My husband won't shower regularly; I won't get close to him because of smell

Hi, everyone. I do not post often, so I will give a quick introduction. My husband and I are 38. We have been married for four years. We have been blessed with a one-year old baby boy (after some struggle and miscarriages). We are practicing Catholics. We live in the United States.

I have a situation for which I ask your Catholic advice.

My husband is a stay-at-home-Dad. Since I earn considerably more than he, I was the one to go back to work 3 months after our baby was born. He does an excellent job with our son.

My husband does not shower everyday, having gone as many as 5 days without a shower. I love my husband, but I oftentimes cannot get near him because of the intense body odor. This is not attractive to me, and, as a female, I certainly should be physically attracted towards my husband.

I want very much to have my marriage be one in which my husband and I are physically intimate. I want to hold him and be held by him. However, his body odor is overwhelming, and I do not want to be close to him.

I have talked to him about this a few times. He says that he does not need to shower daily. He points out that years ago, people did not shower. He says that he kisses me even if I have bad breath. He has said that I am being petty on the issue.

I point out to him that I keep myself pretty and good-smelling for him, and that I would like the same in return.

Another thing about my husband is that he doesn’t approach me to be physically intimate with him. Combine that with the fact that his smelly body odor is a big turn-off for me, and we are celibate. I yearn, however, to be physically close with my husband and to be held by him, but the body odor is horrendous. When he was working (before our baby was born), he showered regularly to go to work, and I would approach him quite often to be intimate with him. Now, it’s not happening.

He says that I am wrong. He says that lots of men do not shower regularly, and I must not have dated enough men to know that.

What would a Saint do?

Do I accept him for who he is, smell and all, and proceed to live a celibate life? (And, yet, I was hoping we could be fruitful and multiply…) Do I continue to pray on it? Are there any words from a Catholic perspective that I could say to him that would motivate him to shower regularly?

Do you think maybe your husband is depressed?

Fwiw, I don’t blame you for how you feel. What a difficult situation.

Hmm, yes, this is a sensitive subject. I am not married so I cannot speak from personal experience. But, I do not think you are wrong in hoping for basic hygiene and marital intimacy. The Bible openly states not to deprive one another of martial intimacy except for periods of prayer. The Bible also talks about how when you marry, your body is no longer your own and also talks about how the husband should care for his wife as he cares for his own body (hmmm). Of course, Theology of the Body goes even more in depth on this. I would think there’s plenty of Christian teaching that support the idea that we are to honor our spouses with our bodies, and to have a self-giving approach to marriage not just in a spiritual sense but with the body too. And I would think even “small” things that get in the way of your marriage bond should be open for discussion… I mean when my boyfriend says “I really wish you’d clean your car out more often” I do it not because it’s a sin issue but because it matters to him. Doesn’t matter to me, but it matters to him. And we’re not even married.

Soooo… all that to say… your feelings on the matter are consistent with Catholic teaching! I guess the issue is how to get your husband on board. :frowning: Perhaps keep talking to him about it? Perhaps ask to do a study of ToB or read a book together as a couple? Perhaps go on a retreat and get some advice from mentors there? It’s possible the issue goes deeper and does need professional counseling.

I would tell my husband his body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I as his wife am to be treated as Christ loved the Church, which was a self-sacrificing love. I would tell him that the lack of intimacy means a weakening of the bond between the two of us, and a loss of opportunity to renew the grace-giving sacrament of our marriage. I would ask him, out of reverence for our marriage, out of respect for me, and as an act of self-sacrifice to shower regularly and take care of himself so he might take care of our marriage.

But that’s just me.

Does he not miss making love to you? If he doesn’t, it seems like there is something more to this than just him trying to conserve water!

My DH showers in the mornings so he can be a little smelly by the end of the day when we are ready for bed. But he KNOWS if he’s been really sweaty and wants me to get near him, he’d better go wash up! :smiley: He doesn’t mind at all…it’s worth it to make our lovemaking experience a little more pleasant.

What was his personal hygiene like before you two got married? Surely he would shower and shave before the two of you went on a date. It might be nice to remind him that courtship is supposed to continue after we’re married too. Sure your spouse loves you “warts and all” but that doesn’t mean we should completely let ourselves go with respect to basic hygiene!

I’m no expert, but if this is hindering your sex life and he doesn’t care, something is definitely wrong. Do you think maybe he’s having a tough time making the transition to SAHD?

Like someone else said, this sounds a lot like depression.

He needs to get out of the house and do other activities, preferably in a social setting. Take him out, not only will he feel better but also should want to shower for the occasion.:slight_smile:

WRONG…and irrelevant. If you stink, you shower. Can’t imagine why a man would go more than a day without one–particularly if hoping to be intimate with his wife.

Are you kidding?! What difference does it make what a saint would do? The question is what do YOU need to do. This is not something to merely pray about…it’s a call to ACTION. Your options: either a mental health eval. for hubby~it’s simply is not normal/healthy/balanced behaviour to refuse to perform ordinary hygiene~or a garden hose in the face.

Extended celibacy without other health issues also not normal for man his age. Did you say he’s become a SAHD…is he struggling emotionally with this role? Depression?? Set up a doctor’s appointment for him and offer (insist?) upon coming along. Lots of red flags here

I agree with the other posters. Your husband’s unwillingness to shower, despite your pleading, and his lack of interest in sex, aren’t ok. He does sound depressed. Whether he is or not, it sounds like couple’s conselling would be very helpful for you both. I think he needs to hear that his marriage is in trouble and that you want things to get better, and you’d like to involve a counselor to provide an objective read on your relationship and help you work things out.

Dumb question, if he only showers once a week or every five days, why don’t you just be intimate with him on the one day a week he showers? Having sex once a week is still a lot more than a lot of couples have–then it might give him more reason to stay clean the rest of the week.

Are you saying if he showered every day that you would have sex/marital relations with him every day? If not, he may feel like that is an excuse you are using to try and control him.

Does your bathtub fit two people.?Enjoy a hot bath together and use a fresh scented soap like Irish Spring.Relax and talk in the warm water.

Disagree vehemently, Turtle.

This man showered every day when he went to work. Yet he won’t do it for his wife. In a sense he tells her every day he doesn’t shower that her sensibilities are not as important to him as the strangers at the office.

This is passive aggressive.

Depression is anger turned inward.

I suggest maybe he doesn’t like being a stay at home dad as much as he might claim and he’s taking it out on his wife in a very unkind way.

If I were her I would never kiss him again unless I had brushed my teeth or rinsed. So he can’t hang that over her head. There is no comparison.

His wife asked him to do something because it was important to her. Whether he sees it as control issues or whatever, the fact he’d comply because a counselor told him to is wrong. He should do it because SHE asked him.

As far as the “people in olden times didn’t shower every day” well…

Those people also didn’t drive cars and didn’t have phones and had their teeth fall out early.

So he wants to imitate that all too?

The insult here runs deeper than the one to the olfactory senses.

Has he given up shaving also.?I have seen stay at home men that get lazy about
shaving. Maybe not showering is an extension of their becoming too relaxed and feeling
without purpose and drive.:frowning:

I would also agree that he sounds depressed. Please look into counselling and also consider how you might adjust your job/childcare arrangements. Consider if you can limit your hours so that if he works in the afternoons or evenings, you can be home. It is very hard for many men to give up working and that could be contributing to his depression. Also, be sure you are all eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise (especially outdoors).

*You know, I have a different opinion here…you say you make a lot more money than your husband did, so he stayed home. It sounds like passive aggressive behavior, to me. While he is a great SAHD, maybe he has a hidden jealousy of your financial success. Showering for work, and then not showering “for you” even despite your asking, shows passive aggressive behavior…I’m not a psychiatrist, but it sounds like he has some resentment building…

Whatever works for one’s family, is key, but maybe deep down, your husband wants to be the one working again? Not that you should change things, but just saying…

My family lives in Boca…it’s also a place that breeds male financial success to the excess --so he could be feeling like he is on the one hand doing the right thing by being a SAHD, but on the other, that pull to be the financially successful one for the family. You have nothing to feel badly about, if you both decided this–I’m just saying, men grapple with things differently sometimes.

More than meets the eye, than just not showering. I hope you can get to the bottom of things, floridawife…*

No, he’s not depressed. Thinking on it now, back when he was working (outside the home, pre-baby), he skipped showers on the weekends.

And thanks for saying that you don’t blame me. He tells me that I am the one that’s wrong, so thanks for the validation.

Thank you for this. I had not thought of this.

AWESOME!!! Well-said! Just what I needed!!! I will definitely use this!! Thank you! God bless you!

He does not miss making love to me. In fact, he was never much for making love to me anyway. We abstained until marriage. Once we were married, he had an interest in making love to me, but not as much as I would have thought. He would rather surf the internet. :frowning: When we were trying to get pregnant, I was the one always initiating.

Yes, he did shower while we were dating, but, now that I think of it, when we were engaged he got lax about showering on the weekends. But you make a good point that courtship should continue. Thank you for that.

Not depression. He has the opportunity to get out of the house on occasional evenings and weekends for group functions in which he is involved.

The issue still remains that he goes up to five days without showering, so I can’t even get within four feet of him for 4 out of 5 days.