Sunday, January 15, 2006

Respect and Creativity

I really am not in the habit of airing my relationship issues in public. This is partially because I am a fairly shy and private person and partially because we are lucky enough to not have that many issues.

Sure, we have the daily little things. It drives me nuts when he leaves his wet towels on the bed and it drives him nuts when I leave my dirty socks on the floor. But we mostly agree on the big issues and we’re pretty good at talking things through when we disagree or don’t understand each other.

This beard thing has been the exception to the rule and we’d reached quite a contentious stalemate. Peter was insisting that he wanted the Richard Harris beard and I was making threats like this: “When I get the menopause and grow a moustache, I’m not going to wax it or shave it or bleach it. In fact, I am going to grow the biggest she-stache you’ve ever seen and then you can see what it’s like to have someone’s gross facial pubic hair go up YOUR nose when you kiss.”

Clearly, we needed some outside intervention. So we decided to ask the Internet. We were in agreement on the post because we each wanted validation of our own positions. I don’t know if I expected to be able to just do a straight-up vote count and then proclaim a winning side or what I expected to happen from this post. What I found, though, was that it gave us both some time and space to think. It defused the beard issue a bit.

I felt pretty secure in my position that the beard was ugly and, combined with my objections to its tactile nature and intra-nose excursions, was right in insisting that it must go. I never considered that it might look good to other people. The comments helped me see that it might not be quite the landscape-marring tragedy that I was making it out to be.

Marriage is always a balancing act. You’re two separate people, after all, with different feelings and perceptions, wishes and dreams, goals and aspirations. If you’re lucky, everything you and your partner want will be close enough for easy compromise. But you’re probably not always going to be so lucky.

The way I see it, we could do this one of two ways. The bad way (and the way toward which I am naturally inclined) is to score-keep. This way goes something along the lines of “look, you won last time and it’s my turn.” This is tiresome and unproductive as it just encourages you to always keep track of who wins what. It also leads to situations where you might feel entitled to something and then get resentful when you don’t get your way. I found myself wanting to say “Look, I gave up everything that was important to me so we could move over here. Could you just shave off that damn beard and forget about it.”

Believe me, I wanted to say that. Oh how I wanted to say that. But I didn’t and saying it here doesn’t count. Yes, I did give up everything to come here. But for a long time, Peter was the sole income producer in our little family. He went to a job he hated every day just so I could stay home and do what made me happy. He was taking one for the team. Now it’s my turn to take one for the team. That my part of taking one for the team included moving half-way around the world is irrelevant. Staying in Chicago with Peter miserable was no longer an option. Staying here and making myself miserable over a beard is also not an option.

Here’s where respect and creativity come in. We’re trying a combination of conditioner and some trimming (if I can ever find the darn US-UK electricity adapter) to see if we have make the moustache a little more me-friendly. I’m also trying to relax and accept it. I can’t lie to you – I still hate it pretty deeply. But I love Peter much more than I could ever dislike the beard. Since they’re a package deal, I have no choice but to try to live with them both.

Further reports as events warrant. Thanks for all the votes and the comments.


At 15 January 2006 at 15:32, Blogger Barbara said...

I have never been a beard fan. However, when I see the photo of Peter with a beard(or the near facsimile of one), I think he looks pretty good. HOWEVER, I would never, ever kiss a guy with a beard. Believe me I have more red, blotchy face for me. Peter can have the beard and look good, but if he was my partner....he would be a little lonely. When it gets hot in the summer, he will shave it off! Just you wait man like to sweat, and the bearded man usually sweats!! Who knows, if he grows it long enough, you can shear it off and knit a lovely red sweater.

At 15 January 2006 at 19:27, Blogger -Ann said...

Unfortunately, I've already thought out that line of reasoning. It just doesn't get hot enough here in the summer that he'd have to shave it off. It maybe got to 80 once or twice last summer. The climate is incredibly temperate - it never gets too cold or too hot.

At 15 January 2006 at 22:16, Blogger Lyss said...

Sounds like you've found a good interim solution.

At 18 January 2006 at 06:25, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Compromise is one of those things I hate to compromise on. ;)


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