I've had a beard off and on for years ever since leaving the Army. At first it was a full beard and handlebar moustache. Now, a trimmed goatee. Like you, when I shave--even with a brush and blade--I'm prickly about two hours later. So the beard doesn't leave a beard burn on cheeks or thighs.
I've dealt with the color--mostly gray/white coming in now, by getting some natural beard dye. Can't stand the chemical stuff just for men. I decided I could either look like a fit Santa Claus, or an MMA wrestler and I've opted for the wrestler. PM me if you want to know the name of the dye. Only place I've found to get it is Amazon.
I actually don't mind the gray or having wrinkles. It makes me feel distinguished, even if my hair is still mostly brown - and getting darker with some white at the sideburns. It just looks odd because it's not all one color. Like I said, blonde mustache with salt and pepper on either side of my chin and gray at the sideburns. I guess this is midlife!
Didn't mind when he changed his appearance as long as it was neat. He is an individual and should be able to decide what he likes. Bit he did ask my opinion which I felt was thoughtful of him.
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Can't say as I have been that thoughtful, but I felt that asking her opinion puts me in a submissive position. She's very strong willed.
My wife doesn't care for facial hair either. I don't have a strong opinion either way, so I continue to have my face remain completely shaved. Assuming that you want to continue kissing your wife, have you looked into an electric shaver as opposed to using a razor? I've never had a problem with razor burn (my hair is thick too), with the exception of a couple times here and there on the back of my neck. I like it enough that I don't want to go back to using a razor...
I have an electric razor with a trimmer on the opposite end. I love it, but it doesn't shave as close as an actual razor and it still chafes my skin if I try to shave closely with it.
Do you condition and oil your beard? Makes a big difference in softness and manageability. Plus it makes it smell nicer.
That's what I was alluding to. I have tried it but the smell is quite strong - especially since it's right under my nose, and my wife is even more sensitive to smells than I am. I guess it's something I should get used to, use in moderation and wait a little while for it to soften my hair and for the smell to gas off a bit. .