Does the phrase “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” get under your skin? Let’s think about this as real human people. To start off, I don’t even know my neighbor’s names, and I’ve never baked cookies for any one of them. Ever. If the word is a metaphor for everyone in my proximity… well, nobody has time for that. Yes, you feel like a failure when you can’t muster up real actual love for your mother-in-law, for your co-worker or that E.G.R. (Extra Grace Required) attendee at church. No, you don’t want to go out of your way. You don’t want to go to coffee with the E.G.R. and you wish your in-laws would just move to Florida already. Who’s with me?!
Now let’s erase the white board and squeeky-write the name of only one person that means “your neighbor.”
[Your husband’s name scrawled here]
Love your husband as you love yourself. How high is that bar set, wife? Let’s pretend that you are two separate people. How do you treat you? If you can describe your treatment of you as kind, patient and polite you may stop reading this post now and go with your high standards to your husband and love the stuffing out of him. If your treatment of you sounds more like impatient, critical and inconsiderate, there may be a bit of a disconnect between loving yourself and your husband. So read on.
If there is anything that I will vouch for until I’m purple with blue spots is the rock-solid advice that comes from life’s best manual: the Bible. It is literally Gospel truth that if I love myself with a high standard, the bar is automatically set high so that I can rock at loving others. Maybe you’ve heard this sermon before, especially in many self-help books. The key to loving others is to love yourself first. This is why I subscribe to some crazy, out-dated, anti-feminist marriage advice that the 50s dolled out like candy at a parade.
What do the 50s have to do with you?
Getting to the point about the advice from 1950. I realize that many women in a certain political category will inevitably balk. My only disclaimer here is that I genuinely want you to win. I want your marriage to be the envy of those neighbors whose names you don’t know. I want you and your husband to be starry-eyed for each other until the day one of you kicks the bucket. If you don’t agree or gotta raise your eye brows, that’s okay. If you really want to take your marriage to another level by learning a skill that is guaranteed to tickle your fancy, take what I am going to say next seriously.
Proverbs 31:22: She is well-dressed
Context of this passage is a mom like you, talking to her son about the perfect wife. She tells him to find a girl who is fashion-forward and looks amazing. What did she know that we don’t know? This woman is happy, she is busy, and she is classy. Her husband is proud to point her out to his boss or coworkers. “That’s my wife.”
The appalling 50s advice: a good wife cares about her appearance.
The idea in the 50s was high-heels, pearls and a satin dress as you vacuumed just in case your husband comes home. He would be so pleased to find you looking amazing! Let’s modernize this a bit and say that just because you’re a stay at home mom, doesn’t mean you stay in your jammies and slippers all day. The attainable standard to set for yourself is to dress yourself like you would if you were on your way to hang out with a girlfriend at Starbucks. You’re cute and classy in some decent jeans, flashy but comfy flats and a cozy sweater. You’re hair is done. Earrings in. You’ve got a little mascara on. Nothing major, but you look put together.
This will be a fun challenge for you, I promise. Once you start waking up to a simple routine of getting dressed, running a brush through your hair, washing your mug and putting mascara on, you will start to feel this sensation. You’ll decide to do this for your husband, and halfway through you will realize that you enjoy the simple routine because it makes you feel loved. You will graduate to doing things that are super fun and pamper yourself in the name of your marriage: manicures and facials here we come!
The best news of all? A husband is willing and even wants his wife to invest in her appearance (within reason). Don’t go crazy and buy too much makeup, or a book a spa weekend when you’re having trouble building your family savings account, but get the license from your husband to go get your hair professionally done, buy a few new outfits and buy some awesome face scrub at Target. He will even agree to hang out with the kids while you pamper yourself. Why? Because you’re doing it for him. For you. For him. You’re doing it for him, but it turns out loving yourself is the same as loving your husband.
So, get up. Get dressed. Pamper yourself and watch how the way your husband talks about you changes, how he points you out in a crowd with pride, and loves to come home early.