Real men give advice on what makes their wives attractive. It's not transforming your face or wearing a short skirt. These couples make you want to get older!
A friend of mine once said: "If you want to hold onto a man, you'd better find a way to look like a 20 year-old for the rest of your life."
Sure, women like Cher can pull that off (often with a little help from a plastic surgeon, or perhaps a pact with Satan), but what about the rest of us mortals? Are we destined to become less attractive to the men in our lives with each passing year? Or could it be that our partners think we're hot stuff at any age?
According to advice columnist Deb Levine, looks do matter but they become secondary as men, and the relationships they're in, mature. "Men's tastes tend to evolve as they get older," says Levine. "That doesn't mean that a 50 year-old guy's not going to turn his head when a beautiful 20something woman walks by, but she's not necessarily who he wants to be with. He wants to be with somebody who is his partner and equal in every way, intellectually, as well as sexually."
David Schnarch, author of Passionate Marriage, agrees. "What a man finds attractive will very much depend, not on whether he's a 'leg man' or a 'breast man,' " says Schnarch, "but on whether he's becoming more of a man."
Frank Vigneri, Mark Roberts, Joe Dimitri and Sam Armor are four, long-married men who couldn't be more attracted to every part of their wives. They've succeeded at the mating game where many others have failed. So what's their story?
Frank and Anne Vigneri
He:Is an artist who describes his age as "50something, with a capital S."
How they met: Frank met Anne at a friend's apartment in Los Angeles."I was fresh off the bus from Omaha," he recalls, "and three minutes after I got to my buddy's apartment, Anne busted through the door and said, 'Let's go to the beach in my Jaguar!'
What he loved about her then: "I was attracted to her tall gorgeous body, her aura and her pretty face. The car was secondary, for sure."
What he loves about her still: After 36 years of marriage, Frank still sees Anne as the beautiful, fun-loving woman he had the hots for in the '60s. "I totally fell in love with this tall, pretty girl," he says. "I'm still attracted to Anne for these same qualities, which have only gotten better and more enhanced. We also have a lot of fun telling jokes and making each other laugh. That's been the glue that's kept us going."
Her story: Anne says she's perfectly aware of her husband's admiration for her, and couldn't be happier. "I don't look quite the same in a bikini," she says, "but Frank still likes looking at me, which is marvelously, wonderfully flattering after all this time."
Mark and Heather Roberts
He: Is a 44-year-old federal agent.
How they met: Roberts met his wife Heather at a restaurant in Newport Beach, Calif., where both were working at the time.
What he loved about her then: "We were helping a mutual friend move, and Heather was wearing shorts," he remembers. "So I was initially attracted by her legs. After that, she invited me to go dancing with some friends and she was really nice."
What he loves about her still: The Roberts have been married for nearly 14 years, and over that time Mark's attraction to Heather has evolved." When I think about loving Heather now, I don't really focus on the physical aspect," he says. "I mostly think about the inside, how nice she is and how great she is with our kids."
Joe and Ilene Dimitri
He: Is a 51 year-old wine store manager.
How they met: Twenty-two years ago Joe met his wife Ilene at the last place anyone expects to meet his future wife. "We met in a bar," laughs Joe. "She was a cocktail waitress and I was an unsuspecting customer."
What he loved about her then: "I noticed her eyes first, but I was probably most attracted to her because she looked like Lorraine Newman from Saturday Night Live. I think that's the real reason."
What he loves about her still: They've been married for 15 years, and while Ilene has since outgrown the Lorraine Newman look, Joe says he continues to love her for many of the same qualities he was drawn to in 1979."I'm still attracted to her eyes, plus her sense of humor, her intelligence and sense of style," he says. "I always liked those things about her."
Her story: Ilene says Joe's attraction to her has grown stronger over the years. "He tells me that I'm more beautiful now than ever," she says. "It's interesting how the initial components of attraction are still there."
Sam and Lisa Armor
He: Is a 48-year-old massage therapist.
How they met: Sam met his wife Lisa at a San Francisco art show.
What he loved about her then: "Lisa was easily the most stunning woman in the room," he says. "She had long, blond hair and the brightest green eyes. I went up to her and made a silly comment about a painting she was admiring, and we ended up spending the rest of the evening together."
What he loves about her still: Though Sam says that he was initially attracted by Lisa's looks, he soon came to admire her spirituality and healthy outlook on life. After 19 years of marriage, she still charms him. "Lisa loves going to yoga classes and eating good food, so she's really taken care of her body," says Armor. "She does that for herself, not for me. She's still gorgeous, but that's just a bonus. Lisa has a wonderful soul, and we share the same values. I can't imagine being with anyone else."
So just what has kept the attraction alive for these men through decades of marriage, while others go running for affairs or divorces?
"Marriage is a 'people-growing' process, and if you don't give up on yourself and your partner, you can go on to have the best sex and intimacy of your lives in middle age," asserts Schnarch.
The maturity and openness these men show their wives is only part of the equation. Their wives' attitudes also help to fuel the flames. All four women radiate a confidence that is far more alluring and enduring than long legs in short shorts or sparkling green eyes.
This confidence is a powerful aphrodisiac. "In the letters that I get, men say the thing that really turns them on is when women know that they're sexy and act like it," says Levine. "Not by dressing youthfully or wearing too-short skirts, but by projecting confidence in themselves, their bodies and their sexuality."
And one of the best ways to make a woman feel confident and beautiful, Levine says, is to tell her how attractive she is. "The happiest couples tend to compliment each other frequently," she says. "People who do that are much less likely to stray or be unhappy."
Sure beats signing your soul away for eternal youth.
Tina Caputo is a freelance writer who contributes to several print and online publications, including the San Francisco Examiner, Wine X magazine.