Psychological fact...Men don't see their women aging?

I went to my breast cancer support group meeting last night and we were talking about menopause, since a lot of us get it as a side effect of the Tamoxifen. One of the pamphlets that was handed out talked about the loss of libido and what we could do about it.

It mentioned that it’s a “psychological fact” that men tend to mentally superimpose their wife (or long term girlfriend) as she looked when they first met over what the woman may look now, so they honestly don’t see the wrinkles and the gray hair and the sagging skin.

I didn’t get a chance to ask Ivylad, but I thought I’d ask here too. So, Married Gentlemen Dopers…do you find your wife as beautiful and sexy as ever, and don’t notice time’s ravages? Or do you notice and just not care?

For me, I notice Ivylad’s few gray hairs, but it’s more of a “huh, what do you know” and not an “OMG, he’s getting old!” type thing.

My wife does not look the same as she did 40 years ago (and neither do I), but she’s still very attractive to me. And she’s much more conscious of her faults in appearance than I am.

Don’t most people do this with people they are close to over a long period of time? I know that I sometimes look at old friends and suddenly see all the changes, lost hair, beginnings of wrinkles, etc and realize we’re all getting older. But generally I just see them as the young’uns we all used to be, in a way.

I’m not a man, but my opinion is that it isn’t exclusive to men, and also doesn’t occur only in romantic relationships. I’ve known my husband for over 20 years and intellectually I understand he doesn’t look the same but when he walks into a room my reaction is the same as it was when we were in college. When I look at a photo from 1989 I instantly see “oh we looked so much younger then”.

I’ve been to a few reunions lately and had similar experiences. My friends and classmates looked essentially the same to me as when we met, only with less ridiculous hair. Then when the inevitable slide show of photos from the 80s pops up I see the differences clearly. Also, my college does a reunion weekend so that multiple class groups are there together. At that reunion I observed that the folks from my year hadn’t aged a day but the people from the class 5 years ahead of us looked like adults, like middle aged adults.

My grandmother used to talk about a movie with Robert Young called The Enchanted Cottage*. She’d say that it was like that for her with my grandfather. That she knew full well she didn’t look, or sound, or move the way she did when they met, that store clerks and strangers saw them as an old couple but they didn’t feel that way with eachother.

*IMDB summary: A homely maid and a scarred ex-GI meet at the cottage where she works and where he was to spend his honeymoon prior to his accident. The two develop a bond and agree to marry, more out of loneliness than love. The romantic spirit of the cottage, however, overtakes them. They soon begin to look beautiful to each other, but no one else.

Never been married, but my parents and siblings look the same to me as they did many years ago. The exception is my brother, who suddenly transformed into my dad last year.

I think that if you see someone every day, the changes are imperceptable.

My wife is going through the chemo regimen. As a step to improve her mood she bought a few summer dresses. And as is our ritual she tried on each one for me and I vetted it. When my wife shops she agonizes the whole time. Will it make her looks fat, does it looks right from behind, does the color work.

When I vet the clothes it takes me about 5 seconds and half a twirl.

After being told to return a dress that she had convinced herself was perfect she asked me in an exasperated voice how I can decide so quickly.

My answer:
“I’ve been checking you out for fifteen years. I know what makes you look good.”

She may not look exactly the same as she did in college, but that is for someone else to notice. She looks like my wife, and my wife looks good.

That is so sweet! What cancer does your wife have? (I had breast cancer last year, so feel free to PM me if you like.)

It seemed like a simplistic explanation. Certainly my son (20 on Monday!) doesn’t look the way he did when he was born, but he will always be my baby.

My wife of over 20 years still looks good to me. I think it’s because I look at the parts of her that look good to me. I could look at the wrinkles and the grey hair and let them represent her but I like to look at attractive things. This morning I couldn’t take my eyes of the curve of her hip as she lay asleep beside me. From her thin waist, over the hip and down … well, I won’t go on except to say I had to touch.

When I look at pictures of my wife from 20 or 25 years I can’t believe what a babe she was; then I can say she has changed quite a bit. But I’m still married to a babe.


I was capable of appreciating a classic woman with long flowing whitegrey hair back when I was a young fellow of 20. I don’t “see” a woman of 20 when I’m with a woman of 60 but some women look really nice as 60 year old women.

Also, I don’t go out with women because of what they look like. I probably should, to see what that’s like, but I mean, really, mostly you get into relationships because of how well you mesh, whereas what someone looks like has damn little to do with them personally, you know?

No, this is total nonsense.

My wife is as beautiful to me today as she was the day we met.

…about two and a half years ago :wink:

I see my wife of 26 years not only with my eyes, but with everything wonderful that has happened to us in the 32 years we’ve known each other. No matter her age or haircut or clothing or whatever she is the most beautiful woman in the world. It is a continuing struggle for me to keep my hands off of her and behave appropriately in public. She is more beautiful to me every day, no matter what she looks like. She may not be the college kid I first met, but neither am I the college kid she first met. (I’ve turned into my Dad - which has got to be bad for her on multiple levels :eek: )

I can’t speak for most men, but I know I’m married to the most wonderful woman in the world. I feel very sorry for anyone who does not feel that way about their S.O.

:: sniff ::
You guys made me cry. Thanks.

Artist Pierre Bonnard made many, many painitngs of his wife Marthe from 1907 until her death in 1942. His skills and style evolved over the years, but otherwise she was appeared the same as in 1907.

To be honest, I don’t notice my wife’s aged. She was 19 when we met, and is now 30, and I realize you can’t look the same at 30 as you do at 19, but I really don’t notice.

Sorry, but that isn’t true. First of all, I can, in fact, see a number of gray hairs on my GFs head. Ergo, not a psychological fact.

Not that I love her any less. For the most part, we both have aged pretty well. And we are in our 30s which isn’t that old if you stay in shape.

I don’t have a cite handy, but I did read one study that a prime trigger of mid-life crisis in middle age men was not their own appearance but their wifes.

A year ago I met up with a past love and didn’t recognize her at first but when I looked in her eyes I saw her as she was 30 years ago.

I agree. My ex-wife was gorgeous when we met at age eighteen and is still very beautiful at 36 but she has to fight it hard now. I watch the kids while she dyes her hair and goes on 5 mile runs. The twenty-something females catch my eye pretty hard these days and they probably always will although I am not a perve and won’t do anything about it. I can definitely see aging even though she is way prettier than most 36 year old females. I don’t mean this to sound shallow but the OP kind of forces the issue. I am not sure what would happen if I had a wife or girlfriend that let herself go but I wouldn’t be happy about it.

my wife has commented about this. Personally, I don’t notice. To me not much has changed in 30 years. :slight_smile:

So, yes, I don’t pay attention to aging related to my wife.

You don’t if you know what’s good for you;)