One day a sister dropped by to pick up something and saw me dressed up with make-up and jewelry, so she assumed I was going somewhere. When I told her I wasn’t, the reason I dressed up surprised her. I told her, “Because it is about time for my husband to return from work.” She said, “You still get ready for your husband?” “Yes, what do you mean “still”?!” I asked. She said, “I used to do that in the beginning of the marriage and then I don’t it anymore.”

Unfortunately this is a common scenario among many Muslim married sisters. In fact, one of the most common complaints husbands have against their wives is that the wives don’t beautify themselves at home.

I have personally observed many Muslim sisters stop taking care of themselves once they get married. Some married sisters only dress up when they go out and while others don’t even bother with that. For some, abaya and hijab become a perfect “cover up” for outside the house and a t-shirt and sweat pants become the perfect lounge-wear for inside the house!

Reasons Why Sisters Don’t Dress Up:
I cannot generalize the reasons why sisters stop taking interest in taking care of themselves at home, but I want to highlight 2 main points:

  1. Once married to a practicing brother, sisters assume their knight in shining armor won’t be interested in their looks but, rather, in their imaan. They believe their beauty lies in their “piety.”
  2. Husbands don’t express their desire in seeing their wives dressed up. Or, when their wives dress up, they don’t bother to compliment them, which confuses the wife into thinking, “He does not care.”

Beauty and Piety are Two Separate Characteristics:
Let’s remember, piety may add to a person’s inner beauty which may reflect through physical appearance; however, they both are independent characteristics.

There is no prohibition in looking good; in fact, to physically beautify oneself to please one’s husband and keep him happy is not only a praiseworthy act but also a means to earn reward from Allah azza wa jall.

When the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalam was asked which woman was best, he replied, “The one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command….” (Nasa’i)

Hence, sisters, please on a daily basis before your husband returns home:

  • Take a shower (make sure you are not smelling like food)
  • Change your clothes.
  • Wash your face with cleanser/scrub.
  • Put light make up on. Please don’t use the excuse, “I don’t know how to.”
  • Wear some jewelry.
  • Show some creativity with your hair. Remember frizzy hair can be taken care of with gel, mousse, hair spray, hair straightener etc.
  • Use your perfume everyday and not only when you visit a friend.

Moreover, try to get a facial done once in a while. If you can’t afford to, there are millions of products available at very reasonable prices for home facials/deep cleaning.

Dear sisters, abaya should not be used to cover up weight gain, and neither should the hijab keep frizzy/unkempt hair covered. I understand that a t-shirt and sweat pants are the most comfortable clothing but it needs to be changed before your husband get back home.

Husbands: Pay Attention & Don’t be Stingy with Words:

In the early days of marriage, since husbands are “new,” it is important to look good. As the time passes and the couple becomes more comfortable around each other, it is only natural to become more informal. I remember the first time I wore my glasses in front of my husband was after SIX months of our marriage!

Compliments are incentives for looking good. For non-hijaabis it is easier to stay focused about their looks since their appearance is visible in public.

On the other hand, once a person is covered behind abaya and hijaab, it is easier to become careless about one’s appearance; besides, “who is going to look?”. This is where a husband’s attention and compliments become essential.  A wife desires attention from her husband. If she feels her husband appreciates her dressing up and taking care of herself, it will encourage her to take care of herself. Hence, husbands please:

  • Pay attention to your wife on a daily basis
  • Show interest in her looks, clothes and her overall appearance
  • Encourage her by buying her clothes you would like her to wear
  • When she is dressed up, make sure you praise her.
  • When she is not, remind her gently

Marriage is a mutual bond of understanding and give and take. This issue, too, requires an effort on both sides.

And finally, it’s never too late to start young.  Parents, some advice for your young girls:

  • Train your daughters to take care of themselves from a young age.
  • Instill a habit of working out regularly so they become accustomed to maintaining their physique.
  • Allow them to wear jewelry at home and even let them experiment with make up so when they get married and should be adorning themselves for their husbands, the intimidation factor isn’t there. Wearing make-up and jewelry won’t become a burden, but rather a daily ritual.
  • Train them to dress nicely and keep a pleasant demeanor every day at home in front of their family.

By taking these subtle steps you prepare them for some lifelong habits that will only make their marital life more pleasant inshaAllah.