Years ago, I worked with a woman whose hair flowed down to her waist. The hair was about 50% gray, but she said her long hair was just part of who she was. She scoffed at any suggestion to cut or color.

One summer day, she came in and we didn’t recognize her. The long straight graying hair had been replaced by very short, curly, dark brown hair. She looked like a completely different woman. “Why?” we all asked. “Oh, it was about time. I was just afraid of change. I wasn’t sure I could bear the process of sitting there while my years of hair growth were cut off. My old hair was part of who I was—but I had to remember that it wasn’t all of who I was. I realized that my life was passing by and I’d never even tried anything different with my hair. I hoped I wouldn’t hate the difference—but I was completely unprepared for loving it so much.”

She glowed.

Three Boring Decades

Like many women, I don’t have the best relationship with my hair. More than once, my Facebook status has been something along the lines of, “Having another terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad hair day.”

My hair is mousy brown, and other than the one summer when I laid out (in the sun, with baby oil, because that’s what we used to do) the day after I got a pretty strong perm and went accidentally blond for a few months, it’s always been mousy brown. I have a few stray grays at the moment, but it’s brown. I doubt that I’ll dye as I get grayer, seeing as how my hair doesn’t take chemical very well (as evidenced by the fact that a perm turned my hair an icky blondish color back in 1988).

My hair has some natural wave, but it is too fine to have any body. When I’ve tried to grow it longer in the past, it just kind of fizzles out and looks limp. For years, I’ve worn it in short layers. It’s easy, it looks decent enough, and I’ve rarely had to do anything to it. In fact, it’s when I start to have to spend time on my hair that I know it’s time to get it cut again. When I met my husband, I was in the middle of a six-month effort to grow it out. Other than that, I’ve had pretty much the same hair style since 1982.

Yes, I’ve worn the same version of my hair for over thirty years. I’m sure this horrifies some of you who change hair style and color with the changes of the seasons.

My hair has been very, very boring, indeed.

Adventures in Growing My Hair

Now that I am working from home, I have a bit more time to do things with my hair. I can play with it. If I mess it up for a day, only my family will see. Like my co-worker who’d kept her hair long, I’d feared the process of growing my hair out—but I decided this would be a good time to experiment. My husband has wanted me to try to grow my hair out, so I decided that I would give it a try—but I didn’t want to feel like I’m in a constant growing-out-my-layers state. (I’ve tried this a couple times before, and before my layers all grow out, I am reminded of why I always prefer short layers.) I wanted to really make a go of it this time.

I started to grow it out, and as usual, I found myself frustrated by the in-between fuzzy weirdness that I was starting to see. I was about to go get it cut again, but I had committed to growing my hair out for my husband. I reminded myself that this is an opportunity to do so with very few witnesses.

Instead of getting it cut again, I bought a flat iron (hair straightener) at the drug store. I am having a blast.

Every day, I plug it in and play. My limp and lifeless hair with just a little waviness here and there becomes shiny and straight. It looks so different! I get out the mirror and look at it from different angles. I don’t always love it, but I love that I’m doing something fun and different.

My husband isn’t sure what to make of the differences. He knows I’m trying to grow it out for him, but it’s still shorter than he would like. With my hair straighter, sometimes he looks at me like he doesn’t even recognize me.

Of course, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. When you have the same hairstyle for three decades, there’s a lot you don’t bother to learn about product, hair care, styling tools, etc. I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve burned myself (only once, though), I’ve rewashed my hair so I could have a do-over for the day, and I’ve spent time staring into the mirror thinking how ridiculous I looked.

I had no idea how much fun it would be to have a slightly different hair style after thirty years of pretty much the same thing. I feel adventurous. I find that there are moments during the day when I think about my hair and it makes me smile. My hair is glowing, even.

Eventually, my hair will grow out. I wonder if I will be reminded of why I tend to prefer my hair short. But I also wonder if straightening my hair will help me past that in-between look enough that I will enjoy having longer hair. I wonder how this adventure will turn out. Maybe I’ll decide it’s so much fun that I’ll let my hair keep on growing, and growing, and growing.

Adventures in Growing My Marriage

My fun with hair isn’t too different from my journey of improving the intimacy in our marriage, which was limp and lifeless for a long time. It was nothing special to look at. I had no idea how much I would enjoy having it straightened out.

Most of the efforts I’ve made in the intimacy in our marriage have been experiments. What happens if I stop rolling my eyes . . . become more involved during sex . . . try to say “yes” instead of “no” . . . touch him in this place . . .  try new things . . . ?

There were a lot of times it seemed that I was at an in-between stage. Things weren’t the way I was used to in our marriage, but I knew I hadn’t finished growing them out yet.

Quite frequently, I’ve had absolutely no idea what I’m doing. After nearly two decades of the same boring sex life (by my own decision), I have frequently been reminded of how behind I am on some of the learning most women experience earlier in their marriages—how to initiate, how to ask for specific acts for their own pleasure, etc.

But you know what? I’ve had a lot of fun. I don’t always know how it’s going to turn out, but I’ve enjoyed the adventure. The in-between stage of our marital intimacy—the time when we were still trying to get everything to grow out—hasn’t always looked pretty, but we always know that we can try something different the next time. I find that there are moments during the day when I think about sex and it makes me smile. Some people have commented that I’ve been glowing.

Is It Time?

I had the same hair for a lot of years, and I know that it’s going to look different than it used to—just like my marriage looks different than it did for so long.

My former co-worker explained her dramatic change in hair style. Let me use her words to describe the changes in the intimacy in my marriage:

Oh, it was about time. I was just afraid of change. I wasn’t sure I could bear the process of cutting away my old habits. My old sexual habits were part of who I was—but I had to remember that it wasn’t all of who I was. I realized that my life was passing by and I’d never even tried anything different with our marriage bed. I hoped I wouldn’t hate the difference—but I was completely unprepared for loving it so much. I glow.

Is it time for you to try a whole new style in your marriage?

Don’t you want to glow?

Image courtesy of anankkml /

Updated to add these pictures, at the request of several readers: 

This is what happens when I let my hair air dry . . .

This is what happens when I let my hair air dry . . .


…and this is what happens after I use the straightener.

Shared at Calm.Healthy.Sexy.

10 Thoughts on “Time for a New Style

  1. I love this analogy and your beautiful writing!

  2. trixie1466 on April 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm said:

    “I suspect that just about everything in my life has the potential to become another analogy for marriage growth.” You took the words right out my mouth, LOL. You really are amazing, Chris!

  3. Jeanine on April 6, 2014 at 8:57 am said:

    Go ahead and have your hair highlighted – I guarantee that you will feel younger and sexier!

  4. IntimacySeeker on April 7, 2014 at 5:23 am said:

    Helpful analogy. Actually comforting to know I’m in the “in between stage”.

  5. Thanks so much, Chris, for sharing this the Let’s Get Real party.

  6. jugglingrealfoodandreallife on April 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm said:

    Hi there! I’m stopping over from Let’s Get Real today. Your writing is amazing. You are able to discuss a subject that I would normally blush about (I know I need to get over that) in a way that made me feel completely comfortable. I can’t wait to read more!

    • I am so glad you could feel comfortable reading this! You may not be ready for my comfort zone series yet, but you’ll find that although almost all of my posts are about intimacy, they are very rarely blush-worthy. Welcome to the blog!

  7. Stopping by from the Let’s Get Real Link Party. This is a wonderful comparison. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  8. Pingback: Postcards from SheSpeaks | The Forgiven Wife

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