Hair is an integral part of black culture, so you would think as a black couple we shared similar views.
But pre-children, he regularly went to the barbershop while I stayed far away from hair professionals. Our different hair routines didn’t seem to bother us in our single lives.
It was after having children that we repeatedly had issues around our children’s hair.
For example, as a tenderheaded mom who values child-led experiences, I was obsessed with super loose styles that honored their natural textures. And when I did braid their hair, I would intentionally leave them in for days or weeks at a time. I've always been fascinated with hair -- so trying to figure out the best products and styles for healthy coils was fun to me. But the messiness of the learning process did not get their dad's approval.
Understandably, my husband grew concerned with how I was doing (or not doing) their hair.
And as their frizz grew wild, he became more vocal.
As a man and father, he preferred sleek styles every day so that aesthetically they looked put together. While as a wombman and mother, I valued comfort, practicality, and the art of hairdressing.
We never articulated our strong beliefs in personal hair care to each other. Truth be told, I don't think we had the words or language to express ourselves. This led to frequent misunderstandings and lack of communication in our adult marriage, because in our childhood homes, we never had to explain ourselves— things were just the way they were.
I found it essential for me to uncover the underlying beliefs behind my hair habits. It helped me learn so much more about myself, so that I could stand confident in my parenting choices and lovingly express my hair priorities (like stress-free bonding) to my partner.
I share this to say that even in a black-on-black marriage, we still experience fundamental cultural differences, especially around our hair. After 10+ years as a couple we’re still learning how our childhood norms created the people we are today and influence the decisions we make while raising our own children.
Our frequent disagreements helped me recognize that uncomfortable discourse and natural adversities are part of the process of two truly becoming one. They also remind me to not get angry or offended but to simply name the experience as a difference in upbringing.
I hope our story encourages you pre-marriage or during your marriage to have dialogues around hair and your hair expectations (especially for your children).
The goal is to restore the culture of working together in order to have the ultimate black experience where intercultural hair norms can coexist in one unified home.
What hair differences have you noticed in your union? What conversations are you having around hair? Need to schedule a one-on-one? Use code: HEART2HEART.
Until next time...
Love The Journey,