I Look So Fat.
While our spouses may love us, warts and all, it's certainly not because of the warts!
A young single girl I know gave her newly married friend some excellent advice. "Don't ever tell your husband you look fat." Unlike most of us, this friend actually accepted and internalized this instruction. Even when she gained some weight, she would tell her husband how thin she looked. And he, admiringly, agreed.
The Torah is replete with stories that teach us the importance of Shalom Bayit, peace in the home. There is a famous story where angels make a point of complimenting Sarah in front of Abraham. (Even though they'd probably been married for about 80 years!) Not only should we never criticize a husband to a wife (I did leave a message -- didn't your absent-minded husband give it to you?) and vice versa (Your wife spent how much money redecorating?! That could feed a third world nation!), but we should actively look for opportunities to praise them to each other.
But it shouldn't stop there. We think, "That's very nice of our friends, but I want to be honest. I want to just relax and be myself, warts and all."
Perhaps there's a happy medium. We can be ourselves but we can still be circumspect at the same time. While it may not damage our marriage if we constantly point out how drastically we overate and how much weight we've gained (and where!), it certainly won't enhance it. While our spouses may love us, warts and all, it's certainly not because of the warts!
We shouldn't go out of our way to highlight our imperfections. (Whenever I make this mistake, my husband suggests that I should have come with a warranty!)
Honesty does not demand taking a microscope to our weaknesses, certainly not in front of our spouse.
I have a friend who definitely crossed the line when she pointed out one of the adverse effects of aging. She could now play the part of one of the three little pigs and scream "Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin." Not recommended by marriage counselors.
We want our marriages to be terrific. We want our spouses to stay focused on our positive points, as we wish to do the same. Honesty does not demand taking a microscope to our weaknesses, certainly not in front of our spouse. Preserving the pleasure and excitement in our marriage requires the exercise of self-control, as in keeping our mouths shut. Even in a marriage of many years, we want to continue to put our best foot forward.
Every spouse certainly deserves at least the same smile we give to strangers on the street, the same attentiveness to appearance and presentation as when we leave the house. Our homes are not a place to "let it all hang out." Our homes are meant to be a Beit HaMikdash Me'at -- a miniature Sanctuary where the Almighty's presence resides, the centerpiece of our goals and values. Maintaining that sanctity requires effort. It requires care and nurturing. It requires the recognition that I'm not alone and I must be solicitous of the needs of my partner and the needs of the marriage.
And that the goal is worth the additional effort -- and the silence.