Ashamed of my ugly wife

Katie Couric

Rex wants his wife to look like sexy television star Katie Couric. Trouble is, his wife looks more like Janet Napolitano

Rex is ashamed of himself and his wife, Ronda. He says he loves Ronda dearly; they have no sexual problems, are best friends, but he is ashamed to be seen with her in public. She is coyote ugly.

Rex's friends have ridiculed his wife's appearance: they say she looks like a mix of Scottish singer Susan Boyle and attorney general Janet Napolitano.

Rex has talked to Ronda about getting in shape, the possibility of aesthetic plastic surgery, including rhinoplasty (for her nose), rhytidectomy (face lift), or even orthognathic surgery to reshape her face. She refuses, which makes Rex wonder whether he can stay in the marriage.

Question: Rex, this seems a very sad problem. You love your wife and yet you are ashamed of her. Is this real love?

Rex: I always dreamed of marrying a lady as beautiful as Catherine Deneuve, but I ended up with a woman who looks like Janet Napolitano's twin sister.

I love Ronda dearly, I really do. I enjoy her company, she has a great sense of humor, she is a wonderful mother. But I am ashamed of being seen in public with her. It says something about me as a man that I could not attract a better looking, sexier woman.

Question: Isn't Susan Boyle a wonderful example that you should not judge a book by its cover. A plain appearance can hide so many talents, so much goodness?

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve. [See Emmanuelle Beart]

Mo Mowlam

Mo Mowlam. [Top British totty]

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano. [See more Janet]

Kathy Burke

Kathy Burke. [Top British totty]

Donatella Versace

Ugly Donatella Versace. [See beautiful Italian women instead]

Pauline Quirke

Pauline Quirke. [See top British totty]

Ana Paula Mancino

Ana Paula Mancino. [See sports stars]

Vivica Fox

Vivica Fox. [More African American beauties]

Rex: Well, yes, that's the theory and it's fine when you are not married to the woman. But we live in a society where beauty, fame, and fortune are prized possessions. If you don't have those things, you should at least have a wife who makes you look good.

Survey after survey tells us that good looks are associated with positive qualities, and ugliness is associated with negative qualities. We trust attractive people more, we'd rather employ a stunner than a frump who is plain and ordinary.

I am just following the rules and prejudices that are out there. A man is judged very harshly if he has an ugly wife. He is seen as less of a man because he didn't have the sex appeal, the power, or the money to attract a better woman.

Question: Don't you think you are very shallow?

Rex: In that case, society is shallow not me. You mention Susan Boyle. Look at how the audience laughed at her when they first saw her. If you haven't got a great voice like hers, what can you do?

Ronda can't sing. She is judged purely on her appearance. And how about Janet Napolitano? She is so plain people say she's a lesbian. I bet lots of people think my wife is a lesbian.

Question: When you say ugly, how ugly do you judge Ronda to be? Is she homely and plain, or is she genuinely unpleasant to look at?

Rex: Ronda is not hideously ugly, she's not a gargoyle, but the only beauty contest she's win is Best Heifer, which is a shame because she's a highly intelligent woman who loves reading, movies, going to the theater. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is Angelina Jolie and 1 is butt ugly, she's a 2 or 3.

Question: I am shocked that you talk about your wife in this way. It's not very loving, is it? And, if I may say so, you're no Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck.

Rex: People do say I have a rugged charm, like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.

Question: Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler has a sensitive charm, you feel there is warmth and empathy below the battered surface. Mickey is also famous. But you come across as extremely arrogant, which might make our readerst think the problem is yours, not your wife's.

Rex: OK, I see where you are going with this. Beauty is only skin deep, blah, blah, blah. Look, we live in a very harsh society. Have you seen the images of woman that are out there?

Women are judged by a higher and different standard from men. It doesn't matter so much if a guy is not handsome. His job, his car, his house can all compensate for that. But a woman will always be judged by her appearance. You can like it or not like it, but there is no escaping the fact that it's true.

Question: Yes, but from what you say, your wife has CHOSEN not to be judged by that standard. She has decided not to be summed up by her appearance but by her character, her qualities as a mother and wife. She refuses to confirm to the demands of a society that says a woman must look a certain way. Isn't this admirable of your wife?

Rex: No, it's crazy. Is it too much to ask that I want my wife to take care of her hair, get her teeth fixed, lose some weight, buy some nice outfits, some pretty shoes? We have the money. She wouldn't look half bad if she did those things.

Cosmetic surgery would really help her, get rid of her loose skin, get rid of the double chin, maybe color her hair black, pluck her eyebrows, wax her lip, get her nails done, buy some heels instead of Payless sneakers. These are things that any other woman should consider. And most wives want to please a husband, not annoy him.

Question: It sounds like you want to completely change your wife's appearance. This is not just a makeover, it's a total transformation. Is that reasonable?

Rex: Is it reasonable of her to be so selfish that she refuses to do these things for me and us? Is it reasonable that she looks so bad I can't be seen with her in public? Is it fair that my friends joke about her, that schoolkids bully my kids because their mom looks like trailer trash? You have to conform to society's norms if you want to be taken seriously.

Question: Have you attempted to encourage your wife, perhaps by offering her a day at a spa, asking her to exercise with you, or accompany to the mall to buy clothes?

Rex: I've told her to lose weight, and I've told her to get some better clothes. I have also told her she needs to get her crooked teeth fixed. I've told her everything that's wrong.

Question: Telling her everything is wrong

Rex: That's because she is. The truth should never hurt.

Question: The truth often hurts, the truth is often harsh. If you really love your wife and you want to help her, you need to encourage her, remind her of the health benefits of exercise, coach her about the career benefits of taking good care of her appearance, the outfits she wears.

If I may say so, you could easily lose 10 to 20 pounds. You would benefit from a fitness program or liposuction. So why not do that together with your wife at the YMCA or a local gym?

Rex: I am a reasonable weight for a man ...

Question: That's not the point. Your double standards will convince no one, least of all your wife. Why should she be slim when you are allowed to be overweight? Why must she go through a complete makeover when you don't want to change anything about yourself?

Rex: Because I am the man, I make the money, I know what is right for my family. I know what works, and I know what can be improved. I long for the day when I can be seen in public with her. If she doesn't do something about this problem our marriage will not last.

Question: Perhaps your wife will leave you because of the pressure?

Rex: She would never do that, not in a million years. She has it too good with me.

Question: Do you know that for sure?

Rex: Yes, of course. I'm a great husband. I'm loyal, I bring in good money. We have a great house, she drives a Lexus. She's happy alright. I'm the one that's suffering here.

Question: If you are suffering, why did you marry her, why did you have children with her? Did you not envisage these problems? Or has your wife's appearance changed dramatically in recent years?

Rex: We met at Auburn years ago. She was plain back then, not ugly but plain. I was attracted to her because of her intelligence and she was a bit of an outsider. She was sexually hot at the time too. They say that about ugly women, they're really hot in bed. And if you're with a plain woman, you're not going to lose her to another guy because she's so grateful you're interested in her. Anyhow, we got married even though I had doubts.

Question: Do you honestly think you have suffered as a result of your wife's appearance? Aren't you going too far?

Rex: We have two girls, both of them are, well, unattractive. That burden will be with them their whole lives. There is nothing worse than being an ugly woman. How have I suffered? I can't take my wife to work parties. The other managers and directors have stunning wives, real lookers, great faces, great bods. Imagine what they'd say if I turned up with this woman who looks like Janet Napolitano on a bad day. It just wouldn't work. I attend those things on my own.

Question: I rarely tell people what to do or think, but Rex, I really think you need to reassess your values. Your daughters should not have to sense that their father thinks they are unattractive. It is your job to boost their confidence and help them find their way in the world.

You should aim to be a caring, loving husband who encourages his wife. You should not destroy your wife's self-esteem by constantly telling her she is overweight and plain. If, as you say, she is a loving wife and mother, someone who supports you, then you should ask yourself why her physical appearance is so vital to you. Is it your problem or hers? If she is confident in her own skin, you might need to accept that.

By Athina Simonidou