Does your husband still look like the same man you married years ago? Have the washboard abs turned into a gut load of laundry? “For better or for worse” isn’t always fair, in fact it can get a little lazy (and not the good kind of lazy love Ne-Yo croons about). In her single “Dance For You” Beyoncé chants, “I wanna keep it how it is, so you can never say how it used to be,” but some women believe that once that vow is made, commitment and love should overcome any change in physical appearances. It’s one thing when a serious illness occurs or the natural life-changing moments like pregnancy and childbirth happen, but just because you’ve snagged yourself a husband or wife, doesn’t mean it’s cool to speed past comfortable all the way to “I don’t care.”
Attraction and sexual chemistry take priority to me in a relationship. I’m not being shallow, just honest. I need to look at my man and feel butterflies like I did the first day we met. Some might call that immature and make excuses like “passion fades blah, blah, blah” but I think that’s a cop-out for becoming way too comfortable, and way too much comfort kills relationships.
There’s a balance that must be maintained. It’s one thing for your man to wake up to you in a head full of flexi rods with pre-mascara and moisturizer. You shouldn’t have to keep up appearances like Whitley on A Different World where she’d wake up 15 minutes before Dwayne so she could apply some makeup and comb her hair so he wouldn’t wake up to bed head and morning breath. Still, it’s not fair to become accustomed to making zero effort just because your man SHOULD love you regardless. Did he meet you in a ponytail and sweatpants? I laugh remembering when I first met my boyfriend and refused to let him see me in any shoe with a heel less than four inches. Fast forward to six years later and he’s waking up to me with one eyebrow filled in at least a week out of the month. But the point is, whenever I have a little bit of extra energy and time, I make the effort. I do it because a watered down version of me is not what he signed up for, and he does the same for me. I make a note to avoid slipping into routines where we only talk about annoying co-workers and grocery lists; I remind him how hot he is when he least expects it. Now I haven’t been married for 20+ years, but I truly believe that passion doesn’t have to fade. Couples allow it to because they’ve been told that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’ve seen couples who have been married for months who can’t stand the sight of each other, and couples who have been married for decades who can’t keep their hands off one another.
The problem starts when women and men use marriage as an invitation to stop keeping themselves up as soon as the “I Dos” are done. You should want to preserve your sexiness for you, not just to snag a man. A little bit of weight gain or the decision to go natural after years of hair weaves is not out of the ordinary, but every once in a while, try to look like that woman that made his eyes pop out of his head and his palms sweat. Find that girl who was dancing to Beyoncé’s “Beautiful Nightmare” in the mirror Friday night while squeezing into her skinny jeans. I’d say about 25 percent of that passion is in your appearance, but 75 percent of it is your attitude. Would you be attracted to someone who clearly carried themselves like they don’t care?
In long-term relationships that little thing called life happens that slowly steals away the energy you may have once put into looking like a video vixen every day. Slowly your “beauty is pain” endurance is overwhelmed by your want to just be comfortable so you can actually enjoy yourself and get your daily tasks completed instead of struggling through painful arches that 5 inch heels can bring. But just because heel-less wedges kind of make you cringe doesn’t mean you have to bust out the cross trainers every day. Riding boots and flats can be cute too without looking lazy. Maybe you don’t feel like sitting in the salon for six hours so you can get flawless Kerry Washington waves, but that doesn’t mean you have to subject your man to rubbing his fingers over your silky satin bonnet every day. No one expects you to look 23 at 32, but making that vow also means that you vow to be the best wife you can be, which includes not taking his loyalty for granted–and vice versa.
When you’re in a long-term relationship with someone, it’s expected that body parts will start to hang a little lower, weight that used to melt from your frame will make itself comfortable across your waistline, and stretch marks will magically appear if you even reach for something the wrong way. It’s easy to let yourself go, but like any good relationship, your appearance deserves a little maintenance every now and then. A lingering look from another man can ignite a spark into a lukewarm relationship, but more importantly you’ll be surprised what a little extra effort can do for your own self-confidence. Before you wave the white flag of familiarity, make some effort to keep up appearances because although looks aren’t everything, love isn’t always enough.
What are some signs that you’ve gotten too comfortable in your relationship?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .