Should My Wife Control My Hair?

My wife hates my hair. There’s no better way to put it. She wants me to grow it out and look like Mr. Darcy (the BBC Colin Firth Darcy), but she’d settle for just a regular hair cut. She wants me to go a “stylist� instead of a “barber.� And she wants me to use gel… lots of gel.

The problem is I don’t want to. I’m not going bald or anything. I just like my hair shaved for many reasons that are quite valid and good by my thinking but not relevant here. My usual $12 haircut is number 3 on the top and 2 on the sides and back. In case you’re unfamiliar with hair clippers, these numbers correspond to the type of spacer used when shaving the head with clippers. The only spacers that shave closer than 3 and 2 are the number 1 spacer and no spacer—which really isn’t a spacer, but you get the idea.

If controlling my hair means so much to her, should I just let her control it? Is this a trivial enough matter? I want you to reply with a specific yes or no. Reasons for you answer are especially welcome. And please reveal if you, as a woman control your partner’s hair, or if you as a man, let your partner control your hair. Mention other fashion related aspects (e.g., clothing) of your person that are under control by the partner. And are there any men out there who actually control some aspect of a woman’s fashion? Are there any that want to?

More significantly, what you think about one spouse having some control over the other spouse with regards to anything? Not just hair or other things to do with appearance, but anything.

To make things interesting, I’ll even raise the stakes. I’ll keep a tally of the yeses and nos, and if the yeses outweigh the nos, then I’ll not cut my hair for three months. And I can even put up some pictures of my new stylin’ ‘do.

[Note to my wife: your vote doesn’t count!]

P.S. My time’s up, and this is my last post. It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone for making comments on this or other posts.

149 comments for “Should My Wife Control My Hair?

  1. The primary reason I try to look good on a daily basis is so that my wife will find me attractive (and for a guy like me, every little bit helps…) So in my book, that means that my wife’s vote is the key one. If I were you, I’d do it.

  2. yes, yes, yes, yes (does that count as 4 votes?). I am the previously long-suffering wife of a man whose hair-styling used to consist of a no.2 with the clippers all over – he looked like a guy that had a life sentence for murder. His reason – it’s quick, simple and stops his head from itching. I have over the last couple of years had him grow it a little longer and properly cut and he looks a whole lot better, smarter, younger (he’s nearly a senior now), and he’s received a lot of compliments. Ah! the difference between the sexes – I’d change my hairstyle in an instant for the foregoing advantages, he is still keeping his hair in the new style to keep everyone happy – he hasn’t a vain bone in his body.

  3. Yes, but not because she has the right to control it, but because you currently have a bad haircut that you should only have if you are a 3-5 year old or in the military.

  4. No. I say the person who has to take care of the head has final say. My husband likes my hair long, but I didn\’t like spending the time to style it. The main reason I cut it short was that it made me throw up when I was pregnant (if it touched my neck at all, I was running to the bathroom). I prefer my husband\’s hair very short (your cut sounds perfect) because that\’s how he looks best, but what he does with his hair is up to him. In the end, you ought to consider what will look well on you and what you are willing to do every morning to your style and then do what makes you happy.

  5. I’m not voting, but my haircut is a slightly modified version of yours. I just have them cut it down to a little over an inch or so on the top. This apparently does not bug my wife enough that she says anything evil about it. On the other hand, when it gets long, she tells me to go get a haircut. This works well because our son also needs a haircut by then.

    As for your current dilemma. If she is going to give birth this month, now would be a good time to look very charitable and kind.

    But gel?!

  6. Listen to your wife. If Bill hadn’t listened to me, he’d be one of those guys with the part on the side of your head and the comb over the bald part. I make him keep his hair short because mostly bald guys look weird with what they have left being long.

    So, my vote is yes. You don’t have to look at you.

  7. My wife defines a set of acceptable criteria, and I pick one.

    Frankly, it’s so NOT a big deal to me, that if it’s a big deal for her, I’ll let her go with it.

  8. Yes, the shaved head look is really over. And it’s the baby boomer equivalent of a combover.

  9. I vote yes. This is a no-brainer–the wife is the one who has to look at you and find you attractive. So if she wants you to do something, within reason, that will help in that regard, you should do it.

    I get my hair cut pretty short, but a little longer than yours. I have them use the no. 4 all over, bangs a little longer with the scissors. My wife likes long hair, too, but it’s not practical in my case, because my hair is very curly. When I was young I wore a big afro, but that’s out of style now (and not really possible for me to wear professionally as a big city lawyer). So she’s ok with my hair as is.

    The aspect of my grooming that I do to please her is wear a (closely trimmed) beard. I first grew it over Christmas break my senior year at BYU. She loved it, so as soon as I graduated I grew it back and have had it ever since. I would never shave it unless she wanted me to. No church leader has ever asked me to do so, but I would refuse GBH himself without my wife’s concurrence. See my first sentence above. For this reason, I will never be a temple worker unless they change their policy.

  10. Yes, I think you should grow it out, but not because she has a right to “control” it. Rather, look at it as a suggestion for a change. If you absolutely hate and can’t tolerate it–too much work, not your style, discomfort–then I think you should go back to your more comfortable hairstyle. But you might like it, and you never know.

    I have total control over my husband’s hairstyle–mwah-ha-ha-ha! Actually, it’s because he requested I learn to use clippers and scissors to cut his hair, so we can save money. He’s suffered through some less-than-wonderful haircuts along the way, poor man. After nearly five years, I finally feel like I have some idea of how to cut hair. Sort of.

  11. My vote is no and here’s why.
    The reason anyone grooms themselves at all are as follows:
    1. Personal health and comfort physically and emotionally (having a haircut that you think makes you look silly isn’t going to help your self-confidence).

    2. To be attractive to certain people. In your case, your wife and friends. (You don’t want your friends to think you look silly do you?)

    3. To communicate things about yourself to the community. (You don’t dress like a bum so that people won’t think you are a bum).

    I put these in this order because that is their order of importance (in my opinion). After that it is just a cost benefit analysis. Most grooming that pleases other people will cut into your personal comfort, but the things you gain from that loss of comfort might be worth it. (Your wife’s newly found wild attraction to you might be worth the effort it takes to let your hair grow long, but only you can measure that.)

    One should also keep in mind that your spouse might be more aware of how you look than you are (my husband really didn’t know he had a unibrow, after I plucked it once or twice he started doing it the way he wants it done). Also, given the way women are raised, your wife is probably better trained to figure out what sorts of things really do look good on people, including you.

    To your other question, no. I don’t think spouses should really have any control over what the other does. I think spouses have an obligation to share their thoughts with eachother, and make reasonable efforts to keep eachother happy. But no spouse should be able to unilaterally dictate what the other will do in any circumstance. One may choose to do exactly what their spouse suggests (and probably often *should* choose to do so), but the second that opinion becomes a command in the mind of one or the other then there is trouble.

  12. Well, I do not look at it so much as control but… most of my life I have had short hair. I like short hair, it is easier, cooler, etc. My husband loves my hair longer. He saw the few pictures of me with long hair, and told me that he thought it was so beautiful. It really is not my favorite, but as everyone here has said, he is the one I try and look good for. So we compromise. I grew my hair out, and he likes to brush it, etc, and I do it nice for special occasions. However, on a day to day basis, for work, etc, I pull it back. No hassle, just like the short hair. Everyone is happy.

  13. I vote that you should do it!
    *unless* she’s a truly controlling person, in which case you shouldn’t feed it.
    But I’ll assume she’s a nice and reasonable person who just has an idea she’d like you to try, and since it’s likely to turn out well, you should try it.

  14. Today you let her control your hair, who know’s what comes tomorrow?

    (Why are we even discussing this? Is this related to Mormonism in any way? Off to BCC I go…)

  15. For the past several years, I’ve been a “number three with the clippers all over” kind of guy. But I don’t have a wife to tell me differently. (And before anyone assumes that my “bad” haircut is the reason I don’t have a wife, I didn’t find a wife in the years before I switched to this haircut, either.)

    If I had a wife who didn’t like this haircut, I’d stop getting it. (I’d even change my haircut for a girlfriend who didn’t like it.)

  16. Whoohoo! A heartfelt thank you to all you yes people for your votes! His number-2-on-sides- 3-on-top-with-no-styling-product-whatsoever has been a thorn in my side for the 7 years we’ve been together. Only a couple times a year on very special occassions am I allowed to slap a little gel or mousse in it to reduce the fuzzball prison look.

    Mike overstated what I want from him. I really have no expectations of long curly Mr. Darcy hair. All I want is a normal haircut, like the short but actual haircut he had when he was on his mission (his mission!! isn’t that reasonable?)

    I’ll respond to more of you later. Off to my OB appointment….

  17. I vote no. Much as I love Caroline, I must disagree with her. With one exception, I do not think that a spouse should have control over the other’s appearance. It’s healthy that she has voiced her opinion, but the ultimate choice is yours. Now, if in the desire to keep the peace and try something new, you should decide to try a longer cut, that is your decision. However, you shouldn’t feel compelled to keep it if it doesn’t suit you.

    I like your current haircut. It’s very touchable, which I consider a plus. There’s nothing worse than getting one’s fingers trapped in heavily gelled hair.

    Besides, how irked would Caroline be if you suddenly found very short hair attractive, and told her to cut her own hair?

    My one exception to the grooming case is facial hair. In as much as short facial hair (but not long beards) on men tends to rub some women the wrong way (as in painfully), the affected woman should be consulted, and her opinion taken into consideration.

  18. What about the ol’ “it doesn’t matter how you look, it’s all about how you are on the inside?”

    UKAnn #2. Sorry, your four yeses only count once. Funny you mentioned
    looking like a life sentenced convict because I actually do look a lot like Timothy McVeigh.

    Great. I’ve been told by someone with the handle “Trailer Trash” that MY haircut is bad. :)

    Frank, I think you’re weaseling out here by not voting. But given that you sound like you would have voted yes, I’m glad you didn’t.

    Pjj #8. I think the shaved head look is timeless. I hate how hair styles come and go with the times.

    Kevin #9, I think you ought to keep the afro!

    Keryn #10, the home clipped hair cut is my favorite! I bought some clippers over 10 years ago and have saved so much money.

    Starfoxy #11. Thanks for the organized throughts. You said, “Your wife’s newly found wild attraction to you might be worth the effort it takes to let your hair grow long, but only you can measure that.” I’ll have to leave my wife’s newly found wild attraction for the tabloids (descriptions of the sort will not be fit for T&S).

    Maren #12. I’m surprised. I figured there’d be a big double standard here because women would want to control men’s hair but men would have little control of women’s fashion. I think the double standard still exists, although you are breaking the mold.

    CChrissyy #13. She’s not a truly controling person.

  19. Michael,
    Interesting. I have been told by many guys that men prefer long hair to short hair on women. I do not think they go so far as to ask their wives to change it, but I know a lot do prefer it. My husband never really asked, just hinted. I figured he sacrifices a lot for me, I can sacrifice a little for him. I have never been much into fashion, so maybe that is why it is easy for me.

  20. Mike,

    Depending on how your household finances operate, and how offended Caroline is by tacky monetary solutions, here’s a possible answer:

    Create a slush fund to be given to whoever cedes control of your hair. Bid up the size of the fund until somebody cedes. One person gets hair control, the other gets money for which they need provide no accounting to the household. Coase sighs happily in his grave.

    Obviously, this requires that you have some household budgeting arrangment such that a personal slush fund would be meaningful and valuable.

  21. My vote goes like this. Each individual is the sole and uncontested decisionmaker of how they want to look, including clothes, hair, frequency of baths, beard, everything.

    But given that, it’s very sweet and attractive to want to please your partner. I personally care little how I look, and so I would do my hair, clothes, and makeup most any way that my significant other wanted me to. Unless it made me feel really uncomfortable (like something too revealing might), or if it took too long to do. In the case of my hair, which I can fix really nice in two (2) hours, (yes, that’s two full hours), I would do that up to once a week for my S.O. and put it up for normal workdays.

    I’m not married, but if I tell a guy I like that his hair or beard looks really good this way or that way and he follows my preferences, I find that very sweet and attractive. Not only does he look yummier, but he’s taking trouble to please me, too. That’s just a very good sign of a great person I want to spend more time around.

    So the ideal thing I think should happen is that even though it’s ultimately completely your own choice, you should do whatever pleases her because it makes you happy to make her happy. =)

  22. Michael McBride What about the ol’ “it doesn’t matter how you look, it’s all about how you are on the inside?�

    That’s a bunch of nonsense. This is like saying “It doesn’t matter how you smell, it’s all about how you are on the inside.” Try not showering for 2 weeks and see if your wife will so much as sit in the same room with you–no matter how damn nice you are “on the inside.”

    Besides, the reason you want to look good to your spouse isn’t because you want her to love you (if a haircut changes that, then you’re asking the wrong questions). The reason you want to look good to your spouse is so that sparks can fly more readily.

  23. My answer: What the heck are you waiting for? Your wife, whom I assume you desire to feel attracted to you, has asked that you let your hair grow a little longer. It’s a small change to make your partner happy. Yes you’re happy with your style now but it’s a sad marriage that’s only about what makes you happy. Besides, she might be willing to do something you’d like (like streaks or somesuch) if you do something she’d like. You scratch my back and I scratch yours and all that. :)

  24. I have the distinct feeling that were the tables turned, and you were asking your wife to do something different with her own appearance, the responses posted here would be quite different.

  25. “If controlling my hair means so much to her, should I just let her control it? ”

    But….if you actually are willing to do it if a bunch of strangers vote yes, doesn’t that mean that you are at least willing to try it? Why not try it if it seems really important to her and she might really like it? If she’s a good wife and has ever done things just to please you, wouldn’t you at least consider trying it and seeing if you hate it or not? I remember wanting my husband to grow his hair out, and he did which was sweet. When he went back to short I was totally fine with it –he had fulfilled my dream.

    I do not like my husband’s appearance with just a mustache. I like clean shaven, I like a goatee, I like a full beard. I fully respect that it is his right to decide. I don’t take “orders” about my hair, so why would I give orders about his mustache? But, he does care whether I find him attractive, so the mustache disappeared pretty quickly the two times he tried it (once while we were engaged, once when he messed up while trimming his beard).

  26. I wonder if all the women who are saying things like, “what are you waiting for?” would have the same response if the post was about a husband wanting his wife to wear her hair a certain way (usually longer, as many of the posts have suggested) and the wife’s unwilligness to do so.

  27. If this were a husband saying the same thing to his wife, people would be all over the husband.

    It\’s your head. Do what you want.

    I suggest a slash and burn policy.

    Go bald.

    If she thought the shave was bad, show her just how far you\’re willingly to go. Maybe then she\’ll compromise on the shaved \’do\’ you\’re so fond of.

  28. When I met my husband, I had the very short, convenient above-the-ears haircut I’d adopted on my mission. After a suitable amount of time, when my hair had grown out to my shoulders (and after we had married), he confessed that he had found my very short hair, and here I quote, “butt-ugly.” Coming from a man who keeps his hair in an almost military buzz for convenience, I maintain that this is the rankest sexism. I’m fairly indifferent to my own hair, so I keep it longer partly to please my husband, but I also take great pleasure in whining about what a hassle it is and how long it takes to dry whenever he wants to cut his sandy, curly locks down to a bland buzz because he just “can’t stand the way it feels” when it gets too long. I don’t object to the hair nearly as much as to the double standard, and I consider the opportunity to hold forth about it at length my due compensation. (So in answer to your question, Michael, I would say that it’s up to you, but the price of your concession should be a periodic rant on the subject.)

    My husband uses gel. I do not. I don’t own either a curling iron or a hair dryer. Putting on a little makeup constitutes my concession to concern for appearance. At this time in my life, and perhaps henceforth and forever, my long, irregularly wavy hair will simply have to be its wild self.

  29. I have the distinct feeling that were the tables turned, and you were asking your wife to do something different with her own appearance, the responses posted here would be quite different.

    Best. Comment. Ever.

    Carl nailed it.

  30. NO. Unbeknownst to your wife you may be on the leading edge of fashion. I used to wear my hair longer but a series of rather fortunate events changed all that. A few years back I took the day off to spend a day with my wife at a local spa. We were going to get haircuts, massages, etc. When it was my turn to get my hair cut I got butchered. The haircut the lady gave me was absolutely atrocious. It was so bad that I just looked in the mirror and told her to just cut it all off. I had her take a #8 to the top (about 1″ long) and a #2 to the sides and back– blending the two together. When I met up with my wife after the haircut she was appalled (as was I) describing the look as faux concentration camp.

    Later that week I took my daughter to an audition for a feature film (where, incidentally, my daughter and I got to meet Charlize Theron in her Aeon Flux persona). While I was waiting in the casting firm’s receiving area a director approached me to ask if I was there for an audition for a commercial she was directing. I told her I was there just for my daughter but she invited me to appear on the audition tape. Two days later I had a contract and shot my first commercial. The part I played in the commercial was “the perfect square.” My new “perfect square” look went on to win me three other commercial gigs and membership into the SAG.

    Now my wife loves my haircut and complains to me when I begin to look even a little scruffy. My wife has found that the $$$$s generated by my new look are much more attractive than the perfectly gelled faux movie-star coif I used to sport.

  31. I think I care more about how attractive Mike finds me than vice versa. If he hated my hair a certain way, or hated an outfit, etc. I’d be offended and maybe a bit ticked off, but then I’d probably stop wearing whatever he hated, or at least drastically cut down on it. (See, Mike, as Proud Daughter of Eve suggested, I’m totally willing to compromise.. :) )

    And I’m not asking for a permanent change here. I just want him to at least try something slightly different for a few months. If he absolutely hated it, I wouldn’t try to stop him from going back to the buzz.

    And Eve, your comment was so apt. Ironically, Mike of the shaved head has told me a number of times that he prefers women with long hair.

  32. Michael,

    Doesn’t your wife know that you are more than just a pretty head of hair? You need to take a strong stand against being objectified in this way. Who wants to be just eye candy, anyway? She needs to know how cheap this makes you feel. You also need to go back and review the seminary lessons about the the camel’s nose in the tent and the frog in the pan of water. Today she objects to your hair. Tomorrow she’ll probably start complaining about your nose hair. Where will it end?

  33. Eh, it’s a toss-up for me. I generally like my hair a tad longer than my wife does, but it’s not a deal breaker in any sense of the word. Since I’d rather she have long hair, and she likes to keep her’s above the shoulders, it all works out in the end.

  34. Maybe this is too much a generalization, but I see two arguments here. On the one hand is the practical argument: do it because it’ll make her happy, which has good side effects. On the other hand is the principle argument: nobody should tell you how to cut your hair. Then there’s GST’s #23 legal precendent argument.

    Looks to me like most of the LDS on this blog are more practical than principled here–except for Starfoxy, Dora, and a few others.

    Are Mormons more practical than principled?

    [That question’s for you, Tony #16.]

    Frank #25. Great slush fund auction idea. You make me proud to be an economist.

    DKL # 27. I agree that there’s a context in which this claim breaks down, but there’s also a context in which it doesn’t. If my wife told me to do something outlandish then of course I shouldn’t do it. So it’s not an issue of the logic breaking down ever but when and where it applies. Seems like most people here think it doesn’t apply for hair cuts. Or does it? What if I wanted my wife to be bald? Should she shave her head?

    I think Carl #29, Cyril #31, Tony #33, and Mark IV #36 make a good point in this regard. (Although, Mark, I do make the effort to cut my nose hair. But I care more about that than she does.)

    Proud Daughter of Eve #28. Isn’t the happier marriage one that is based on acceptance of people and the things you don’t like about them?

    Sounds like Hyrum #37 has the healthiest marriage here!

    Paul #34. I use the “You just don’t understand that to be really cool you have to set your own fashion” and the “I’m really at the cutting edge” arguments with her, but she’s never convinced.

    And that story about the bad haircut is awesome! I once asked my brother to give me a haircut (with my clippers, before I knew my wife). He totally hacked it up, and I had him shave it almost totally off on the sides and leave a number 1 on the top. My dad freaked out, but my friends at Church thought it was the coolest thing. Didn’t get any auditions, though. Maybe if you can get me an audition with my haircut, my wife would leave me alone. Like Frank asked, how much is the haircut worth to her?

    Caroline #35, You have to stop trying to get the sympathy vote!!! I have told you I like long hair on women, but I’ve NEVER ONCE asked you to change your hairstyle. Every time you’ve gotten it cut–even short, I’ve said it looks great.

  35. No.

    I feel that control of grooming and fashion is too personal to be ceded to others. Having said that, I do listen to what my wife finds pleasing and will indulge her at times. She knows I’ve intentionally done something I don’t usually do just to please her. She does the same to me. She probably wishes that I took the time to notice and comment about the details of how she looks.

    Hair is different than other fashion choices because you can’t just wear long hair for one night like you can a particular shirt. My hair has been from below my shoulders to completely shaven and I’ve had all sorts of weird (usually ugly) facial hair. I know what my wife likes but I still like to play with my hairstyle. She, on the other hand, has had nearly the same hair style since she was 6.

  36. Michael, the most important thing in the long run is how well you get along with your companion. We all know that there are battles we fight and battles we don’t. If this is so important to her that she would post on T&S about it, then this is one battle not worth fighting. Give in and do what she asks.

    One idea: you could do it is exchange for something about her you want her to change, if there is something that is that important to you.

    My wife really likes to dress me in the types of clothes she likes, and she has good taste, and it’s important to her, so I have learned to give in and let her win on this issue. And everybody says I dress better now, so there must be something to it.

  37. Michael, here’s an idea.

    One of the VPs where I work just walked in with a mohawk. He looks pretty good. If you do decide to grow out your hair for 3 months, at the end you should wear a mohawk for a couple weeks before you go back to your preferred hair style.

  38. My God, man, grow your hair out and style it according to your wife’s hinting and prompting. Unless you give some specifics about the dynamics of your relationship that would put a lie to my next statement, I’d say that this is not a question of “control” but of the negotiation, the give-and-take, of marriage. She’s not sitting you in the barber’s chair (or is it stylist’s?) and giving instructions on the one-and-only proper cut for you (like our mothers – constant bugaboo for some grown men – did: “I said a bowl cut, please!”). She’s telling you what would make you look good to her, primarily, and to everyone else in turn.

    Think of it as a continuance of what I’m sure at least sometimes goes on in your marriage like in mine. My wife asks me frequently if she looks good in this or that outfit, is it professional enough, suggestive but not too revealing, classy or slummy, etc. according to situation. I often bounce clothing choices off her in the same manner (although a little more butch). I also hint that I liked this style of hair three cuts ago, found it sexy, thought it showed her off as the sophisticate and sexy woman she is. She often doesn’t go out and get it cut that way next day but the style makes an appearance again sometime later. Conversely, I’m disallowed from a complete, to-the-bone skull shave (what I had when i met my wife) but given freedom to go down to a one on the sides and longer up top (a sort of seasonal compromise). In any case, I’m sure you’ve arrived at consensus on where you live, what cars you drive, what movies you see, what clothes you wear, how you spend your vacation, what computer you own, what piece of extravagance (that Leica M3, massive dictionary, Vespa or who knows what) that you’ll allow yourselves. Being flexible on your hair should come easy. You can set up lines of resistance and assert independence on larger issues (With, say, that Harley you always wanted).

  39. As SWK said, “Do it.” Good card to use in trades later.

    BTW, just as LDS have a unique argot, so do hair stylists. Here’s one of their little secrets: the number for the spacer just indicates how many eighths of an inch clearance it gives. To look like a real insider, ask for a 2-1/2″ and see whether your stylist knows about the little lever on the clipper that makes a 1/2 adjustment from the spacer — some stylists actually don’t know about it. Also, using a 1-1/2 around the hairline of a #2 cut puts a nice finish on it.

  40. Also, gel is cool — if you know how to apply it. Put a dab (cue Brylcreem’s theme music) in your palm and rub hands to gether to nearly emulsify it. Then, lightly smear it off the palms onto the surface of the hair and gently pull it with the grain across your hair with your fingertips. The idea is to create a firm surface only, not a rigid infrastructure. Do NOT work it through the hair like shampoo !

  41. Aletheia said: “I’d say that this is not a question of “controlâ€? but of the negotiation, the give-and-take, of marriage.”

    Aletheia, you’ve nailed it. I think Mike was unfairly stacking the deck when he made it a question of control and not compromise. (Though, thank goodness, I think I’m still winning despite his phrasing!!)

  42. Caroline #45. The control vs. compromise is a useful distinction, but I’m afraid that which side you choose is in the eye of the beholder. If a man asks a woman to get a breast job, wouldn’t people say he was being controling? Why is this not a matter of compromise? Or is it in some circumstances?

  43. FYI, This has been a ton of fun. Caroline and I are both currently sitting in our living room looking at our respective laptops as we watch everyone’s comments come up. She is unhealthily giddy as she reads the yes votes.

  44. Michael McBride: If my wife told me to do something outlandish then of course I shouldn’t do it.

    I don’t see why. We’re not talking about some idle request like a dare or something–if that were the case, you could picture something like, “Hey, I want you to get a mohawk,” just as as joke. We’re talking about something that is really desired, for a long time, about your appearance by someone with a vested interest and someone with whom you share a great many priorities. Providing that the change doesn’t interfere with your profession or career, I don’t see how you can turn her down. I think that in order to make your statement about “something outlandish” plausible, you’ve got to change the context to include idle hypotheticals, rather than the actual, sincere requests of someone who loves you and has your interests at heart.

    Michael McBride: Seems like most people here think it doesn’t apply for hair cuts. Or does it? What if I wanted my wife to be bald? Should she shave her head?

    This is exactly the kind of idle hypothetical that I’m rejecting to in my preceding paragraph. Even so, if that’s what you really want, and not just some truth-or-dair type of slippery-slope, then where’s the problem? I thought the bald chick in the first Star Trek movie looked really hot.

  45. Mike, as you well know, there is a major difference between asking someone to get major surgery and asking someone to get a normal person’s haircut. I for instance would never suggest you get pectoral implants, and I know you’re too smart to suggest anything similar to me. Not only is there a huge difference in cost, pain, effort, time, but there is also the question of permanence. You could always go back to your buzz if you hated the haircut. Not so easy with the implants. Besides, I tend to think of something like implants as non-essential, whereas getting a normal haircut is something that most people do in our society in order to look nice and put together.

  46. My husband and I have a mutually assured destruction policy. The given is that each of us has total control over our own personal grooming, but we each also have preferences about the other’s look. I love his goatee, he likes my hair long. I know that if I cut my hair (which I have every right to do), he will shave the goatee (which he has every right to do), and vice versa. We have each done this a few times in the 9 years of our marriage and it works out great.

  47. “(Why are we even discussing this? Is this related to Mormonism in any way? Off to BCC I go…)”

    …said the man who just spent five minutes reading and posting.

  48. Caroline, you’re comment on surgery reminds me of the surgery joke in Waiting for Guffman.

  49. re: 41 Are you sure it’s really a mohawk? My guess is you’re referring to a “fauxhawk” which, unbelievably, has a wiki entry:

    A friend used to say that I looked like I stepped out of the Gap catalogue….the 1988 Gap catalogue. Then I turned over control of all clothing and hair decisions to my partner, who’s in an advertising-related industry. Best move I ever made. Lesson learned. Gel is gross, btw. Try American Crew fiber or forming cream. They even have it at Target (well, at least my local Target….).

  50. Ok, if you have the OPTION of Colin Firth/Darcy hair, you should TOTALLY DO IT!! YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

    My husband is balding (and while I find the bald look very sexy, actually) I am aware that we have pretty much zero options when it comes to hair for him. (which I am OK with)

    But, if you have the option of doing whatever you want with your hair, and you can even remotely look like Colin Firth in that move, not only will your wife love you, every other woman will too. We women are pretty much all huge fans of Pride and Prejudice.

    I say enjoy your hair while you still have it, and let your wife enjoy it too.

  51. No — but as another 3 on top/2 on the sides economist, what else would I say? That said, I generally do accede to my wife’s distaste for facial hair by staying clean shaven.

  52. There’s a reason why Markie in #51 started using the language of mutually-assured destruction to describe her tit-for-tat program for imposing standards for personal appearance. She’s following your lead, Michael. You took it to Defcon-5 when you compared a request for hair style to dropping breast implants in. But, to follow you for a moment, the analogy between a wife asking her husband to get a haircut and a man asking his wife to get breast implants could hold as a tight and well-crafted one. It would depend on financial circumstances and the dynamic existing among the couple’s members. If money was not an object, if the woman was simultaneously ambitious and indifferent towards her breasts (“Yeah, they could really use some style!”), if her husband was sufficiently blase about the proposed plastic surgery (“Baby, I love your body. I’m just suggesting a clip and a tuck.”), it might be an everyday sort of marital compromise. I’m sure there are other combinations of motive, personality and persuasion that would make asking one’s wife to get breast implants would be more run-of-the-mill act of compromise.

    Nevertheless, I think in real-life, middle-class America a man’s request for breast enhancement reads to his wife as a much more devastating attack on her attractiveness and womanhood than a change in hair style for her spouse (Let’s face it – the stigmatization of baldness aside – a man’s hair doesn’t rise to the level of a secondary-sexual characteristic on the level of breasts and is nowhere near as fetishized. People magazine is not printing darling shots of Brad Pitt’s hair, after all).

  53. MikeinWeHo, You really did need to update. Gap and the 80’s are both solidly good things but style slipping towards revival isn’t (wink and a nod here; I had trouble escaping the 90’s). You don’t think Caroline’s vote for the Romantic Period might change things? It’s not an update but a move to the way-back-in-the-day.

  54. There’s no reason not to give it a try IMO–you can always cut it off again if you don’t like it. Why not try something new for a change?

    My official vote is not yes or no, but “no, but suggestions aren’t evil and might be good.”

    I cut my husband’s hair, so I have total control, but I always give him the cut he wants. He has pretty impossible hair anyway. I’m actually going to chop my long hair off tomorrow, which he isn’t too thrilled about, but it will grow right back. My new hair-styling technique is to grow it long, then donate it and thus get a free haircut at a salon.

  55. Sometimes change is good, so I say go for a new style. It’s hair, it grows, it can be cut.
    Hooray for the fauxhawk! When I got pregnant I felt gross and I got my bob cut into a fauxhawk. It was only then that my husband admitted he hated my former haircut and he loved the hawk, but because he respected my ability to manage my own hair and make my own decisions, he kept his opinion to himself until it was appropriate. That being said, I may not have a bob again, but it was too much work anyway and not nearly as much fun in church as the hawk.
    I think that there is a fine line between having a ‘preference’ and being ‘controlling.’ I prefer that my spouse, well, actually cut his hair on occasion (and last time I took him to my stylist with his blessing for a razor cut – none of this clippers nonsense, guys!) and he likes my hair shorter. Those are our preferences, and we know each other’s preferences, but that’s about it. However, when I took my sister to get her extremely long hair cut – and it looked bad, it was way too long – her husband hated it and told her it was a ‘lesbian’ haircut, whatever that means. When she sat down in the stylist’s chair, she was literally scared that it was going to be too short and that her husband would hate it. (It was still past her shoulders and layered, kind of like Sarah Jessica Parker, after the cut.) He wants his wife to have long hair, period, and will criticize what he doesn’t like. That is controlling, and in their relationship, it’s not just about the hair, although I know of other couples who struggle the same way with the hair issue.

    (And I agree, don’t use gel. You can get a much better hair product and with hair products, you get what you pay for. I will sacrifice other things in my life for my sumo wax, possibly even Dr. Pepper.)

  56. Nobody seems to be biting on the practical vs principled question from #39. I think it’s a serious question.

    Dan Y #57. The world needs more 3 on top/2 on the sides economists!

    Caroline and Alethia, I would agree that hair cuts and breast implants certainly differ in scale, but I’d argue that they do not differ in type. Both have to do with how one looks, how attractiveness may be rated, etc.

    Dangermom #61. How long does the hair have to be to donate it? If I don’t cut it for three months, would I have enough hair to donate? That could partially offset the pain.

    Virtual M. #62. Dr. Pepper?

  57. Yes.

    I would have a lot more respect for your desire not to cede control over your haircut to your wife if you weren’t willing to cede control over your haircut to this voting process. (And trust me, I would say the same to a woman who’d let internet voters decide if she should get breast implants.)

  58. Kevin Barney: I think you need to have a minimum of 10 inches to be able to donate it.

    10 inches of what?

  59. I vote no.

    It’s true that your wife has to look at you and you should take how she likes your look into consideration, but I think it’s more important that you like the way you look and feel. I buzz because it feels great, saves money, and I don’t care that I look a little goofy; I wear shorts and T-shirts year-round for the same reasons. It’s better than being uncomfortable and looking like a pretty boy, which is what would happen if I ceded control to the wife. (She has seriously suggested that I do the Clay Aiken messy hair look. She also likes puffy shirts.)

    I’m dreading the day that I get a job that requires that I look professional. Grad school rules! (When it doesn’t suck, that is.)

  60. #67: “I wear shorts and T-shirts year-round for the same reasons. It’s better than being uncomfortable and looking like a pretty boy.”

    For crying out loud, wearing pants does not make you look like a pretty boy. It makes you look like an adult.

  61. No, with a qualification.

    I opted for a shaved head – rather than the irritating chant from all too many barbers to grow it long on one side and flip it over. I’m going bald and don’t intend to try hiding it.

    The qualification: My wife asked I grow a beard to, “keep my face from looking quite so stark.” Fair enough.

    I now look like an aging Biker, but my towel is also my comb and bad hair days are well in the past.


  62. gst, you’re right, the shorts make me look goofy. But I save money by not having to change wardrobe with the seasons and I’m comfortable except on the most windy cold days. It’s not wearing jeans that would make me look like a pretty boy, but letting my wife make my hairstyle and wardrobe decisions.

    One good thing: there’s a facutly member in my department who wears short shorts year-round. So at least I look less dorky than somebody.

  63. No. Never do anything that you do not, upon reflection, want to do. Allowing another person to control you is slavery.

  64. Michael:

    I give your haircut two thumbs up. Nothing gets girl-action like a well pruned head. Besides, telling your wife you’ll wear your hair the way you want shows her and everyone else whose boss, and many ladies find that attractive also.

  65. Show me a woman who lets her husband walk around looking poorly dressed/groomed and I will show you a woman who doesn’t care about him. She loves you. You have a bad haircut. Grow your hair out. Be glad she cares.

    Carolyn (not to be confused with Caroline)

  66. In our marriage, nobody gets final say-so about appearances but the person who sees that appearance when they look in the mirror. Opinions are shared and options sometimes tried. (You know, you could always cut it off again if you try it and don’t agree with Caroline’s opinion — it’s not a permanent decision!) But ultimately, it’s your head.

    My husband shaves his head with a razor. Woo, sexy! I’m not a fan of his current facial hair (chin patch only) but he knows that and has decided to keep it for now. Which is fine. I’m not going to let it become a thorn in my side. Caroline, I’d gently advise you to do the same, if I weren’t a little scared of pregnant lady hormones. ;o)

  67. Wait, you’re hesitating to let your wife decide your hairstyle, but you’ll let a bunch of blog commenters decide it? How do you think that makes your wife feel? Our opinion matters more to you than hers???

  68. Caroline, as much as I hate to choose between you and Mike, I’m going to have to back Mike up on this one. And you don’t strike me as someone who would adopt a fashion you didn’t like for several months just to please Mike. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    My reasoning is based on personal experience: Jana has stated a preference for me with short hair and button down shirts tucked into dockers-style trousers. I resist the pressure to dress like a missionary, and continue to grow my hair out and to wear my comfortable old Cons. The need for self-expression is strong with me, and Jana recognizes this in me. To her credit, she runs her fingers through my hair on occasion, commenting on how she loves the curls. It boosts my self-esteem to know that my beloved finds me attractive for who I am, on my own terms.

    I’m curious–how would this whole conversation be different if a woman wrote about her husband pressuring her to get her hair cut in a style that she didn’t care much for and wear that way for several months?

    Instead of embarking on a several month long fashion experiment, maybe you should just buy Mike a wig. :P

  69. The ten inches refers to the length of the back of your hair when pulled back from your head. They put a rubber band around it near your scalp and cut it off, then give you your free haircut.

    I have a childhood friend who visited us recently. He had grown his hair long for Locks of Love. He liked how the high priests in his group back in Utah thought he was a hippy, but no one could say anything when he told them he was growing it long for Locks of Love. But his hair was long enough and his wife was really tired of it, so as a surprise he got it cut off while he was here and went home without the long ponytail. She was very happy.

  70. For those of you who think that I’m a moron for letting a bunch of strangers choose my hair instead of my wife, you’re missing the fact that my wife and I have been thoroughly enjoying all the comments. That’s valuable consumption that is also bonding consumption. You’ve got to take that into account.

    GST #69. We’ll have to discuss breast implants on another post: “Should my wife control my breasts?”

    John #79. A wig? Now that’s one I haven’t thought about. Maybe I should get a white one and fill it with powder. Early American style. If I get a bunch, I can also try out all the different gel and anti-gel tips that people have been giving.

  71. This is a fun discussion. I vote yes! Until I married I had an ever-changing variety of short haircuts, which I really enjoyed. My husband prefers longer hair, so I have kept my hair long–and I have to admit that it is more slimming to my face. Sometimes I pine for the days of short easy hair, but my sense of wanting to be attractive to my husband is stronger than my desire for hair-ease. I guess it is just what matters most to you.

    Also, hair is just a temporary change, what is the harm in trying it out? I have had blond hair for as long as I can remember, but two months ago decided to go brunette. I think I still prefer being blond, but it is an interesting change for now.

  72. Yes, you need 10 inches of choppable hair to donate it. I get my hair cut this way about once a year. I like the variety–I’m no good at styling my hair, so my habit is to get tired of it, cut it short, try to figure out how to wear it, and then give up and go back to my two options of a clip or a braid.

    My husband really does prefer the long hair, but it’s not like he ever plays with it or anything!

    Anyway, I really don’t see why you shouldn’t try something new. It’s not like your favorite hairstyle is something difficult to cultivate; if you find you don’t like your new style, you can just shave it off instantly! None of this waiting for months for a bad haircut to grow out, like some people have.

  73. I think that there’s a certain vanity tied up in the in holding on to the $12 haircut. I mean, if it really doesn’t matter to you that much, then what’s the difference between a $12 haircut and a $40 haircut if your wife prefers the latter?

  74. 61,65,80

    8″-10″ is the minimum to donate for Locks of Love’s free-wigs-for-cancer-kids campaign. Our salon is an active participant. For you short-haired types, for every empty ink cartridge you donate, Locks of Love gets $1.50.

    We’ve seen an interesting phenomenon in our salon lately: as they’re about to start their own chemotherapy, long-haired women are coming in to donate their hair for kids’ wigs.

    66. A: “Hair”

  75. Michael, Although one way of bringing together breast implants and haircuts is by pointing out how they both have deal with appearance, participate in the category of appearance, I’d still argue that it’s less a question of degree and more a question of category. For me, it’s something akin to comparing tlachtli among the Aztecs and World Cup soccer. Sure, they’re both sports and they’re even sports that look something like each other (no hands, a ball that’s not made from animal hide, something like goals, etc.). But, while the losing French team goes home with sublimated disappointment and anger towards Zidane, the losers at tlachtli (at least sometimes) would be killed.

    That said, I do wonder how the myth of the Amazons would have changed if the breasts they lopped off sprouted anew. It would complicate the shooting of arrows and the whole warrior princess lifestyle to say the least.

    Redo your hair and worry about the “What-if-this-were-a-woman” hypotheticals that have been popping up here and there alone. Not your circumstance anyhow.

  76. I vote yes,

    not that I vote she should have control- just that she should have a say with you having the final decision. If you don’t try her recomendation before turning it down, how do you know she will hate it.

    I agree with #12, try it and see if you like it enough to keep it longer.

    oh, and I doubt you will use gel. Yroduct of some sort, but not gel.

    I wish I could wear my hair long. I’m 27 and my hair is very thin up front. A very short haircut may very well be the baby boomer version of a comb-over and the shaved head may be generation X’s version- but I certainly think it looks better than an actual comb over which is really the only alternative with my hair as thin as it is.

  77. I vote yes,

    Not that I vote she should have control- just that she should have a say with you having the final decision. If you don’t try her recomendation before turning it down, how do you know you will hate it?

    I agree with #12, try it and see if you like it enough to keep it longer.

    Oh, and I doubt you will use gel. You will probably use product of some sort, but not gel.

    I wish I could wear my hair longer. I’m 27 and my hair is very thin up front. A very short haircut may very well be the baby boomer version of a comb-over and the shaved head may be generation X’s version but I certainly think it looks better than an actual comb over which is really the only alternative with my hair as thin as it is.

  78. I vote no. It’s your head of hair.

    On the other hand, one of the things you can CHOOSE to do with your hair is cut it in a way she finds attractive. Or you could just stubbornly cling to a look/cut that looks good on very, very, very few people.

    IMHO the only people who should have extremely buzzed hair are 1) toddlers, 2) military personnel, 3) extremely hot male models with extremely smooth, nicely shaped heads, and 4) men who are balding. Other than that, it’s just sort of the female equivalent of long, permed hair pulled back in a clip. It says, “Hey, why bother?” And if you’re o.k. with that perception, then hey – more power to you.

    My husband has very thick, wavy hair, and when we met and married, he liked it extremely short, went to Supercuts, etc. The first few weeks after he got a haircut, while he was still handsome, he always looked sort of, um, unfortunate. I didn’t ask him to change it, I just treated him to a massage and a haircut at the salon/spa where I got my hair done, and once he saw how gorgeous he looked with the new haircut, there was no going back.

    Still, it’s no big deal, and if he hadn’t loved the new cut, I wouldn’t have made a big deal over it. I reserve that for facial hair.

  79. Well, shoot, this post just obliterated a pet theory of mine I’ve been nurturing for a while: it’s been my observation that in marriages in which there is no real sharing of important decision-making authority, the wife tends to assume a moral authority (“nobody else does things right around here!”) over housework and family grooming, whereas in marriages in which the wife enjoys real authority she cedes the petty stuff. HOWEVER, knowing what I do about Caroline, this simply cannot describe her marriage! Back to square one….

    My vote, for the record, is no. I think the double standard is absolutely an issue—or should be. I don’t treat my husband like a doll, he doesn’t treat me like an art object. And statements like “I let my wife dress me” have always struck me as vaguely patronizing.

    Caroline, correct me if I’m wrong, but I doubt that Mike’s haircut really makes a difference in the degree of sexual attraction you feel toward him; after perhaps an initial period of infatuation, straight women are usually not turned on or off much by their partners’ appearances (as opposed to their hygiene). Most women, rather, want their men to look a certain way—fashionable, sophisticated, grown-up, read: RICH—in order to impress other people. I think the women’s comments on this thread bear that out, largely. And again, here the double standard siren should sound: if you’re repulsed by the idea of a trophy wife, and you ought to be, then you also ought to reject the idea of a trophy husband.

    (Incidentally, I cut my husband’s hair—-with the scissors, never tried the clippers—to his specifications. And he’s told me that he liked my hair blonde, the way it was when we first met, but I’ve never had it highlighted again since that one summer in college. I have kept it long, though. I have to cut my hair up to my shoulders after every baby, because it starts coming out in handfuls about three months postpartum—I just got nearly seven inches off last week, in fact. By the time it’s back down to the middle of my back, I know it’s time to get pregnant again!)

  80. More importantly, congratulations on the impending arrival! May he be born whole and healthy and with a nice head of fine, silky, womb-perfumed #2 !

  81. Some commenters have suggested that by allowing the mob to choose his hair style for the next three months, Michael is being particularly unkind to Caroline. In response, Michael noted that the fun of this whole exercise may provide sufficient compensating pleasure for Caroline. I think that these commenters have it wrong for a more fundamental reason, one having to do with the practical vs. principle problem.

    My view is that marriage comprises a whole range of issues where doing the practical (pleasing the wife) conflicts to one degree or another with the principle (the husband has the final say on matters that predominantly affect himself). In any good marriage, it is inevitable that the husband will give in on a number of such issues, and this should be no cause for concern. The concern comes when someone says that the wife should make the decision as to which particular issues the husband must acquiesce. (BTW, this analysis also applies the other way around — the husband should not be given the right to decide upon which particular issues predominantly affecting his wife that she must acquiesce.) Whether to cut Michael’s hair or not appears to be a relatively minor issue for both Michael and Caroline. In my view, this is precisely the sort of issue where the principle should take precedence, as the balance of the other costs and benefits are close to zero. On the other hand, for Michael to allow us (or some other random method) to determine whether he cuts his hair for the next three months does no violence to the principle whatsoever. Even if he decides to blow off our decision, most of us are none the wiser and none of us really have any right to be offended.

    One other consideration that Michael, as a behavioral economist, should be especially attuned to is that it is often more hurtful for a person to be given something (in this case, the right to select his hair style) and have it taken away later than to never be given it at all. If he thinks that there is any possibility that he will start to miss the ease of his current arrangement and start to agitate later for its return, he might want not want to give it up in the first place, as he may find that Caroline has learned to really enjoy her say in the matter. (I’m not trying to cast aspersions on Caroline, just pointing to what seems to be an empirical regularity.)

    BTW, I am one of those who allows my wife to purchase much of my wardrobe for me, as long as I don’t have to be present when the purchases are made. I’m perfectly happy to occassionally find unfamiliar clothes hanging in my closet. Once in a while, she will give me unsolicited input about which outfit to wear to which event. Sometimes, I go along — sometimes I don’t.

  82. Rosalynde: if you’re repulsed by the idea of a trophy wife, and you ought to be, then you also ought to reject the idea of a trophy husband.

    To be sure, I’m repulsed by the idea of a trophy wife. But for self-serving reason, I can’t really be repulsed by the idea of a trophy husband. If you took that away from me, I’d have nothing left at all.

  83. For the record, Caroline does buy my clothing because I absolutely HATE shopping. I have this evolutionarily fine tuned ability to obtain a headache among the smell of new clothing. We have an understanding that she cannot be offended if she buys something that I do not like. She has agreed to return anything that she bought for me that I do not want.

    She also frequently has input in what I wear to important social events.

    Hair is just different for me.

    Rosalynde 91&92: I can think of cases to support your theory. Perhaps Caroline is a statistical outlier. To be fair to her, however, she doesn’t bring up the hair topic very frequently, so it’s not like she’s really on me about it all the time.

    And maybe the baby boy will come out with womb-perfumed #3 on the top, too!

    Dan Y. 93: “One other consideration that Michael, as a behavioral economist, should be especially attuned to is that it is often more hurtful for a person to be given something (in this case, the right to select his hair style) and have it taken away later than to never be given it at all. If he thinks that there is any possibility that he will start to miss the ease of his current arrangement and start to agitate later for its return, he might want not want to give it up in the first place, as he may find that Caroline has learned to really enjoy her say in the matter.”

    Bravo! Economic logic, properly applied, can save a marriage yet again!

  84. Hey Mike, not to get too morbid, but what do you think your hair will look like in the Resurrection? Like it did in the coffin (though I hear that hair and nails keep growing for some time after death)? Or would it be more at God-length (kind of hippie-ish by our standards)? Or would He finally answer Caroline’s heartfelt prayers?

    But maybe this is all moot, because you could adjust it on the fly (“preaching down to Spirit Prison today, better sport the missionary cut”). Also, I don’t see a whole lot of choice in Celestial styles (“which modest robe of exquisite, unearthly whiteness shall I wear today, dear?”).

  85. This is a tough one, Michael! On the one hand, men are not supposed to be fussy over grooming. Otherwise what would you do when you’re deer hunting in the Tetons for a week? On the other hand, men are not supposed to be fussy over grooming. What’s up with having an opinion? I think complementary roles are quite charming (what’s a rock band with only guitars?), and your wife probably does feel that her sense of taste is impugned by your appearing in public with that haircut. So I think the graceful thing to do is to do what you reasonably can to please her on this. Considering how common and low-maintenance the standard “missionary haircut” is, it is hard for me to believe you object because it is too much trouble. Gel is another matter . . .

    If I’m in an established relationship, I usually cut my hair the way she likes it, or let her cut it. I’m glad she cares about my hair, and I show it by responding to her preferences. I think it is revealing that your post gives no reasons for or against the haircut other than “my decision or hers?” If your wife is extremely controlling, that is understandable, but you should find other ways to resist her than your hair (if you are reduced to maintaining your last bastion of control there, you are in trouble!). If your wife is generally reasonable about control issues, then this autonomy bit is a terrible way to think about a marriage! The best defense is a good offense. I say go on the offensive and please your wife with your hair, not because she said so, but because you want her to be happy!

  86. John, I think in the resurrection my hair will be #3 on the top and #2 on the sides! What else?

    Ben H. “I think it is revealing that your post gives no reasons for or against the haircut other than “my decision or hers?â€? I’m not sure I follow. What is it revealing, Dr. Ben?

    N.O. Haven’t read it. Will it make me feel I’m not living up to my name?

  87. Seems to me the answer should be mostly yes. Unless the appearance causes you trouble at work, you should mutate your appearance to serve your wife’s preferences and needs.

    My two bits. I’m a guy. When work permits, etc., I grow beards because my wife really, really likes them, even though I don’t (you can see pictures on my blog of me with and without a beard).

  88. More significantly, what you think about one spouse having some control over the other spouse with regards to anything? Not just hair or other things to do with appearance, but anything.

    I think husbands have a duty to wives that includes ceding control, though I don’t think wives have the same duty to husbands. It is part of the priesthood and of being a servant.

  89. my suggestion:

    If wife makes comments about haircut, ask her to buy a mens fashion magazine and clip out a picture of the person\’s hair she would like you to look like.

    When she returns with said picture, provide also a picture of, for arguments sake, Scarlett Johanson, and ask that she do more to look like her. If weight loss or plastic surgery will be necessary to achieve said goal, by all means, now is the time to bring it up.

    Your wife may never bring up the subject again.

    However, your marriage may not survive the fallout. If that were to happen, you will need a proper haircut so as to attract a new mate.

  90. Delilah got control of Samsons Hair………..You know the rest of the story !

    Harold B. Curtis

  91. Hmm, it seems to me that there are two things you should think about– one is that maybe you should enjoy your hair, and let it breathe long and free for awhile before it goes away. :)

    The second is that perhaps Caroline has better taste than you do, in this case at least, and is trying to give you save you from a fashion mistake? It’s perfectly fine for either spouse to save the other from those.

  92. Come on it is not like it is a tattoo. If you do not like it after a couple of months, cut it off. It is not even close to permanent. My motto is (of course I am biased) do what ever makes your pregnant wife happy. There is a plus to this. You could probably get her to do your hair, and who does not like their spouses fingers in their hair.

    Mardell (I am too lazy to sign Kaimi out)

  93. My vote is yes. I know my husband likes my hair color (auburn) and so I’ve never colored it since it makes him happy. Doesn’t seem like a big deal to try something that could please/attract your spouse, when there are so many other issues about our bodies less under our control (weight, aging, shape, etc) which they may not like or be able to change. (I gained a new appreciation for my husband’s hair when I shaved him bald as he started chemotherapy years ago. Believe me, hair will grows back and it could be worse!)

  94. My vote: no.

    I tend to agree with much of the conventional wisdom dispensed here: (1) it may be generous and potentially rewarding (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more) to please your spouse by slightly altering your appearance, (2) some may want to resist on principle for reasons (to hold the line on an excessively controlling spouse, to avoid being oppressed in a gender-politics sense) that others likely do not find compelling or applicable, and (3) such things generally should be worked out in the larger ongoing negotiation called marriage.

    My gut feeling is that Michael should and will give the new do a try. However, I hate to see a man sacrifice his bargaining power for the sake of 108+ comment thread on T&S. Michael needs to prevail in the vote and then assess what the do might be worth to Caroline.

    Michael: don’t sell this thing short. Once you get the do, you may be subjected to cries of “Oh, Mr. Darcy!” at certain delicate moments.

  95. Haven’t read it. [The Flight of Michael McBride] Will it make me feel I’m not living up to my name?

    Nah, just make you very grateful you aren’t half faerie.


  96. Mike,
    Ultimately your hair should be your own decision. She can certainly have an opinion on the matter and you should consider it. However, I think your wife would argue vehemently for a woman\’s right to control choices regarding her own body, why shouldn\’t you be afforded the same right? So, don\’t cut your hair if you don\’t want to. Seriously, why are Mormon\’s so obsessed with haircuts! However, it may work to your advantage to acheive the Darcy look but that\’s another matter altogether for you to consider…

  97. It sounds to me like the hair thing is a big deal to you, Michael. Although I think 3 months is no big deal for you to give it a try, I would vote no on the assumption that this is something you feel strongly about.

    As a general rule, I would say that suggestions might be fine if the spouse is not threatened by such things, but I personally am pretty uncomfortable with any efforts to try to change a spouse’s appearance. I tend to lean more toward the “accept the person” side of this issue, as long as there aren’t glaring concerns (like not showering for two weeks, or damaging one’s career by sloppy dress, etc.)

    That said, there are some people who truly don’t care about these things and are open to suggestions so perhaps acquiescence in such cases would be fine. Still, too many suggestions could, in some cases, feed a controlling nature or gratify unrighteous dominion or pride at some level (clearly this is not always the case). I just think there is often too much emphasis on appearance, and I worry about such superficialities bleeding into a marriage. And yet, we are to be “neat and comely.” I am clearly conflicted on this issue.

    In short, however, marriage is about give and take, but for each marriage, where those lines of give and take are drawn will vary greatly. I will be interested to see how you two negotiate this one. (If you decide not to change your hair, I think your wife should let it go. In general, I think suggestions re: appearance are fine. Insisting on something is not.)

  98. No way. You do what you want with regard to your personal appearance. I can\’t believe the number of pansies who will shave their face or cut their hair because of what their partner wants. My wife hates my hair long, so I grow it longer just to aggravate her. Even though I don\’t really like it. Of course, I married well and she does not really care. She does say I look like white trash a lot, though. Which is just getting in touch with who I really am.

  99. Yes. You should not only grow your hair out, you should also cultivate a British accent and a pensive mood. Why go halfway?


  101. I don’t know what the tally is getting to, but add a yes for me.

    I don’t like the way you phrased the question to make it a control issue- I don’t think it has to be. When I was first married to DH I told him I might not want to kiss him if he grew facial hair. He didn’t for a while, but then was in a play and had a role that required it. I found out I actually really liked how he looked with it and the kissing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. You might find you like the way you look with a different hairstyle. It’s worth a try!

  102. Yes. I know Mike. He has an attractive skull, but he has a bit of gray coming in, and I think it would be nice to see it in long, flowing, magestic tresses. So grow that hair, Lord McBride. And more power to Lady Kline!

  103. Brian G, after the 5th time reading through your response, I’m still rolling on the floor laughing. You’re too funny.

  104. The lengths of these threads strike fear in my heart. My hair looks good once every three or four months, when my distaste for my uneven split ends finally surpasses my distaste for making small talk with the hairdresser (the $12 kind, needless to say). Then I go outside, and the wind blows. I always find it uncomfortable to be reminded that hair _does_ matter and to contemplate what kind of a statement I am, in the meantime, making, in my sublimely pigheaded oblivion to my own appearance. I’m with Tom: let grad school never end. It’s such a safe little womb, a sheltered workshop for the sartorially incompetent.

    Perhaps it is a truth universally acknowledged that a married man in possession of a romantic spouse must be in want of a Colin Firth ‘do?

  105. I say yes. Just because I love Colin Firth– oops and my husband. :)

    I don\’t control my husband\’s hair because I actually like his hair. But I love it even more when he cuts it. (His hair is too fluffy to pull off the shaggy look.)

    Try something new! Indulge your wife! And if you hate it, you can always go back to the military look.

  106. LOL, Eve. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but your head and my head sound like soul mates. Perhaps they’re also making the statement that that all bad haircuts are like one another; each good haircut is good in its own way.

    Put your hair up in one of those claw-clips; the split ends will be out of sight and you’ll save $36/year in haircuts (trust me on this). Spend it instead on books. Or else move in next door to me, I’ll cut your hair and lend you my books, and we’ll go to lunch.

  107. Rosalynde, you’re on! I’d offer to trade haircuts with you, but my attempts on my husband’s head have required follow-up visits to the barber. But I’d be delighted to trade books.

    I love those hair claws; they hide a mulititude of sins, including…wet hair (these confessions of mine just keep getting worse and worse….)

  108. No. Too funny though–my husband has been growing his hair long for about 5 years now and I would love for him to have it cut since I would like to cut mine and don’t want it to be shorter than his! I don’t try to control him, though, as this only makes him want to grow it longer.

  109. Mike, it’s not like you’re cutting it off,and would have to then wait around for it to grow back in, after finding out that you hated it. Just let it grow for awhile and see how it looks. Good friends, and good spouses tell you when you’re committing a faux pas, and that’s what’s happening here. So any decisions yet?

  110. HERE’S THE TALLY SO FAR (without double counting) :

    YESES – 29
    NOS – 24

    But if I counted all of Brian G.’s votes then it would be

    Yeses – 29
    Nos – 358 (not kidding)


  111. Michael, before you panic, consider Rosalynde’s sage advice: if the long hair gets to be too much of a hassle, you can always just shove it into a hair claw….that spectacle, particularly if paraded outside the house, might be enough to persuade Caroline that the buzz is preferable.

  112. Sorry I can’t give you another no vote, Mike. I was not blessed with nearly as nice a hairline as yours. I keep my head shaved out of necessity and would be much happier in life if I had more options in that regard. Even before my hair had thinned, the hair I did have was so fine that long hair was never a good option. You on the other hand have relatively thick and coarse hair–perfect for growing it out long. If I could, I would. So out of spite born of jealousy, I vote yes. Caroline, don’t let him out of his agreement to let the votes decide!

  113. I haven’t read through this whole thread, but I did see DKL’s #1, and I suspect my feelings are similar to his: If something as trivial as a particular hairstyle would make your wife more spontaneously open to, er, spending quality time with you, you’d be an idiot not to cater to her random whims. If it doesn’t make any difference in this department, then do what you damn well please with your hair!

  114. Mike,

    If you lose this vote you will have no one to blame but yourself. What’s wrong with you? Do you secretly want the Mr. Darcy cut? Get out there and argue your case, man. Do I have to do it for you?

    Look here, I move any vote from anyone who hasn’t actually seen Mike, and who doesn’t know what he looks like should be disqualified.

    I’ve known Mike since ’96 when I came to USC. He had the same haircut then, ten years ago. More than ten years and it’s no longer a haircut, everyone, it’s part of your identity.

    This is the haircut that got him Caroline in the first place, didn’t it? Do not mess with success. Back then, before Caroline, Mike would draw all the fine women, and he would have to beg me to protect him from the droves of ladies that would approach him during church dances. It would go a little like this:

    MIKE: Brian, help me. There are too many. They’re overwhelming me.
    BRIAN: Must be rough.
    MIKE: It’s my hair.
    BRIAN: I can see that, but I’m engaged to this hot number back in Provo. I really love her.
    MIKE: Quick. Help! They seek to take away my chi.
    BRIAN: Okay, if you say so. You are the Elder’s Quorm President.

    So all of you, especially you ladies, need to click here for an approximation of what Mike looks like:

    Now, personally, I’m attracted to women, but I’m not afraid to admit Mike is a damn good-looking man.

    This is the alternative.

    Look at that. Look at that. It’s pitiful. The coolest thing about that look is the sideburns (which Firth stole from me by the way).

    THAT is your future, Mike! Step it up!

    Caroline, and everyone else out there, if you want Mike to prance through the forest in a desperate search for a harpsichord to play, then go ahead, vote yes.

  115. Go mullett. All…. The…. Way…..

    My mullett in 1988 was dyed blonde in the back with hydrogen peroxide. It was a sweet look.

  116. Michael,

    If the worst happens and you wind up with a Mr. Darcy ‘do, you should at least make Caroline address you as Mr. McBride.

  117. Actually this head thread is quite interesting because hair does contribute quite a bit to how people recognize us. Here is a little proof from the Exploratorium:

    Just how do we remember a face? The upper part of the face seems to be more important for recognition than the lower part. The hair turns out to be the most important factor, followed by the eyes, then the nose, and then to a lesser extent, the mouth and chin. If you’re going to rob a bank, wear a wig, and don’t bother with the fake beard.

    To get you to follow the link I gave, you’ll have to follow it to find out what is wrong with this picture:

    Oh, and I would vote Yes, but since gel is involved, I’m afraid its a No.

  118. Brian,

    I don’t quite remember that conversation, but it has the ring of truth so it must have happened. But c’mon, you just had to choose a photo of Darcy just after he came out of the pond, didn’t you!

    Yeah, I look like that guy from Prison Break. Either him or this guy. But, you know, what’s the dif.

  119. Mike,

    I didn’t want to have to play this card, but desperate times cause for desperate measures.

    I regret to inform you Caroline is running a covert shadow campaign to throw off the voting results behind your back. She has sent the following email out to people everywhere. It fell into my hands via a protected source.

    “Hi all,
    Mike is guest posting at times and seasons right now. His latest post is all about how I hate his hair and whether or not he should change it. If he gets more yes votes than no votes, he has promised to actually get a real haircut for the first time in 10 years, rather than continue indefinitely with the prison/military/skinhead look.

    Please, if you have any sympathy at all for a long suffering wife who has endured 8 years of being with a man who shaves his head for no good reason, please post a comment and tell him he should at least try a new haircut. And if you disagree with me, please don’t comment at all!”

    I’m sorry. I’m only the messenger. In the interest of fairplay and full disclosure I thought you should know.

  120. Willf – that picture is of all the same person with different hair. Yes?

    Brian G- I might just make that photo of Mr. Darcy my desktop background. He is the best when he is getting out of that pond, with the wet shirt and all…..

    Yes, by all means, grow your hair out.

  121. After a 30 year Army career I moved to Bountiful. Looking for a cheap haircut I went to a couple of different hair cut places (not good enough to be barber shops) and was asked by the young girls, “#3?” I had no idea what they were asking. In the end I searched out a real barber shop where they don’t use a spacer and know how to taper the back. It won’t be long before real barber shops won’t exist. It doesn’t take much training to use spacers #2 and #3. That’s what a lay person can do to kids or grandkids.

    A year ago I decided that I was tired of parting my hair so I got it cut short (but not with a spacer) and just towel dry it. My wife thinks it looks good (younger) but I wasn’t seeking her approval. I was just tired of all those years of hair care.

  122. What is the big deal about doing something to please one\’s spouse? If my wife cut hers short now, it would be rather demoralizing. As things stand now, her waist length hair serves as a Christmas present to me every day. Cordially, RS

  123. I vote Yes under one condition. Here is why:
    If you give her the authority on controlling your hair syle, you are pretty much giving her the green light to question and/or control other aspects, hobbies, habbits in your life. In my opinion, if you are not strictly against changing your haircut then stick to your style if that what makes you happy. You DO NOT let her change it. If you think you can go either way and want to go with her opinion, you make sure you do that her knowing its not because you gave in to her demands. This is the condition I am talking about; she MUST know that you decided to go with her opinion willingly not because she made you do it.

  124. Comment #148 by Ed (and the other about the camel in the tent) hit the nail on the head – you have to ask yourself how much control are you willing to give your wife? In my case, I like my hair moderately short (about 1.5 to 2 inches long), but my wife has asked me to cut it shorter. It happened to me once (I went to a cheap barber) and she was delighted. However, every morning, I had to repress a shudder when I looked into the mirror. When it grew back, she asked me to do it again and I said no. She objected, so I said \”when you let your hair grow long (down to her shoulders), I\’ll cut mine\”. She is adamant about having short hair and will not let it grow much more than over her ears. I found it interesting that she had no problem telling me that I should do something to please her, but when it was time to reciprocate, it was no deal.

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