I received a question on our Facebook Page a few days ago dealing with appearance and who should get to choose how you look, you or your spouse? Here’s the question:
If you loved your wife’s looks exactly how she is, how would you feel if she changed that look because she wants a change?
Example: my husband loves my curves and long long hair. I mean loves them. While I am in shape I.would like to tone my tummy (4 kids, after all) so jeans fit more comfortably and I’d like a shorter (mid back rather than waist length) more up to date hair style. He won’t forbid me to change these things, but he has asked me not to.
Now, I know some of you are expecting me to pull out the patriarchy card, but I’m going to go another way on this one. So, let me pull a couple Bible verses and then I’ll let you know what I think.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. – 1 Corinthians 7:4
What do these tell us?
Firstly, that our body belongs to God. (There are many more verses than just the one, but they would just be repetitive I think.)
Secondly, our bodies belong to our spouse.
What does the Bible say? What does God want?
How do we implement this in the above questions? When deciding what to do with our bodies, we should first ask “Is this acceptable to God?” While there are verses about how hair should be styled in the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:6, 14-15, 1 Peter 3:3, Deuteronomy 22:5, 1 Timothy 2:9) I don’t think they quite apply here, regardless of your beliefs. After all, she’s not shaving her head, this wife is asking about taking a foot of of a few feet of hair. Likewise with her “shape”. She says she’s in shape, so this is more about toning, something that Bible is silent on, I believe (correct me if I am wrong, please).
So, these aren’t issues of morality, God’s laws, wishes, etc..
What does my spouse want?
Now, this seems clear, because her spouse has clearly stated what he wants. However, Christina, my wife, brings up an excellent point: Is he aware of what he’s asking. After all, a fresh haircut and a toned body could increase his wife’s self-confidence, which could ultimately increase sexual self-confidence, and thus sex-drive and sexual enthusiasm. No guarantee, of course, but that would be a pretty good trade for most husbands. Sometimes we don’t know what we want. Now, I’m not saying go and do it and see what he says. I’m saying, it might be wise to have a discussion about what it means to you. If my wife came and said “I want to get a haircut, because I think it will make me feel sexy”, I’d probably risk it.
Why do I want these things?
Finally, I think we need to ask ourselves why we are doing these things. Why make these changes. The stated reasons are:
- To have a more up-to-date hair style.
- So jeans can fit more comfortably.
Now, the second one is simple, it’s a comfort issue. But, what about the first? Why an up-to-date hair style? What’s the reason?
This is where implementing theology into the Christian life gets difficult. After all, our self confidence should come from simply being children of God, not from our appearance, hair style, clothes, etc.. This wife can’t argue she’s doing it for her husband…because he has stated he doesn’t want it. So, and I hesitate to say this, because it sounds bad, but she asked: The most logical answer is she is doing it to look good … but not for her husband. I’m not saying she’s trying to attract someone else, our society pushes us to remain attractive, and has this standard of what that should mean. It’s so impressed on us, it’s hard to escape. This is years of conditioning, since she was a little girl. We all have this conditioning.
The problem is that society’s ways should not necessarily be our ways. If we’re married, we shouldn’t be trying to look attractive to anyone but our spouses. So, again, if I was in this position, I think I’d have to ask myself: who am I trying to look attractive for? Most likely it’s to this vague concept of what our society expects, this idea that we need to “look good”.
Now, I’m not saying that if your spouse likes you to be 500 lbs, then that’s what you should do, after all, that’s unhealthy, and we’d have to flip back to taking care of the temple of God.
Here’s an example from my life:
I never wore jeans growing up. Not since grade school, I think. I found them uncomfortable and ugly, at least on me. I think part of it was that I wanted to be different, and everyone wore jeans. So, I have never bought jeans. One day someone gave me a pair. They sat in my closet for…oh, years. Never worn. Then one day I was doing some construction in my house. I didn’t want to rip my khaki’s, so I pulled out these jeans and put them on. When Christina saw me, I think she nearly fell out of her chair. After all, she’s never seen me in jeans, and we’ve been together since high school. An hour later, she said “I think I really like you in jeans…” So, I started wearing them more, to try to get used to them. I bought a few pairs. Now, I wear them all the time. They still feel weird, but, she likes it, and it’s not like it’s hurting me.
So, that’s my story of how this worked out. As it happens, I also keep my facial hair the way she likes it. It doesn’t take that much work, and she prefers it. That said…
What I would say to the husband
My wife has never asked me to wear jeans. She never asked me not to change my facial hair. She’s just made it known what she prefers. It’s my choice to go along with it, or not. Likewise, I let her know what my tastes are on her hair, clothing, etc.. If she doesn’t do them, I’m not disappointed. I don’t think she’s less attractive. Its only a preference. Not the end of the world. After all, clothes can change, hair can grow back. That said…I hope she never cuts her hair short.
What would you say to this wife? How does this play our in your marriage?
11 thoughts on “Should my spouse choose my appearance?”
Hair grows back and weight can be added or taken away, nothing is a permanent change. I agree with Christina that the change may be a sexy modification for her husband. Variety actually enhances marital satisfaction and I think that variety of weights and hair lengths would count.
It sounds like she wants to take care of herself and be fit, and he’s a little insecure about it and repressing it.
I have struggled with this issue this year. My husband and I have been together for almost 12 years now. I have never seen him without facial hair. We had an argument one day, so he passively-aggressively decided to shave all of his facial hair off…I believe…because he knew I would HATE it. He has not grown it back, and it has been months now. I really do NOT like the look at all, and it has caused some issues in me, as I don’t feel he is as physically attractive now. I still love him and am fully committed to our marriage, but it has been more impactful than he realizes, even though I have shared my preference with him. I agree that the correct order of priorities in the marriage are Christ first, spouse second, and kids third.
My husband does not like blonde hair. I explained to him that what he did would be like me (a brunette) going out and dying my hair blonde. But, he still decided that what he did, how he did it, and when he did it were okay with him. That is between him and God. It still doesn’t change the fact that it has changed how I look at him. I continue to pray that God will help me to find my husband desirable, in spite of the changes. It has been such a drastic change that I literally feel like I’m cheating on my husband with another man.
So, in closing, I would just preface to take the feedback from your spouse seriously and give heed for your motives behind doing whatever it is that you want to do. Blessings!! Melissa
Thanks for commenting Melissa. I’m glad you are continuing to pray for God to help you accept this change.
Sometimes our spouses aren’t as mature in all areas. We can decide to feel hurt, or we can try to understand that they are still growing as well, and continue to love them unconditionally while they grow up in this aspect.
On a side note: I read this comment right before bed, and then had a dream that I cut off all my facial hair…it was very strange. I haven’t been clean shaven in about a decade I think. I woke up and had to feel my face to ensure it wasn’t real.
This sounds like my husband. He likes my hair long, but to keep it out of my face when I cook or to keep from getting a rash on the back of my neck in summer, I pull it back into a ponytail; he wants me to keep it loose. He also prefers that I don’t shave my underarms, but I had a cyst cut under my right arm and the long hair feels like a brillo pad along the scar line. I want to please him, but if it is inconvenient, who should be the one to decide?
I am the question asker and just wanted to say thank you for answering. I reread the article and appreciate what you wrote. In happy news, DH and I talked and he agreed that my hair could use a trim and lift to put some life back into it. Nothing dramatic, just a freshen up. (Sometimes, we are tempted to overhaul when a simple freshen up will do). As for my tummy, a little toning up is ok. He just doesn’t want me to have a flat six pack. He liked womanly softness. Besides, he says, he put that baby belly there! That’s his pride and joy! LOL! Here’s to not having to starve myself to look like a Playboy model!! Woo hoo!! 🙂
My only beef with the article is the idea that because a woman changes her hair when her hubby wouldn’t find the change as appealing as the previous look, she must be vying for the attention of others. That simply isn’t so. Women are beautiful canvasses and artists all in one. We enjoy experimenting with hair, make up and clothes for ourselves. It’s part of the awesomeness of being a woman. So many options!
Otherwise, thank you for taking the time to deal with a wordy conversationalist on answering a toughie. I think you did a good job!
I completely agree, and thank-you for phrasing things the way you did. Once my husband let me now his preference was long hair I have not cut my hair, excepting bad hair stylist that butchered it while trimming, but I don’t mind long hair either. We’ve also discovered while working out our differences how important it is to have enthusiastic agreement, we must discuss things so that we can mutually be happy about the outcome, not just agree. I feel this is addressed here as well in encouraging discussion.
Spouses should consider their mate’s preferences, but they also have no right to demand a specific look that isn’t integral to the person’s appearance. In such cases, I think ongoing conversation and honesty can help a lot. Staying calm and explaining how you think and feel about the specific appearance issue can help you come to a win-win decision. It can take some time and patience to keep talking and looking for mutually satisfying solutions, but we’ve definitely done in more than once in my marriage.
(And I also objected a little to the notion that a woman wanting to update her haircut, in a way her husband doesn’t want, is doing it to look good for others. Having dealt with short, medium, and long hair at various times in my life, I can honestly say that wanting to change it up can have everything to do with feeling good about yourself and the convenience of an easier-to-manage hairstyle.)
Yes, I was corrected on that last point by the original questioner. My apologies. I’ve never changed my hair “just to try something new”, so I’m afraid that one never occurred to me.
I think a spouse who makes demands of their husband/wife regarding appearance is being selfish. Yes, we should take our spouse’s preferences into consideration and try to please, but we should also be willing to set aside our preferences to allow our spouse to wear hair and clothing that they feel comfortable and attractive in. There are Sunday mornings that I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying anything about my husband’s outfit choice. And you know what.. . It’s good for me to practice that self control and let go of my opinion. If he wants to wear that, what is it hurting me?
A far as hair, we both have our preferences and take those into consideration, but at the end of the day, we get to make our own choices, and if my husband isn’t crazy about my hair style, he keeps quiet and still tells me how beautiful I am.
And yes, sometimes we just want to change our hair because we’re tired of the same style we’ve been sporting for years. .. or as we age, our hair texture changes and it works better with a different style. Or we just want to feel pretty for ourselves and our current style makes us feel frumpy.
And don’t even get me started about weight. No man should ever go there. Not. Ever.
She. Is beautiful !