August 17, 2021

When Cathy and I were writing Intentional Courtship, one of our beta readers cautioned me about how much to use the word "beautiful," because love and marriage are not only for the beautiful people. Point taken. Having said this, I think the person you marry ought to be beautiful to you. What I want for you is a marriage where you feel attractive, desirable, and deeply loved in the presence of your partner.

Attraction is not rational. It doesn't even play by the rules of our socialization. You may meet someone who is very attractive in the way People Magazine implicitly defines that, and yet you are not attracted. You may meet someone with a larger than average nose that he or she feels self-conscious about, and somehow you think that is super sexy.

Some of this is biology based. From that standpoint, most of us were probably better looking in our twenties than in our forties or fifties. My friend, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife has talked about a "meaning-based"  understanding of beauty, which is more than skin deep. She talked about how her husband is 63 years old and, from a purely aesthetic point of view, probably not quite as good looking as he was in his twenties when she met him. However, the goodness that he brings and has brought into her life has increased his attractiveness in her eyes. His goodness produces a kind of inner radiance that makes him attractive, even at 63 years of age. Even his body, which she gets to hug and interact with, is part of this beauty. This makes total sense to me. I believe when I love someone, she becomes more attractive to me. That doesn't mean that I could literally be attracted to everyone. But it increases the odds by a lot.

When I talk about the joy of kissing a "beautiful" woman under the stars, I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If she is beautiful to you, it doesn't matter whether I would agree or not. It doesn't matter whether anyone else would agree. You are the beholder and you get to decide what is beautiful. Of course love is not just for the "beautiful people" as the world might define that term. But when you kiss someone in the moonlight, I want you to think she is beautiful. I want you to be swept up in the magic of that moment.

To any of you who do not feel beautiful and feel left out in discussions where beauty is concerned, I hope you will do some thought work on this subject. Feeling ugly often translates into looking ugly for a whole variety of reasons. Conversely, feeling beautiful often translates into looking beautiful for the opposite reasons.

All of us have beauty and all of us have flaws. For most of my mid-single years, I was about 30 pounds overweight. I have worked on it and will continue to work on it. But, for whatever reason, God has chosen to make it more difficult for me to lose weight than for most other people. I am thankful this doesn't equate to a propensity to be a hundred pounds overweight or more. I know many struggle with that problem on a whole different level than I do. Notwithstanding this issue, I dated a plethora of beautiful and accomplished women during my mid-single years and I married the best one. (You may or may not agree and that is okay. As I said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am the beholder.)

I was more comfortable in my own skin when I was dating at middle age than I had been in my twenties.  As a younger man, pride often covered for deep insecurity. I found rejection invalidating and otherwise devastating. I didn't date very much and I found the very idea of asking an attractive woman for a date overwhelming. Yet, measuring by the world's conventional view of beauty, I was better looking back then. Dropping my pride in exchange for some genuine confidence and genuine humility made a big difference in making me attractive to women. I could offer them something many men can't--emotional connection and vulnerability. What can you offer that is unique and special? If you think enough about it, I am sure there is something very special in you. If you find it and bring it to the surface, you will find people who believe you are beautiful. They will always be right, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I believe you are beautiful to a lot more people than you may think. The problem is, we live in a society where beauty is essentially competitive. I can't be beautiful unless I am beautiful compared to Zac Efron. A woman can't be beautiful unless she is beautiful compared to Cameron Diaz. But that airbrushed ideal isn't reality.

President McKay used to quote the Apostle, George Q. Morris as follows:

"Well,’ you may ask, ‘how may I know when I am in love?’

. . . George Q. Morris [gave this reply]: ‘My mother once said that if you meet a girl in whose presence you feel a desire to achieve, who inspires you to do your best, and to make the most of yourself, such a young woman is worthy of your love and is awakening love in your heart."

Physical attraction has an important role in coming together as couples. We can't ignore it. However, Maureen McGrath says that our most important sex organ is our brain. I think about 80 percent of our attraction to a partner is the thoughts we allow our minds to dwell on.

Friends, you are beautiful or can be. It is within your reach. I want beauty to bless your life. I want you to feel like life is richer and fuller than you thought possible. So don't resist the idea of beauty. Just let it come from a deeper place.

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