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If I Say She Has a Nice Body, Will She Hold It Against Me? Ask Harry and Louise
Our advice columnists counsel a man on the delicate issue of boosting his wife’s body image. By Harry Jaffe, Louise Jaffe
Comments () | Published November 16, 2011

Dear Harry and Louise:

My wife and I were whispering sweet nothings to each other in bed one recent morning. Feeling quite tender and very much in love, I stroked the small of her back and told her how much I appreciated the softness of her skin.

“How does my butt feel?” she asked.

“Perfect,” I responded without skipping a beat. “Taut and soft and round, as always.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll start running again and get it back the way it used to be.”

“But it’s great the way it is,” I said. “You don’t need to work out for my benefit.”

“Thanks,” she responded, “but your opinion doesn’t count.”

What’s a guy to do?

Perplexed

• • •

LOUISE SAYS:

You are a sweet, kind, and generous husband. And it doesn’t matter one bit if your wife isn’t feeling fine about herself these days. What to do: Keep telling her what you like about her and her body. Be honest about what you see in her that is unique. What NOT to do: Suggest she run more, or remind her you like a woman with a little extra padding.

She will figure this out for herself. She will focus, in her own time, on a health routine that makes her feel good physically and mentally. She is lucky to have such a loving, complimentary husband in her life.

The quote that keeps coming to mind is one from a card sent to me by a friend. “No, those jeans don’t make you look fat. It’s your fat ass that makes you look fat.”

P.S. Don’t use that quote with your wife.

• • •

HARRY SAYS:

See Also:

What is Ask Harry & Louise?

Dude, I feel your pain. When it comes to commenting on a woman’s body, a man is dancing in a minefield. If you fail to praise, you are not being appreciative, but if you offer any opinion on certain body parts, you are doomed. Try, “Darling, your legs look terrific in that dress,” and you might hear, “What, they didn’t look so fine this morning in the shower?”

Steer clear of talking about butts and breasts, period—your wife’s or any other woman’s.

Louise often tells me women are more concerned about another woman’s assessment rather than a man’s, especially when it comes to fashion. Not sure I believe that, but it might explain your wife’s brush-off.

And if your woman is as fine as you describe, she’s worth the occasional perplexing moment. My advice is to keep your comments to a minimum and appreciate her in other, more direct, ways.

• • •

LOUISE SAYS:

Appreciate her in more direct ways? There is nothing more direct than, “You look lovely today.” If she’s funny, then you laugh. If she’s smart, then tell her what a great idea she had. If she makes brisket for Passover, then devour it. That dynamic should never cease.

HARRY SAYS:

Just don’t tell her the brisket might make her butt fat.

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Posted at 04:23 PM/ET, 11/16/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs