Dear Amy:

I have a terrific husband. He is loving, hardworking and a great father.

Here's the problem -- he has grown a beard that I can't stand.

A couple of years ago, he tried a beard. I didn't like it then, either. He finally got rid of it after several months of hearing me complain and finally refusing to kiss him. At least that one was short and neatly trimmed.

His current beard is long and scraggly, and he comments that he's going to see how long he can make it grow! I know that I'm not the only one who dislikes it, as several friends and family members have remarked that they don't like it, either.

Our anniversary is tomorrow, and I have not made reservations at a fancy restaurant because I'm embarrassed to be seen with him there.

I love him and don't want to hurt his feelings or play childish "I'm not going to kiss you anymore" games. I have tried gentle teasing, as well as sitting down and telling him that I don't like it or find it attractive. His response is that he likes it just fine.

My husband asks if I'm going to divorce him over his beard, and when I tell him no, that seems to be enough for him to leave it alone and continue letting it grow.

Am I being horribly shallow? What do I do? Do I get over it or continue to push?

Bride of the Beard

Your husband may be using his ability to grow facial hair partly as a way to toy with you.

Sure, you could retaliate by growing out some of your own body hair, but sometimes the best way to win a game such as this is to enter a Zen-like state whereby you sidestep the game by refusing to play. If you don't play, you can't lose.

Your husband's body belongs to him. He can grow hair (or gain or lose weight), as a way of exerting control over you or just because he feels like it.

You need to let him. Of course, he should never play the "divorce card" as a way of testing you. That's unfair.

You've been clear about how you feel. You've used all of the usual tricks to try and control him (nagging, teasing, etc.). Now it's time to stop.

Here's what you say: "Honey, I've told you how I feel about your beard, and here's how I feel about you. I love you. You're a great guy, a great husband and a great father. You're handsome and wonderful. And I accept you -- beard or no beard. Grow it, cut it, braid it and throw it over your shoulder -- I'm your gal, and you're stuck with me, okay?"

Then ignore it. Remember the guy beneath it. And love him anyway.

I suspect that when this is no longer fun for your husband, he'll shave -- but only when he's ready.

If the two of you continue to scrap over this, or if the game shifts into another arena, by all means visit a counselor together. A counselor could help you comb through this thicket.

Dear Amy:

We go out to dinner with different groups of friends and always split the bill 50/50.

One couple always orders big meals and/or appetizers, and they never finish their meals; they take the leftovers home, while my wife and I order dinner and manage to finish whatever we order.

My wife and I would like to able to "pay for our dinners" and forget the 50/50 split.

How can we tell them without hurting their feelings?

Dining and Whining

This shouldn't be a feelings-hurting sort of scenario. Simply say, "I hope you don't mind if Cynthia and I pay for our meals instead of splitting the check."Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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