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Fiancee's primping pushes his buttons

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

He needs to come to grips with how annoying her primping is

Massachusetts: I'm a 30-year-old man and I hope you can help me reconcile something. I am engaged to a beautiful woman who spends a lot of time on her appearance.

She also has a professional degree, a great job and a lot of other good qualities, but she is very, very into makeup and dresses and accessories. A girly girl.

On the one hand, I love and am proud of how good she looks. On the other hand, having to deal with all the energy that goes into this passion feels really shallow and tiring. If I am reaping the benefits of her hours and hours of makeup and wardrobe effort, am I obligated to just shut up about the inconvenience?

Carolyn: PSA: Any time you're asking an "am I obligated just to ignore something that really bothers me" question, that's your cue that you're in denial, and "something" urgently needs your attention.

The denial that needs your attention isn't that you find your fiancee's passion shallow — well, it does need attention, but it's not first in line. First in line is that you favor a kind of beauty that requires behavior you don't respect.

At least that's how it looks from here; you don't say whether you actually prefer this kind of high-maintenance beauty to other, more natural kinds. I'm just extrapolating that because you say you're proud of her beauty and you're also engaged. That is, out of all the women out there, you chose a primper.

If it is the case that you like this kind of look but have discovered you don't like what goes into it, then you need to reconcile your interests internally.

Either you adjust your notion of beauty to reflect your respect for more worthwhile uses of time, or you extend your judgment about her "shallow and tiring" pursuit and apply it to yourself.

It's your pursuit, too, if you seek out and endorse the result.

This is all a theoretical and, as I said above, internal debate, and therefore doesn't offer you practical suggestions on what to do in the near term about a fiancee who apparently bores you.

But a fiancee who bores you is a practical suggestion unto herself: Break up. She isn't the right person for you.

Assuming it's a little more subtle — say, you don't find her shallow or boring, you'd just like to get out of the house 30 minutes faster — then I would suggest admitting to her that while you love to look at the result, you're starting to feel trapped by all the prep time she takes before leaving the house.

To be clear: If her grooming is more hobby than hygiene, and it's something she enjoys, then you don't want to bully her out of it.

She is who she is, and so you either take her as-is ungrudgingly, with maybe some minor concessions, or you're back to calling this off.

If instead it's just a habit that she hasn't really questioned, then it's okay to ask if she'd be willing to streamline.

This would be the time to mention — because you do, right? — that you find her beautiful before all the spackle goes on.

Possibly without use of the word "spackle."

Fiancee's primping pushes his buttons 05/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 29, 2009 4:30am]
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