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For Worse….or Maybe Even Better

A few years ago my husband and I made a rodeo swing through Idaho that involved starting on the southern end of the state then traveling most of the night to the northern end. Driving south to north across Idaho is an adventure at the best of times, let alone the dead of night. The hills are steep, the curves sharp, the deer suicidal. We hit Riggins at four a.m.—bless them for letting wayward cowboys camp at their rodeo grounds—and bailed into the camper for a solid four hours sleep.

By noon we were rolling across the Washington border, bleary-eyed and rumpled but right on schedule. I dug out my make-up bag in attempt to avoid scaring small children and suggested to my husband that I might be less likely to poke an eye out with my mascara wand if he would drive a little smoother. He looked over at me and said, in all seriousness, “I don’t know why you bother with that stuff. I didn’t marry you ‘cuz you were pretty.”

Experience has taught me in situations such as this it is best to take a couple of deep breaths and fully consider your options before reacting. Given that he was behind the wheel doing sixty five on a highway clinging to the side of Hell’s Canyon, the first option that came to mind was unworkable, as I didn’t want to die with him. And once the first homicidal impulse had passed, I considered what he’d said and got warm and tingly all over.

You see, when you live on a ranch, a man who loves you in spite of how you look is a very good thing. Out here, comfort and warmth always rank higher on my list of priorities than appearance, and if I have anything on my face it probably wasn’t manufactured by Revlon. Last week was a prime example. It’s been a bit breezy at our place. Like, 100 mph gusts breezy. When it finally calmed to the usual 30-40 mph range we went out to examine the remains of the latest steel granary to join the graveyard in the bottom of the coulee.

I donned my standard winter ensemble: wool socks, long underwear, jeans, insulated windproof pants, turtleneck, hooded sweatshirt, men’s Carhartt coat, gloves, cap and sunglasses. Believe me, it is not necessary to ask if this outfit makes my butt look big.

Oddly enough, my summer ensemble is much the same, minus the insulated pants and the turtleneck, although on the two or three days a year the temperature tops the seventy-five degree mark, I have been known to switch to a lighter coat.

That night, layers peeled off, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair was smashed flat, with strands glued to my face and neck by static, my nose terminally red from sun and wind. My turtleneck used to be navy blue, but has faded to a dark shade of gray with a large bleach spot on the front. My jeans were chosen for the ability to accommodate long underwear and still allow me to mount a horse. There is a permanent streak of black down one leg from my encounter with a bucket of used motor oil. Yep, I was looking good.

I joined my husband on the couch for our version of date night: a beer and whatever movie was on TBS. I polished off the beer and belched happily. My husband laughed. “That’s my kind of woman.”

I snuggled up close and kissed his cheek. “I’m so glad you love me just the way I am.”

He patted my knee. “I married you for better or worse, honey. It’s bound to get better sooner or later.”

Kari Lynn Dell     Montana For Real


13 Responses

  1. I still might have smacked him for the “I didn’t marry you ‘cuz you’re pretty” line, but it’s good to have a man who loves you no matter what you look like. 🙂

  2. I sucked half the air out of the room when I read his comment. LOL

    But you hit on what’s really important, of course, that you guys are perfect for each other, and he lets you be who you are. That’s awesome.

    My husband’s parents come over every Sunday to watch football. We alternate who provides lunch (or dinner, for 4:00 games). We were having an argument about one such meal prep and he said, “They always make something so much better than us.” Of course by “us” he meant me because I do all the cooking.

    Lucky for him, he immediately reversed himself. But he’s providing the food from now on. 🙂

  3. I’m not sure I’d have had the self control to wait the required time before the meaning behind, I didn’t marry you cuz you’re pretty, sunk in. smh One thing I’ve learned, men don’t always speak with…accuracy, or forethought.

    The other day, I made a pumpkin cheesecake that was really, really good. I got the recipe from Paula Dean. My husband went on and on about how good the dessert was and then said. ” I love Paula Dean.”


  4. Midnight: I just keep telling myself that for him ‘pretty’ equals ‘high maintenance’. It doesn’t always help.

    Natalie: I trained my husband on the food thing before we were ever married. Harsh critique will equal ‘well, feed yourself then’. Now he very timidly says, “Well, it wasn’t bad, but you don’t need to make it again.” Except for last week when I made some really grotesque looking stew. He peeked in the pot, took a breath and said, “I think I’ll have another drink first.”

    Shawna: Tell him to call Paula next time he wants dessert.

  5. Men say the darnedest things! 🙂 It sure is lucky for them that we like having them around (sometimes).

  6. Hey, we’re not looking at either one of you. We’re looking at the darling boy who was NOT adopted, so someone must have a purty gene someplace.

  7. Love it, Kari. Hey, he didn’t say you weren’t pretty, just that it’s not why he married you. 😉 Men just don’t seem to get the impact of their comments sometimes.

    It’s nice to have someone I feel totally comfortable with, regardless of how I look, but I do occasionally try to “pretty up”–and not just because we’re leaving the house–so he won’t always think of me in sweats and a ponytail…

  8. I spend two and a half hours every morning getting five boys off to school. Usually I’m wearing the t-shirt I slept in, black velour pants, and if there’s any make-up on my face, it’s from the night before.

    Sadly, I will admit that on especially busy days– okay, often– my husband finds me at the end of the day looking exactly as I did at the start. But he knows the life I lead, and loves me for it. The other night he came home, saw me in my other velour pants, and said, “Oh, the brown ones. You look hot in those!”

    It’s nice to be loved for the person I am under the grunge.

  9. Megan: If all else fails, I tell myself that even looking like this I spent at least as much time getting pretty as he did.

  10. Ouch! Men are so funny the way they say things before thinking. LOL If I took everything my hubby said like that and wrote it down, I’d have one heck of a book! Hey, now there’s an idea! 🙂

  11. Melissa: I just get my payback by using him for blog fodder.

  12. This story makes me warm and tingly! These are the best kind of moments.

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