For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death does us part we say looking to our future spouse with so much love knowing we can survive anything that stands in our way. Often we’re young, often we are childless and often we are a little naive as we say those vows and walk into our happily ever after. And what I have learned after 17 years of marriage is there isn’t really a vow that says I’m going to love you through some ridiculous and questionable facial hair phases.
My husband and I married young and we had been through the wringer, our own fault due to issues we brought with us and although there were times I didn’t think we would see our 10 year anniversary, we stuck it through. We worked through some hard times with the help of a counselor and a willingness to lay down some pride and selfishness and when we came through on the other side of a really dark time, I kinda felt us bulletproof.
Then a few years ago he started growing out his beard. And didn’t stop. My handsome husband who always wore a 5 o’clock shadow (that I loved) had grown a full-length beard that required brushing. And I realize that might have been the biggest stalemate yet to occur in our marriage. I hated it as much as he loved it. Oh, that beard. He looked like a reality TV character. It was huge and hairy and things got in it and it wasn’t attractive to me at all. And I made it very clear that this phase was not my favorite. “There are a lot of people that would be sad if I got rid of this beard” “It takes commitment” “It’s awesome” were the responses I heard whenever we broached the subject. And what can you say to that? I knew this was something I was going to have to ride out.
When I think back to that hairy time in our marriage what I remember so well was my ability to remain calm. The pride I swallowed every time I didn’t say something about the beard. Like for instance one time I was going through some family vacation photos on the computer and he was over my shoulder and he said: “You didn’t tell me my beard was sticking out when we were taking these”. “Hmm, I guess I didn’t notice”. Or when some food landed in it, a polite discreet whisper of “you have a little something right here” as I’d point to my collarbone. I remembered my dad as a kid and who too did this to my mom. The family legend is when he came to his senses in the early ’80s and shaved his beard I cried and didn’t know who he was. I couldn’t wait for the moment our kids cried and not know who he was.
What kept me going was knowing what a good guy he is. He is an incredible dad who is deeply devoted to his family. He bends over backward to be there in our lives. He always puts us first, even if it leaves him not sleeping for an extended period of time. He is fun and hilarious and our family often has more laughter than not because of him. And the way he loves our oldest who has severe special/medical needs, the way he does anything for her and the fact that she actually loves to touch his beard was his biggest pass during this time.
And behold the day came and not because of my nagging, but because he was ready, he came downstairs and shocked us and made us all cry. The kids because he looked like a stranger and me because he looked like my husband again. I kissed him and hugged him and told him how handsome he was and although the stages of facial hair have varied and will continue to, I am totally OK with that. I am also totally OK to never see that full beard again, but even if I do I will love him through it. As he loves me through my leggings as pants every day that is going on a steady 5 years now.