A haircut causes a spat

For years haircuts and beard trims have been subjects for discussion and teasing in this house or rather whether or not Ash needs either of them has been the subject.  He always said he'd like to grow a pony tail and, as he knew I couldn't think of anything worse, he'd grin and mention it on a regular basis.  He also laughingly grumbled about the containment of his beard but, because he never took anything seriously, we muddled through.  The hair was never cut as short as I'd like and the beard was never trimmed as closely as I wanted but we compromised and laughed about the difference of opinion.

When he was horrible for those years after diagnosis he didn't seem to mind the haircut but we went into battle every time I said his beard needed a trim, then he started being nice to me and the battles went away.  Recently we came to an agreement that he would come with me every other time I went to the hairdressers and so it grew a bit longer than I would have liked but still managed to (almost) satisfy us both.

Today he announced, just before that all important visit, that he was never going to have his hair cut again and he was adamant.  This was half an hour before we were due to leave the house and, looking back even now, I'm not sure if I should have handled it differently.  

I think there are those of you out there who will say I should have been patient and accepted it but for some reason I was incensed, especially when he said 'so that's alright isn't it?'.  It wasn't a question though, in fact it was said as a challenge and I knew that if I gave in this time I'd only spend the next 12 weeks worrying about it because of course he can't go through the rest of his life without a hair cut.

Instead of being patient and accepting then I said it wasn't alright but if that's what he wanted then that's what he could do.  However if he wasn't going to get a hair cut ever again we wouldn't be going out for our daily cup of tea somewhere because he would be too scruffy.

I'd like to be able to tell you that I was calm and collected about the whole thing but I really wasn't.  As I pointed out, we don't go anywhere he doesn't like, I don't expect him to join in social events, I let him wear the same clothes day after day even if he's agreed to come somewhere with me (5 different sets of the same outfit remember) and in every other way he gets to do what he wants.  With the haircut he was still going to get to do as he wished but life would be different and he needed to decide what was more important.

I've documented here how Ash's abilities are getting fewer, how his confusion is greater and how life is getting more and more difficult but there are times when he grasps what's going on perfectly and this was one of those time.  Half an hour later we were at the hairdressers and he's now looking much smarter than I expected in the middle of this afternoon.

The thing is that I don't feel guilty about snapping and I actually think I dealt with this particular situation in the best way for us in that particular moment.  There are times to be patient but, as long as you know your other half very well indeed, there are times to put your foot down.  The trick is to know when and how to do it.

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Tehachap said…
I had this very same situation a couple of weeks ago. Robert refused to go to the beauty shop with me and his hair and beard were getting really bad. I finally got fed up and said if he wanted to remain married to me, he'd have to shape up and get his hair cut and his beard trimmed. I told him that the way he looked was a reflection on me and how well I took care of him. We had a neighbor who liked to go around in his pajama bottoms with no shirt and his hair was down to his neck. He rarely shaved, so always looked like a homeless person. I told Robert he wasn't going to become another 'neighbor' in looks and he already looked like a homeless person. I went into my computer and sat there fuming and a few minutes later he came to the door and gently tapped on it. He had a towel around his neck and his razor in his hand. He apologized and then I cut his hair and trimmed his beard. I didn't want to get angry, but his resistance to taking care of his physical appearance was irritating and embarrassing. I know it's a sign of the dementia, but gads, it's horrible to have to live with it.
Carol S. said…
I think caring comes in all shapes and forms and sometimes it means making decisions seemingly against the wishes of our loved ones. Dementia makes it difficult for them to make the best choices and we shouldn’t feel guilty as long as the decision we make is in their best interests. Appearances are important in that they affect how other people relate to us - or exclude us. And I think both of you have done exactly the right thing in insisting on regular trims. Not a problem here —— yet. —— but I’m prepared to stand firm too.
Jane said…
Sometimes it really is about working out what's important and then drawing that line isn't it. And interactions with the outside world are made difficult enough with dementia in the mix without adding to those difficulties.