My husband showers once or twice a day because he can’t stand feeling oily or sweaty for long. But he’s always had some hygiene issues that interfere with how close I want to be with him. He doesn’t seem to get that standing under running water and soaping his chest, armpits and pubes isn’t enough. Gotta scrub ALL THE BODY.
Early on, I noticed that often his skin smelled faintly like sour milk. He got defensive when I gently asked about it, suggesting a different soap or watching his diet to see if something might be causing that. Fine, then, it’s not a hill I want to die on, and it doesn’t happen all the time.
He’s also had underarm odor before, and it smells strongly of onions to me. This happens so infrequently that I don’t mention it either.
He’s also had bad breath. Although he brushes his teeth fiercely, he doesn’t floss and he doesn’t brush his teeth long or thoroughly enough. If I had to guess, I’d say 20-30 seconds. He also doesn’t scrape or brush his tongue. Like me, he has sinus drainage, and that contributes to the slightly rotten taste and smell of his mouth (and the slime of it). Now I just avoid the tongue when kissing him, and I miss passionate kisses.
When he takes his pants off for sex (way back when we still used to have it), there would very often be a strong shit smell, like he hadn’t wiped firmly enough. (He often has streaks in his boxers too.) I’ve tried telling him about this as tactfully as I could, but he gets so defensive. He would yell that he had just showered, like I’m supposed to say, “Oh, well then, I must be imagining this vomit-worthy smell. Carry on.” I tried suggesting wet wipes, or even coyly mentioning I’d be more receptive to sex if he’d freshen up a little first. So I learned early on when he stinks without pants that I need to just mouth breathe until he puts his pants back on. It’s definitely a sexual buzzkill, trying not to think about poop and remembering to mouth breathe. This is nothing I’ve encountered with other lovers in the past. And I know it’s not some overly fastidious thing about me, because when I’m in the mood for sex, I love how the most male parts of a man’s body smell. Mmmm, pheromones.
The absolute worst, though, is when his feet stink. It’s a cheesy, sour, aggressively strong “footy” smell that’s bad enough you think maggots and rotten meat must be involved. Last night, it was so bad when he walked into the living room barefooted and plopped down across the room that I had to get up from where I was sitting about 10 feet from him and go to another room.
Late last night we also had to get into our SUV and run to the airport to pick up our daughter, who was flying in for fall break. OMG, when we got into the closed space of our vehicle, that bad foot smell was nauseating and overwhelming. I finally had to ask him if he had stepped in something or put on some old, stale-smelling shoes. (I was trying to be a little tactful and not say, “Why do your feet stink like death?”) He said that he didn’t smell anything but he was sorry if it might be coming from him. (There was no “might” about it.) He added that he was wearing shoes without socks. (I’m making a mental note to check THAT situation before we leave the house in the future.)
I kept checking my breath, since I’m getting over a recent sinus infection, but I couldn’t smell the bad smell when he wasn’t close by.
I don’t know how he was oblivious to it. It was bad enough that I was again having to mouth breathe, and I could almost taste the stench. And when we got to the airport, I would get fresh air when he walked away to do some pacing and then I’d get the strong whiffs of foot stench again when he paced closer by. I didn’t want to be mean and ask him to stay way over there so I don’t puke, though.He gets his feelings hurt.
On the ride home, I huddled under a jacket as if I were cold and just breathed close to the fabric.
This seems to be one of the things I have to endure if I stay married to him, since he’s so self-conscious he can’t tolerate any level of discussion or problem-solving on it.
I really don’t get that point of view. If someone even hinted that I stunk, I’d be all over it with efforts to cut that shit out.
(Photo of Hagen-Renaker figurine by Kay Schlumpf via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.)