The other evening Michael and I were sitting out on the front steps and he ran his hand up my leg and said, “So, how long is this?” Meaning, “How long has it been since you shaved your legs?” I was irked. And hurt. Yes, there was some stubble, but certainly not full-on fur. It had probably been three days since I had shaved.
It turned into a bit of a heated . . . discussion (you know, to the extent that a discussion can remain a discussion when hurt feelings are involved). It’s not the first time he has expressed in some way that he wishes I would shave my legs more often. And it’s true, I used to be a little more vigilant about it; while I don’t think I’ve ever been an every-day-leg-shaver, I know there was a time, many moons ago, when I regularly shaved at least every other day. But I don’t have dark, heavy growth, so cutting down to about twice a week hasn’t seemed like a big deal to me. Not that I have any kind of schedule – it’s more like, when I get into the shower, I run my hand up a leg and ask myself, “Can I get away with one more day?”
As often happens in marriage, more is read into things than necessarily should be. Why don’t I shave my legs as often as I used to? Is it that I’ve become lazy? Apathetic? Do I just not care anymore about how my significant other sees me?
We managed to pick it apart and get to the heart of it pretty quickly, and thankfully came to an understanding without significant damage to either of our psyches, but it’s had me thinking. It raises some interesting questions:
How hard do couples who have been together for any significant length of time still try to please the other, at least aesthetically? How hard should they keep trying? What does it really mean when little efforts slide a bit over time?
Here’s where I’m coming from – and I only speak for myself:
I don’t shave my legs as often as I used to because it’s a hassle. Not a big hassle, but a hassle. I just don’t feel like doing it every day, or every other day, and I don’t think it’s a big deal. I certainly don’t let it get to the point of being unsightly, and I don’t feel it’s at all a sign of apathy on my part. No matter how many babies I’ve had, I’ve always managed to shower every day. I cover the gray. I wear a little makeup sometimes. I try to stay reasonably fit.
However, I think I’ve just reached a point of self-assurance where I don’t feel like I have to bust my ass to try to look my best at all times. There was a time in my life when I did not feel I could leave the house without full makeup, styled hair, and a coordinating outfit. It takes a lot of work to try that hard, and for me, at least, it was really about insecurity. Not that I don’t still have my body image issues! But I’m comfortable enough with myself these days that I just don’t feel the need to try so hard all the time to look good (and whether I actually succeeded before is anyone’s opinion – the point was that it felt paramount to me that I always try my hardest). I’m a busy, tired mom, and I think I deserve a little bit of a break in the self-grooming department.
If my husband doesn’t like my slightly unshaven legs, how must he really feel about the baggy skin on my belly? Or the new crop of zits I get every single damn month, rain or shine? Or is he able to overlook those things because I can’t do anything about them? These are questions that go through my mind.
See how husband’s and wives can mess with each other’s heads?
Anyway, I guess, too, I would like to believe that any couple who has a lasting relationship can get to the point of being comfortable enough and safe enough with each other that they don’t feel like they always have to be on their best behavior – or look their best – all the time. When a relationship is new and developing, that’s what it’s all about – presenting your best self all the time to woo the other one. I’m not saying that trying should ever come to an end – of course, trying to be good people, trying to keep the marriage strong, trying to be good to each other – those things are always important. But staying on top of the little things perpetually? It would be exhausting, I think.
What’s a little stubble between lovers?