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Carolyn Hax: Wife hates his scratchy beard. He hates her negativity.

Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi Carolyn! My wife hates my beard. It’s not long and I trim it regularly (more like glorified, week-old stubble), but she frequently says she doesn’t like it and doesn’t want my face near her because it’s scratchy.

I know she’s entitled to her opinion, but I’m kind of tired of the negativity about what I think is a fairly innocuous personal choice about my appearance. I like it, especially considering that I’m bald — not by choice! — so it is the only way for me to give any variety to my look. I’ve had it for about eight years now, and we’ve been married for 12, but she made another comment the other day that left me feeling exasperated.

Otherwise, our relationship is great. So, should I sacrifice my beard, or is there a polite way to ask her to drop the subject, permanently?

— To Beard or Not to Beard

To Beard or Not to Beard: Your beard makes her physically uncomfortable. It hurts her when she wants to be affectionate with you, and when you want to be close to her.

I understand wanting to look the way you want to look. But if you’re going to choose that over her freely given affection, and actually see this as “a fairly innocuous personal choice,” then you’re going to get the consequences of that choice: a wife who is tired of being face-burned and asked to shut up about it already.

Tell us: What’s your favorite Carolyn Hax column about becoming an adult?

Re: Beard: Dude, your face is scratchy! Don’t shave if you don’t want to, but you’ve got a scratchy face. Don’t pretend that’s nothing just because you aren’t bothered by it. You’re not the one who has to feel it unless you have a habit of rubbing your face against other parts of your body, in which case, okay, if you like the feel of scratchy face, have at it.

Anonymous: Seriously, I don’t get how he doesn’t get this.

Re: Beard: I have the exact opposite issue: My wife of 14 years prefers me with a beard. A lot. To the point that, on the few occasions I’ve decided to shave my beard, she gets very irritated. She won’t tell me she’s mad I shaved, but she lets me know about every. single. thing I need to do differently around the house, her temper is way shorter, and she makes straight-up cutting remarks — such as telling me that when I’m clean-shaven, it’s like looking at my mother.

Objectively, yes, I think I probably look better with a beard, but that’s not the point, is it? The last time I shaved for more than a month, it got progressively icier until I just grew the thing back. How do I respond if I ever want to shave?

Can’t Shave: Yeah, this is very different. If you don’t want a beard, then you shave. If shaving changes the way she feels about you, then she can say so, and you can take that under advisement.

Her behavior, though, is not a facial-hair issue; it’s a virtual inventory of immaturity, poor communication, dysfunctional emotional regulation, and control and manipulation tendencies that suggest emotional abuse. So how you respond to that is more important to me. Is she like this about other things? If so:, and/or solo counseling, and/or adios.

And a reader comment to preempt a thousand more:

· Your beard might get softer if you let it get a little longer. Not Rasputin-long. Just longer than week-old stubble. I love my partner’s beard, but it’s scratchy for a couple of days when he trims it.

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