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His personal hygeine really grosses me out

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  • His personal hygeine really grosses me out

    Hi ladies,

    I'm having a little (thankfully not too serious) problem with my husband, and it's something I don't know how to approach with him. It's this: his (lack of) personal hygeine disgusts me.

    Now, it could be just that I'm totally freakish about germs and I take my personal hygeine very seriously. I guess what I need is not just how to approach this with him, but how many of these things are normal and how many are truly gross. Ok, here goes...

    -Sometimes seems to go a few days without brushing his teeth. 'Something' always has to come first, ("I'll brush them after breakfast"; "I'll shower first") but then I don't think it happens. I don't remember the last time I saw him brush his teeth at night.
    - He NEVER washes his hands after he uses the bathroom. Even when he poops he just quickly rinses them with water, he never uses soap.
    - He doesn't always shower every day. Sometimes he'll run out of time/just not feel like it in the morning and then night rolls around and he doesn't do it then either. We went away for two nights/three days for Thanksgiving and he didn't shower that entire time.
    - He usually doesn't wear underwear, then wears the same pants until they literally start to stink and I have to wash them. Even then he says they're fine.
    - Uses the same toothbrush for a year or longer (apparently you're not supposed to use one for more than three months)
    - Picks boogers out of the dog's eyes (actually necessary) then doesn't wash his hands
    - Doesn't wash his hands before eating (even though he doesn't wash them, ever, during the day)
    - I don't think he ever washes his feet in the shower. They smell, bad. Not that I can smell them from a distance or anything, but if I ever get close I can smell them.
    - We'll have sex, and even if he hasn't showered yet that day (so there would be no harm in him taking a shower), he'll just wipe all the ick off with a towel.

    It's starting to really bug me. I'll admit to being a total germaphobe but it's getting to the point where I'm getting put off letting him touch me, handle my food, using the remote after he's used it; etc. The worst (this is kind of X-rated, be warned) is when he wants me to go down on him. His skin has this sweet smell to it which makes me gag. To be fair to him, it's not exactly unpleasant, but I just can't stand it. Him not always showering every day includes when we have sex. I can't bear the thought of putting his penis in my mouth when I know that it has been inside me; he's peed out of it; cum out of it; and it hasn't been washed since then.

    Finally, the reason I can't seem to bring it up. I've calmly discussed it with him before and I've made jokes about it before. Every time, he flips. He was physically and mentally abused when he was a kid, and one of the things he had to deal with was being ridiculously babied. Once, I asked him if he'd been using my toothbrush (because we'd been away for a weekend, and two days later I noticed he hadn't unpacked his), and when he said no I asked him if he just hadn't been brushing his teeth. He went crazy, telling me I was just like his mom and I needed to quit.

    I feel terrible asking a grown man "have you showered today?" "did you brush your teeth today?", but at the same time, he's a grown man and I shouldn't have to. What can I do?
    This is where you should all really feel free to say "what? Not showering every day is normal, you OCD freak"....

  • This would all be a deal-breaker to me and unless things were cleaned up I'd be having no intimate moments with him. It sounds as if there could be germs lurking on his hands, under his fingernails and in his mouth and I wouldn't want that near me at all. I don't suggest that he needs to shower or wash his hair every day, lots of people don't. BUT, they do wash their faces, their hands, brush their teeth and after going to the washroom they wash their hands.
    He wants you to go down on him when he hasn't showered -- urine and feces -- need I say more, and you're willing to put that in your mouth!
    This is a sign of a serious problem. Being too clean can be a problem and this is the opposite. Some counselling is in order, this can be a sign of depression and/or other illnesses. Can he tell you why he doesn't think being clean is necessary?
    My stance would be that there would be NO intimate times unless he came to me showered, and teeth brushed.
    That which we forget may as well never really happened.


    • I don't think you're a germaphobe. Or any more so than what is typical for most people. With the spreading of all sorts of germs and infections, it seems quite common to want to be even moderately hygenic. Your husband seems to take the other extreme.

      Not showering every single day is not incredibly untypical. Especially in countries other than the US. However, not showering + not washing hands, not brushing teeth, not wearing clean clothes...etc is pushing it BIG TIME. And I would most definitely not go down on someone who didn't care enough to be clean for me.

      I'm sure you don't want to hurt his feelings, but this is your husband and this needs to be firmly addressed because it affecting your feelings toward him. Don't address yourself to him as a germaphobe because what you're expecting from him is not over the top at all. Has he always been this way? When did it start?
      "Be what you're looking for."


      • This is a serious thing for me - an instant deal breaker, which makes me ask - how much did you know him before marrying him? (sorry - no offense meant, just really boggles my mind). I'm with BD on the question: Has he always been this way? If not when did he start doing so?

        You are just a typical person who values good hygiene, cleanliness and good health, definitely NOT a germophobe. How is his upbringing? How does his dad go about his own hygiene? Any role models you think he caught on this habit? Was he neglected growing up?


        • Ewww, your not being a germophobe.
          He sounds like he was kinda bad when you got together and maybe just getting lazy and neglecting himself even more so now. Which is no good! It shouldn't mater how he was brought up you should be able to tell him he smells nasty and if he wants his down stairs taken care of he should... WASH IT! I have a hard time doing that even if my hubby showered that morning and wanted it when he got off work. Sweat, and germs, Yuck.
          I sure wouldn't be kissing him if his teeth were un clean, that can't be healthy. Plus he isn't washing his hands and he's touching your food, that can definitely make you sick.

          I hope you are able to fix this situation, this too would be a deal breaker for me.
          Do you have kids? Or want kids? Think about how that could harm them. Not only by unwanted germs, and viruses, but teaching them bad hygeine.

          You have got to talk to him. Let him no how it effects you. You shouldn't be dealing with this kind of problem.


          • Yes, he was neglected as a child; he comes from a terrible background (parents divorced; he fell into very bad habits) and was horrifically abused by his mom. That's where it gets complicated. I can't do anything that appears smothering to him, because that's one of the things his mom would do. Right up until he left home when he was about 17, she would really baby him.

            I've noticed that none of the males in his family wash their hands after they pee. I hear the water run after they've been in the bathroom, shall we say, for an extended period of time (believe me, I try SO hard to not hear anything) but obviously I can't comment on whether they use soap or not. In fact, to be honest, the men I've met where we are who wash their hands after they pee are in the minority. It's still absolutely disgusting, but it still makes it hard for him to see what's so bad about it, I think. He also (rightly) points out that I get sick with colds and flu all the time, but he never does.

            We don't have kids, but they'll hopefully be on the scene in the next few years and I really don't want them getting his habits. I really hope that when they're toddlers, he'll at least start washing his hands so that they can't say "but daddy doesn't do it". But even if we have kids two years from now, that's still four years away! I love him and the hygeine thing is not a dealbreaker, at least not in the literal sense of "I have to leave him if this doesn't change", but the thought of four more years of this...


            • How does he keep a job with such poor hygiene? Does anybody else make reference to it? It seems like this is something that could affect all his relationships, not just his marriage.
              It's also something you're gonna want to take care of WAY before having kids. Children aren't nice. They will tell Daddy that he is stinky. And it will be up to Daddy to NOT flip out at the child, or you either. It doesn't sound like he's stable enough to do this.
              You might be able to do some covert things to fix parts of this. For example, you could buy a two-pack of toothbrushes and throw away your old ones when it's time to replace them. Tell him it was cheaper that way. Do the dog-eye-booger picking yourself. Steal his dirty laundry and launder it after one use. None of this will fix the root problem, though it will unfairly tax you and might start a fight.
              If he's not getting therapy for his past of abuse, it sounds like he could really use it. If he's continuing to rebel against his mother's babying ways, failing to shower or control his smells is NOT a healthy way to do it. And he needs to work through his issues, again, before having children.
              Best of luck. I hate walking on eggshells, and I don't envy your position.
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              • Eww, that is disgusting... you're not a germaphobe, he's totally let go of himself. If you married him knowing his hygiene was like that, it means you accepted him with that hygiene- so hopefully he doesn't throw that one at you. That aside, abused or not, if he doesn't like being babied then tell him what you think about his hygiene and how it makes you feel, not what he should do that way he can't flip out over being babied. If he's being unhygienic because he was abused and his mom babied him, then that's not at all fair to you because you are neither his abuser nor his mother, you are his wife- the one he wanted to start a life with (hint: throw the wife card at him).

                As for children, if both of you had bad hygiene, your kids will think it's normal and probably will do the same as you do. But if mommy has good hygiene and daddy has bad hygiene, they will notice... and like Little said, kids are not nice... they learn to lie about this stuff later in life when they realize they have to be prudent and polite but until then they'll say it how they see it!

                I wish you best of luck when dealing with this, I hope your husband does ultimately change his hygiene for himself, for you, for your marriage and ultimately for the kids you have


                • you are FAR from an OCD/germaphobe, Booksy. What your husband is doing is unsanitary, and it is perfectly normal to expect at least a little effort from your husband when it comes to his personal hygiene. I'm surprised you've been able to bring yourself to be intimate with him, I don't know if I could be that considerate if my fiance chose not to keep himself clean. It gives me the heeby jeebies thinking about it!

                  I know you said he flips out when you try to discuss this with him calmly, but I think you really have to hold your ground when he gets upset or angry, because the way you've written here, it's evident that this is beginning to hurt your bond with your husband. I'm very sympathetic to the very difficult childhood he had, but at this point, he's being unfair to himself AND to you.

                  As mad as he might get, I suggest that one last time, you get assertive with him, lay it all out on the table (whether or not he's flipping out, because that seems to be his escape route to not talk about it). Let him know that his lack of personal hygiene is putting a divide in your marriage, that you don't want to feel disgusted by your husband's touch. If he throws the "mom" thing at you again, respond by telling him that expecting a certain level of cleanliness and healthfulness is NOT coddling/smothering, and he needs to get that thought out of his mind as you are his wife, not his mother. You may also want to mention that if things don't improve you may have to start seeing a counselor together to figure out how you're going to get through this issue; even if you don't think it is severe enough to seek counseling yet, many times a man won't take your concern seriously until you mention a therapist, for whatever reason that word can be a wake up call.


                  • You are not his mother and it is not your pennance to pay her consequences. If he's using that as an excuse, then he needs to go to counseling to get past those issues or learn to deal with.

                    Chose your battles. I dunno, the washing your hands EVERY time you pee thing seems less of an issue than the not bathing, not wearing clean clothes, not brushing teeth etc. When I'm home, I don't wash my hands every single time I go. Call me gross, but it's just the truth. I'm far from unsanitary. I would focus more on the serious issues and not nitpick the little things.
                    "Be what you're looking for."


                    • Couple of comments and additions here. Especially since I, err, just found out I'm pregnant, so it turns out kids won't be on the scene in a 'few' years but less than a year!

                      He doesn't actually smell, so, Little, holding down a job isn't a problem (I don't mean that to sound catty).

                      Counseling isn't an option for him, sadly. He has tried counseling on two occasions in his life, both for what his mother did to him and other terrible things that have happened to him, and both times the therapists accused him of lying. No amount of telling him that those were two expections he was extremely unfortunate to meet will make him go, and to be honest I can't say I blame him.

                      I was a little harsh about the pants, actually (now I know I can blame pregnancy hormones, yay). Sorry to be graphic, but they don't smell like poop or anything, they just smell like that smell your clothes take on after you come back from vacation and haven't washed them yet. You know, like clothes that are dirty and haven't been washed. Still gross, but it's not like he goes around smelling like actual sh**t; although the concept of wearing the same pants for days on end with no underwear is disgusting to me. Someone please tell me if this is a germaphobe thing, but isn't that like wearing the same underwear for days?

                      I have tried to bring it up subtly over the past few days, and he's not reacted well. So I'd like some input over what I did wrong...

                      - We have one of those mechanical toothbrushes with interchangeable heads. For the past few days I've noticed my head on the toothbrush, never his. A few times I asked him if he's been using my toothbrush head and he said no (I left out "so... You've not been brushing your teeth?"). Once I commented, not in a nasty way, that I don't know how he can brush his teeth before breakfast instead of after, because to me eating after getting my mouth all clean seems pointless (which it does). Then he asked me why I treat him like a three-year-old...
                      - I've been encouraging him to take showers, in the sense of "I'm about to do some laundry and it makes the shower all funny, so can you take your shower quick so I can just get on with it?", or other such excuses. A few times he's done it. Usually he's used it as an excuse to shower later on, which may or may not happen.

                      jetaime, I have to admit I hadn't even thought of not telling him what to do. It's so simple, but there we go. I'll give that a go. I'm thinking of using the baby as an 'excuse' for us both to constantly be super-clean. If this isn't actually an excuse, and his hygeine could harm the baby, someone please let me know...


                      • Instead of taking your own counsel about whether he is stinky to other people, ask someone who will keep it confidential, but will give you the straight scoop. You may have be come desensitized to his odors over time.

                        It sounds like he is still rebelling against his mother, not a healthy situation for a grown man. I think he should go to a psychologist or maybe to a psychiatrist for behavior modification. This will not work with a marriage counselor. If he truly loves you, he should accommodate your hygienic requirements or compromise somewhere in between. If this continues as it is it will cause a permanent tear in your relationship.
                        I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
                        Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

                        From a speech by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia


                        • Now that a poster brought up a "no shower, no sex" on one of the earlier posts, do you still have sex even if he is stinky?

                          JNS brought up behavior modification and I think this can be done. It takes a lot of patience on your part though, since bad habits can be very hard to break.

                          Start with your target behavior, for example: 1) not brushing, 2) not washing hands after bathroom breaks, 3) not showering everyday, 4) not wearing clean clothes everyday. Next step is to think of consequences and rewards for each of those target behaviors. For instance, if hubby does #1, he gets ______, if he doesn't he gets ______ (something he abhors). And keep on thinking for the other target behaviors. Make sure you communicate this to him clearly. That you have hygiene requirements that he needs to fulfill, and that is NOT babying him for you are NOT his mother.

                          If he turns around telling you not to treat him like a 3-year old, tell him outright, "then stop acting like one". "Three year olds need to be bathed, changed, brushed, clothed, etc. and you are a grown man. You're right, you are not a 3 year old, but you are acting like one. If you want me to stop nitpicking (fill in the blank), then, do as you are expected." (Period)

                          You need to shake him up and say these things to him in an honest, gentle but firm manner. If he argues some more, just don't escalate anymore. You've said your point, case dismissed. Move on to behavior modification. If he doesn't want to consult a professional for help, maybe you can seek a psychologist and ask his help on behavior modification so that you are guided accordingly.

                          Just remember, in behavior modification, there are two things that you need: rewards for the good behavior (target behavior) and consequences for the bad behavior (same target behavior). When you think of rewards, it should be things he loves to do, to get, to have (edibles - you can cook him his most favorite meal, extra time on TV without interruption from you at home, sensual massage with a very happy ending (if he showers), etc. With this in mind, you need to make a consistent effort on everything. If he didn't shower, ___, ____ (fill in target behavior) he will not get _____ (sex, kiss, touch you, TV time, anything he loves to do), but will get this consequence (i.e. you ignore him, not get sex or affection from you, you go out and dine by yourself, you sleep on a separate bed, anything he doesn't want to happen, get, etc.

                          Make sure your goal for him is attainable on his level, and he can surely taste the goodness of success in each baby step he makes.
                          Ponder on these things and tell us what you think.
                          Last edited by caterpillar79; 12-11-2011, 09:41 AM.


                          • I wear my jeans usually for about 4-6 days a week, but I also wear panties... so, yeah. I know the smell of jeans you're talking about, and that's the point that I was mine at. If clothes stink when picked up, they need to be washed. How often do you two do laundry (and who does it)? As for showers, what about showering together? You can get shower heads that are split, so you can each have your own water stream. That may encourage him to shower more regularly, but if that's not something you want to do, it might be self-defeating. As for brushing his teeth, what is his reason for not? I can't stand the taste in my mouth when I wake up, so I can't even imagine what his logic is there. Now, the not washing his hands after he uses the bathroom... yeah, I don't know. My husband washes his hands after he poops, but not when he pees. I call him out on it every time and tell him he's not touching me (or anything else) until he washes his hands. Period. I worked in food service for far too long to let that one slide. I suppose if he doesn't want to take the time to use hot water and soap, you could get some of the instant hand sanitizer to keep in the bathroom as well. Showers before sex are a norm in our household. My husband gets at least two showers a day (military- one after PT and one when he gets home from work). If there's anything even remotely "ick" about either of us, we shower. Now, from time to time I get the itty bitty bits of TP that I don't notice, and we just use a warm wash cloth to remove them.

                            Instead of smothering him, just lay out the rules "no sex, no kissing, no <insert whatever else is appropriate> until you can clean yourself like an adult." If he's throwing temper tantrums over his hygiene being called out, then he isn't behaving like an adult, so he doesn't get to have adult fun.


                            • So I'd like some input over what I did wrong...
                              Well, if I am taking his side, or trying to find something 'wrong'...

                              I sounds controlling to say in one instance, you never brush your teeth, and then in the next instance say, "Well, you are brushing your teeth, but not when **I** find it most logical" These are baby steps for him based on his past. Your OP said he goes days without doing it, and if he does do it, you nag and say he isn't doing it when you do it.

                              Some people brush their teeth before breakfast, some after, some brush their teeth in the shower. . . but they are all brushing their teeth.
                              I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.
                              John Steinbeck

                              I'm a Leo, RAWR! Sun/moon/asc/venus- 1st house.


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