One of the most fascinating differences between men and women is how different they are in their pre-sleep patterns. Men go to bed, and women “get ready” to go to bed. I don’t have an exact count, but there are at least a couple of dozen individual steps that many women take before they get under the covers.
Yes, there are a million or so metro-sexual guys who use a face moisturizer, but the vast majority don’t go even that far. Most men simply brush their teeth, put on their pajamas (or not), and hit the pillow.
A woman's sleep-prep pattern is a more ritualistic process, which is not unlike the care taken in creating a master work of art. It is a way to pay homage to the day’s end and an affirmation that tomorrow will be brighter.
I believe that there is something therapeutic to this dance. Removing make-up at the end of the day is a way of casting off the old and smoothing the rough spots. Taking a bath before bed is not just relaxing, it is restorative. Allowing the stress of the day to simply drift out of your body as you soak in warm water is healing. The act of putting on lotions is a way of saying, "I'm worth the effort." It's empowering knowing that you've done things to make yourself look and feel better, and the time a woman takes to care for herself is usually returned tenfold.
Maybe this is one of the reasons that women outlive their male counterparts. It does make a man wonder—and perhaps want to take a second look at the men's skin-care products the next time he's out shopping.
Women take the time to primp, powder, and perfume because it makes them feel better about themselves, which alone can add years to your life and life to your years. I'm not suggesting that all guys should get manicures, and I don't see most men leaving the office, saying, "I can't wait to slip into a bubble bath." But we do need to consider how a little more low-key self-care could help us feel better.
Most guys simply don't have a clue how to begin, and it doesn't feel macho to ask your significant other if she could recommend a good eye cream. To avoid this dilemma, some men actually "borrow" their loved one’s products. Funny as it may sound, this has been an issue in therapy for a number of couples. I recommend that couples shop for self-care items together, it's a great way to learn a little more about your partner, and perhaps yourself.
So the next time you're impatiently waiting for the love of your life to come to bed, just remember that she (or he) is doing something to make both of your lives longer and lovelier.
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Barton Goldsmith, PhD is author of Emotional Fitness for Couples.