My husband and I are the same age. He is a very, very handsome man who is fit and looks quite young for his age. He could easily be a model or work in television. If he were more attention-seeking or had a more outgoing personality, he'd probably have women falling all over him. I myself am a fairly average looking woman. I look my age, and like the mother of three that I am. Usually it just breaks my heart to be seen with him.
The problem is, my husband is not a flatterer by nature and has no interest in helping me feel better about this issue other than to tell me I'm nuts. He can be quite vain about his appearance - not as bad as he could be, but it's there. When we go out he carries himself like he knows he looks good. I find this to be increasingly unattractive. My natural inclination is to tell him how handsome he is, but more and more I am withholding compliments because I'm not getting much meaningful praise in return.
Perhaps the damage I am trying to control could best be described in this way: I am damaging my marriage by resenting my husband for being better looking than me.
I feel your pain, sister. As regular readers of this column will know, I too am married to a spouse "way out of my league," an Amazonian uber-babe who causes men's jaws to drop to the floor in awe, and women to seethe and stew with, uh, admiration.
It can be a problem, sure. At parties, I can practically see the thought-balloons popping up over people's coconuts: "What's she doing with him?"
It strikes me your biggest problem may be your husband's burgeoning narcissism and vanity; and the emphasis you both seem to place on looks.
In fact (and I am never-endingly amazed by the boorishness of the madding mob), sometimes people will actually come right out and utter these thoughts aloud.
"Pam," one of them might say, a look of puzzlement and intellectual curiosity on his/her mug. "May I ask, when you first started going out with Dave, just what, exactly, did you see in him?"
Me thinking: "Dude, are you kidding me? I'm standing right here."
I've learned to adjust/accept it. Mostly, I smile quietly to myself, shake my head, and shake it off. Let the nattering, chattering masses think what they like. We're soul mates, and get along like a house on fire. She's happy. And good-looking people like to be happy, same as the rest of us.
These days, I just try to use it to my advantage. I say to myself: "Having such a good-looking wife makes me look cool." So I drag her to as many parties as I can - especially work-related ones. I figure people will look at her and think: "Hmm, Dave must be a really talented writer." And maybe I'll get more gigs.
Might I suggest a similar attitude-adjustment on your part, madam? Think of your husband's comeliness as a testimonial to your intellectual and emotional gifts, and the dynamism of your personality.
To put it another way: His good looks make you look good. The mirror reflects well on him, and that reflects well on you. Enjoy the good-looking gift God has given you!
That said, I have two more pieces of advice. One is: I would keep an eye on him, especially if he's out on the town alone a lot. When Pam goes out on the town alone, my spies are everywhere, feeding me up-to-the-minute intel.
Not that she's ever given me any reason not to trust her. Nor, it sounds like, has your hottie hubby. Still, my motto is: "If you want to keep someone, keep your eye on them."
The other is: Curb his narcissism. It's a red flag that he doesn't compliment you, and only continues to primp and preen when you compliment him. Complimenting one's spouse's once in a while is part of the job-description. Now and then Pam will remember to say: "You look handsome." I know it means "compared to usual." But still, it fills me with pleasure.
But in your case I would say you run the danger of overcomplimenting. Despite what you suggest in your question, it strikes me your biggest problem may be your husband's burgeoning narcissism and vanity; and the emphasis you both seem to place on looks.
Nip these tendencies in the bud, babe. Anyway, who cares, after a certain point, how good-looking someone is?
What's important is your accomplishments, your intellectual prowess, the force of your personality, your parenting, your character, moral fibre, and … all that sort of stuff. What used to be known as "the cut of one's jib."
That's where your focus should be. Praise or urge improvements upon your husband in these departments, and not on his looks. Forget what either of you sees in the mirror.
Do that, and you'll lead a lot more relaxed, happy, and even-keeled lives, I can almost guarantee you.
David Eddie is the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad. Damage Control, the book, was released in March.
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