DEAR ABBY: My husband is a wonderful man. We've been married 31 years and have been retired for the past six. He takes care of most of the housework, and I work a part-time job. We have no children or nearby relatives. We are pretty much all we have to depend upon.
My only complaint is something that has driven me crazy for years now, and I need your advice. When a certain political candidate was elected, my good-looking husband decided to grow out his hair and beard in protest. I let it slide, but he knew how I felt about it. I figured it would last only a few years. Well, that politician has been out of office quite a while now, and my husband still looks like Tim Allen in "The Santa Clause." He looks like he's indigent. It's so embarrassing, I don't want to be seen with him. This is a man who was very good looking.
I have begged, pleaded, nagged (his term) and kept quiet, hoping he would surprise me with a haircut. Nothing. I even tried insulting him, telling him his credibility was trash because, obviously, this has nothing to do with his "protest." I am ready to leave. The last straw was when he started quoting Howard Hughes. Do you think my husband has lost it? Because I'm about to.
-- Embarrassed in Illinois
DEAR EMBARRASSED: A marriage to someone you can no longer stand to be near isn't much of a marriage.
If your husband is quoting Howard Hughes, you know his long-term memory is intact. However, it may be time for you to make an appointment for the two of you for your annual checkups. When you do, relate your concerns to the doctor in advance. If it turns out that your husband's mental status is normal (although, who knows what is "normal" these days), you may have to issue your hairy hubby an ultimatum. A word of warning though: Do not issue one unless you are serious about following through.
DEAR ABBY: My 33-year-old son, "Brett," and his wife bought a new house and had their fence painted. Brett was proud of it. He texted a picture of the fence to my husband -- his dad -- and asked what he thought of it. My husband hated the color and told him it was terrible. The blunt honesty didn't go over well with Brett, who told his dad, "Couldn't you just have said to me, 'If you like it, that's all that matters. If you're happy, I'm happy'?" But my husband kept pushing that he hated it, and the color he had chosen was a terrible mistake. Well, Brett hung up on him.
I forced my husband to call back and say what our son wanted to hear and smooth things over. He did it reluctantly, but still thinks he was right and that Brett acted like a baby. He insists he was "just being honest." What do you think -- is honesty always the best policy?
-- Hurt Feelings
DEAR HURT: Honesty isn't "the best policy" when it is used to bludgeon someone, in which case, it becomes just plain cruel. Your husband's behavior was out of line. Diplomacy seems to be a skill he hasn't mastered.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.