I think the best place to start is by asking: why is he so committed to the centre part?
One possibility is he’s performing the unattractiveness precisely for that purpose. I think a lot of us feel (or hope) that in real love, like the one that’s kept you two together for so many decades, we shouldn’t have to brush our hair and put our shiniest self on in order to strike our spouse as beautiful or worth loving. We want to seem lovely to them however we do our hair.
As age moves in and our body spreads in new directions, like a ball of dough dropped from a great height, it becomes harder for us to feel like we’ll manage to be attractive, even if we try. You see where this leads: if we already resent that our partner can see us as unattractive, and if we’re not confident that aesthetic effort will pay off for us, one natural reaction is to throw a middle finger to the whole exercise and part your hair down the centre. To say: “If I’m not trying I can’t fail and anyway I shouldn’t have to try.”
The problem is, it’s working. He’s succeeded in striking you as unattractive. And if I’m right, and that was kind of the point all along, then you saying you find it unattractive won’t hit his ears as a reason to stop doing it. It just hardens the case for rebellion: ‘You think I’m unattractive? Watch this.’
The discussion about whether the centre part actually looks good is just surface debris at this point. The big question is what the tectonic disagreement underneath it is. For him it might be the way the part symbolises some independence, or a refusal to play the game of attractiveness. For you it might be about his repeated disregard for a fairly minor preference.
I think the job is to get to that tectonic level. Make clear that your love for him doesn’t hang in the balance, and don’t let him retreat into the aesthetics of it. He’s defended this centre part with a doggedness we reserve for things that really matter, and no one thinks a centre part seriously matters. So for him it must symbolise something more.
If you can get to what that is, you can find some other way for him to achieve it. One that doesn’t make you wince when he walks through the door. Perhaps there’s another minor change you could offer in return, so it doesn’t just feel like one of you attacking the other. Who knows, perhaps he’d really like it if you wore your hair parted in the middle.
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