Last week I gave you all a serious article, some may even say an unpleasant one. But not everything in life or in dating is sunshine and roses. It would be wrong of me not to address the topic of abuse once in a while and bring awareness to the topic.
This article is almost the opposite of what you read last week. I don’t want to say that it’s a silly one. I take all questions seriously, because if someone thought it was important enough to write to me about, then it is important to him or her to hear what I have to say on the matter. But this email and question are more lighthearted than the last article.
Help me talk sense into my friend. Chaya (not her real name) became a kallah and will be married soon. She’s very put together. Her clothes are in style, makeup and hair done to perfection, manicure and pedicure... But she said something the other day that had me shaking my head. She said, among the many things she is excited about, that she’s really excited about not having to spend an hour on her hair and makeup every day once she’s married. I’ll spare you the details, but she thinks that once she is married, she can get a very short haircut, plop on a sheitel, apply some basic makeup, and walk out of the house. She made it sound like she will enjoy not really putting any effort into getting dressed in the morning.
I’ve been married for two years and told her that she isn’t thinking correctly about getting dressed and primped in the morning. I compared it to buying a luxury car, spending all that time and money to earn it, picking it out so the extras are to her liking, and then coming home and discovering that it was a dressed-up economy type of car. Of course she’d be angry after all that time and money was spent. Chaya called me silly and argued that she isn’t a car. I told her to think about her chasan. Her chasan dated and got engaged to her – the “her” that puts all the effort into getting dressed and looking presentable – and now that he finally bought the car and took it home, the car at home isn’t the same as what he drove off the lot.
I understand, it’s hard to keep looking your best, and it takes a lot of effort in the beginning of a marriage. It happened to me, too, but to just give up and do the basics isn’t right either. In the beginning of the marriage, her husband – any husband – will expect the girl he dated to be the wife he married. Chaya thinks I’m overreacting. She said she will still be the same person, but her shell will be different.
Goldy, I’m afraid my friend will shock her husband and he may not appreciate having the new “basic” Chaya when he thought he was getting the primped-up Chaya. Yes, she is still pretty without all the makeup and everything, but it’s not the same. You know what I mean? She says that because she finally found a husband, she doesn’t have to spend so much time worrying about her looks and he loves her for the person she is on the inside just as much as he liked her outside; but now he’ll get all of the person that she is on the inside. Can you help talk some sense into her?
Suri, thank you for your letter.
I hear what you are trying to say. For lack of a better term, your friend whose looks and appearance resembles a Barbie doll thinks that once she gets married, she can stop putting much effort into her looks because she already married her Ken, so why bother. Am I close?
This is a conversation I have heard many times and even had with myself when I was a kallah. But I will argue for both sides of the coin. Everyone wants to look her best while dating; and then, once the sheva brachos are over, some start skipping steps in their morning routine, or maybe all the new responsibilities build up and there is no time for the primping that was there before. The wife thinks she still looks like herself, but the more natural version of herself – because, remember, she didn’t stop her entire beauty regimen. On the other hand, you may have a husband or two thinking, “This is okay. I knew she may tone it down some, but I was not expecting this, or at least not right away.”
Many will disagree with me and they are free to do so, but I think that just because you found your bashert does not mean you shouldn’t forget where your makeup case is. When I was single, it took me about an hour and a half to dry and straighten my hair. I have very thick hair. Yes, I looked forward to wearing a sheitel and not having to spend so much time on my hair, but I wasn’t going to let my looks fall by the wayside! I spent about half an hour on my hair once I was married. I never stopped wearing makeup. In fact, I spent more time on my makeup because I was now around my husband much more than when we dated, and I wanted to look just as good. Secret: I had mascara, foundation, and blush hidden under my mattress for the first two weeks, so I never got out of bed without having some makeup on. I didn’t want to scare my new chasan back to his mother’s house (“I thought I was getting Rachel, and I got Leah instead.”). My husband found out about my hidden stash and told me that he sometimes preferred me without any makeup and with my big hair, because that was my true me.
I did not at all think I didn’t have to put any effort into getting dressed after I was married. I was still going to work. I was still me. I just didn’t have to fuss with my actual hair. But it was no joke trying to figure out the best way to style my hair under the sheitel: braids, ponies, clips, stocking cap, velour headband, etc. But I was me and still wanted to look my best, because I wanted my husband to be proud to say, “This is my wife.” Yes, I am sure he would be proud to tell anyone who his wife was, no matter how I looked, but I wanted to look my best for him. But this is just me talking.
Suri, now look at the other side of the coin. You have girls who looked put together or somewhat put together while dating; and then once married they stopped trying, because they wanted to be a good wife more than they wanted to be a good-looking trophy wife. Don’t take that to mean the wrong thing. It’s just that many do not put emphasis on looks while they now place the emphasis on midos, character, personality. You may see a couple (with or without children) walking in the street and the wife is wearing a tichel, no makeup – or something similar – and you wonder, “Doesn’t she care? Doesn’t she want to look good for her husband? Does her husband care?” And the answer is “No.” As Judge Judy has always said, “Looks fade, but stupid remains forever.” These couples are putting more emphasis on what’s happening and how you look on the inside than how the exterior looks.
I liked that you compared the situation to buying a luxury car and coming home with a late-model sedan. But Chaya was right, as well, saying it was just a “shell.” She will still be the same person on the inside whom her chasan dated. Did you ever stop to think that maybe they have discussed this, and you are not privy to all the details? I know a few young women who, when they got married, agreed with their husbands that they will only wear a tichel and not a sheitel, not even at a simchah, or not to wear as much makeup as she did when she was single. There is a lot you may not know in this situation.
Suri, I hear your concern as a friend. You don’t want your friend’s husband looking at his wife soon after the marriage, thinking, “Who is this stranger? Where’s the Barbie I married?” But to him, she will always be that Barbie. He’s looking at the full package while some, and I don’t mean it in a bad way, look at the shell. You are a good friend that you broached the subject with Chaya. You were concerned. But you have your answer. She knows what she will do after she is married, but you don’t know what influenced how that decision was made. And that’s fine, too, because in a relationship, it’s best not to involve friends and family regarding what a couple considers their private business.
With this issue, I am straddling the fence. I hear what you are saying. But what happens in a marriage and whether someone is putting effort into maintaining her looks is nobody’s business for anyone who was not standing under the chupah with the couple.
Hatzlachah to you all.