Scripture is clear that true beauty flows out of a heart hidden in the beauty of Christ.
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
1 Peter 3:4-5
Okay, got it. Dig it, even. But is that all? Well, not quite…if you are married.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read Song of Solomon, but the wife (not the single woman) busts out in a striptease, and her husband goes crazy over her “fawns” and everything else he can see of her. Why? Because dudes are visual learners. Always have been, apparently.
Wives, your husbands are visual creatures in a world that assaults their eyes nearly every moment of every day, and you were created to help him fight this battle (see Genesis 2:18 & Titus 2).
Like it or not, you carry the responsibility of providing your husband with redeeming images of beauty that he can call to mind throughout the day. If you withhold these snapshots, I assure you culture will fill in the gaps for you. This means it’s time to drop the excuses and go to battle for him.
What does this look like practically? Start by drying your hair in only your underwear (the good ones) when you know he’s going to walk by. Click. Put on the earrings he mentioned he liked last month even though they feel too fancy for all the mundane errands you’ll be running that day. Click. Wear a cute apron. Click. Find your mascara…and use it. Click. Stay in your heels after work. Click. Click. Leave the lights on (or at least a candle). Click, click, click. Smile. Wham-bam-Instagram.
“He will be archiving all of these glorious, amazing, satisfying, exciting images of you as his wife. So he’ll be thinking about you. He’ll be meditating on your beauty and your glory. Help him by giving him lots of redeem images.”
For some of you, this snapshot making may be hard. It was for me, so I can completely relate. So start small. But start somewhere. If you have young children, try getting up before them a couple days a week to put yourself together. If that’s too tricky because they rise earlier than morning news anchors, contain them somehow with an age-appropriate activity while you wash your face, throw on some blush and a cute sweater, and do something with that hair.
If you work away from your home all day, resist the temptation to walk right past your husband in a beeline to your pajama drawer. If you must don some comfy, post-work garb, ask your husband to help you choose some cozy—but still visually generous—stretchy pants and tops. GapBody has some nice options. But I’ve just heard this.
If you are single and somehow still reading this post, remember it. Your future husbands will thank you. I promise. And for now, do something about that cleavage and those shorts. The guy you are dating (or hoping to date) doesn’t need the distraction.
All right, time for two practical examples from our marriage, brought you by the letters b u and t.
B-u-t, Kristen, I have a new baby.
Ah, that’s sweet, but you had a husband first and your shower still works. So remember him and grab a louffa sometime before 5 pm, please.
When our oldest son was brand new, I was intentional about showering and getting dressed as soon as he was fed, changed, and contained in the morning. My thought was that if his diaper was clean, his belly was full, and he was in a safe place (crib, swing, bouncy seat, that hook on the wall…), I could “ignore” him for 15 minutes to put myself together, regardless of how he felt about it. Crying? What crying? I was in the shower and he was strategically placed in his room on the other side of the house, so if he had something to “say” about the separation, he could deal with his emotions on his own for a few minutes with me blissfully out of earshot.
Not only did this practice help ensure that I would smell of something more than spit up and rice cereal when my husband saw me at lunch, but it also set into motion some very healthy and helpful expectations that are commonplace in our home seven years later. For example, all of our kids learned from the day they entered our home how to deal with themselves in a crib full of toys or a playmat draped with things to bat and kick at so that I could take care of myself. Not only was this in my best interest, but it was in theirs, too. No one wants to be around a smelly, unkempt, bed-head sporting monster, now do they?
B-u-t, Kristen, I work from home and it seems silly to get all gussied up (unless, of course, I have to Skype with my boss) to sit in my house alone.
This may be true, but I never said anything about getting gussied up. Just get yourself out of the baggy sweatshirt and find some socks that match. Start there and work your way to lip gloss and some time with the flat iron.
I confess that my own home-office arrangement made it easy for me in the past to stay in my pajamas every morning while my husband took the kids to daycare on his way to work. I fell into the trap of being visually selfish in the mornings and visually stand-offish in the evenings, slipping back into pajamas (if I had ever bothered to change out of them in the first place) or workout clothes that were more suited for sledding than sexy shenanigans. I had to repent of that for sure (repent is fancy for “change my ways”), and sometimes I still get it wrong, but I’ve gotten better. Much better. And you can, too.
Oh, but how?
Start by asking your husband what his favorite snapshots are of you and why, and then make a sincere effort to be visually generous in ways that are most significant to him. It’ll require humility to accept where you have been selfish in this area, and it’ll certainly take some effort to begin making changes, but remember God has created you to be helper to your husband, and that includes embracing your role as his ally in the visual war raging around him…by giving him a pleasant view.
Chapter 9: Selfish Lovers & Servant Lovers from Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
Love That Lasts by Gary & Betsy Ricucci