Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Please help- husbands hygiene and habits(156 Posts)
Hello all, I'm here looking for helpful advice to deal with my husbands longstanding neglect of his health and personal hygiene. Sorry, it's quite a long one! I'm 27 and he's 31.
Yes I have been aware of his lacklustre routine and knew what he was like before marriage, but I am now at my wits end. We have been together 9 years, married for 3, have just bought our first house and are planning a baby. The emotional side of our relationship is great and our daily lives together are just what we want, but...
He very rarely brushes his teeth (3-4 times a week) and only believes he needs to shower/bathe every other day (bear in mind he cycles to work and spends one night a week in a sweat box music studio) he is lax with his hand washing regime and doesn't make deodorant his best friend. The bottom line is he is lazy, and just can't be bothered with the effort. I struggle to understand why he can't take 10 minutes in the morning to brush teeth and use deo as a bare minimum before heading out the door.
On the mornings he does get up to shower, he makes sure he gets up at a time so that he can return to bed for 20 mins before getting up 5 minutes before he needs to leave, claiming he doesn't have time to brush his teeth or use deo. Drives me completely mental. 2 years ago it cost us £300 in dental bills, and he seems happy with the fact his teeth will probably just fall out of his head one day. We have talked about this MANY times and I've tried various approaches. I asked him to understand what it might be like for his work colleagues to sit next to him after he has cycled 5 miles in his shirt without deo, ive told him I'm worried about his dental health and my personal health when he doesn't hand wash, and also it pleasent to kiss him when he hasn't looked after his teeth for a few days. He also can't bear to throw away his clothes/shoes until the physically fall apart!
I love him very much, he looks after me and understands my sometimes over emotional state! We enjoy creating our home together, cooking together, going on holidays and recently started exercising together. He makes me laugh, feel loved and always has time for me. He is much loved by friends and family, my family love him and I have a great relationship with his parents.
What can I do to help and encourage him to improve this area? It's starting to eat away at me and create tension. He's recently told me to stop 'telling me what to do, you make me feel like a child' and Ive stopped the reminders, so he's stopped the hygiene! Help!
My partner did this not quite so bad as he's addicted to Lynx . However he slept in his clothes and wore them the next day without even getting changed. I made him a wall chart like a child and at the end of the week if he had everything done I gave him a massage. It got him in the routine and now he does it normally without the chart or massage anymore. He just needed an incentive to get into a routine.
If you have tried the softly softly approach and it hasn't worked, I'm afraid you need to get tough. Tell him you are fed up of his poor hygiene and you want him to make more effort. Tell him to shower every day, brush his teeth at least daily, and wear deoderant. I'm sorry I would find this disgusting and would have to make it clear that it was gross.
If he doesn't change it then it's up to you to decide whether it's a dealbreaker or not. I know I wouldn't want to be with a smelly dh.
Does he expect intimacy when he is such a (literally) grubby individual? I would really not be able to stomach kissing a man who seldom brushes his teeth... Or even snuggle up in front of the tv with somebody sweaty and unwashed. It shows a lack of respect, really, for you and himself.
Have you tried "how do you expect me to get pregnant when it's so unpleasant to be close to you"
I can't understand this at all- basic cleanliness is just well,NORMAL isn't it?
Is it that in the morning he prefers to be in bed?
Shower/bath in the evening & a quick wash in the morning?
Do you think that he needs to wash more or is it more his teeth?
His breath must stink!
I usually brush my teeth as soon as I get up so as not to subject others to my "morning breath"!
How about "wash like a normal human being or I leave?"
Oh, I wish I could think of something helpful to say. Must be awful and well, embarrassing. I'd hate for me & my dc to be tarred with the same brush.
If I were in your situation I'd have to say something about how unpleasant it is to kiss, be near or be intimate with him while he isn't looking after his hygiene. every single time.
I suppose to him you've been ok with it until now so there's little motivation to change.
I can appreciate how hard it must be as it's not like you can force him to care.
I think as well that this may be for him a power thing in that he might feel that if he changes his habits now he has in some way let you "win" which he might see as a threat to his masculinity or his view as "man of the house" or whatever.
Do not whatever you decide going forward bring a baby into this.
You have a serious problem on your hands; you seem to be acting as his mother as well. He has reverted to child mode out of all manner of reasons and he is being passive aggressive. Something is driving all this and he is a very angry individual. This is not just laziness.
He has developed a high tolerance for substandard personal hygiene, aggressively resists any attempt to improve his situation, and totally ignores the rights/sensitivities/requests of others around him. Sadly, he is totally selfish and self-justifying in his behaviour so a change is highly unlikely. He is doing this I think for many reasons; chief amongst these being anger, resentment, and revenge. He’s actually angry and hostile to everyone around him and he’s getting his revenge by stinking.
I would consider counselling for your own self re this matter; you need to talk in a safe and controlled environment.
Hi, thanks. He's not smelly constantly, normally at the end of the day after cycling and he will sort himself out but only if I ask him!. In the mornings he gets fed up with my reminders and closes off. I get out the shower, tell him the bathroom is free and he usually does shower or get in the bath. If he tries to initiate sex I will tell him is his breath is unpleasant and he will brush. I'm just so fed up if having to encourage him to do this stuff. I am a nanny and spend my whole day reminding a 3yo and a 6 yo to wash hands/brush teeth etc and I'm sick of it.
Being rude or unkind to him doesn't work, and it causes tension. I am hoping to find someone who give me some tips on how to deal with him! Beleive it or not I have half-Jokingly proposed the Idea of a chart or list of things to do in the mornings!
I beleive he can change his habits, as he has done in the past but these changes are short lived.
Thank you flimflam for a helpful, kind response! Perhaps I do need to be more consistent with what I will accept and will not.
What shall I do? How can I improve this? :-(
He is not a child, he is a grown man. How has he got away with this for so long?
I know he is lovely in other areas but trust me do not have a child with this man until he sorts this out. He is lazy, what sort of a father would he make? Fast forward 5 years when you are doing all the housework, childcare and holding down a fulltime job and he is walking around...smelling...
Tell him that he needs to sort it out, shower once a day and clean teeth twice a day plus wear deodorant.
Don't pussy foot around it and don't help him with it, just be clear that if he continues with his habits then he is jeopardizing your relationship.
You need to stop mothering him; you are not his mother. Change also needs to come from you as well as he.
Its going to take an awful lot of hard work from you both here to address the underlying issues that are going on here. This needs to be properly addressed, this is not something that can be just sorted without additional outside professional help. I still think he is a very angry man underneath it all and perhaps some of this is also linked to his brother's passing. It is not beyond the realms of possibility here.
It's almost self sabotage on his part, like he is making himself physically unlovable.
Ok, thank you all for the honest responses. It's a very scary prospect talking to him about potentially causing permanent damage to our relationship. I really do love him and we're building a life together. I will talk to him about this again and perhaps suggest some counselling.
He is an adult and has been doing this for the whole of your marriage. You can read it how you like - a lack of respect for others; laziness - but this is him. Take it or leave it. Ask yourself if you want to have a child with someone who relies on you to be his mum.
Your post of 09:09 is very interesting OP because I do know someone like this, and her upbringing was very neglectful - her parents never encouraged her to brush teeth, wash herself, etc, and as an adult she has really struggled to do these things without prompting. She has had a lot of psych treatment and as part of getting well and functioning as an adult she actually makes herself a tick list every day: Set alarm, have shower, brush teeth, apply deodorant, wear underwear, etc. Then in addition the weekly stuff like washing clothes.
I do think if these habits aren't gained during childhood it can be incredibly difficult for an adult to really take them on in the instinctive way that most of us do. That's why it's so frustrating for us - we've been doing this since we were tiny and it's ingrained, so the idea of someone not realising they need to brush their teeth and have a shower is completely alien.
My H was also like this to some extent as his upbringing was appalling - he was the youngest child of 11 and had never brushed his teeth or had a daily washing routine until he joined the Army. He was then instructed by his Sergeant that his hygiene was a health hazard to the other men and if he didn't change things PDQ he could be discharged! Luckily the Sergeant took him under his wing and helped him sort himself out, and by the time I met him many years later he was fine. However when he had low mood he would struggle with self-care.
If your H accepts that he did not learn "instinctive" hygiene lessons growing up due to the situation in the family, and he is prepared to work on this, then he can start to improve.
However if he doesn't acknowledge that he has a problem, and is happy to live like a horrible stinker with no respect for people around him - I don't think you can do anything, and at that point I would think seriously about my options. I certainly wouldn't want to bring a child into that situation.
It does sound as though he didn't have proper hygiene habits drummed into him because his parents had other things on their minds. But I'm not sure you need to address it with him as a deep-rooted psych problem just yet!
If he refuses to listen when you 'tell him what to do' can you rephrase it so it's about you? Can you say, you love him but you are very turned off sexually by the fact he smells and his breath is bad. It feels like he is finding a stealth way of rejecting you, By making himself physiclaly unappealing to you, and if that isn't the case, would he consider making the effort to clean his teeth twice a day and shower once a day so that you can physically enjoy being close to him?
You're really not asking too much of him. If he loves you, taking good care of his own physical hygiene shouldn't be much of an issue, and if it is, then I think you might need to go deeper and confront him on it. Refusal to wash is quite a primal reaction to problems. It is frequent in depression and other forms of mental illness.
It's possible he doesn't have a very strong sense of smell, and so doesn't realise how much he hums.
I think it's odd that he will shower and go back to bed. It sounds like pure laziness and a lack of self-respect.
I had an ex like this. He never washed his hands after going to the toilet and if I called him on it, he would lie. He would go a whole weekend without brushing his teeth and couldn't be bothered to shower after going out running and coming home soaked in sweat. He would sit in a dirty dressing gown until the sweat dried. Then I had to share a bed with him.
He would make an effort if going out socially so no one else probably realised how gross he was at home.
I think it will turn you off more and more as time goes on until you can't bear him near you.
You think because he is laid-back and easy-going it is just laziness - and definitely what others said about learning good habits early in life - but the anger thing is not as off-the-wall as you may think. Have you heard the term passive-aggressive? The fact that he nearly always appears calm but then storms off suggests that, among other things, he didn't really learn to handle anger terribly well. Also what silveracorn says about depression. Often self-care is the first thing to go. However, none of this means you should put up with it! It's not just about the smell or the dental health, it's about an attitude of mind which may lead to other problems as your lives become more entwined. You're planning to have children - imagine trying to get a willful child or teen to clean their teeth when daddy doesn't set a good example and may even undermine you.
(Still fuming years later about XH's crass line "Only dirty people need to wash". Yes, my friends, along with emotional abuse, financial fecklessness, jealousy and hoarding, he was also rather unclean. Just take my word for it he did have his positives.)
You knew what he was like when you married him, he's always been like this, you've tried various approaches to tackle this and nothing has changed.
I think this is a put up or shut up situation now.
The fact that you have to tell him to brush his teeth before you have sex is just vile, and shows his total lack of respect for you. Grim. I'm surprised you can even bear him to touch you.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Get started »
Please login first.