This past Saturday night, my husband and I did something that rarely happens in our world: We went out on a date. When you have a toddler and twin infants and your closest family members live over an hour away, Date Night is not something that happens often. Even still, our recent excursion took a bit of planning to pull off. By the time Saturday night rolled around, my husband was just excited to leave the house after dark, while I was excited by the notion of eating a meal without a screaming child in the background.
Of course, getting out the door for Date Night was more of an ordeal than we initially imagined. Naturally, twin infant daughters both opted for marathon nursing sessions, leaving me less time to get ready than I would’ve liked. By the time I got them into bed, I had about seven minutes to swap out my sweatpants and stained t-shirt for respectable clothing, and slap some makeup on my face before running downstairs to go over instructions with our babysitter.
So, I hurried through the process, grabbing the first pair of jeans I could find and a generic black tank top that was sure to pair well with whatever sweater I happened to grab. I then applied a quick coat of eyeliner and lipstick, leaving the rest of my face makeup-free, and did an obligatory comb-through of my hair, which left it looking no different than it had a few seconds earlier.
“You look beautiful,” my husband remarked as I got downstairs. And that’s when the guilt hit me.
Just a week or so earlier, I’d gone out to dinner with some of my friends, only instead of spending a mere seven minutes getting ready, I’d spent a total of 30 minutes throughout the day trying on outfits, straightening my hair, and putting on enough makeup to hide the dark circles that seem to have perpetually taken up residence under my eyes. In both situations, I was equally time-constrained, but when it was Girls’ Night, I made more of an effort, and somehow found a way to go “all out.” For Date Night, I settled for a slightly more dressed up version of my usual self. And now I’m sitting here wondering why.
Why is it that I feel more of a need to look nice for my friends than I do for my husband? Why didn’t I put in the same effort to impress him?
Don’t get me wrong—my husband is keenly aware that the made-up, put-together look is something that only happens on occasion. But so are my friends. My friends know just as well as my husband that my typical daily uniform involves yoga pants, a bulky sweatshirt, running shoes, and a quick coat of lipstick. If I have an extra two minutes in the morning, I might put on some eye makeup, but it’s not a given. My hair typically looks as good as the weather will allow for—when it’s cool and dry, I can wear it down, but when it’s wet or humid out, no amount of gel in the world will cover up the frizz factor.
When I go out at night, be it with my husband or my friends, I don’t get dressed up and made up to fool people into thinking that’s what I look like all the time. I do it because going out is a treat, and it’s OK to want to feel good about the way you look.
And honestly, I do want the validation. It’s nice when my friends tell me I look nice, because most of the time, I don’t. (I’m not being overly hard on myself here; I’m being realistic. Most days, especially during the winter, I leave the house looking like I very recently rolled out of bed.)
Of course, I want my husband to tell me that I look nice as well—which he does, often, the sweet guy that he is. Sometimes, he’ll come home from work and tell me that I look good, despite the fact that I’m decked out in an oatmeal-stained sweatshirt with spit-up food particles scattered in my hair. He also claims he doesn’t really notice the difference when I do, or don’t, wear makeup; a small part of me believes that. I think the reason I get more dressed up for my friends than my husband is that it doesn’t take as much effort to get his attention—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve that effort, either.
The next time Date Night rolls around, I’m going to make it my business to get fancy, high heels and all. But it won’t be about the compliments or validation—it’ll be about showing my husband that he’s worth the effort. Because he is. He really, really is.