Starshine Roshell Photo: Jackie Sallow Photography
My wife basically dresses me. I'm in my 40s, and she's barely 30, so she has a completely different style than me. We mainly hang out with her friends, and they're all what you'd consider hipsters. She's taken to buying hipster clothing, and whenever I've deviated from wearing these things, I've caught hell, so I gave up. These clothes include skinny jeans, plaid shirts, cardigans, and thick-framed glasses. She even made me get a trendy haircut. The problem is, I'm my own man, and I don't really like this look. Even more, I feel that given my age, I shouldn't be trying to dress like someone half my age. What can I tell my wife to get "me" back?
I love this question, but let's both acknowledge the huge fallacy in it: A guy who lets his wife dress him, gets in trouble for wearing his own clothes, and then "gives up" has no business typing the phrase "The problem is, I'm my own man." The problem — I think we both know — is that you're no such thing.
This situation goes deeper than threads, dude. Why are you mainly hanging out with her friends? Why is she "making you" get a haircut? Unless you've become an unbearable slob since you got married (Have you? Be honest.), she's trying to knead you into the hubster she always wanted to have… and you never wanted to be. But you shoulder some of the blame (ahem, careful not to snag the cardigan) for failing to tell her, "People laugh at fortysomething men who dress like this." And we do, I swear we do.
Remind your wife that marrying someone a decade older has big perks — Life experience! Maturity! Maybe a robust 401(k)? — and that a willingness to chase hip is not typically one of them. If she promises not to make you wear skinny jeans, you can promise not to make her wear pearls and beige sweater sets when you shuffle into your 60s before her.
In order to get "you" back, though, you have to know who "you" are. If you're lucky — and your completely different styles manifest only in the closet, rather than in the relationship itself — she'll enjoy helping you figure that out.
One of my best friends has been tangled up in an emotionally abusive relationship with a guy for over a year. They are constantly fighting about nothing, with him picking fights and making it seem like her fault. I've seen him yell at her in public and be incredibly rude. Sometimes they break up, but they always get back together; he tells her that he's "changed," is seeing a therapist, and fixing his issues. This has happened more than five times.
In the beginning, I tried to keep my opinions to myself, since it's not my relationship and she ultimately needs to learn for herself that he doesn't treat her right. But as things worsened, I decided to tell her straight out that she deserves so much better. A few months back, she broke up with him "for good." She cut off all communication with him and tried to focus on enjoying being single. But this month I've heard from other friends that she's talking to him and might be back together with him again. While I know that she wouldn't want to tell me because she knows how I feel about the whole situation, I'm hurt and disappointed that she's choosing to hide this from me. It's incredibly frustrating to watch someone you care about continue to make the same mistakes. And I'm worried that this guy is going to drive a wedge further into our friendship. What should I do?
Ugh, nothing makes you want to scream, "STOP IT, YOU SPECTACULAR IDIOT!" like a great friend with a douche boyfriend.
But if your friend ever needed someone to be fair to her, it's right now. So don't take anyone's word for it. Ask her yourself if she's seeing the jerkball. If she is, then you have a tough decision to make.
The Good Friend Handbook (I made that up) clearly states that you should hold a pal's hand when she's stumbling through a rough patch. But it does not require that you watch your friend make the same self-destructive mistakes over and over. In fact, telling her that you love her too much to watch her hit bottom may be the kindest thing anyone's said to her in months.
She's making stupid choices, so she may well be willing to give up a solid friend for an abusive ass-wad. But when she's ready to respect herself as much as you do, she'll know where to find you. Good luck to you both.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
- 4 strategies for organizing your money, based on your personality
- How America's broken immigration system is failing the military
Subscribe to the Week