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The Tart Of Compromise

My husband planned a weekend vacation for the two of us. He bought me an outfit for the occasion -- a black leather miniskirt, knee-high boots, and fishnet stockings. This is not my style, so I returned it and bought something more conservative. My husband is very hurt. Why would he want me to keep something I won’t wear?

--Dressed Down

In your perfect world, trashy paperbacks sold in drugstore checkout lines would be written by L.L.Bean:

“She bent over him, her flannel nightgown grazing his arm. He cupped her sensible shoes in his hands, aching to run his finger along the curve of one of her Fresh Step insoles. Her cheeks growing hot, she lowered her eyes. It was time. She whirled into the closet, the click of the lock behind her a cruel reprimand. Swathed in darkness, fighting back yards of flower-print flannel, she struggled into her control-top wool tights. ‘Heartless wench,’ he whimpered, his face pressed into the closet door. ‘I’m begging you, come out and talk quarterly earnings to me while I run my tongue along the hems of your wool-blend career coordinates.’”

Your husband’s perfect world is a little more “as-seen-on MTV” -- guest-starring you as a freak-dancing fly girl instead of a tired career woman sleepwalking in her Lanz nightgown. Unfortunately for him, he’s married to a woman who doesn’t just look a gift horse in the mouth, but hauls it off to the glue factory immediately afterward. For future reference, when somebody gives you a gift, the appropriate response goes like this: “Wow! My very own leaking barrel of toxic waste!” Accepting with any less enthusiasm is a major rejection -- of both the gift and the giver. (In time, you might discreetly ring the proper authorities so they can declare your living room rug a national disaster area qualifying for Superfund cleanup.)

Come on, it isn’t like your husband got you backless hot pants to wear to client meetings. He planned a romantic weekend and bought the woman he loves some mildly trashy new clothes -- instead of going for a mildly trashy new woman who already has the outfits. The goal here wasn’t adding to your working girl wardrobe, but to your collective sexual repertoire. So, what about keeping your sex life hot is not your style?

Okay, so you aren’t comfortable in nasty-girl clothes. We all know the feminist party line: A woman should never, ever do anything that makes her feel uncomfortable. That might not be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard, but it does come close. Perhaps it’s escaped your notice, but the world is not exactly one great big comfort zone. That’s why you spend much of your lifetime working and paying a lot of taxes, instead of lying around and being massaged with hot oil by a harem of male models.

Would it have killed you to wear this stuff in private? At the very least, you could have accepted it with grace, confessed later to feeling not-quite-fly enough for full hooker-casual, then pledged to fishnet up under one of your stern corporate pantsuits. If only you’d made the slightest effort, he’d probably be feeling grateful and loving instead of slapped upside the ego. When something means a lot to someone you love, and giving it to them won’t exactly scar you for life, maybe you should try. Even if it means wearing a mangy chicken suit and hopping around your front yard clucking wildly. If this helps your husband stay hot for you, do you really have a problem with it? Sure, you’ll look like a major idiot, but you’ll be a happily married major idiot.

Copyright ©2004, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.