Giving a Damn About My Appearance Rescued My Marriage

Here's what I did.

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There’s no shortage of pointers about how to make sure your marriage doesn’t turn stagnant after kids come along. Communicate often. Prioritize your partner. Make date night a regular occurrence. Don’t neglect sex. While these are all useful, research-backed pieces of advice for making a marriage feel healthy and fresh, they’re also a bit abstract. So, we decided to ask real couples: How do you keep it sexy-ish? That is, what do you and your partner do to stay close, connected, and, well, just into one another? For Akin Toyali, 42, who lives in Chicago, it all came down to skincare. One day, he realized he had no idea how to take care of himself and so he learned. By taking care of himself, he developed more confidence in himself — and his marriage.

I had this realization recently that I had gotten sloppy. I just got comfortable in my marriage. But I started realizing that I have so many more years ahead of me and still want to have fun. Most, importantly, my wife deserves to see a better me. So I decided to make an effort with my grooming and it’s really improved my marriage.

It started with my skin. About six months ago, I realized I was really bad at taking care of my skin. The only time I ever took care of my face was when I was in the shower and used whatever soap was available. But I applied to work for a company that sells skincare for men and it kind of dawned on me that men have no idea what they’re doing. Nobody sits them down and says: here is the proper way to wash your face. You know?

I’m 42 years old, and I started to learn about skin care for the first time. My regimen is really very simple. Twice a day, in the morning and before I go to bed, I wash my face. And then, in the mornings I put on, usually, an acne cream, and then an A.M. moisturizer. Right before I go to bed, I wash my face, then I use a firming serum to brighten up the wrinkles around my eyes, use an eye cream, and then I use some acne cream, and again, the P.M. moisturizer to finish it off.

It’s really helped. My face used to be very oily, and it’s just not like that anymore. Two weeks ago, my wife was talking to one of her friends who was visiting us. She said: “I feel like I have a new husband now.” She looks at me every day. And now she’s really noticing me taking care of myself.

The skin care regimen really created a domino effect. I used to wear all of my polo’s in XL. I was like, why am I wearing these baggy shirts? I started dressing like I give a damn.

People at work have come to me saying, “Have you lost weight?” No, I haven’t lost weight, but I am dressing better. I’m not wearing baggy jeans anymore. I’m not wearing loose polo shirts anymore. And it’s because I feel good about myself and my wife feels good about me. These small things made this massive difference in how my wife and I feel about each other.

But I don’t just do it because I want to feel sexy. I also want to be healthy. When I feel healthy, I feel good about myself, and when I feel good about myself, it boosts my confidence. My wife has totally noticed it, that I’ve got a kick in my step. I became more confident in our marriage, too, just over something so small as eye cream.

The other day, my wife was kind of smiling about my routine. She wasn’t sure if I would stick with it and she’s surprised I have. It’s become a new routine for us, too, at night and in the morning. And it’s kind of fun. It’s one more thing that we get to talk about. I’m still not going to talk to my friends about it — but I’ll definitely talk to my wife about it and that’s fun. It’s sexy.

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