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Can mouth-breathing really ruin my marriage?

(32 Posts)
KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sat 02-Oct-10 13:55:09

Namechanged: embarrassed, woeful etc etc. I can?t believe that something that?s so minor is having such far-reaching effects on my marriage.

Will try to be efficient about explaining it all.

I love my husband dearly, he is a devoted father to our DCs, shares in all the household work, is responsible and hard-working, and very handsome. We have on-going gripes between ourselves, but I don?t think anything devastating. Except ? that he at some point in our relationship started to breathe through his mouth. I think I?m sure he didn?t always do it, though I suppose it?s conceivable that in the first flush of passion I didn?t notice ? but now he does it pretty much whenever I?m not actively nagging asking him not to.

I find it utterly repellent. It makes his lips wet and his breath smell, it contributes to various horrible table-manners issues, it just looks awful. If I don?t say anything he does it pretty much all the time, and then denies that he does; if I do say anything he feels nagged and disrespected and disapproved of ? as anyone would, I guess. It?s had a devastating effect on our sex life ? between the mouth-breathing itself, which leaves me irritable and turned-off, and the horrible atmosphere caused by me going on about it, which understandably leaves him feeling awful, we?ve pretty much given up.

I honestly can?t see where to go from here ? I can?t see anything that I can do that will change the situation, which basically means that either he has an epiphany of his own accord and works out a way of acknowledging and breaking the habit, or I just have to put up with it. And the thing is, however petty and unimportant in the grand scheme of things the problem is, I don?t think I can just stop finding it as awful as I do. But you can't (and nor do I want to!) leave your husband because he breathes though his mouth!

Has anybody had any experience of dealing successfully with this sort of impasse? I?ve tried leaving it, and it only results in him thinking that things must be ok because I?m not making a fuss. Nagging clearly a disastrous strategy. So what on earth to try?

Am posting and running, as will be out for the afternoon - but I will come back later on in the hope that someone's got some wisdom to pass my way.

KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sat 02-Oct-10 13:56:11

And sorry for the question marks - I wrote it out first, wanting to try and put things fairly - and forgot that punctuation doesn't transfer from Word.

Philosykos Sat 02-Oct-10 14:02:43

Has he seen his GP? I have a friend who had some kind of problem with her nose and was forced to mouth-breathe for that reason. She had an operation and could breathe through her nose again though it took some time to train herself out of mouth-breathing.

KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sat 02-Oct-10 14:07:15

He's had the operation, six years or so ago, so there's no physical reason any more.

specialmagiclady Sat 02-Oct-10 14:17:25

Oh god - poor you. I have similar issues with little stupid niggling things my husband does. Leg wobbling anyone? And I can quite see how it could be this corrosive.

I also have a morbid hatred of hiccups that makes me feel really violent. I have had hypnotherapy and talking therapy about this as I was truly worried I'd hurt my small children. So I kind of know where you are.

This has somewhat relieved the feelings. The first thing the therapist did was get me some relaxation CDs so that I wasn't generally on such a short fuse. It does help, but you have to find the time to lie on your bed and do it. Well worth it though as it's lovely and does generally bring anger down.

The other thing we did was to visualise a red curtain of anger either gradually lifting or becoming less red and becoming see-through as you breathe through it, iyswim.

Finally, he said "it's okay, it is really annoying. Everyone gets annoyed by this, but they don't all commit violence (or get divorced) because of it."

I'm afraid mouth-breathing is just one of those things - I have to say it makes me mad and I can't eat with my DH without music on - and this is definitely your (my!) problem.

That said, if your DH is adequately hydrated and his teeth are ok, he that should help with the bad breath thing.

Also, have you acknowldged the effect this is having on your marriage or are you pretending there are other reasons you're not having sex etc.?

If you can talk it over with your DH, maybe agree to see a counsellor while you deal with your anger, and get him to make sure he's drinking enough water every day. Plus make sure you go out and have fun together from time to time, maybe that will help.

Good luck, I totally know how you feel !

mmmwine Sat 02-Oct-10 14:59:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItsGraceAgain Sat 02-Oct-10 16:44:01


Acanthus Sat 02-Oct-10 16:54:17

Apart from anything else, mouth breathing makes you look as if you are REALLY stupid

TheCrackFox Sat 02-Oct-10 16:59:58

I think when you have got to the stage when even seemingly minor things your DH does sends you into a seething ball of fury it really is time to call it a day.

ItsGraceAgain Sat 02-Oct-10 17:27:53

mmwine - I have a tendency to do it sometimes; I've got sinus problems. It's a definite habit to lose though! It makes you look gormless, sounds funny and your breath smells. Plus, it makes the sinuses even worse.

OP, I agree with CrackFox. Although, if it really, truly is this one thing only, you should be able to negotiate a solution with him.

KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sat 02-Oct-10 19:43:50

sml, thanks for your thoughts - I know that it's up to me to deal with my irritation and anger, but it does just seem so hard when it's over something that (I think anyway) is not just an idiosyncracy of mine but actually objectively unpleasant. Unless there are a whole lot of people out there who are nicer than me and wouldn't find it revolting...

And no, I haven't been completely straightforward about the effect it has on my reluctance to have sex - It'd be an awfully hard thing to hear, things are fragile enough, and I thought it might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back - but maybe I just have to say?

CrackFox, Grace, really? You don't think there's any way back from a situation like this? In dark moments I honestly feel like that myself, but I just can't envisage that anyone could actually break up a family over something so ridiculous.

ItsGraceAgain Sat 02-Oct-10 19:58:06

Umm, how about booking a single counselling session for yourself - to help you cope with the trigger - then booking a Serious Talk with DH? If you tell him it makes you so cross that you've been to counselling to help you deal with it, that might help him acknoeldge what a big deal it is for you. Then maybe his GP (or another counsellor - perhaps a hypnotherapist?) can guide him on stopping the habit.

if it really is just this one thing, it's got to be worth an effort!

2rebecca Sat 02-Oct-10 20:03:40

I think you need to sort out whether he can breath through his nose but for some bizarre reason doesn't want to, or if he can't breathe through his nose.
If the former I'd be telling him that mouth breathing makes him look gormless and unsexy and makes his breath smell and asking him why he deliberately does something that he knows I hate.

If the more likely latter I'd ask him to see his GP to chaeck for nasal polyps or congestion and get a steroid nasal spray or if that doesn't work ENT referral.

If a child mouth breathes they can grow out of it as their adenoids shrink. If an adult mouth breathes they won't grow out of it and need to get it sorted if it affects their marriage.

SolidGoldBrass Sat 02-Oct-10 20:06:21

Look, he needs to see his GP and possibly a dentist as well to sort out what's wrong. Because if it's giving him bad breath then there is something physically wrong with him and he's not doing it just to annoy you.

KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sat 02-Oct-10 22:03:39

I think that he can, but just can't retrain the habit he got into when he did have a blockage problem before the operation - and I have said everything that 2rebecca suggests more times than I can say!

I think it is genuinely hard for him to break the habit, but also that the dynamic has got so difficult that he doesn't really want to accept that it's something to change on his own account rather than something to do to shut me up. When we're together he often tries quite hard to breath through his nose, but if he was off working in his study,for instance, he just wouldn't bother.

And I can't see how you can ever really retrain yourself about something like that unless you've decided that you want to for your own reasons and are going to do it consistently. Otherwise it's not 'must try and breath through my nose' but 'oh god, the wife's here, will have to breath through my nose now', which is both a rubbish dynamic for both of us to live in and doesn't actually work to break the habit. And looking for doctors' help becomes yet another thing that I'm pushing him into doing...

Oh dear, it all sounds so petty.

KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sat 02-Oct-10 22:05:15

(And yes, looking for help for me to deal with getting furious about it is definitely something I should try and sort out)

2rebecca Sat 02-Oct-10 22:54:17

I don't think it is petty. Mouth breathers look gormless and eat and sleep noisily. None of this is attractive or sexy. A marriage is essentially a sexual partnership. If one of you stops finding the other attractive the whole thing starts to unravel.

maktaitai Sat 02-Oct-10 23:25:07

I think, with marriage, you can go through patches like this for years [helpful]. On the positive side, I think the patches can also go away again.

Could you just leave the room whenever he does it? Or listen to stuff on headphones so it's not getting to you so much, plus buy him some Listerine?

LeChatRouge Sat 02-Oct-10 23:30:49

My friend used to do this (she REALLY annoyed herself!) and eventually worked out that if she avoids dairy products it really helps, especially milk.

Small possible practical solution - not trying to dilute all the helpful relationship advice.

WriterofDreams Sat 02-Oct-10 23:37:22

Is this really the main issue? Or is it that there are other problems that are being represented by this issue? If you're having trouble communicating with/respecting/fancying a person I think it's very easy for apparently small things to make you absolutely livid.

I was seeing a guy once who slowly started to reveal himself as being unreliable, childish, and far too clingy. As these more serious things became apparent I noticed that my tolerance for his habits went down and down to the point where even being in the same room as him made me angry. Eventually he totally repulsed me, but the habits weren't new, it's just that they became more and more obvious and irritating as my feelings for him became weaker.

Could this be what's happening with your husband? I agree with another poster that this could be a patch that you have to ride out, particularly if you're really keen to keep your marriage going.

Shodan Sat 02-Oct-10 23:55:49

Do you notice it all the time? Or just when you're tired or stressed by something else? Do you notice it, but not mind sometimes? Or is it a constant niggle?

Sorry for all the questions, only my DH is an atrociously noisy eater -sometimes it makes me feel quite sick, sometimes a little bit murderous, but usually, although I notice it, it doesn't bother me so much. That said, I do have distractions in place to ease the issue (no eating in a silent room, get up and move away if I'm really irritable etc) AND he does know how I feel and tries to moderate it if I mention it.

If it's just this one issue, then I wouldn't say it's time to call it a day- but (and I don't wish to come over all amateur psychologist here) like WriterofDreams says, I can't help wondering if there's more to this than that?

KeepOnWithTheDeepBreathing Sun 03-Oct-10 15:19:19

Other problems? Yes, of course - but we do seem to be able to talk about those ones better most of the time.

You're right that this does stand in for and connect to other stuff as well, but I think there's actually a considerable amount of stress attached to the issue in its own right. And it's sort of taken on a life of its own, too - now the issue is at least partly about not having managed to deal with the issue...

It's hopeful to think that one can ride things like this out, though. Grr.

foxinsocks Sun 03-Oct-10 15:26:16

what does he say when you speak to him about it?

you know it's so funny how we learn to do things one way and then find it hard to unlearn. I lost my hearing in one ear as a child for a year so I learned to lip read. Now I can't 'hear' people unless I can read what they are saying iyswim lol.

It is actually fiendishly hard to unlearn things like that. I've never managed it blush.

I would have a very non aggressive chat with him if you can.

It's probably not very good for his health to continue like he is. I bet if he realised how much it was really affecting you, he would try and do something about it. Though I think you do need to recognise how hard it is to undo these habits. I imagine it won't fix itself overnight.

Erica1234 Sun 19-Apr-15 02:26:52

Mine is a mouth breather also and it is very hard to deal with. He breathes so loudly I can hear him in the next room. When I say something he gets all butthurt.

The mouth breathing is not what's ruining our marriage. His reaction to my desire to stop it is causing a problem. It's unhealthy, he looks like an idiot, he eats disgusting because of it and there is obviously a problem.

Why should I be made out to be the bad guy for trying to make his health better?

FirCoat Sun 19-Apr-15 20:38:55

You could learn Buteyko breathing - it really works. It's about correct nasal breathing and it's brilliant. Look for some introductory YouTube videos by Patrick McKeown.

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