As part of my blog tour with Samantha at Chick Lit Plus, I wrote a guest post for Sarah at The Brazen Bookworm about how I created the characters of Stephanie and her friends in Just Friends With Benefits:
This post might be a bit controversial and while I hope some of you will agree with me, I’m sure some of you won’t. It’s just my personal opinion.
There was a segment on The Today Show yesterday about a survey conducted of men and whether they’d leave their wives if they gained a lot of weight. Although I had to leave for work before the segment aired, the female anchors had already expressed disgust towards any man who said yes, he would leave his wife.
Let me state at the outset that I do not support a man leaving his wife for gaining some weight associated with illness, general aging, having a baby etc. and I think it’s unreasonable to expect your wife to look the same naked at 60 as she did at 40. Especially since I doubt he aged backward either! I also do not support a man walking out on his wife for any reason without even communicating his unhappiness and, instead, catching her off-guard after the fact and after his decision has been made. And please note that any comments I make flow both ways and are not only directed at the men but also at the women.
When two people fall in love, in the best circumstances, the love is both physical and emotional. And if one of the two individuals drastically change either emotionally or physically from the person he/she was when they got married, I think it’s reasonable to expect the relationship to suffer. If a man fell in love with a woman in part because she was passionate about animal rights and was a vegan, no one would balk if his feelings changed when the woman began eating hamburgers daily and wore fur coats and snake skin shoes. Because she would no longer be the woman he fell in love with! Similarly, if a man fell in love with a woman, in part, because she took care of herself physically, ate healthy, and took great care to look pretty for him and for herself, why is it so offensive that he would lose his physical attraction to her if she let herself go appearance-wise, stopped wearing any makeup and cancelled her gym membership once they got married? For the record, I’m not suggesting that thinner is better and that people don’t often prefer a heavier partner. But in a case where the wife was a certain body type when her husband fell in love with her and that shape significantly changed, it’s not a stretch to guess that his physical attraction might lessen even if he still loves her on the inside and I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of physical attraction in a relationship. I don’t think it’s offensive that a man would expect the woman he dated, fell in love with and proposed to to remain the same person after they got married. And it goes both ways! If I fell in love with and married a man who was passionate about his work, while I would certainly stand by him if he lost his job, I would probably become resentful if, after a reasonable amount of time passed, rather than looking for a new job, he sat on the couch all day, whining about his life leaving me solely responsible for the financial burdens of the household. And no one would blame me. Because he would not be the man I fell in love with. And if the man I dated and became engaged to loved to play sports with his buddies, went to the gym a few days a week and took care of himself physically turned into a KFC eating, couch potato fatty, sorry, but I’m not sure I’d be as excited to sleep with him anymore.
I do believe in the vow to love someone “for better of worse” and would never suggest that leaving your husband because he lost his job, his hair or muscle tone is acceptable. But I think there are limits to how “worse” someone can allow things to get before throwing in the towel. And yes, I agree that someone who loves you on the inside should love you even if your outside changes and in some cases, this holds true. But when the outside appearance changes drastically and the person you were once attracted to no longer looks the same (and again, I’m not talking 10 pounds, wrinkles and general signs of aging, I’m talking significant change due to complacency and laziness), it’s naive to expect it to go unnoticed.
I think some women think once they get married, they are home free and no longer have to work to keep their husband interested in them physically and I think it’s naive to feel that way. Even if the man doesn’t leave, it doesn’t mean he’s happy, nor does it mean he’s not looking elsewhere. He might also feel that his wife takes him for granted to the point that she doesn’t even try to impress/attract him anymore. I have married men flirt with me all of the time and since I’m not a home-wrecker, it never goes beyond harmless flirting but not everyone has the same morals as I. And this goes for women too. Even if a women is married, it doesn’t mean she won’t find other men attractive. And if her husband lets himself go and takes her fidelity for granted, she might seek attention from other men to feel good about herself. I think men and women owe it to each other to work hard to stay as true to the person their spouse fell in love with as possible.
When I go on a date, I choose my outfit carefully so that it’s flattering and I do my makeup to play up my eyes. I want my date to think I’m pretty/sexy. Well, what if I reeled him in and once we got married, wore sweatpants all of the time and never applied makeup or did my hair? Would that be fair? Of course, I hope to meet someone who loves me even in sweatpants, sans makeup and I wouldn’t wake up before him each morning to apply makeup but I also think it’s necessary to still dress up sometimes and look pretty. I like to think I would do this for me as well as to keep the spark alive in my marriage. And I would expect my husband to do the same.
Some of you might think “she’s a single woman with no kids. What the hell does she know?” I appreciate that taking care of children is constant work and, like I wrote above, I’m not talking about ten pounds here and there, nor am I suggesting a stay-at-home mom should drive her children to play dates in stilettos and full make-up, but having children is not an excuse to become an entirely different person physically than who your husband fell in love with and why would you want to? One of my sisters wakes up every morning before her kids to run on the treadmill. She is in better shape now than she was 20 years ago because she makes it a priority. My other sister has 3 children and is also in great shape. And I know many married woman who have maintained their beauty routines after getting married. I don’t believe for a minute that it’s impossible to take care of yourself while taking care of others. It’s just an excuse.
Getting married does not guarantee that love will last, especially in this world where the divorce rate is 50% (last time I checked) and it is so easy to jump online and seek out attention from the opposite sex. I think it behooves both husband and wife to not take the other for granted and make assumptions that the relationship is permanent under all circumstances. If you take your spouse for granted and change from the person he/she fell for into a significantly less appealing model, he/she might just leave you and let me tell you there are many single folks ready to step in if that happens. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.