Picture this. You are at a business function with your husband. You stand loyally at his side throughout the evening and thoroughly enjoy the charm, the warmth and the conversation that he exudes with everyone that he encounters. You see a facet of him that you absolutely adore, a side that caused you to fall in love in the first place. You ask yourself, “Is this the same man that won’t look up from the television when I’m trying to talk with him? The same guy that burps at dinner, and grunts a reply when I ask a question?”
Flip side. You attend a social, charity event with your wife. You are quite taken back when she emerges from the bathroom looking like a model. She’s dressed to kill, her hair is perfect, her make-up intact. You couldn’t be more proud to be her husband as you notice the other men taking a second glance at her throughout the evening. You feel confident and aroused at the same time. You get home late from the party and you’re both sleepy from the wine. But the next day at work, you can’t stop thinking about her and can’t wait to get home to be with her. However, when you walk in the house she’s wearing sweat pants, a ratty t-shirt and her hair is a mess. She tells you how proud she is that she’s been cleaning the bathrooms all afternoon…
The common theme across these two scenarios should be obvious. Why is it that we act and dress for success with mere acquaintances, but take our spouse for granted so much of the time? Why do we care so much about what others think and completely ignore how we make our partner feel?
I’m not suggesting that we “put on airs” around our spouse. A solid relationship should be one where we can truly be ourselves and feel both safe and comfortable. Having said that, we must avoid becoming so self-centered that we consistently put our own needs ahead of our partner’s. A healthy relationship requires a balance in this area.
A great real-life (positive) example. Several years ago we owned a house in Michigan. My sister-in-law and her kids were visiting, and we had been playing around the pool all day. My brother was due to return from a business trip and join us that evening. As late afternoon approached, she went in to the house, showered, put on nice clothes, make-up and did her hair. As she came back outside, I asked her if she was going out somewhere. I’ll never forget her response, “No. But Jim (her husband) will be here soon, so I’ve done this for him.” “Why?”, I asked. Without hesitation she replied, “He’s been traveling all week, he’s been around beautiful, professional women at the office, and I want to look my best for him when he gets here.”
They have a shocking marriage, and it’s one that Tara and I have tried to model in many ways. Bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up and acting our best for other people or specific situations. However, it is important that we show willingness to do those same things for (just) our spouses upon occasion as well. After all, at the end of the day, which relationship is really more important?