CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: I don't want my wife to have a face-lift

CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: I don’t want my wife to have a face-lift

Q I am in my early 60s and my wife turns 60 next year. Maybe we could both do with losing a little weight, but I think we still look pretty good for our ages. 

We are happily married and I have always found my wife attractive and sexy. The problem is, she has never been particularly content with her appearance. She now says she hates her ageing looks and wants to get a face-lift. 

At first I thought it was just something that a lot of women say and I didn’t expect her to act on it. At the same time I tried to reassure her that she is perfect as she is. 

However, she has started researching plastic surgeons and saying that she wants to use some of our savings to have her eyes and jaw lifted. 

A man in his early 60s is upset that his wife, who turns 60 next year, is so unhappy with her appearance that she wants to get a face-lift 

I’m horrified because all surgery carries risks and this procedure is totally unnecessary. But I also don’t want her to look different.

I love the woman she has become over the years. I fear she would lose her character. I have tried talking to her but she won’t listen. 

I am so desperate to stop her that I have even contemplated telling her that if she goes ahead I will divorce her. How can I dissuade her?

A I sympathise. Like you, I am generally not in favour of plastic surgery unless there is a particular reason – such as, for instance, the correction of a cleft palate or after a traumatic injury. 

Unfortunately, many people do go through life feeling unhappy with their looks and, in recent years, this has increased because of the pressures of social media and video calls. 

It’s incredibly sad, but this insecurity often has a psychological root. My concern for your wife is that the surgery may not make her feel better if the problem lies in a lack of self-esteem. 

You say that she has never been happy with her looks, which suggests that she could have underlying issues such as depression or anxiety, maybe even body dysmorphia or an eating disorder when she was younger. S

he might have been bullied or teased at school and learned to dislike herself and her appearance. 

I can understand your desperation and threatening divorce as a shock tactic, but this could increase her feeling of insecurity. 

You sound very kind and supportive, which makes you a fantastic resource for her. So, instead, tell her that while you understand that she feels very unhappy with herself, her having surgery frightens you. 

Ask if she’d come to couples counselling to explore together her anxieties over ageing and the origins of her dissatisfaction with her looks. 

Also, ask her if she will wait at least until she is one year past 60 to see whether she still feels the same. Hopefully, with the counselling support, she will by then have developed more self-esteem and be able to see that surgery is not necessary.


Q Five years ago this month my grandmother died. I was devastated even though I was in my late 40s – an age when most people’s grandparents are long since dead. 

But she pretty much brought me up. My mother had me at 15. She was quite a selfish person and was never really interested in me. I lost contact with her many years ago when she moved abroad. 

Sometimes grief for my grandmother still hits me hard. I laid flowers on her grave yesterday and found myself sobbing. Surely I should be coping better by now?

A woman in her 40s who lost her grandmother five months again wonders if she should be coping better by now 

A There are no rules to grief and no rigid timetable for when it is supposed to ease. Your grandmother’s death was a devastating loss – effectively she was your mother. 

On top of this, you’ve lived with the sadness of feeling not really wanted by your actual mum, which was in no way your fault or a reflection on you – she was just far too young and couldn’t cope with being a parent. So it’s understandable that grief should still feel overwhelming. 

There’s a reason why it is often described as waves – sometimes small and manageable, but at other times so forceful that it knocks us off our feet without warning. 

No one should be expected to ‘get over it’. Grief lives with us and there will always be triggers, such as anniversaries or special occasions, when it may be worse. 

So please stop believing that you need to control it and get on with life. Clearly it is hitting you hard right now so contact a bereavement organisation – or – for support. 

You could also talk through the loss of your mother, which still counts as grief even though she is not dead.

  • If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_

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