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My husband doesn't shower or brush his teeth as often as he should, what should I do?

Tagged as: Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (16 September 2010) 17 Answers - (Newest, 12 December 2015)
A female Canada age 36-40, *onely wife0327 writes:

I love my husband very much but lately, there are some things I just can oversee. I mean is there a nice way to tell the man you love that he always has very bad breath... he could forget to brush his teeth for a couple of days, and showers are the same with him..,its the last thing on his list to do during a day... he has eczema so you can imagine our bed in the morning,,, its been snowing all night or the grease from his hair if he decided to fix himself up a little bit before work. He does want to be intimate with me...and sometimes he showers just to try and have sex. But shouldn't he also be worried about himself and how other people might have noticed his breath and body odors... I really don't know what to do here...I feel like I have 2 teenagers in the house... and the real one actually understands the importance of being clean but its also in respects to himself and the people around you.

Sometimes, I'm so grossed out but I really don't want him to think I'm criticizing him. But I'm finding myself repulsed buy him and I really don't feel like going into bed with Mr stinky...Just kissing him is becoming unbearable... i can even smell his breath in the car and its really bad,,

I need help.. I really don't want to hurt his feelings but if I don't talk about it, I'm going to start to find him repulsive, and as it goes on, I'm finding myself less and less attracted to him physically. he does shower sometimes and he smells so frigging great ... but hes only doing it to have sex, and I really don't like to be pressured in doing something just because he took a shower...

I feel bad and I know that all of this happened because his mom and dad weren't really there when he was young so maybe they did emphasized that personal hygiene was important, but I find it important, my family does and so should he..

I need help on this...I have been upfront about it a couple of times, but he just doesn't get the hint... and I really don't want to kiss him anymore. :(

View related questions: kissing

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A reader, anonymous, writes (12 December 2015):

I have the same problem. He showers maybe once a week and doesn't brush his really bad teeth but maybe every 3-4 days. I have told him many times how disgusted I am with it. He just laughs and more less get over it.

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A female reader, OhGetReal United States +, writes (21 October 2010):

OhGetReal agony auntI am not surprised by this news. I think this is obviously a deeply ingrained behavior, and I think it points to some psychological issues as well that he isn't willing to work on.

I fully support your choice for what it's worth!

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A female reader, lonely wife0327 Canada +, writes (19 October 2010):

lonely wife0327 is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Well finale response to this everyone... we talked, it changed, for couple of weeks..then came back to be exactly the same as it was.... I explained that it was just not me, but other people noticing...anyways...all to let you know that, because of other issues also, we are separated,,,so the only person right now who I need to remind to take a show and brush her teeth is my 8 year old little girl.. :)

I made the right decision..and just be advise that this is not the only reason of the separation, but a big part of it.

He needs to take care of himself and being his mother is not my job.

Thank you so much for you advices, they helped..I will be back on this site for sur if I even have any other issues..

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 October 2010):

Girl...I feel your pain. My husband hardly ever brushes his teeth and when he does take a shower he doesn't cleanse himself very good:( I am becoming repulsed and I'm really wanting to discuss this with him before I blow up!! It is sooo disguting!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 October 2010):

He won't change , my husband is the same and lied the other night about hving a shower. Full of bullshit!! We either except or move on :)

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A female reader, lonely wife0327 Canada +, writes (20 September 2010):

lonely wife0327 is verified as being by the original poster of the question

I told him how I felt... and complemented him when he Did take a shower and brushed his teeth..I even gave him a big kiss when he got out of the bathroom... He said: what's up with you? I just answered: I love the way you smell coming out of the shower...

He really like it... and I also told him that I didn't feel like being close to him when he didn't clean up..etc... and he said he didn't know it was such a big deal..etc..

He responded really good to what I was saying... I hate fighting... and I guess I was just scared of telling him straight up...but it worked..

Thanks for all you advice, it was really appreciated...


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A female reader, OhGetReal United States +, writes (19 September 2010):

OhGetReal agony aunt

Has your husband figured out yet what causes his excema? One thing that you should be doing if you aren not, is to use a laundry detergent that is completely free of perfumes and harsh chemicals that often cause excema...ALL FREE AND CLEAR for example. If he sleeps on sheets washed in Tide, he is likely to make his excema worse.

Perhaps he doesn't want to bathe because the hot water dries his skin out...I'm not making an excuse for him, but perhaps this is what he is afraid of.

A dermatologist should be able to give him some topical creams to clear this condition up, and if he hasn't seen an allergist and had allergy testing, he should do that pronto. He may be allergic to dust mites, etc.

Keeping the rugs clean, washing bedding in HOT water to kill mites, dusting, no pets in the bedroom...what ever you need to do to control his environment.

And he needs to keep clean to avoid crusty infections on his excema prone skin...he can take cool baths or showers to avoid drying his skin.

Hope this helps. Tell him to get to the bottom of the excema, it is treatable.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2010):

Thanks for keeping us all up to date with your personal dilemma.

I'm afraid, I'm very different to most people, I don't believe you should have to do anything to get him to be CLEAN - You are NOT his mother or carer. He is an adult, or should be, and IF he can't, WON'T take an interest in himself or CARE about the example he is setting to his children, then YOU have to make the decision if you have reached the point of ' ENOUGH is ENOUGH ' and consider divorcing the man.

I'm sure there will be lots of people saying, " What, you don't divorce someone for being un-hygienic " I say YES you do, otherwise, you taint your own life - and you only get one. You don't stay married UNLESS it's working, unless it's a healthy loving relationship. You already don't want to kiss him, have sex with him, and as for your description of everyday life, it sounds as though you may have reached the end of a productive relationship.

Marriage is NOT as some think, and ENDURANCE TEST, a 50 year contract where you stay regardless of what happens. And YES it's very much conditional - un-conditional love is the fairy tale, and no such thing exists in the REAL world of relationships. If that was so, adultery wouldn't matter, nor would physical abuse.

Every one has conditions to remain solid as a couple, such as..'consideration of your partner, honest, loyal, faithful, supportive, to take an active part in making the relationship work, keeping yourself as attractive to your partner as possible ' to name but a few, remove these factors and you don't have a relationship, it crumbles!

I personally would NOT consider having to tell my partner, husband to wash, or TAKE HIM to the doctors, for a doctor to explain about hygiene..Oh please..he's a grown man, and you shouldn't have to TAKE or LEAD him anywhere, unless he's ILL, which he appears not be, just lazy and inconsiderate of your feelings and what he's showing his children.

ONLY you can make the decision IF you want to spend the rest of YOUR LIFE with someone who does not take an active part in keeping your relationship growing, thriving and moving forward..If he's like this now, what will he be like in 5, 10, 20 years..I dread to think..and if you go along with it, you are condemning yourself to a lifetime of NO kissing, NO making love, NO real emotional intimacy, NO sharing of all that TWO people who care for each other share!

Please think about want you want out of life too..


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A male reader, dirtball United States +, writes (17 September 2010):

dirtball agony auntMaybe you can use what your daughter said to help motivate him. He has given up and gotten really lazy. There is no excuse for that. He needs to set a good example for your children. If you're getting a backlash from your daughter, he needs to understand that the example he's setting is making parenting difficult. Hygene is important for both health and social reasons. Maybe you should take him to the doctor so that they can explain the health risks associated with not bathing.

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A female reader, lonely wife0327 Canada +, writes (17 September 2010):

lonely wife0327 is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Reading the responses makes me realize that I do sometimes tell him when he tries to kiss me to go brush his teeth and I ask him when was the last time he took a shower...sometimes,,he has to think about it before he answers..and he just laughs when he can't remember.

When I met him, he wasn't like this... he took showers with me and brushed his teeth with me every morning and night..cause he use to follow me, we don't do those things that much anymore, cause work and technology are taking all his time...when I take a bath..he's busy watching a show or playing a game etc... so by the time he gets to bed, he's to tired to take a shower.

On Saturday, we went to the farmers market, and we live in a small town where I know everybody... well his eczema was so bad, that it showed he didn't take a shower for a while... I told him and his respond was: You looked a me before we left so you should of told me I wasn't presentable etc....

Then I responded: Well I'm not your mother and I didn't realize I had to tell you everytime you had to take a shower..which is by the least every 2 days..

I don't know how to tell him anymore... this is as direct as I can get... and I have told him a few times that I don't want to make love because he didn't take a shower or brushed his teeth.

This is really hard for me to understand because i'm not like that. My daughter told me the other day that she didn't want to take a bath again tonight cause daddy didn't... so this getting so frustrating...

And he gets made at me saying that I'm superficial and that he doesn't tell me everytime I have bad breath...and I told him I wish he would because that's something I'd like to know... and it's such a big turn of kissing a dragon breath...I barely kiss him anymore.

Sometimes, I think he just stopped trying.

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A male reader, Martymar729 United States +, writes (17 September 2010):

Martymar729 agony auntSeriously U are his better half, so just talk with about it, he's a grown man and should know better than not to keep up with his personal hygiene .... He'll appreciate ur honesty and not only look and think of u as just a "wife" but also a friend :) .... Hmmmm even tho in a perfect world that's the way it should be any ways ..... Good luck with that :D

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A male reader, dirtball United States +, writes (16 September 2010):

dirtball agony auntJust another person who thinks that the direct approach is the best. You need to tell him that his lack of hygene is ruining your relationship. He needs to make sure he's taking care of himself for you, your son, and for himself. What you describe is unacceptable, and I always find myself amazed when I meet people like him. Do him a favor and tell him straight out that this is not acceptable.

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A female reader, OhGetReal United States +, writes (16 September 2010):

OhGetReal agony auntI would show him your letter to us, and I would give him a couple of weeks to clean up his act and then tell him there will be consequences if he doesn't take this seriously. Like you will not have sex with him or kiss him until he gets into a daily routine of hygiene....that is only fair, not manipulation. Why should you let some dirty man invade your most intimate parts of your body, as it is not healthy for you literally to do that.

Good Luck.

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A female reader, tennisstar88 United States +, writes (16 September 2010):

tennisstar88 agony auntEw. I think I just puked in my mouth. Going in for a kiss with someone who has kicking breath, that is the ultimate turn off. Couldn't imagine going to bed with someone reeking of body funk and unclean crevices. I agree with the majority vote, there's no kind way to approach his hygienic issues you're just going to have to get to the point. Offer him gum, a breath mint throughout the day to tackle that dragon breath. You may have to remind him to brush his teeth, or get in the shower with him to get him into a daily routine.

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A male reader, CaringGuy United Kingdom +, writes (16 September 2010):

Sweetie, just tell him. Men won't take hints, won't take subtlety. You need to sit him down and just tell him. He may get hurt, he may get mad. But he needs to know this is affecting you.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (16 September 2010):

Need help..I should think you do!

I'm really sorry you are going through this, but IF you really want to improve things with your husband - CUT the I don't want to hurt his feelings, as there is NO way you are going to approach this, regardless of how sensitive you are, that will not have some reaction. You must take control of the situation, as it is directly affecting YOU emotionally and physically.

Having read your plight, I have to ask, as you bring his family into this - Was HE like THIS before you married him?

And whether he was or not - the fact remains he is an adult, and should be taking a pride himself - let alone for you his wife. The problem here - IF he was like this before you married him, one begs the question, WHY or HOW did you manage to find him physically appealing, and condone HIS BAD personal hygiene regime?

IF he wasn't like this before you married him, although I suspect this is something long-term - then are there any other underlying problems associated with his lack of care for himself - work problems, redundancy, stressed through something, illness, loss of family...any MAJOR life event which could have triggered this? As these things do affect a person.

But if not - then I'm afraid you just have one dirty guy on your hands, and NOT in the way a ' Dirty Guy' could be found attractive, as in the SEXY kind.

Not tackling this, or NOT facing it head on, is going to take it's toll on you, not only are you repulsed physically ( so would I be), but you run the risk of becoming depressed by the whole thing - Now I'm NOT one who believes that someone else's selfish actions ( as in your husbands, NO excuse what so ever) should be swept under the carpet as though he's some 2 year old. He is NOT a child, and IF he can't take pride in himself, then he has to accept and EXPECT if he's living in close proximity to others and HIS LACK of HYGIENE crosses the line where it makes others repulsed - HE has GOT to WISE UP, and take it on the chin.

By not telling him - you are treating him like a child, and also the longer it goes on, he will think YOU don't mind it!

Unfortunately IF he was like this before you married him- then I'm afraid you will have to take some responsibility here, again, if you've condoned this for several years, he has just slipped further and further in to BAD hygiene habits that were originally accepted. Either way, the problem is HERE and NOW and it is affecting you greatly, so sit him down, don't umm and straight, be direct and explain to him how you feel about it, and how it is undermining your relationship and continued intimacy with him.

I really wish you luck with this one, as just reading your 'post' had me feeling nauseous!

Jilly x

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A female reader, romany United Kingdom +, writes (16 September 2010):

romany agony auntWell, I dont know what to advise you, as I think i'm a bit tactless on things like this, coz i know i would just tell him as it is, and it would probably be harsh, but the way i'd look at is, telling him the truth would be better and easier than looking for excuses as to why I dont want to be with him.

I really feel for you tho, and I hope someone here can come up with a sure fire way to help you.

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