Expert Speak

I feel disrespected because my wife does not dress up for me

He feels the fact that she doesn't dress up at home means she doesn't care for his opinion but only about her own comfort
lady thinking

Why does she dress so badly at home?

“I have a very strange issue. If you listened to me, you would look for a problem among my words but trust me I have a serious issue and I am not able to get a solution to the problem. It is trivial to my wife Shami but to me it’s huge and growing by the day.”

“We are both lawyers and have been working in reputed law firms. She took a break from work to raise our son. I wasn’t happy with a lawyer from such a reputed college and working in one of the best law firms taking a break and being at home. I told her that we could hire domestic help and her company gave her the option to work from home. She clearly wanted to be a full-time hands-on mother. I was agreeable to her decision and the choice she made, but she is a competent corporate lawyer. I discuss all my cases with her and I am always impressed with her presence of mind and analysis. She is quicker to get the law and I truly admire her. So when she stays home and does not even consult, I feel it’s a big waste of talent,” said Shashank.

Shashank was very progressive in his thoughts and it was welcome that he was egalitarian.

Related reading: My wife is an only child and I think she is spoilt

We spend a lot of money on clothes

“We are not frugal and we spend a lot on clothes for both of us. She goes for most of the designer shows in town and purchases clothes. When I come home I see an ill-clad wife at home. Sometimes I come home to torn T shirts and soiled pants. We have a washing machine and also domestic help, so what stops her from washing the stain away? And T shirts that are so torn and worn out? Let me tell you that we are not saving money by wearing torn clothes. At home we iron all clothes, including underclothes. I know we don’t have to give flowers and impress each other anymore, but dressing up is always a state of mind,” Shashank complained.

Now the rare problem was getting interesting. Most women complain that their husbands don’t notice what they wear and here was a very impressive case where the husband cares for what she wears at home.

“Now for the highlight of her dressing sense, there is a dichotomy here. Do not think that she is always shabbily dressed and that this was the way she always dressed. When she goes out she takes a lot of care to dress up, make up, smell good and look absolutely ravishing. She spends hours with her details. I have no qualms about her dressing up while she goes out. I take pride in walking beside a well-dressed woman and I always suit her styles too. My point is that she dresses up because she wants to stand out in the crowd and loves the compliments others give her. Now I am beginning to feel that she dresses up only for others and not for herself,” Shashank continued.

Doesn’t she care about dressing for me?

The problem he was facing was that Shami dressed up only when she went out and was shabbily dressed at home.

“I pushed myself to obey the contradictory internal command that each one has a choice on their dressing. I am neither expecting a Mrs Universe at home nor a Bharat Natyam dancer and I also wish for her to know that looks are not the be-all-end-all of our married life. The reason why it upsets me is that, though I want her to be completely comfortable at home and in my love, I honestly keep feeling disrespected by this behaviour. I come straight home and head for a bath and feel fresh and happy. When I walk in and see her, I feel she is unhappy or depressed. I feel unwelcome in my own home when I see her like this,” Shashank explained.

Representative Image source

Shashank did his best to look presentable and happy at home and had the same expectation from Shami.

Related reading: On Shiva, Parvati, and showing up well for partners

I’m afraid to tell her what I feel

“We usually have very good communication between us. My problem is that this is a sensitive topic and she would associate it with a lack of love. I just can’t figure out a way to communicate it without sounding accusatory and thus raising some defences. I am not implying that she doesn’t respect me at all, because that’s certainly not true. Trust and respect rank high on our relationship. I have actually rehearsed this conversation in my mind several times, but I feel this is not going to be taken well because in our marriage we have a lot of space and decision making authority. Bringing up this topic would seem more like invasion of space rather than the attraction and love element,” Shashank went on.

sad couple
Representative Image source

A marriage sustains on many factors and looking attractive to each other is a core area. Being attractive is not only for sex but also for being comfortable in each other’s companionship.

“She has declared many times that she dislikes dressing up at home and wishes to be comfortable. I don’t see comfort in faded and torn clothes that scream for the disposal bin.”

“She has declared many times that she dislikes dressing up at home and wishes to be comfortable. I don’t see comfort in faded and torn clothes that scream for the disposal bin.”

“Most of her home clothes would want to retire and rest in peace. She can always buy some decent comfortable clothes for homewear,” said Shashank.

Sometimes it’s about how you look

Marriage is all about effort. This is not an anti-feministic attitude, but you need to make efforts in all aspect of life to keep the attraction intact. Marriage is also about respect and when someone can’t be bothered to put on nice clothes for you, it’s equal to saying they can’t be bothered with keeping you attracted. Therefore, being at home is no excuse to let the attraction standards slide down. The very act of grooming is the feminine touch, especially when your spouse admires it.

While it’s wonderful to be loved while you’re in rags, it certainly seems to undermine the dignity of the person and of the marriage to become careless in your appearance. Somehow Indian women are accused of being careless post pregnancy and why should we add to the ratio? Don’t make it your personal choice to look too shabby all day. Maintain the dignity in attire too, because home is where you spend most of the daytime.

experts advice

Can you tell her without sounding complaining?

Shashank should bring this topic up without sounding accusatory. He can take Shami shopping for some home clothes that suit her comfort and are of her choice. He can tell her that it is nice to come to a lovely happy home.

There are times when women let themselves go and want to be the clichéd “happy being me”, but the question is, is that the “real me” or just an excuse? Love and intelligence should be the attraction to keep the marriage going but looks can’t be discounted. This isn’t about merely looking beautiful but about looking attractive. We dress up when we go to meet our friends for a few hours and marriage is the most significant long-term relationship, so why not dress to meet your spouse?

 

Our Counsellor Snigdha Mishra had her own advice to add:

Dear Shashank,

It’s lovely to hear a husband who wants equal opportunities for his wife. Then why isn’t that reflected in your respecting her choice of clothing at home? What makes you so sure that she doesn’t dress up for herself when she’s out? What makes you assume she does it for other people? Maybe she likes to be shabby and unkempt at home and just be not bothered about how she looks and what she wears at home.

Also, I assume that by now you’ve shared your concern with Shami. I hope you’ve told her that you’re worried why she wouldn’t wanna take care of herself while at home, and by taking care you mean dress well.

By the way, do you know the comfort a torn shabby overused Tshirt can give? The carefree freedom that overused and abused clothes give at home… 🙂

Speak with her openly, because this is really a non-issue. Just talk to her and let her decide what she’s comfortable with.

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