Single Dad Confession: Dressing Badly Really Hurt My Marriage

serge bielanko

Whatever physical sex appeal I had died the day I brought home those Fruit of The Loom t-shirts.

Who has time for getting spruced up after marriage? Once you're married, you're married right? And then you're busy! You're busybusybusy! With work and paying the bills and maybe buying a house or a boat or something even stupider, like a $1,300 mountain bike that will never even so much as sniff a mountain's fart and will instead make exactly one meek and humbling trip around your local nature trail.

Then you have kids. And oh my God, forget about it. You're busy! You're busybusybusy. You're married. You're busy. You're hungry. You're gaining weight. It comes with the territory.

At Walmart one Saturday afternoon, you look around and no one's looking, so you throw one of those six-packs of white Fruit of the Loom V-neck undershirts in your cart. You start wearing them around the house. They're strangely comfortable—like a new kiss with an old lover. Then you start wearing them out into the world a little bit. What's the harm, you know? They're comfortable, you tell you're wife when she mentions them.

I'm comfortable, you whisper to the winds of change. Leave me alone.

And the winds of change abide.

And pretty soon you're dressing like sh*t every chance you get, a little plump married man.

I find it hard to believe what happened to me in my marriage. I mean, a lot happened to me, obviously—some good, some bad. But when I look at photos from a few years ago, the thing that stands out more than anything else is how schlubby and gross I had become. I gained a bunch of weight and started dressing—and I use that term 'dressing' ever-so-loosely—in clothes that seem to me now to have been nothing short of a cry for help.

I was the dude in the white v-necks. I was the guy in the cargo pants and clompy work boots, all the time. Somewhere along the line, I had given up and stopped caring about what I looked like. What caused it? A combination of things: First, I was busy. Second, I was bored. Life got stale, work was work, and sex was gilded carrot always dangling a few feet away from my snappy horndog jaws. Like a lot of people do, I substitued the old thrills of a guy in his 20s with new thrills, more accessible thrills ... the kind you can get at the grocery store. Cheese thrills, beer thrills, frozen pizza thrills with wine thrills.

My body paid the price, and within five years of getting hitched, I was hot air balloon once again. I'd been a fat kid, worked hard to lose weight as a young man, and once I managed to marry a pretty woman who had her own flock of albatrosses following her around, I hit the old proverbial wall.

I stopped exercising. Clothes became an afterthought. Once upton a time, I played in a band, spent tons of time touring and recording in Europe, and became a pretty good at buying clothes that fit my body and looked sharp. For a time, I was really happy with my physical self and it showed. I had confidence. I could charm people. I could hold conversations and feel comfortable in my own skin. And no, it wasn't just my cool street-styles that made me feel that way. But it certainly was part of it. Walking down the streets in London or Paris or in Manhattan or Philly, I felt pretty good about myself. I even felt handsome, maybe even a little sexy. And that's half the battle in this world: feeling sexy, which begets being sexy.

My divorce came about for a lot of reasons—mainly because we weren't right for each other and never had been. I know for a fact, though, that the way I stopped dressing myself had an affect on things. (And sure, you can snicker at me and curse at me through your computer screen and tell me that the whole idea that the way someone dresses can have an effect on their love story is pathetic nonsense, but you'd be wrong.)

I was there. I wore that crap. And I gained the lazy bones 'busybusybusy weight' that forced me into wearing what amounted to togas and potato sacks. 

And I stand before the world right now and admit to you this one blaring truth: Whatever physical sex appeal I may have had at the start of our marriage died of a massive coroanary the day I brought those Fruit of the Loom t-shirts home. Maybe it would have been different if my ex had married a slouchy Walmartian. But she hadn't. So why in the hell did I just think that turning into one would be okay with her?

Yes, there were many, many other problems in our marriage. But sex was one of them. And that may have had something to do with the fact that after a while ... well ... I simply wasn't sexy anymore.

You could make the argument that love knows no shape or color or bounds. You could submit the theory that says that if a person truly loves another person, they will always want to be with them even if they stop giving a toss about what they look like or how they appear to the human eyeball.

But then I'd have to submit to you one ancient tiny word in rebuttal.


Everything is different now. My separation from my wife forced me into a weird corner. You get bitch-slapped out of your routine, out of your coma when you realize that the love you assumed you had locked up forever is gone. Lazy lovers die lonesome deaths, my friend. Take that anyway you want.

I dress like I mean it now. Mostly cheapish stuff from Macy's or Old Navy. I never spend more than $200 to get a bunch of clothes, and I only hit the stores twice a year. It's too late for my dressing better/exercising more to save my marriage, but that's OK. The disolution of my marriage got me here in the first place.

Now, as I slowly slip back into the dating stream, I'll look a lot more palatable than I ever did in the last five years of my marriage. And that's the silver lining in all of this.

Live and learn, gentlemen. Live and freakin' learn.


Explore YourTango