Hot Wife, Hot Life?

Good Men Project, Hot Wife Hot Life, Gender Stereotypes, Male Stereotype of Female Beauty, Female Beauty, Going Beyond Physical Attraction, Marriage Clichés, Lady Chatterly

There are a million things men love about their wives besides their beauty.  Lady Chatterley encourages us to share those things here

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece here on the Good Men Project entitled “Can We Stop With the Happy Wife, Happy Life?” In it, I argued that the tired cliché about the “Happy Wife Happy Life,” still rolls off the tongue in wedding speeches. It is not only irritating and old-fashioned, but is also a poor and unrealistic foundation for a successful marriage. The response to my piece was a resounding YES! Marriage is about teamwork, a partnership where happiness is equally important for both partners. Common sense, really.

Last week, my husband emailed me this Huffington Post article with the subject line “So I guess punching above my weight pays off then, hey?” I could hear tires screeching inside my head. According to the article, the cliché for a happy marriage is no longer “happy wife, happy life” at all. Oh no, ladies and gentleman. It’s PRETTY wife, happy life. Or happy marriage, to be more precise.

According to the article, a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology drew on work from four separate longitudinal studies. In the beginning of each study, each couple’s physical attractiveness was rated by the other couples. Each spouse also reported her or his individual levels of marital satisfaction over the first four years of marriage.

The husbands whose wives scored higher on the aesthetic group rating were more satisfied at the beginning of their marriage and generally remained that way over the next four years. Additionally, it was found that the husbands’ physical attractiveness had absolutely no effect on the reported happiness of their wives. Simply put: men care more about the looks of their spouses than women do.

But rather than dwelling too much on the results of this study, which frankly are a little depressing (and which seem to reinforce the male stereotype of prizing female beauty above other qualities), I’m going to use these results as an opportunity to turn the conversation over to the men.

Sure, physical attraction can and often does play a large part in what draws two people together. And yet, it’s those other qualities, the deeper, idiosyncratic layers of a person that make you say “THIS is the one.” Physical attraction is often just one element of what creates the right sexual and emotional chemistry in a relationship.

When I asked my husband what he loves about me besides my body, he said that I make him laugh (both unintentionally and intentionally) and that he loves how gentle and compassionate I am. Good answer, love.

So, apart from your wife’s beautiful eyes or other favourite body part, what characteristics do you adore about her? Is it her kindness? Her intelligence? Her sense of humour?  The way she smells?

I’d love for you to share your comments below.

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image credit: Flickr/DOCUGLAM + FASHION ACTITUD

other articles by Lady Chatterley:

Can We Stop with the “Happy Wife, Happy Life”?

I Love You but You Don’t Complete Me

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Lady Chatterley

Lady Chatterley is a writer of life, sex, love and relationships; the real, the raw and the raunchy. She can be found on twitter @MsChatterley

Comments

  1. John Schtoll says:

    OK, I just read the study. And I think perhaps you have concluded something that the study does not indicate.

    The attractiveness was rate by SOMEONE ELSE, not the husbands or wives (it says specifically was rate by the other couples) and then satisfaction was rated by the husbands and wives, this in no way indicates a causation ONLY a correlation by someone else.

  2. The husbands whose wives scored higher on the aesthetic group rating were more satisfied at the beginning of their marriage and generally remained that way over the next four years. Additionally, it was found that the husbands’ physical attractiveness had absolutely no effect on the reported happiness of their wives. Simply put: men care more about the looks of their spouses than women do.

    Hi L.C.
    I’m intrigued. What traits in their husbands did have an effect on the reported happiness of the wives? ;-)

  3. Lucas Poles says:

    The first four years of marriage are also a horrible indicator of the success of marriage as most divorces occur in two parts either in years seven (7.1 to be exact) or when the children leave the home. My parents have been married for almost forty years and just this Saturday my brothers and their wives all were giggling as my dad tried to dance zydeco with my mom, who couldn’t help but blush herself.

    My mom was beautiful when she married my dad at 21 but whereas her outward beauty has faded, the inner remains. She is the toughest woman I know! As a extremely successful business man I sat down with my dad on friday and asked him, “could you have ever done what you have without mom?” and he responded,
    “are you kidding me? Your mother is a very, very special woman, we have built so much together”

    Its very wonderful to see that my parents still very much love each other and their patience grows more in time. I am truly blessed to have been born into this family. So to quote from the Bible:

    “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

    Which I take to mean, all this youth fades one day, but one that looks at the heart instead of the outside appearances will prosper greatly in life. Thanks ma and pa!

    • I am sure your father’s outward attractiveness has faded as well since he was 21. Often I find men don’t like to think about their own aging process realistically and hence push a lot on women to ignore their own physical flaws.

  4. Eduardo Garcia Padilla says:

    Some time ago, there was a story online about a lady asking advice on how to marry a rich man. A rich man actually replied and gave the most interesting break down on how he viewed “Pretty Women” and how marrying for looks is actually a bad deal.

    He explained how looks are a diminishing value, since after a person is past their 25th birthday; it’s all downhill from there. He then goes into an amazing exposition of comparing looks to bank accounts, a class any economist or CPA would find fascinating.

    Truth is that you should never let yourself go, and you should always try to look good for your partner, whether you are a man or woman. Men should never complain about their wives letting go, especially after they lost their hair and have a beer gut as wide as they are tall.

    • Looks may be a ” diminishing value”, but ‘community property’ goes on forever L.O.L.

    • Tom Brechlin says:

      Eduardo, I have to admit that I was attracted to my wife before we were married but I never saw her as a trophy. Because she’s attractive doesn’t mean that she’s a “trophy” wife. Now that wasn’t true about my Brother-in-law. He was out for the looks.He had/has money and could get women because of it. But don’t put us all in the same pot.

      Years ago while traveling for business, I sighted a women who with the exception of having long hair resembles my wife. She was wearing tight jeans, high heel boots, a lose sweater and a full length mink coat. Ya know what I did? I bought her virtually the same outfit and to this day, she’s still a knock out in that outfit. Note, I never said she looked the same because her being gorgeous is in my heart and that any other women wearing that now, would mean nothing. It’s the whole package baby. ;)

  5. MarriedGuy says:

    Thank goodness you left a space in the headline between Hot & Wife. Had you not, you would have been showing up on all sorts of alternative web searches! Not in the loop? http://www.urbandictionary.com will help fill you in. Semantics may not be everything, but they sure are important.

  6. I love my mans chest hair

  7. So, what do I adore about my wife other than her looks? That’s an easy one! Her Kindness and Honesty.

    • Also, her ability to laugh easily and often. I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to make her laugh, I love it so , it’s like ‘Crack’ to me (can’t get enough)!

    • her paitience with me in general. That alone is amazing.

  8. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    It should be noted that the term “hotwife” is also often used to describe a woman for whom the husband has chosen to be a cuckold. Most often, the wife is talked into having sex with other men in front of the husband, who more or less creates his own porn by doing this. Frequently, this involves “race play, ” where the other male or males are of a race other than the husband. I have done a presentation at this phenomenon at a sociological meeting. FTR, it’s not something I have a personal interest in trying, and it does not seem to be a healthy thing for a relationship.

  9. LC,

    You say,
    “Physical attraction is often just one element of what creates the right sexual and emotional chemistry in a relationship.”

    I agree 100%. I really cannot understand men who want ‘trophy’ wives when I is obvious to even a fool these women do not love them. I guess they (trophy wives) make these guys happy.

    Unfortunately, they also make the yoga guy, the fitness trainer, and the tennis coach happy too. Just saying.

  10. Tom Brechlin says:

    I agree that 4 years is not a lot of time.

    There isn’t enough space to list the characteristics I adore about my wife and now that you’ve thrown up in your mouth, I have to say that after 38 years, there truly is too much to list. I love her laugh, her craziness and the fact that she is sentimental. She still has every letter I wrote to her when we were dating. I love how she makes people feel comfortable. I love her unwavering devotion to our marriage. I love how she’s there for me every moment of the day and every day of our lives. I love that she loves me for who I am and has supported me through thick and thin. I love how she’s an overbearing mom that cares for her children. I love how she’s turned into an extraordinary grandma to her grandchildren who with arthritis will still get down and the floor and play with her grandsons. I love her brilliant mind. I love how she is a devoted women to her faith in God and how she compliments me in my spiritual journey in life. I think you get the drift, yes?

  11. LivedinItaly says:

    I love my wife’s humor and smile. Her love of life and sense of adventure. She is patient , inquisitive and resourceful. Most importantly, she is my best friend!

  12. Here are my contributions:

    I love it when my wife makes up words, when she holds my hand in her sleep, when she kisses our dogs and dances out of the blue. I also love the freckles on her lips, her ears that look slightly elfish to me, the way she talks when she’s happy, her fascination with forensic anthropology, the way she laughs with her family.

  13. MsChatterley says:

    Thanks for all the lovely contributions! Keep them coming :)

    LC x

  14. QuantumInc says:

    This particularly result implies nothing good. Feminist Social theories suggest that traditionally men avoid deep connections with women, and traditionally women are given little choice, hence the woman’s outer beauty is the most important thing.

    Note here when they say “physical attractiveness” they don’t mean anything related to how you feel about each other, but rather how a bunch of strangers feel about you. They went to significant lengths of take beauty out of the eye of the beholder. Then somehow either the woman being conventionally attractive makes the man happier AND the woman happier. Unless having an awesome marriage somehow give you extra outer beauty. Though let’s be honest, the things that makes a woman beautiful to a total stranger are physical aspects she has no real control over, bone structure, fat distribution, bust size, etc.

    Gender essentialists point out that men are “more visual” and more attracted to outer appearance. Ironically they often rely on evolutionary psychology to explain it, which often rely on birds as an analogue, however with most bird couples, it’s the man who needs to be good looking, not the woman. According the evolutionary psychology men compete and show off, and attract as many women as they can. Women focus on a single man. Yet gender essentialists assume that all men want women for the things that make them attractive to all men.

    So if it’s not psychology then perhaps society really has brainwashed men into judging all women, even their life partners, on all the wrong criteria. You would imagine that inner beauty would eclipse outer beauty in importance four years into a marriage. Yet this study suggests that “Oh wow, my wife is so good looking even total strangers think so!” motivates a man to care for his wife even four years into a marriage. I don’t see how evolutionary could even explain that, and the above feminist social theory is depressing.

    Obviously there are other factors that determine how happy a marriage is, and I agree that four years isn’t really that long of a time on the scale of a ostensibly life-long romantic partnership; though it’s probably very on the scale of a study.

  15. Lady Chatterly
    This must be a reflection of the American society?
    I wonder if men married to women using burkas feel the same way. They do not have their wife on display all the time and do not have to care if other men envy them or not.

    Studies like this makes me depressed. What I fear seems to be true. ……

    ✺”There are lots of reasons why people stay together, and lots of reasons why people are committed to each other,” Karney said. “So it would be an exaggeration to say, ‘Well, no woman should ever marry a man who is more attractive than she is.’ But it is true that on average, when men are more attractive than their wives — in this sample, at least — it looks like they were less invested. Maybe because they knew that they might have more alternatives — better alternatives, potentially.

    “Whereas the men who were with the attractive women said, ‘Woo hoo! I lucked out!’ “✺

    • @Iben,

      Hello Iben!

      You write,

      “This must be a reflection of the American society?”

      Yes, it very much is Iben. It is sad. But, we Americans really lack depth. We really have pretty shallow views of things. Our focus is on silly reality shows……You have unattractive, but alpha, men who are able to attract beautiful women.

      But, there is little love or sexual attraction from the women. But, these foolish men are happy! How one can be happy with a person who merely see you as her bank I do not know. Usually, many of these women have lovers on the side.

      This is the result Iben of the growing narcissism and materialism of American culture. Culture that is spreading throughout the world, unfortunately.

  16. Well, everything, really. One of the first things that impressed me was the way she moved – her personality is larger than her body and it shows. Also her enthusiasm about everything, and the way she drew my attention to wondrous things that I otherwise would have missed.

    After we were married I appreciated her acceptance of my idiosyncrasies, her refusal to nag me, her willingness to spend time working things out so we both get what we want. The fact that I can have an intelligent conversation with her about anything, and that she learns as much from me as I do from her.

    I could go on and on and on…

  17. A measurement of the quality of a marriage at 4 years is really not telling us much. Lets measure things at 10 years or so and the baby is sick and you haven’t been out of the house for 3 days. Looks helps but there is so much more needed. My wife is and has been by best friend for a zillion years now and its one of things I have always valued most. Your partner needs to be sober, honest, reliable, willing to listen, funny and you must must have some common goals. Otherwise, what’s the point? And just to get back to looks for a second, I have always loved my wife’s smile. It means acceptance and love to me. So a great frequent smile is the most attractive part of any woman. It means you are OK in her eyes. So girls leave the hair color in the box, leave the implants at the doctors office and save you credit card from more damage at JCrew and just smile.

  18. I love my wife’s character most. Her honesty, overall intelligence, her being just makes her lovely in my eyes.

  19. My wife’s looks are important to me. The important bit is that she feels good about herself, making her whole being light up.
    I genuinely think she looks gorgeous. She she never wears make up, but she likes to dress well and to be well groomed – something we have in common. She asked me if I wanted her to dye her hair now that greys are coming through, but I’d like her to accept this as part of what makes her look like her.
    Now I’m not judging other people’s choices here. My point is that what makes my wife look great to me is personal to me and her. It is part of the conversation between us that is still evolving after 21 years of marriage and 3 kids. There is none of the false dichotomy of looks versus personality.
    To answer your question “what do I love about my wife?”, I’m afraid I can offer nothing more insightful than “everything”. Sorry.

  20. makes perfect sense, if the woman is hot enough and puts out enough, I’ll put up with all kinds of overbearing, deameaning, and catty behaviour from her without blinking an eyelid.

    If she’s ugly i won’t even talk to her, let alone ask her out.

  21. Why is it that some women insist on telling men what they should or should not like?

    Men are happier if they have a more attractive mate. Why is this surprising or even require study? And what’s depressing about this reality? For men, physical attraction is the starting point for any relationship. So yes, men do prize beauty over everything else. That shouldn’t be depressing. That should be an acceptance of basic biology.

    • Women want to be valued for more then how they look. Just how men want to be valued for more then the amount of money they make. I think physical attraction is a starting point for alot of men and women. I think it’s biological for both. But we are a heck of a lot more then just biology. And today’s standards of physical attractiveness can be pretty extreme to the point where many men adopt unrealistic expectations that make them unable to relate to the beauty of regular women. This includes messages from women’s body size to the ageism that is perpetuated against women.

      It should be depressing when men only think of women in terms of their looks and don’t value more important things. It should be depressing when men chalk up your value as a romantic partner biased on looks. Just as it’s depressing to men when women value men purely based in terms of their financial portfolio.

      By the way, looks actualy have very little to do with happiness. If what you said was true, there wouldn’t be so many divorces from beautiful people in hollywood…. or divorces in general. People are not more happy with more money or better looking partners because real happiness doen’t come from any of those things.

  22. Hi,
    I’m still curious (see my comment from Dec 2nd)
    What traits in their husbands did have an effect on the reported happiness of the wives?

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