Over the past month I have asked questions about whether or not your partner should tell you that you don’t look your best, including if they should mention that you don’t look as young as you used to. Needless to say, there was a lot of chatter going on about this…

Unless you’re married to Dorian Grey, you and your partner are going to change physically as the years progress- aging is inevitable.  No one’s hair is the same color, or the same amount. Bodies shape shift. Lines appear out of no where.  Should you mention the aging process to your partner? Probably not.

But…what about taking care of yourself?  Do you have the right to tell your partner that they should take better care of themselves? Can you expect your partner to make an effort with their appearance?

What do I mean by this? Cleanliness- body and clothes.  If you decide to take a helter skelter approach to bathing, does your partner have the right to say anything? Can we expect someone to be clean?

How about weight? Assuming it’s not a health issue, can we say anything to our partner about their weight? What if one partner is carrying an extra 10 pounds, but the other has gained more, and it is due to nothing more than overeating.  Can we ask a partner to change their diet or watch what they eat? Is this open for discussion? What if one partner stops exercising? Is exercise part of self care?

Hair.  Should you ask your partner to color their hair? If a man is balding, should you tell them to change the style? What about styling and cut?  What constitutes effort as far as hair care? What if your partner stops cutting their hair?

And while we’re thinking about hair…what about those odd, unwanted hairs that start appearing on our bodies.  I have a thing against ear hair- drives me crazy.  Do I have the right to tell my partner to banish ear hair? Or nose hair? Am I allowed to follow him around with a tweezer?

Shaving.  Should we tell our partner to shave or not to shave?  If you don’t do anything about facial or body hair, does this show a lack of effort?

Clothing and style?  Can we say to our partner “Where did you get that jacket? 1980?” or “Is that blouse from the “Little House on the Ugly Prairie” collection?” Is it right to expect our partner to dress from this decade, or adopt an appropriate style?

I guess in my roundabout way, my point is: Should we ask our partner to take care of themselves in a certain way? Or should we just accept their maintenance schedule as it is? What constitutes effort? What defines taking care of oneself? How should/does it affect one’s partner?

It’s Wednesday, and I’m back into thinking mode…


52 thoughts on “Make the Effort

  1. I like this line of discussion. In my opinion, they can do whatever they like but I don’t have to be attracted to them. And if I am not attracted to them I don’t have to be intimate with them, I don’t even have to stay with them. If you want to have sex with me, make yourself sexy to me. And vice versa. Life is too short to stay with someone who is grossing you out. Talk about it. Give them a chance to come around. And if they choose not to, well there are always consequences to the choices we make.
    Thanks for bringing this up!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Hm. Depends on my mood. 😛 If, say, I give him a ‘if looks could kill’ kind of reaction then he would have been better off to say nothing. 🙂 Except, he usually says nothing anyway…

    I sometimes make ‘helpful’ recommendations and then get pissed off when he agrees in one breath and then turns around and wolf down a bag of chips. So I don’t know…he’s better off saying nothing and maybe I should do the same.

    I’m not sure where the fine line is in this circumstance.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dude, my second husband got a closet intervention right after we started dating seriously. He needed it. I made sure that I phrased things in a way that made it clear that it was about the clothes and why they weren’t working for him. I created a monster–he became just as much of a clotheshorse as I was 😁
    I’ve done the same for current husband, steering Sunshine away from colors that don’t look good with his beautiful native American skin tone. I’ve also slowly upgraded much of his off-duty wardrobe to nicer version of things in his comfort zone; he’s a t-shirt & jeans kind of guy, so I upgraded him to jeans & t-shirts from places like Gap & Banana Republic.
    I also nag him about taking his medications. If he is in a relationship with me (and especially since we built a house together), then he has a responsibility (obligation, even) to stay healthy for me & miss Mollie to enjoy the fruits of our labors. And when he tells me that “it’s time for _________”, then I go see the relevant professional for whatever that it, because he doesn’t throw those kind of sentences around lightly, and I have an obligation to stay healthy so we can enjoy our time together in this house we built.

    But that’s just us.


  4. There is always a nice and positive way to say things. In the end, if it would benefit the other person (especially as it pertains to their health) I would say yes. I would love to share this post (with credit to you and link back to your website) in my Rocking Over 40 FB group. Would that be ok?
    Thanks, Cynthia

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I tend to agree with rockingover40. If the couple has a strong relationship, there is a nice way to say important things. Maybe they don’t listen; maybe they laugh it off. But if said in a loving way, they will listen. Clothing; eh, let it go (unless it’s really embarassing); hygiene, yes, you should say something; weight, it’s something they’re already aware of, believe me. If it’s something they can change, like ear hair, I believe in telling them gently. Otherwise you will be looking at that ear every time you talk to them!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Just like I did with raising the kids, I pick my battles. Clothes: I don’t usually say anything unless there are dirty spots or it looks too small, etc. Then I say “Are you wearing that outside? It is dirty (or whatever) and people will think you have a wife who doesn’t care about you.” Hygiene: Yes if they smell bad or look really dirty. That is unhealthy and there may be something going on other than just being lazy (like depression). Hair and weight: No. Losing your hair is something you really have no control over (unless it is coming out in clumps – that also could be a medical condition) and weight is something that is pretty obvious to the person. Ear and nose hair: Maybe because you can’t really look in your own ear. Sometimes my husband will decide to grow a beard. I prefer just his mustache but it is definitely not something I fight over. He knows I like just the mustache but it is his face and he’s the one who has to shave it. Great post again. Love reading everyone’s comments too!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks. I’m finding it fascinating as to what people think about talking to their partner about appearance. What are the boundaries? When do we step in? I know women who criticize their husbands clothes, and I’ve also heard women say “how could she let her husband out if the house like that.” I’m going to think about this more….obviously…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that is an old fashioned statement because I’m not sure that younger wives were taught as much that they were supposed to “take care of” their husbands as women in my generation were.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. If they or we expect them to be physically attracted to them or us, they/we need to at least try to look , smell, and be attractive. Aging is changing my body but I’m still trying and I expect him to do the same. I’m not attracted to very overweight men or long beards. I don’t cut my hair short because he likes it long . That’s just my way of doing it. I know other couples differ . Whatever works. If you both are fine with being slobs, alrighty then . Lol! Thankfully my husband and I are both a bit vain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m turning over in my brain The whole physical attraction thing. What if you are no longer physically attracted to your partner? How much does that matter?


      1. In the early years I think we want to do that. Later it may take more effort to care , but I think it’s important to show them you care what they think and want to please them. If you do .

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I think it’s absolutely ok to tell/discuss about each other’s changing looks (with age) – I think it’s completely healthy, when you and your partner can discuss about good, bad and the ugly things in life, when there is good intentions in mind.
    However, I feel that looks should not weigh over intimacy ever! We all age, it’s a growth process that we all go through!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a tough thing….if , for example, I like my grey hair, but my husband doesn’t, do I change it to suit him, or keep it my way to suit me? I’m not sure how these things play out. Thanks for good and thought provoking comments


  9. It is a sensitive subject so I would say in order to not hurt their feelings, you could just encourage them to work out more or get a haircut or get them some new shirts/blouses as a gift.

    I think both men and women are pretty sensitive regarding their appearance, so best you can do is encourage, if you start nagging or pushing it just doesn’t work. Plus, they should want to do it for themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I would definitely say that presentation is key to the discussion. While I do think that we owe it to our partners to be honest, we must also be mindful of feelings when choosing to open up certain doors. If you come across as judgmental or overly critical, it could have an adverse effect.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think that a marriage is the hardest job that one will ever have outside of having and raising children. it’s all about give and take and it’s predominately give. it’s also about striking a reasonable balance between what you want and what your partner wants. one can’t always have things their way or no way at all. it’s not a healthy relationship if you live like that. and yes I think talking about and bringing up health issues is a fair game topic for either partner. I think it falls in with the “respect”, “love and “care” parts of the vows and you don’t have a right to be upset at a partner if they care enough about you and want you around for as long as possible.

    maybe I have outdated thinking but I think that it’s all a part of having a healthy partnership and marriage.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Not outdated at all. Unfortunately, people don’t always think about all the different steps there are to a successful relationship. How you strike the balance is hard, and there’s no instruction manual…but I think communicating is key to anything, and being honest about ones feelings

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Thumper rules. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” (Clever double negative, there.) But seriously, positive reinforcement is always better than criticism. Eventually your partner will notice an extended absence of compliments, and take corrective action.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is a tough one. I think there are some things you can say, some things you can do under the radar, and some topics that you just can’t touch. The hair thing – go for it. My spouse knows how I feel about that. But he told me at one point very early in our relationship if I ever weighed more than him, he was out the door. I took it seriously, even though he wasn’t being that serious. The day I gave birth to our daughter, I weighed two pounds less than him. I cried. You have to know your partner.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Is that blouse from the “Little House on the Ugly Prairie” collection? 😂😂😂
    If your SO says something this funny, are they given more leeway than if they say it in a mean way?
    I think all of these depend on
    1. the motivation of the one pointing out flaws
    2. How egregious the problem is
    3. How the one hearing the complaint will take it.

    If you’re complaining about a few pounds, going bald, or wearing a old comfy sweater around the house, I’m not okay with that.

    If you’re complaining about wearing said sweater ALL the time or out in public, that’s fine as long as you provide an alternative.
    If you’re complaining about normal aging that can’t be helped or fixed (ear hair is easy to remove) then I think you’re being unfair.
    Personal hygiene is important and if a reminder is needed, do it gently and with love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The little house line is actually mine…I used it when I did a chapter rewrite yesterday….it just oddly fit my post today….I think the. Otivation is a good point…why are you bringing it up….in what respect does it bother you….good point


  15. You always have such interesting questions! As others have said, I really believe there is no right or wrong answers to these questions. For we are all different and the key is to knowing your partner really well. We can think that telling your partner about 10 pounds of extra weight is fine, but with another couple if the partner already has a lot of insecurity problems then it would not be okay!
    The only thing that I think does have a solid answer to it is the hygiene one. I think you definitely need to talk with your partner about that one if it starts being a problem. BUT you need to do it in a caring way. The way you say things can make ALL the difference!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s funny. My family asked what my blog was about today, and my husband and daughter had a very animated discussion about this topic…my daughter thinks there’s no reason to tell your spouse anything about physical appearance….


  16. I vote for saying something. I spent most of my first marriage erring on the side of caution and not bringing up these same concerns. I ended up feeling resentful and allowing it to build up. This wasn’t the reason why the marriage ended, but I’m sure it didn’t help. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You’ve just hit on a half dozen reasons why I just can’t get behind the conventional idea of marriage anymore. No motivation sufficiently two-by-four to keep hominids at their current evolutionary level making any effort whatsoever to keep pleasing each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. If the couple is a truly loving couple they should be able to discuss everything without being offended. Certain things may be extremely important to one person and not the other, but the other has no way of knowing that if you don’t communicate. That being said, we are plagued with an image of beauty that shoved down our throats with advertising. We are all not going to look like movie stars – they don’t even look that way without makeup. So prioritize what is really important and let the rest go. I would say basic hygiene is a must though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Little House on the Ugly Prairie” collection?” 😂😂
    I draw the line at nose hair and body odor. Happily my husband is super meticulous in the grooming department and wouldn’t dare stand for these issues if he could help it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. If health is not at risk I stay mum. If I comment on the fact that he has gained a bit, then he is open to the same sort of comment, that is a rabbit hole I do not wish to go down. I compliment the good and hope it will continue and maybe seep into other areas.

    Liked by 1 person

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