He Wants Before, Not After
It is no secret that most men are drawn to shiny new things. Give him the choice between a brand new, candy-apple red Ferrari and 5 year old Honda Accord. You can guess what keys he’ll grab, and which car he’ll quickly jump into and drive off! The Honda although reliable, gets good gas mileage and will seat more people it doesn’t stand a chance. Men will always be drawn to the item that will cause others to stare and envy him.
Another notable male trait is that men will also trade the old in for the new. Typically, after only three years a man that’s financially able will trade in a car and if he is very financially sound he will keep the old car as well. Well, Ladies welcome to the mind of a man. Case and point…let me introduce you to Jane. Jane is not a real person, but an amalgamation of the many women I have counseled over the years, on this issue.
Jane sat across from my desk, hand in head, simply perplexed at her situation.
“First Lady, why is my husband distant and withdrawn, he was once so attentive and loving?”
Even if we don’t fully understand, we all surely know that men and women are very different. There is one thing in particular that I have observed in my years of counseling, and feel that it is my duty to share. WARNING, many women will become angry and offended at the information I am going to share. Nonetheless, it is still true. Men are visual. Their eyes affect not only their heart but also their loins. The simple truth, men are turned on if they like what they see. The opposite is true as well. They are turned off when they don’t like what they see. Although he may not have the courage or the emotional vocabulary to express this, trust me when I say, it is the truth! There is only one time when it is truly acceptable to be overweight in a husbands mind, and that would be when you are pregnant and then you have a six to eight month window of time to lose the weight before he begins to wonder where is his wife?
At the risk of further upsetting some readers, here is an additional hard truth. Your husband really wants the same girl that he married and chose to spend the rest of his life with, regardless of your current age or situation. He wants you to be the same size and have the same attitude throughout the marriage. If we are 100% honest with ourselves, we all know that this is the truth, no matter how seemingly unreasonable it all sounds. If you need further convincing, Proverbs 5:18 gives this directive to those seeking wisdom: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Now, in all fairness, this is mentioned as the alternative to leaving your wife for a seductress, but we cannot ignore the “youth” part. This alludes to the fact that the wife he married when he was younger is the same wife he should be able to enjoy today. Allow me to offer the suggestion that the word “youth” is important and it is the intention of the writer to recall the days when he had a young, happy and cute wife!
Let’s look at the “For better or worse” vow which is typically included in most Christian marriage ceremonies? I am going to refer again to the differences that we spoke of at the onset. For men “worse” is always a temporary state. In other words, whatever the circumstance, it won’t last many days and won’t hinder his wife from being loving, sexy and always ready for late night festivities! For women “worse” can mean anything from loss of job, serious illness, injury, whatever! We are in it for the long-haul, and we don’t care what happens to his weight or his attitude. We stay. Well, most of us stay although there is a small group of wives who will abandon her husband, children and home for so called greener pastures but we aren’t discussing them today.
When a man marries a woman, he says “I do” to the happy, witty, slender girl that he fell in love with. And that is who he expects to have for the rest of his life. How he found you is how he wants you to remain. If you think this is absurd, the truly bizarre thing is that, although he should, your husband will likely NEVER tell you the truth! In our society, men have been trained to curtail their honesty for the sake of his wife’s feelings.
Men have been trained by women to say “It’s the inside that matters, not the outside” or “you should love me for who I am and not for how I look on the outside” We have anesthetized and downright bullied men into denying their visual nature and forced them to settle for a wife who has let herself go. This is what I call “mental castration”. When a man is no longer attracted to his wife, but does not want to cheat, what option is he left with, other than to mentally castrate himself by denying his sexual nature? NO, men are not purely sexual. That is not the argument, so please don’t mince my words. Let’s be honest with ourselves and please receive what I am saying in love. Men are afraid to tell us that they would prefer we were the size we were on our wedding night.
So here’s a good segue back to Jane. Jane weighed-in on her wedding day at a svelte 120 lbs at 5’6” tall. She was happy, fun and extremely witty. John, her husband, loved her and bragged constantly about his stunning wife. She was his prize. When he spoke of her it was as if even he didn’t know how he had landed such an amazing woman.
Now, fast forward to ten years and two children later and Jane is still 5’6” but she weighs 195 pounds and counting. Jane blames the weight gain on her children who are now seven and nine years of age. John isn’t buying the blame” the pregnancy line” because he sees women at his job and at his gym who have multiple children but are back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Jane is deeply hurt because as she put it, “He certainly doesn’t look like our wedding photograph either! I am still the same person on the inside." But to John, the inside doesn’t concern him as much. He would have never been attracted to, dated or let alone, married a 195 lb, 5’6” woman no matter how nice she was on the inside. John offers no defense for his behavior, but instead he withdraws emotionally and then ultimately physically. Jane often uses aliments, swollen feet, hurting knees and back etc., due to her weight gain as an attempt to get sympathy and attention from John but that never works because John silently thinks that Jane should just be quiet and lose the weight.
And then one day, after lots of talking and counselling, John finally came clean and told Jane the inevitable…
“I love you. I’m just not in love with you anymore.”
If you ever wondered what this phrase really means, well now you know! John loves his wife, but you can translate “not in love with you” as no longer desiring to be with you, or to be in your company because when I look at you I am not turned on. He is no longer proud of her appearance and dreads going home to an overweight, complaining wife with swollen ankles and sore knees.
This is simply one of those times where we must accept that men are different. To fight this fact is an exercise in futility. In Jane’s case, she’d stay around through thick and thin, regardless of how John looked. But John finds it very difficult to stay in a situation where he is not visually and physically satisfied. Many have pontificated on this truth throughout the generations with silly “hunter-gatherer” or pro-polygamist theories. I, for one, will ask God when I get to Heaven, but for now, regardless of the reason or fairness, it is the truth for many men and we must deal with it.
It is imperative that if you find yourself in a similar situation as Jane, you must change your thinking about how your husband sees you. Bigger clothes, new makeup, a new hairstyle is not the answer. You can spend a fortune on a dress but if you are overweight, the comment “You look pretty” may placate you for the moment, but if he shows no magnetic attraction to you and he starts to act like our fictional friend John, then you must do some true soul searching. Analyze whether or not your weight is contributing to the problem. You owe it to yourself and to your marriage to do your best. And yes, your husband does as well, but I’m talking to wives right now.
If you were curvy when you got married then your guy likes curvy, and that’s okay! But if you were thin and you have now gained a considerable amount of weight then you must rethink the statement “For better or worse” from his perspective. Men think “for better or worse” are things that are out of your control and your weight is under your control and your “John” knows it.
There are countless resources for getting in shape and losing weight. Body of Pearls is where I share my thoughts and suggestions on weight-loss, so I’m not going to elaborate on that. But the number one excuse that most women will use for not working out is that they don’t have time. You have to make time. I made time with two children to lose sixty pounds twice. After each pregnancy I gained sixty pounds. I was on bed rest with both pregnancies which resulted in sixty pound weight gains on a 5’2” frame. It was not pretty nor cute. Within 9 months of each birth I was back to my ideal weight of 120 pounds. I didn’t wait for my husband to pull away from me. I worked hard for me to feel good when I looked in the mirror. I liked me.
Get up earlier and work out before everyone gets up. Prepare food for the week and go to the gym after work. Walk your neighborhood with friends. Cook your families meal and you have a salad and the same lean meat your family is eating. Make yourself a priority. Often women will put everything they need to look and feel good on the back burner while caring for the people in their family. Be selfish just enough to look and feel great, remain healthy and to keep the man you love in love with you. Do what it takes to remain his “Before” and your Best After.
With Prayers & Love,
First Lady Lynda