Wednesday, November 18, 2009

At home

I read this Interesting post at Domestic Felicity. I've heard it said before that women should look good at home, that as single women we always made an effort to look good, etc. so why does it change when we get married?  The question always unsettles me a bit. Maybe because I never hear this question being posed to men. Maybe because I think it (perhaps) places unrealistic expectations on women. Maybe because I don't think it's altogether true. I'm not sure. So I'm going to try to flesh it out.

As a single woman, if I were going out to work or to meet friends or on a date, I dressed up and tried my best to look nice/neat. As a married woman, I do the same thing (except I don't go out on dates).  As a single woman in my own house, I wore comfortable clothing. As a married woman in my own house, I wear comfortable clothing.

Most marriages involve cohabitation as mine does. That means that most of the time, when a husband sees his wife, it's at home. Now, it's always amazing to me that any husband could think that the woman they just almost gave themselves whiplash to look at simply walked out of the door without doing a dang thing. Most likely, that beautiful woman had to go through a process at home. This process may have involved coke bottle rollers, white face creams, smelly hair removal stuff, etc . . . she did that while she was at home. My opinion: if you think that woman out in the street if more fierce than I am, go on ahead and mess with her. You'll find when you get her at home, you'll be quite disappointed. Because at home, all that stuff comes off and a very different set of stuff gets put on. Whatever women he sees during the day, that's fine and he can look. But every man should know that those women--even the most well made up, high heel wearing, diva-esque of them--go home

Now that doesn't mean married women have a free license to be nasty or just not give a damn about how they look at home. By all means, brush those teeth, fix that hair and put on some clothes that fit. But it just seems to go without saying that a woman who took pride in being clean and being a woman before marriage, barring any psychological issues, would continue to do the same despite being married. I mean, she may not be able or have the desire to go all out like she used to (because marriage is indeed a "settling down") however she'd be sure to wear clean clothes and take care of herself.  But at home? I just can't understand why a woman would do anything other than be comfortable at home. I don't expect my husband when he's at home to put on his good clothes. In fact, most days when he's off, he lounges around in pajamas. That's cool. When I'm going out we both get dressed so he gets plenty of opportunities to see me looking good and put together. When we go out together, I make even more of a serious effort to look my best. Being comfortable at home (not slovenly) in my mind has nothing to do with disrespecting your partner and everything to do with being at home.

Where can a woman be completely at ease if not at home? Where can she really relax if not at home? I mean, honestly?  Where can she let go of the worry that she's not measuring up to other women? That if she doesn't keep herself "just so", she shouldn't expect faithfulness?

At home, being clean, not ashy and in clean clothes is truly my husband's only requirement and I'm grateful. He sees me naked for goodness sake. No clothes to obstruct the view. And he's not complaining. If there was a problem, because we are married, he should be able to communicate with me and help me in whatever way he can so we can both feel happy and positive. If he can't or won't, then that is the real problem--not the fact that I'm wearing sweatpants at home.

I remember an online conversation I was involved in a while back about this very issue. Many participants threw about the phrase "bait and switch" as in women will go the extra mile to "trap" a husband and once they have him in their clutches, they'll let themselves go, i.e. put on weight, dress frumpily, etc . . . I don't doubt that some women do that. But I'd venture to say that to most women, looking good to their husbands is a priority. Shoot, most women still want to look good to men who are not their husbands. They want to be desirable. I read all the time about women worrying that as they get older, men don't look at them anymore--preferring younger women. This seems to be a big concern. Would that same woman who's got that going on in her mind then just "let it all go" with their husbands? Just give up. Maybe, I suppose but not likely. A woman with a healthy self-esteem would sooner redouble her efforts than give up. Most women realize that men are visual creatures and if a woman is vastly different from what their man was attracted to in the first place, there could be issues. But, on the flip side, most men (at least most good men) realize that life brings about changes. Children happen. Illness happens. Life happens. But to me, that's the joy and beauty of marriage: sticking and staying through the really great times and the times that suck.

It's good every so often to switch it up and look really nice at home. I'm all for sexy lingerie, short shorts, and tight leggings around the house. But in my house, I should feel at home. I shouldn't be worrying about competing with outside women. Especially since in my mind, my husband is not competing with outside men. Why should he be? I love him and I'm content with him and he's trying to keep himself looking good and fit. He's making an effort. I'm making an effort and that is really what's important.  Aside from that, let's just be at home.

I understand that a lot of times when this topic is brought up, that there is a bottom line point the authors are making (or at least I hope so) in order to be help women be successful and happy in their marriages. The message is don't get so comfortable in your marriage that you start to take things for granted. But that bit of advice should permeate every aspect of the marriage and should always flow both ways--man to woman and woman to man. I think the more important message is for each partner to stay open, communicative and sensitive about each other's needs.

And be comfortable enough with each other to be comfortable at home.


Bientôt Maman said...

I can't even imagine getting all gussied up to sit at home. Our home is our sanctuary, our safe haven. I am so grateful that my husband doesn't care that I wear pajama pants and t-shirts around the house! lol! I have never felt the urge to put on makeup and a cute outfit to walk around the house!

alice said...

SUCH a good point. It's so simple, and I'm not sure why I've never thought of it this way before - thank you for clarifying this!

I think that this speaks to the fact that we sometimes don't question what it means for home to be a sanctuary - often, we can fall into a retrograde mindset of home being a haven for a man who works outside the home, a place for him to come and relax. However, that vision usually requires a woman to be working *at* home to provide that for him!

We all deserve to feel that our homes are a haven, and that often involves pajamas and no makeup.

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