07/29/2001QUESTION: What are the prospects for the very pretty (or handsome) child? Does she (or he) usually have smooth sailing all the way?
DR. DOBSON: Well, that child has some remarkable advantages. She is much more likely to accept herself and enjoy the benefits of self-confidence. However, she also faces some unique problems that the homely child never experiences.
Beauty in our society is power, and power can be dangerous in immature hands. A 14-year-old young woman, for example, who is prematurely curved and rounded in all the right places may be pursued vigorously by males who would exploit her beauty. As she becomes more conscious of her flirtatious power, she is sometimes urged toward promiscuity.
Furthermore, women who have been coveted physically since early childhood often became bitter and disillusioned as they age. I'm thinking particularly of Hollywood's most glamorous sex queens, such as Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot, who had difficulty dealing with the depersonalization of body worship as the years passed.
Research also indicates some interesting consequences in regard to marital stability for the "beautiful people." In one important study, the more attractive college girls were found to be less happily married 25 years later. It is apparently difficult to reserve the "power" of sex for one mate, ignoring the ego gratification that awaits outside the marriage bonds. And finally, the more attractive a person is in his or her youth, the more painful is the aging process.
My point is this: The measurement of worth on a scale of beauty is wrong, often damaging to the "haves" and "have-nots" alike.
QUESTION: I know that my husband is a womanizer -- a guy who can't resist anything in a skirt. Will he always be like this? Can I change him?
DR. DOBSON: It is difficult, if not impossible, to change anyone. It certainly cannot be accomplished by nagging and complaining and chastising. That only causes a person to dig in his heels and fight to the finish.
What you can do is make it clear to your husband that he can't have you and a harem too, and that he must make a choice between his lust and his love. Unfortunately, merely putting these alternatives before him verbally will not force him to select one over the other. He would rather have both. That's why there will probably come a time for loving toughness when you back your words by firmness and definitive action.
QUESTION: I have a friend who is a frequent victim of spousal abuse. How would she go about dealing with her husband's problem?
DR. DOBSON: The principles of "love must be tough" offer the best response to an abusive husband. They begin with a recognition that behavior does not change when things are going smoothly. If change is to occur, it usually does so in a crisis situation. Thus, a crisis must be created and managed very carefully.
After the woman moves out and makes it clear that she has no intention of returning, the ball moves to her husband's court. If he never responds, she never returns. If it takes a year, or five years, then so be it. He has to want her bad enough to face his problem and to reach out to her.
When (and if) her husband acknowledges that he has an abusive behavior pattern and promises to deal with it, negotiations can begin. A plan can be agreed upon that involves intensive Christian counseling with a person of the wife's choosing. She should not return home until the counselor concludes that she will be safe and that the husband is on the way to recovery. Gradually, they put their relationship back together.
It's a long shot, but one worth working to achieve.
Dr. Dobson is president of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, P.O. Box 444, Colorado Springs, CO. 80903; or www.family.org. Questions and answers are excerpted from "The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide," published by Tyndale House.