After I had my son, I was tired. Show me a mom who doesn’t feel the same way after having a child, and I will show you a woman who is probably lying. Waking up at night to change or feed an infant, dealing with crying fits when you just can’t figure out what’s wrong—it’s all hard stuff.
I’ll be honest and tell you that in those early months, looking cute and put together wasn’t a major priority for me. I don’t think I completely let myself go, but I definitely did a little bit. My husband never complained, but I am sure he missed the wife he had before our son showed up. Shoot, I missed her.
But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t keep up with looking fly. I was exhausted!
Why do people let themselves go?
People often talk about women letting themselves go, but let’s be real—men do it, too. After being in a relationship for a number of years, there are many reasons why people stop focusing on their appearance the way they once did. Maybe they stop because they…
Have kids now and don’t have the time
Are stressed out at work
Have health issues
Feel like their appearance shouldn’t matter anymore
Feel like their spouse doesn’t care about their looks
Feel like their spouse doesn’t help them enough to allow the time for self-care
Whatever the reasons are, many people enter a relationship, looking one way and settle into a less appealing look over time. And sometimes that new look has an impact on the marriage. It doesn’t mean your spouse is ready to walk away because you don’t look a certain way (that would be pretty messed up), but it can mean that your spouse really misses the way you once looked.
Is your spouse to blame?
Is it fair to blame your spouse when you let yourself go? I think the answer to that question is pretty tricky. The truth is, we should always maintain control over our own lives. No one should impact how we decided to look or behave.
But here’s the reality: If you are struggling with managing your job and your household—spending most of your days feeling overwhelmed and stressed out—and your spouse doesn’t step in to offer you more support, maybe he or she is to blame. At the core of any successful marriage is the ability to support one another. When that mutual support is lacking, the marriage suffers.
So maybe it’s not one person’s fault, but rather a situation where responsibility should be shared. If you want your wife to get her hair and nails done, maybe you should step in and help her more, so she can actually have the time to do it. If you want your husband to focus on his health and lose weight, maybe you should make him feel attractive and wanted so he’s motivated to do so. I think if we all support each other more, there would be a lot less of this so-called “letting yourself go,” and a lot more “I want to look and feel good.”
Making Time for Yourself
Now, it’s been six years since my son was born, and my husband and I have two kids. Although life is still pretty hectic, I think I’ve come a long way. As I type this, my nails are done, my hair looks pretty good and I went to a kickboxing class this morning. I’m not doing it for my husband, though. Certainly, he benefits from the pulled-together version of myself, but I am mainly doing it so I can be happy.
I think looking put-together has a lot to do with how you feel about your relationship, how much support you receive and mainly how you feel about yourself. Self-care is critical, and we have to make it a priority. If we make self-care a priority, we are more likely to feel good about how we look and how we experience life.
And remember that at the root of this all, is having reasonable expectations. We all may have moments in life where our appearance just isn’t a top priority, and maybe that’s okay. To help a spouse shift away from that mindset, we have to let go of the judgment and criticism and move toward a kinder approach. Telling your spouse what you want them to look like may not be your best bet. But showing him or her the love and support they need, so they can turn things around on their own—well, that’s probably going to foster lasting change, while strengthening your union.
BMWK family, what do you think causes people to let themselves go once they get married?