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

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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