I think the bottom image is better, definitely. When thinking of hair, I tend to think of it as a single mass first, with weight and movement as a single unit. By removing the stray strands of hair on the left, it allows the mind to pull the weight of the hair back and around to the right shoulder. IMO, some little bit of highlight on the far left, strands for instance, would be also very useful in giving the hair a sense of weight and shifting gravity around to the right side, going behind her head. It'll make it feel less like a helmet. The top image doesn't feel like a helmet at all, but the hair on the left side didn't communicate to the right as well I think it should have. In the bottom version, the two sides work as a single unit better, but its now missing that sense of movement I think some highlights in the hair as it approaches the edge of her head will provide.
Backgrounds, btw, I find very difficult, because I think they should communicate something in terms of mood or motion, but I don't always have something representational to put there. Doing a background well is a little art in and of itself.
Re: wives-- they can be very brave and truthful. Thank goodness! It took me a long time to realize my wife's critiques of my poetry are often right on the money, even though she, herself, doesn't write. She doesn't give much technical feedback per se, but she understands me well enough to be a mirror to me emotionally, if that makes any sense. I often think she knows where my writing is going, or should be going, before I do.