Dear Rabbi & Susan,
You speak and write a lot about Biblical marriage and while sometimes it sounds a bit too good to be true, my wife and I largely follow your teachings. We’ve had many issues crop up and we have often found answers in your work.
But we have looked throughout your work and your website for an answer to the question that is causing some stress in our relationship right now. We have both agreed to be bound by your answer as we want the contention to end. Here is our problem. I am balding. No, that does not fully describe the situation. From the beautifully full head of hair I proudly sported when we got married, I have now progressed to the point where, frankly, I am as bald as a billiard ball. There I’ve said it. It happened surprisingly quickly; I am not happy about it of course but I have accepted it. I’ve even come up with some humorous lines to respond to my ‘well-meaning’ friends teasing me.
Here is the problem. My darling wife wants me to wear a hairpiece or to undergo a major hair transplant. As I said, I am not happy about my new look, but I would be even less happy about trying to hide it. I would feel ridiculous resorting to either a wig or hair transplants. I think I am explaining my wife’s position by saying she feels that our marriage makes us indivisible and how I look affects how she feels just as she knows that I appreciate how she looks and the trouble she takes to look that way. I think she feels that appearing next to me in public makes her look older though she hasn’t said that.
If I have to do what she wishes, I will do so in good grace and accept it as I have accepted being bald. I think if you both say that I don’t have to change the appearance that God has given me, she will also accept it and come to get used to my shiny new look.
We love your television show and appreciate all the teaching you do.
This has to rank as one of the most interesting questions we have ever received. As we worked our way through it, we wanted to make sure that we knew what you were not asking as much as what you are asking. You are not asking about a marriage in which one spouse feels that the other is letting him or herself go to “pot.” This too is an important question but it’s just not yours.
We also want to commend you both on agreeing to be bound by the answer of a third party—in this case, us. We too set up this kind of problem-solving-dynamic early in our own marriage. The idea is that when a disagreement occurs, its resolution does not involve a “He won” or “She won” scenario. Instead, for the benefit of the relationship, and by virtue of your earlier agreement to be bound, the relationship wins.
Balding is not under your control. We might compare it to a woman’s hair turning gray. However, that isn’t even a fair equivalent because coloring a woman’s hair today is incredibly common and acceptable. It is also less invasive physically and emotionally than a wig or implants. Your options are a medical procedure (transplants) or a toupee which is still the barb of jokes. So, your wife’s request is a big deal.
On the other hand, her feelings are also a big deal. Making one’s wife happy is serious business. We know from how God created the human being that few things make a man happier than bringing ecstasy to his wife. (Deuteronomy 24:5) This applies in the living room and kitchen and in public as much as in the bedroom.