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My husband won't shower - tried everything! How can I get him to do so?

Tagged as: Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (31 March 2009) 12 Answers - (Newest, 3 March 2012)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

My husband is a car mechanic, so as you can imagine he comes home covered in grease, dirt and not smelling all that great every night! Now I understand he works really hard and he is tired when he gets in, and I do empathise with him. But I get so annoyed with him because when he comes home instead of having a shower when he gets in, he would lay in bed, watch TV, keep putting it off and yell at me if I ask him (nicely) to have a shower. Instead it would then get to midnight and he will decide to go to bed either still wearing his dirty clothes or if I can awake him without him fussing too much he would take off the clothes then get back into bed.

It's frustrating for me as apart from making the sheets smell, I have very sensitive skin - so I end up spending most of the night unable to sleep due to itching. I have tried speaking to him nicely, tried explaining about how I can't sleep true itching, tried explaining nicely about how the sheets are clean, about the smell about everything. I have also gotten angry too. I have tried the nice, sweet calm approach and also the more firm annoyed approach - nothing works!! I have tried telling him he isn't allowed on the bed unless he washes, tried reasoning with him - believe me everything! He is ridiculously stubborn and won't see my side with his constant excuse being he works hard, he is tired and leave him alone - he will shower when he is ready.

He does this about 4 days of the week! Nor am I prepared to sleep on the floor! Our bed isn't big enough for two seperate sheets for anyone who may be thinking that... besides, that's not what I want! If he was in a normal job I won't care - but with all the grease, dirt, smell, my constant itching.... so fed up! What can I do?

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A reader, anonymous, writes (3 March 2012):

I don't know what it is about mechanics and not showering. My husband does mechanic work on the side from his regular job, and I can't get him to shower either...The worst thing is unlike your husband mine don't give excuses he just doesn't want to. I don't get itchy from sleeping with him but I do understand how the clean sheets would start to smell, because mine do also... I feel like he is still in his teenager, "I don't want to take a shower" mode, and I don't know how to get him out of it...I hope you find something to help you, and maybe you can let me know how it works for you.

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A female reader, inyourdreams United Kingdom +, writes (26 January 2011):

When I met my husband, my friends told me he was scared of water. Well, Like they say....love is blind, I sort of suspected it but he seemed to be OK. I am the type of person that appreciate washing myself on a daily basis. Anyway, needless to say, in the beginning of our relationship he refuse to be intimate unless he wash himself but then started to blame me for everything and started a relationship with his computer. If he have to go out and meet other people, he is always showering and on time. For me, well, the opposite since we got serious. I agree with everyone. A lack of respect not only for you but himself. Then, Where does this start? Have you looked at the attitude of his family, MUM, perhaps culture or friends? Like they say...you can't teach a old dog new tricks. Now, he has never loved water but declared himself depressed due to work around 4 years ago. And by the smell of him, it smell like he wash never. I feel ultimately sick by now, I associate him with everything....sick that I see. But the worst is our son, I feel so sick that his dad even have the guts to hug him stinking. I don't even feel either in love with him anymore, neither do I see a future, I really hope to get out of this stinking mess, It is truely disgusting. Everyone have their own ideas about crapping someone else they love off, but honestly I cant even imagine how people that simply STINK can't imagine how unpleasant and disgusting they are to others. Absolutely no excuse. Like I said, my husband's crutch now, is his depression but he never liked to wash before, not this bad, but this is how he was brought up, I believe.

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A female reader, furryfriend United States +, writes (8 November 2010):

I am so glad there are other women with this problem...it is horrible.......I have spoken to my husband so many times...and I get I don't realize it....well I do!!!!!

Dear God we share a bed...and my sheets always smell...such a turn off...and I am only 43..I want to have a sex life with my husband....but no way...I will not go there when he does not shower....

I have suggested showering together...but he makes excuses why he won't...I kind of put hints out there..like do you want me to leave towels out for you to take a shower...or I will leave the vent on if you are going to shower next......

Today is one week and one day that he has not showered.... I sometimes shower twice a day....especially in the summmer.

Honestly is it so horrible to do that to your partner.....I am not perfect trust me...I am a little overweight...but I always try to look and smell nice especially in bed...it is just horrible.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (15 June 2010):

My Husband has a desk Job and he still smells. After a while your Butt starts to smell when you dont take a bath and you leave a odor whenever you move around. First I thought my husband was an isolated case, but i am beginning to see that this unfortantely is normal behavior for a great percentage of men

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A female reader, losing my mind United States +, writes (30 January 2010):

I am having the same problem and have tried all the things you have. Honey, take a shower with me. Please, clean up before you come to bed I just washed the sheets. My skin is driving me nuts, I cant stop itching. Your skin needs to be cleaned at least every other day or you will have problems. Take a bath or stay on your side of the bed you smell awful...etc. He works at a job that has him under an extreme amount of stress and is responsable for lives if he screws up. His company tries to sneak things past him to keep up with their quota and he feels he is going into battle every day. When he gets home I have dinner ready sometimes he eats sometimes not. He only showers once a week. He stays on the computer playing this addictive game to "calm him down" all weekend and most nights till 3 or 4 in the morning. He gets in from work around midnight (swing shift). He wants closeness and I tell him he needs to clean up because if he raises his arms for a hug he smells so, bad I have to not breathe to hug him. I am at a complete loss for what to do. If you figure this out before I do please let me know.

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A female reader, losing my mind United States +, writes (30 January 2010):

I am having the same problem and have tried all the things you have. Honey, take a shower with me. Please, clean up before you come to bed I just washed the sheets. My skin is driving me nuts, I cant stop itching. Your skin needs to be cleaned at least every other day or you will have problems. Take a bath or stay on your side of the bed you smell awful...etc. He works at a job that has him under an extreme amount of stress and is responsable for lives if he screws up. His company tries to sneak things past him to keep up with their quota and he feels he is going into battle every day. When he gets home I have dinner ready sometimes he eats sometimes not. He only showers once a week. He stays on the computer playing this addictive game to "calm him down" all weekend and most nights till 3 or 4 in the morning. He gets in from work around midnight (swing shift). He wants closeness and I tell him he needs to clean up because if he raises his arms for a hug he smells so, bad I have to not breathe to hug him. I am at a complete loss for what to do. If you figure this out before I do please let me know.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (12 October 2009):

I really know the feeling. As one of those replied mention that your spouse has no respect for you by not showering is so true. It will only fustrate you more and more as times goes on. I had to tell my husband to leave.

My story is...he would go with our showering for weeks and I would nag and nag about it. Did it help? NO...it made him more and more angry and would look at my faults till the the fights was so unbearable. With no respect, sleeping apart, no intimacy, fustration, you name it! I had an affair. He found out about the affair and left me. Later, by just a few months, he wanted to bome back. We talked about the reasons of him returning, why the route of an affair and some underlying issues he was back in my life again. I know he was trying his best to shower but there was times he needed to be told again and ONLY for the reason WE moved in with my sister whom is battling Cancer and he knew the conditions that will come with it. It got to the point that the only time he would shower is when he wanted to be intimate with me. Well, HA! if I wanted to be intimate and asked him to shower, after not showering for a few days...he declined. RED FLAG! The non showering thing started up again. I started to withdrawing myself from him as if I didn't care rather he was coming or going. This time it was for the longest of 2 months!! There is more to this story, but however, I told him to leave.

One more thing I want to mention is, he went for professional help many times when we were together. He refuse to continue and refuse to take his medications for OCD. I tired to make my marriage work and last. I'm not perfect and I tried my hardest. If my family can smell him in the house and has no respect for me and any family member... what are you to do??? I think your warnings and whatever eye opener's you can try to send across don't work, do what your heart tell's you. I was tired of the stress and the egg shell's I was walking on.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (5 April 2009):

To the OP, please don't let people like anon March 31 get you down. You have a legitimate complaint. It is affecting your mental and physical health. What your husband is doing is disgusting, unsanitary, and just plain rude. As for "desperation," what's wrong with going online to look for advice?

At some point you just have to make it impossible for him to continue with the status quo. Could you get an air mattress so you have your own sleeping space? You could also try the gross-out factor: http://bedbugpicture.com/

Or, you could just not be there to greet him one night after work. Arrange to sleep on a friend's couch. Don't contact him or answer his calls. Give him all night to sweat it. Maybe in the morning, he'll realize how much you mean to him. Good luck!

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (31 March 2009):

Fatherly Advice agony auntAfter reading through this twice I agree that you have done every thing. I have a couple of ideas, they may not work but they should be entertaining. You two seem to be very much creatures of habit. He usually comes home at the same time each day, and you are home when he gets there. That works with my first idea. He is not very interested with physical loving, that works against it. Meet him at the door each night, and undress him right there in the entryway. That will leave him with no choice but to shower or lay around in his briefs. At least you will get the worst of it off him and into the laundry before he hits the bed. He seems to have some trouble leaving his work behind at the end of the day. A gym membership would help him make the break and get himclean before he gets home. The workouts would actually make him less tired. As a last resort get a good quality painters drop cloth and cover the bed for his TV time. If it is canvas and not plastic you can roll him up in it if he sleeps. FA

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 March 2009):

That is a tough problem, I think it is a deeper issue and here is an article for how to approach the subject more effectively with him.

http://www.veryprivate.com/advicepages/guypoorhygiene.html

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 March 2009):

+++++I AM THE ORIGINAL POSTER+++++

Hi thanks for your thoughts - for the record there is no where else for me to sleep : unless I decide to sleep on the floor!

Regarding sex: he doesnt particularly care too much for sex - we perhaps have sex once a month so holding out on sex will not have much of an effect.

I dont mean to sound like a nag - believe me I dont nag him. I ask him so nicely, I would cuddle up to him and say softly, Baby why dont you go have a shower then we can cuddle up after....admittedly after trying this tactic for the 4th time for the week, by day 5 my patience starts wearing thin and I do get annoyed.

Again, I wont really care if he didnt shower if he was in a normal job - and I do understand its a hard job and how tired he is and he just wants to relax when he gets in. And even if I force myself to get used to the smell - the itching is awful and I get bumps on my skin! Over the years it has gotton worst and worst. In the beginning maybe he will do it just once a week, then it went to twice....then so on...

Anyway please keep feedback coming - much appreciated!

THanks

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 March 2009):

Well stop nagging for one. Clearly, he isn't listening and it's just causing you more stress.

Since you've already let him know countless times that his behaviour is disrupting your sleep etc., you can try sleeping somewhere else until he gets the picture. Don't have sex or be intimate with him. Ordinarily, I think denying sex is an immature way of communicating with your partner, but you should not have to sleep with someone who has such bad hygiene.

Ultimatums are sometimes the kiss of death for a relationship, but if you've tried everything like you say you have, I think you are entitled to tell him to clean up his act or get out. A grown man should have mastered the art of keeping his body clean. You do not deserve to lose sleep over his poor hygiene habits.

Be firm. It's disrespectful to you and the fact that you share a space. If he doesn't respond and still refuses to clean up, follow through with your threat. Whatever his reasons are for not showering, and they may be very legit, you should not have to force him to shower, or come onto an advice forum out of desperation. That's ridiculous...

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