Jimmy Soul had a number one hit on the Billboard charts in 1963 singing the advice "if you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, make an ugly woman your wife." After the last woman who I was madly attracted to turned out to be more than a little psychotic, Mr. Soul's words sound quite sagacious. The reality, however, is that I don't know anyone who specifically sets out to find a spouse they find unattractive, and I question how happy it might actually make them. I know many, though, who take the extreme opposite route, placing a premium on attractiveness. If a woman is not a size 2 and supermodel gorgeous, many guys will not even give them the time of day. And it is not just the guys. I have met plenty of women who will settle for nothing less than the chiseled, broad-shouldered, over six foot man of their dreams who is rich to boot!
While I am not holding out for a supermodel, I also have fallen prey to placing importance on beauty - and I am troubled by it. I wonder how many great women I have turned down after a date or two - or even before getting to that stage - because I did not find them pretty. Yes, I have also ended things because a woman was not warm, or because she was rude or materialistic, but those are personality traits. I know that beauty fades, it is not constant, and it is purely external, having nothing to do with a person's intrinsic worth.
Yes, attraction has to be there, and attraction for me is not just based on physical attributes, and no, I am not seriously advocating marrying someone one is not attracted to, but it bothers me how great a role the physical plays in my thoughts. Why does it have to be this way? Is it strictly western society's influence? Have we been conditioned to expect everyone to look like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? Do Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt even really look like the images of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that we are presented with? When more of marriage is about who's going to get the milk at the grocery store than satiating lust, why is physical beauty so high on the list of essential traits in a spouse for so many of us?
Perhaps it needs to be the initial draw, because genuine love based on giving and mutual respect only develops later, after being there for each other and working together to build something - a relationship, a home, a life together. And just practically, for desire to be there, and to look at each other day in day out, there must be attraction. But how much is enough? What do we hold out for? How do we measure?
I can't quantify it personally, except to say I know it is more important to marry someone who will be a good spouse and a good parent to your children together, and who shares similar values in life. I would rather have those things and marry someone who I am somewhat attracted to than to not have them and be with someone I am madly attracted to - and yet, attraction does have to be there. I do not care about impressing my guy friends. I do not care if everyone else thinks my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. What I do want, though, is to be able to tell my wife I think she is beautiful and mean it - because she deserves that.
For those of you who are married, what was the one trait that figured most prominently in drawing you to your spouse? How important was the attractiveness factor before marriage and now after marriage? And for those of you who are single, to what degree have physical attributes played a role in your dating choices and in what you are looking for in a spouse? I very curiously await your thoughts...