When you help someone up a hill, you get that much closer to the top yourself. -Anonymous
Question #93586 posted on 05/23/2021 1:30 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I've had very long hair (think mid-back or longer) for basically my whole life. Last year, I shaved my head (this was not a pandemic-induced fit of madness, though, I'd been wanting to do it and planning for a while). Now, my hair is starting to get longer and I kind of miss having a buzz cut.

However, there is just one problem: my husband hates my short hair. While he's never been like, mean about it, he's made it clear that he doesn't like it, he thinks I'm more attractive with long hair, he doesn't like having sex as much, etc etc.

How much responsibility do I have for these feelings? To what extent do married couples have some entitlement to each other's bodies? Should I cut my hair again? Both married/single and male/female opinions would be appreciated.
Thanks,

- podcast_prophetess

A:

Dear Podcast,

From a single female, I think you should cut your hair however you like it, and your husband can suck it up.

Also, the fact that he doesn't want to have sex with you as often because of your hair length is a serious red flag.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear Double P,

I was in the same situation but reversed back in 2018. I didn't like Carl's hair at all once it got to a certain length as he was growing it out after college. (It's not the same because a buzz cut is different than growing out hair.) It took a little convincing, but I agreed to him having longer hair since he said it felt more like "him." He was happy with his hair, and I wanted him to be happy. I, along with other family members, thought his long hair (at the end before he cut it) really aged him. I was never really vocal with my distaste (Carl could potentially dispute that, but honestly I don't remember), except when I told him he needed a haircut. BUT that was because the sides of his hair were too long and he said that he felt like a mushroom (his words, not mine) and he even admitted that it looked better after a haircut. His Mom gave him his haircuts during this time, so we had to plan ahead. Was I the most supportive wife at this time looking back at it? Probably not, but I realize that now. But to be fair there WERE parts of Carl's growing out experience where I did like his haircut and I thought he was extremely attractive.

Last November, he said that he'd let me cut it for my birthday. (I gave him all of his haircuts before he grew it out.) Carl said that he was happy with how long he had his hair long for, and was ready to have it short again. I took the opportunity and now 6 months later it's still short. I give him hair cuts every 2 months or so and he still likes it. We've compromised at the moment, but I won't be surprised if he'll want to grow it out again when he wants to shake things up. I'll be more supportive of it in the future. 

Hopefully you can take this experience and apply it to your situation. I wish you the best of luck with communicating with your husband on how you feel.

-Goldie Rose, married female

A:

Dear Podcaster,

I can also give my opinion briefly (as a single guy). For me, a big promise in marriage is to love the other person no matter who they are or who they become, and for me, that would include anything that they did to express themselves. I am going to try and value and love my spouse for who they are, and their happiness with and acceptance of themselves will have to come way before mine, because I want to make them happy. I know that that is not the agreement or promise made in all marriages, but I think one of the questions implicit in your question is what your husband's responsibility and authority is in your choice to express yourself.

From a relationship standpoint, my answer will always be communication. Whatever the personal responsibility is, I think healing and progress will only come as that open communication comes and you are able to come to an agreement that you both accept.

-Inklings

A:

Dear friend,

Your husband can prefer your hair to be long if he wants, but the fact that he communicates verbally and physically that he thinks you're less attractive to him with it short (especially after you've cut it) is super freaking messed up. That's major A-hole behavior. But maybe we're all being a little dramatic, we only know what you tell us in the question. Maybe I need to relax, but I am SO ANGRY for you if that's really true.

I think using the word "entitlement" when talking about our relationship to our spouse's bodies is wrong. Absolutely, you become one in a lot of ways. You share space, bathrooms, beds, food, experiences, emotions, stresses, reputation, and your bodies. But in a healthy marriage, there is no ownership over another person. We aren't "entitled" to their bodies - you should still have consent before you have sex, you try not to make the other person uncomfortable on purpose, and nobody should feel like they've lost their agency or that the other person is holding something over them. The love that sustains a marriage relies on friendship, trust, and mutual respect. Marriage is an equal partnership, and when it comes to things that you share (like what color to paint the walls in your house, for example,) it should be a cooperative decision. But when it comes to your body and appearance, your preferences always should go before his. I think you can consider his opinion because you care, but ultimately do what makes YOU happy and makes YOU comfortable.

You aren't responsible for his preferences about how you look. They'll always be there. You also aren't responsible for satisfying preferences about your body at the expense of your own freedom and comfort. His preferences should NEVER make you feel shame, guilt, negativity, or regret about your own body. And he shouldn't change his behavior toward you (sexual especially) for something pretty small like a haircut. That's pretty immature if you ask me. 

We might benefit from more context here, though. Ultimately, I think you should do what you want with your appearance. If he continues to comment on it and act differently toward you, I think you should have a conversation about how that makes you feel. If you feel pressured or manipulated by the situation, tell him. I think if he loves you, he'll probably realize he hurt your feelings unintentionally and he'll apologize. You alone can judge the seriousness of the situation, how forceful he is about his feelings, and how you should proceed. Just know that you are not responsible to satisfy his preferences for your appearance. You can respect his opinion, but he also is obligated to respect your agency. The change in behavior seems most problematic to me.  

Cheers, 

Guesthouse (with contributions from Pebble)

A:

Dear PP,

This will be giving my opinion as an unmarried single female.

I think in marriage there are lots of things where both partners need to mutually come to a decision like buying a house, or when/if to have kids. Other decisions fall completely to an individual; decisions about your body are 100% yours to make. If your husband is affected by your decisions about your body, then his response is his problem. However, part of marriage is that you care about each others' problems and show support and consideration towards each other in them.

No person is completely rational. Sometimes we're bothered by things we really know we shouldn't be, but just that knowledge isn't enough to stop us from being bothered. And I don't think that saying "suck it up" really is going to address the problem. Your question actually reminds me of a recent question we had where someone wrote in about having an irrational annoyance at the sound of her husband chewing (or some other such issue). She quite obviously didn't blame her husband and was trying to find how to mitigate her irritation. To me, it sounds like your husband similarly doesn't want to be experiencing the response he is to your shaved off hair. But whether he wants it or not, that is the reality of the situation. 

As for how you can support your husband with working through this issue of his (and it is his, not yours) and come to a solution, I don't have the answer. Maybe you will decide to keep your hair longer--not because he is entitled to you maintaining a certain appearance, but out love and consideration for this foible of his. Maybe you'll encourage him to get into therapy to help him overcome his decrease in physical attraction. Maybe the two of you will think of some other solution.

Like other writers have already pointed out, it's hard for us to get a full picture from a single question. If your husband has been purposefully withholding sex to manipulate you into growing your hair out, that is definitely not okay. But if he is just being open and honest about his response to shaved hair, then (in my opinion) that kind of open communication is necessary so you can work together towards addressing potential issues. 

~Anathema

A:

Dear Person,

I think this can sometimes seem tricky to navigate because personal grooming is very personal, and sex is so intimate. Your bodies are definitely still 100% your own, but as a couple you share your bodies in pretty much every single way. I think there are a lot of different ways to look at this, and the other writers have addressed this in several ways with different opinions and view points. I think there are several different principles I have taken from the other writers responses:

  • I think it’s okay to have preferences.
  • I think that sometimes it’s okay to compromise. And spouses should be considerate of each other.
  • I think it’s even more important to be supportive.
  • I think that it’s the most important to avoid feeling entitled to each others bodies. Feelings of ownership are 400% not okay. Attempting to exercise unrighteousness dominion or ownership over your spouse’s body is an egregious sin.
I think these are all valid principles, but knowing how to apply them in a given situation can be a bit tricky. Your spouse has a preference, and on one hand maybe you can compromise and consider his preference, but on the other hand he should also be supportive of you. There are several different ways to handle it.
 
If he is purposefully withholding sex or trying to manipulate you however, that is not at all okay. A lot of other writers have already said this but I really wanted to add my voice and emphasize that.
 
Hopefully this helps.
 
Peace,
Tipperary