NO, sweatpants can’t harm your marriage if you’re not married to a jerk!
Dear Eva Mendes,
Listen, I think you’re great. I think your partner, Ryan Gosling, is awesome. Seriously, will you please go hug him on behalf of my friends and me for his rant about the MPAA? We loved that. And we’re happy you two found one another and have a family together.
But we need to talk about sweatpants.
In fact, we all need to talk about sweatpants! Not just you, but anybody who believes that sweatpants are the cause of the failure of marriage – including the awesome Serge Bielanko, who says that the secret to a happy marriage is to “date” your spouse forever. I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong, but I don’t think it’s about sweatpants.
You are quoted as saying this to Extra, who framed it as being about “keeping Hollywood’s hottest leading man happy at home.”:
“You can’t do sweatpants… ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants, no!”
So let me explode your brain for a moment: NO, sweatpants can’t harm your marriage if you’re not married to a jerk!
I think what you’re trying to say is that no longer seeing yourself as a sexual person, or a person who is partnered with another grown adult in a romantic way, can really harm your marriage. I wrote about that, too. But I wrote about the systems of letting your partnership become secondary to being parents, and how those bigger problems can be insidious and disintegrate what you’ve built together, pre-baby.
People tell you to be sure to put your marriage first – and I agree with that (obviously, as long as you’re also prioritizing the health and happiness of your children). But I want you to know that it can seriously suck having a new baby at times. You don’t sleep, your hormones may be messed up, you may be “touched out”, your entire frame of mind may change.
But do not – I repeat DO NOT – let this hard time become the model for the way you’ll see and treat your spouse the rest of your lives together. It’s tempting to let resentments build and to stop framing your partner as the person you fell madly in love with, but you need to fight that.
Do the personal work to be forgiving. Watch your temper and practice building your patience.
Having sex and being sexual is a part of maintaining that relationship with your partner, too. But it’s not always simple, and there are times in a long relationship when you’re not going to feel like a sexual person… but that doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship.
What’s more, the idea that women have to “keep a man happy” by doing something with their physical appearance is complete and utter bullshit – whether it’s the clothes you wear or the shape of your body.
No guy worth your time will be bothered by his partner wearing sweatpants.
No, seriously. A guy who is pissed, turned off, or bothered by what you choose to wear—EVER, but especially when you have small kids—isn’t worth your time. Same goes for wives. If you’re a woman and you’re angry that your partner is wearing sweatpants when you have a new baby (or while lounging around the house for any reason), you need to get a hobby and some priorities.
The time in your life when a baby is new is short. It goes by quickly, even though the days feel very, very long. For most of us, we don’t have nannies or nurses with us. We’re awake too often during the night, we’re nursing or making bottles all hours of the day. We’re falling asleep standing up in the shower. We’re crying from fatigue and joy and fear all at the same time.
Sometimes we’re going to be wearing a pair of sweatpants. And that’s okay.
There’s a time in life for wearing what turns your partner on. There’s a time for a blow-out and make-up and shaved underarms. But it’s okay if today is not that day. You’ll get back there again. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a year. Your physical appearance is not what really matters right now.
Same for dads: You guys go through a lot when babies are born, well into the toddler years, too. Your gym time might go from chiseling those abs to busting out 20 minutes on the treadmill so that you can get your heart pumping and release some stress. On top of that, we sell men short when we insist they’re so shallow as to let their relationships break because of what their wives wear. Despite what the media tells us, guys are not all sex-obsessed fragile little animals who are so visually-focused that they can’t see the woman they love through a few millimeters of comfy cotton.
One reason I love my husband is that it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, the man loves me and wants me. I’m blessed, I realize this, and we’ve worked our asses off at this marriage. No matter what shape my body is in, he loves me and thinks I’m a freaking sweatpanted goddess. But I chose that man for a reason, and dumped all the others who weren’t like him. Because that focus on physical appearance is some serious bullshit.
Our relationship is built upon how we treat one another, the love we’ve built, our shared passions for things like mountain biking and the ocean, as well as our perfect ability to settle into the corner of the couch and watch Agents of SHIELD together and just relax into each other’s presence. We’re raising our sons together, as well as three dogs and one lizard. We both have full-time jobs and cars that break down and colds and flus and stinky farts and bad breath. We worry about our bank account and credit cards sometimes. We worry that we’re not raising our kids as perfectly as we want to. We worry about the pains and struggles of our friends and family. We worry about getting older, about our health, about whether or not to have another baby. We even worry that we may not always be this happy.
But we never, ever worry about sweatpants.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.