My wife quit shaving her legs and it turns me off

She says she only shaves when she feels like it. What am I going to do?

Published February 23, 2006 11:56AM (EST)

Dear Cary,

My wife and I have been happily married for four years. However, she has practically stopped shaving her legs. She has never been that crazy about shaving her legs, but she did it anyway. She used to shave often, but after we were married she has gradually cut down on her shaving and has now stopped totally.

The issue has come up for discussion but she says that she only shaves when she wants to, and at the moment she does not want to. Obviously this is not going to break our marriage, but has started affecting my sexual desire as I am increasingly turned off by her legs now. I really do not know how to approach again. Please help!

Worried in South Carolina

Dear Worried,

What if you were to offer to shave her legs for her? Do you think she would let you? If she doesn't like doing it, maybe that's because it's a real bother for her. But if you offered to do it for her, it would be kind of interesting, no? It might lead to something. Plus if you are experienced in the art of shaving, you may be able to do a better job than she has been doing. Perhaps you have noticed some spots she tends to miss, and you could get at them more easily than she can.

Or if you don't want to do it yourself, you could think of ways to induce her to shave. If, for instance, there is something you can give her that she likes in return for her agreeing to shave her legs, you could make a deal. Since she says she only does it when she feels like it, make it worth her while.

Or make some kind of event out of it, or a game. Say you could feed her bonbons while she shaves her legs, if she likes bonbons.

You could also offer to pay for her to have her legs waxed or do some research into how other women have approached the problem and how the practice of shaving began in the first place. This may give you a sense of how politically and emotionally charged it can be.

Since she says she only shaves when she wants to, and she doesn't want to right now, could she also be saying that she does not want to be attractive to you right now? I don't know, but it's possible. It may be a way of trying to assert some power, or create some distance between you. Or maybe she is taking pleasure in a more abstract way in the fact that now that she is married she is free to shave or not shave her legs -- that not shaving is an act of disobedience to some perceived social dogma, and defying it brings her some pleasure. Perhaps in that way she is experimenting with the limits of what she is required to do socially in her role as a woman and a wife.

It's hard to tell exactly. But the bottom line is that she is free to shave or not shave her legs. There may be consequences, of course; you may not be attracted to her. But they're her legs, not yours. The thing you want to stay away from, and you probably sense this already, is the idea that her legs belong to you, or that you have the right to command her to shave her legs.

I suggest you try to make it interesting and fun, rather than try to force her to continue to shave her legs.

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