselves go after getting married, after having kids. I am no longer the super skinny person when I was 20, when I had both time, energy, age on my side, but if I were to ever hit 30+ lbs overweight category, I am sure I would not like it, neither would my husband. And the same would be true if he were to really let go.

  87. RZ says:

    Interesting discussion, but I thought you were pregnant???

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