Assalamu aleikom. I have been having a hard time with my self-esteem and confidence. Furthermore, I have a lot of feelings of bitterness.
Alhamdulillah I got married last year and love my husband very very much. Masha Allah he is very focused on his Deen. Before I met my husband and during our courtship, I wore makeup and was feeling confident and pretty. I’ve always had self-esteem issues, and felt my best and “myself” when I had my makeup on. I started wearing it as a teenager, and only wore it when I went out in public.
Now that I am married, my husband forbids me from wearing any makeup or perfume at all when we go out. It was and still is very difficult, and it brought feelings of resentment towards him because he doesn’t realize how deeply entangled makeup is with my self confidence and femininity.
He used to get very angry with me in the beginning of our marriage when I would apply some makeup before I went out. In turn, I was angry with him because I felt like he wasn’t allowing me to take care of my self esteem.
He said I was trying to impress other people (men) when in reality the makeup made me feel confident and like myself. I explained my reasoning about why I wore it but it changed nothing. We had many unpleasant arguments, and I ultimately stopped wearing it because I didn’t want to anger him any more.
He tells me that I am beautiful and that I don’t need it but I feel quite ugly and plain. I also feel like I’ve been forced to give up a big part of myself. Furthermore, my husband is very handsome and charming, and I frequently catch women staring at him.
He takes care of his appearance, and wears many attractive colognes and gets his hair done. I feel like an ugly blob next to him, whilst he looks and smells gorgeous. It makes me feel so resentful and jealous. Why is he allowed to be beautiful and I am not?
I have many ugly feelings stirring in me that I seek refuge in Allah from, but they remain in my heart. I feel like I’ve had to lose key parts of myself for this marriage and I just feel ugly, resentful, bitter and frustrated. I know I shouldn’t be displaying my adornments but I also don’t know how to help my poor self-confidence and to truly feel beautiful/worthy. Please advise me.
In this counseling answer:
You are left with two options. One, to wholly accept what your husband is asking of you, and give up on one aspect of your identity.
Second, to keep on reasoning with your husband till he fully understands that this is a part of your identity which you do not want to comprise.
It is important that both you and your husband understand proactive communication in order to have a lasting and meaningful relationship.
A successful marriage is where each of you can find a middle ground and be in “win-win” position.
Assalamu Alaikum Sister,
Thank you for your post. I do understand that it’s generally difficult to adjust to changes after marriage.
Especially if, like you mentioned, it’s so huge that it forms a part of your identity. From your question, I understand that wearing make-up is something that you don’t just enjoy. It is also an important part of who you are, and how you present yourself.
Adjustments after Marriage
It is natural to be expected to make some adjustments to who you are after marriage, especially if you are a woman.
Islam does give men the superiority and power to ask women to change as per their likes. However, you as a woman also have the right to maintain your own identity and personality.
It feels as though his non-approval of your wearing make-up is impacting who you are and in turn, damaging your self-esteem and sense of self worth. It also seems like he is not accepting a major part of who you are.
You are left with two options. One, to wholly accept what your husband is asking of you, and give up on one aspect of your identity. Second, to keep on reasoning with your husband till he fully understands that this is a part of your identity which you do not want to comprise.
Know and Communicate Your Intention to Your Husband
From what I understand, the reason your husband forbids you to wear make-up is that he does not want you to be attractive to other men.
Let your husband know that you do not intend to wear make-up to appear attractive to other men. Rather, it is something that you have been practicing and doing all your life, and you feel incomplete without it.
According to Hadith,
‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.”
Be Expressive about All Your Feelings
You mentioned that you feel bitter and resentful towards your husband when he does not allow you to wear your make-up, while he dresses up nicely.
You also feel jealous when other women look at him. You can express your feelings to him honestly and let him know that you feel resentful for this.
Women often think that they cannot communicate their negative emotions to their spouses for the fear that they will be rejected.
However, it is important to be able to express both your positive and negative emotions and feelings in an appropriate way to your significant other in a healthy relationship.
Communicate with Your Husband Assertively
Let your husband know that it is very important for you to have peace and harmony in your relationship, and that you want to make him happy.
However, there are things that define who you are, and it is difficult for you to compromise on these subjects.
When communicating in relationships, we often become reactive instead of being proactive.
It is important that both you and your husband understand proactive communication in order to have a lasting and meaningful relationship. Communication is the building block in any relationship as it opens the door to another person’s soul.
Try using assertive communication when you feel unable to express yourself properly.
Assertive communication involves the use of “I-statements”. For instance, you can say “I feel hurt and rejected when you dress up nicely, and don’t allow me carry myself in a way that I feel comfortable”.
Assertive communication and the use of I-statements helps you own responsibility for your feelings instead of blaming the other person for how they affect you.
Identify Your Priorities
It is essential that you are aware of yourself, your own personal likes, dislikes and how much you are willing to stand up for yourself. There are likely going to be conflicts in marital life. You will need to assess what your priorities in every situation are.
There is absolutely no harm in prioritizing the acceptance of everything your husband says.
However, if there are things that impact you deeply or make you resentful, there is a possibility that you will start disconnecting from the relationship itself.
Find a Middle Ground
Marriage is a union of two unique individuals who have their own personalities. A successful marriage is where each of you can find a middle ground and be in “win-win” position.
In this particular situation, you could ask your husband what kind of make-up would he approve of? Perhaps light make-up, using nude shades, etc.
Instead of wearing make-up only when going out, make a point of also wearing it only for your husband.
Show him what you like, the way you like to put it on, and then ask for his likes and preferences. Once he sees how much it is a part of you, he might not be so put off when you wear it outside as well.
Understand His Perspective and Insecurities
Sister, it is possible that your husband has his own insecurities that make him rigid towards you wearing make-up. Try to understand him on a deeper level and see if he feels insecure regarding you.
If so, where do his insecurities stem from? Once you understand the underlying reasons why he behaves in such a way, it might be easier to help him understand your perspective.
Work on Building a Positive Self-Image for Yourself
Last but not the least, work on making a positive relationship with yourself. Understand yourself and see where your own insecurities come from, and why it is so essential for you to wear make-up.
Learn to accept yourself for who you are, whether with or without make-up.
Make time for your own self every day, and do things that make you feel good about yourself.
It could be anything that makes you feel important and valued in your own eyes. It could be a hobby such as reading, writing, and painting, or it could be helping out someone with something such as teaching a child.
I wish you all the happiness in your married life.