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Bad Hygiene


JessicaVAM
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Hi Jessica,

This one has to be very tough in all areas. it would certainly be hard for me and I can understand how even having romantic feelings would be impossible to muster after awhile. I think you've shown remarkable restraint and have been very patient and tried to be understanding. How long have you been together? How long has this been going on?

I'm wondering if you can answer some questions that might help us get at the root of the issue, especially since his behavior doesn't fit easily in social customs, as you point out. Can you answer yes or no to these questions?

  • Is there a pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings,
  • Does he enjoy close relationships, including being part of a family
  • Des he enjoy group activities or does he prefer solitary activities
  • Is he interested in sex or cn he take it or leave it
  • Does he take pleasure in a few things? If so, what are they
  • Does he have close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  • Does he like to be praised or is he indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
  • Would you describe him as warm, caring and affectionate or somewhat cold, detached, and even having a flat affect
  • Does he engage in any stereotyped rituals or routines
  • Is he able to show empathy for others and is he able to understand others' feelings
  • Is he capable of recognizing when he has hurt others or when his behavior may be off the mark

I feel like a CIA agent interviewing you and I'm sorry. I'm just wondering if we may be dealing with more than simple bad habits.

Please write back

David

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We've been together for almost 3½ years. This has been going on since I've met him, but I just didn't realize this is just the way he was.. and its progressively just gotten more and more to me. We started out only as "friends w/ benefits" and he told me that he couldn't have children. However, only after a handful of times of having intercourse, I was pregnant. We got together, both fully acknowledging the craziness (as we'd only known each other maybe 2 months before I became pregnant). I never intended to date him however as I had just split up with a very serious relationship only a year earlier and was having lots of difficulties dealing with, and that I still dealt with for the first 2 years of our relationship.

But he's been absolutely great. However, this problem has gotten to the point I daily resent him for being so insistent that he couldn't have children. He had told me that doctors said he'd need medical intervention and even then, probably would not have kids. I never asked exactly how they had come to this conclusion, but I never questioned it. He had been so careless w/ so many, I never gave it a second thought. ANYWAY, I got way off track :)

To answer your questions:

***Is there a pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings

Not that I see. I try to let him do what he wants and he has lots of hobbies such as hunting and fishing and he goes to friend's houses and plays poker, etc. Just the other day on facebook he was talking to his buddies and how thankful he was to have them in his life and he talks to him mom AT LEAST every other day. You can tell he loves our kids too.

***Does he enjoy close relationships, including being part of a family

As far as I can tell he loves being part of the family. I know I was looking up something to do with "missing your ex" or something, because I was having a really bad day and was basically thinking of the good times, and he COMPLETELY freaked and got upset. (but who could blame him) However, I told him it was just me browsing and looking around (because it was) and had nothing to do with me missing a person, just missing a good time.

***Does he enjoy group activities or does he prefer solitary activities

He enjoys both. He enjoys getting out of the house really. When he goes hunting, he'll invite someone to go out there with him. He goes to hang out with the neighbors when he's home.

***Is he interested in sex or can he take it or leave it

He's more interested in it than I am. But that doesn't say much as I'm under stress at all times that I take care of 2 kids (2½ yrs and 12 months) and go to college full time.

***Does he take pleasure in a few things? If so, what are they

Yes, hunting and fishing are his favorite hobbies. Like I said, his boys seem to be very important to him.

***Does he have close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives

Yes he does. I'm the one w/ no friends except for him.

***Does he like to be praised or is he indifferent to the praise or criticism of others

Oh yeah he does. You can see him swell up when you compliment him on anything. However, he take criticism very well.

***Would you describe him as warm, caring and affectionate or somewhat cold, detached, and even having a flat affect

Warm, caring, and affectionate.

***Does he engage in any stereotyped rituals or routines

Not really sure what this means

***Is he able to show empathy for others and is he able to understand others' feelings

Very much so. I am the one who tends to not feel much for other's pain.

***Is he capable of recognizing when he has hurt others or when his behavior may be off the mark

I guess so. But the only person he's ever hurt is me, and its REAL obvious when you've hurt me because I'll cry and walk away.

He seems very happy except when he's home. He's not much of the stay indoors type and he'll be real lazy, but he works quite a bit, so I just think that's just him trying to take it easy for once. He's interested in lots of hobbies, sometimes too many as we can't afford all his interests LoL.

Hope I answered them good enough. :( Thanks for the response.

Edited by JessicaVAM
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Jessica,

Thanks so much for your response, it eliminates any suspicion I had that he might have other issues. So it seems that the issue is one of social skills, both in public and at home.

It's late for me, but we can continue this tomorrow and hopefully we can develop an action plan of things you can do to address the issue. Sorry, but my brain tends to fry at this time and then I don't make much sense.

till tomorrow,

David

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Good morning Jessica,

No coffee yet, but I think we can pull off the 1st post at least. :)

In the past, what have your said to him about his hygiene-- can you give me the exact words you used for bathing, tooth brushing and other issues. After eeach description, tell me what his response has been verbally and what behaviors followed your comment about his hygiene. For example:

1) "John, I need for you to take a bath every night, you do begin to smell after just one day!"

His response: "I'm sorry hun, I'll try to do better from now on"

His behavior: not bathing for a week

2) "John....

His response:.....

His behavior: .....

Good luck and do write back,

David

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First off, I just wanted to thank the both of ya'll for sending posts my way! I really appreciate that someone is willing to give their insight. Just like JulianP I have a hard time letting people know what I think w/o them taking it wrong etc. However, I do understand that to help someone change, it has to be more subconscious than just telling them DO IT.

When I met him, he HAD to be clean cut for his job. I do know that he lived with people that I am sure made him keep good hygiene.

When we were expecting our first child, he would not take care of himself and I one day glance at his feet and realized he REALLY did not take care of them. He sweats at work, then takes his socks off, and while his feet are still soggy briskly runs his socks in between his toes because "they itch." Finally I would tell him,

"Hey, when you get home, take a shower, and I'll give you a foot massage." and that's what I'd do a lot of nights. His feet started to get better.

However, as great and wonderful as it would be to try and do that whole process for everything, I can't muster up time or energy. In order to keep costs lower, we switch out on who watches the boys. While I go to school in the mornings, he goes to work at night. I'm up by 6 A.M., and don't get to put the boys to sleep until midnight because I try to keep them up late to make them sleep in so my husband can sleep in since he gets off at midnight, and home by 12:35. So I rarely see him anyway. He picks me up from class most days and 15 minutes after we get home, he's walking out the door.

So until we get a schedule that we actually see each other for more than 30 minutes during the day, I just don't see how I could find the energy to go to school full time, cook, keep the house, take care of our kids, study for my classes, and then find time to actively try to encourage him to better himself.

He also doesn't take care of himself in other ways. I tried to switch to whole wheat products, trying to eat more fruits, veggies, etc. and he won't eat them. I will buy the grain breads he says he likes that I HATE just so he'll eat something besides white. when he complains he doesn't like something, I ask him "Well, what would you prefer then?" (trying to say in a nice way) and he'll say "Anything that's unhealthy." His fav. snack after work is 2 beers and a bag of chips!

And to answer your questions about how I say it.

I'll admit, there are times I'm like "OMG, PLEASE GO TAKE A SHOWER" there are times I'm just so frustrated, and so disgusted I can't be nice about it.

Most times I say

"Hey, I am not trying to be mean or rude, but you really need to brush your teeth."

His response: its like it inconveniences him. He gets huffy and puffy and sometimes like I said, just won't do it and will use mouthwash. I'll go "You didn't brush your teeth." and he'll say "ITS THE SAME THING, IT'LL BE FINE" He get defensive by this point.

When I tell him that he should take a shower (usually about the same kinda way), he either gets defensive in the same way, or he'll give me an excuse like

"Well, I'm about to go to work and get dirty anyway"

or "I'll do it later."

Now, I am guilty of the whole "I'll do it later" but mostly because I have to watch the boys. Anytime I ask him to watch them while I take a shower, most times its "well, I was about to go do this."

Most times during the time we've had kids he'll say "well I was about to go do this" whenever I ask him to help me with them. You can tell he loves them, but he's very short tempered w/ them (He grew up with a very bad/abusive step dad). I used to think he was joking, but now I truthfully believe he goes by the motto "Children should be seen and not heard."

ANYWAY, off topic again (can you tell I don't have people to vent to, LOL)

But most times, thats EXACTLY how I say it. "No offense, but you need to brush your teeth/take a shower/ etc."

And he gets defensive, or says he'll do it later, or make an excuse not to do it.

Now with the picking his nose, I've explained to him "please stop doing this as I don't want our son to pick it up" and he agrees that he shouldn't pick it up, but won't stop. Again he'll give an excuse like "I can't breath." (nose was broken, and he can't breath through one nostril)

He's REALLY open about a lot of stuff that I just wish he wouldn't be honest with me about. When he uses the bathroom, he has to tell me all about it, or that his stomach was tore up, or how gross, etc etc etc.

I really wish I could tell him, "Hey, I like CLEAN CUT." I am NOT the girl attracted to the dirty hard labor man with dirt on his face and clothes working his self to the bone. I VERY VERY much am thankful he's willing to do that, but I like the good looking, clean cut, clean shaven look on guys. When I met him, he had to wear the pressed long sleeve button up shirts with tie and black slacks and dress shoes. He looks EXCELLENT like that.

Either way, I hope I answered you both. I know I talk a lot. I apologize. Thank you!

Jessica

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I'm curious, Jessica, how is he with orderliness in general? Is he messy in other ways? You mentioned that he got defensive when you asked him to clean up. Defensiveness can mean there is something deeper there. Have you ever gently attempted to discuss with him why he lets himself go? Do you sense there is a purpose behind his behavior or does he just seem oblivious to it?

Last year my H found out that his cholesterol was a whopping 270. His reaction? "Oh well. Guess I'll die young." I've found the best method with him at times like this is for me to take charge. I told him we were changing his diet right here and now, that I had no intentions of being a widow, that he was going to live a nice long life...I told him no more junk food and that I was making his lunch for work every day. And that he had better get used to fish! He lost 30 pounds and 75 points on his cholesterol over a period of 6 months. I'm not saying you should try this with your H. I don't know what he might respond to best, but sometimes it's helpful for them to know that you care about their welfare. It can be a reminder that they are very important and should treat themselves with a little more care.

Best of luck.

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Kids are getting tired so I'll be brief. Yes, he is messy in other ways that he leaves his plates, cups, beer bottles, clothes everywhere.

No I have not tried to discuss it as I don't know how to start it. Thats really what I was asking to begin with.

And I don't think he really notices that he does it. I understand you forget you set something down because I do the same. But I'll tell him 'PLEASE, put your laundry in the basket." and when he goes to throw 'em in there 5 minutes later, he'll miss, and walk away. I have to go "what in the world!!?!" then he realizes.

Anyway, my oldest has decided to pull the speakers out from the entertainment center. Damage control is in order.

Take care all

Jessica

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Hi Jessica,

It seems you certainly have your hands full and that things seem to be getting worse and possibly it may be affecting your children’s behavior (I’m guessing). Since the issue is that this is learned, or betters said—unlearned behavior, your goal may be to teach him what you want/need, w/o words.

My first question surrounds your relationship with him. In order for you to exercise some muscle, as I’m thinking may be necessary, I need to know if your relationship with him is good? Are you close and connected? Does he love you and does he have a commitment to you in such a way that if you put pressure on him, he will respond with effort, or will he walk away and begin to ignore you and what your needs are? If he values his relationship with you, we have something to work with.

Once we know this, then we can begin having you make behavioral changes that will affect him.

David

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Howdy David!

Well, I believe its just terrible 2's and that my son has realized all his potential to get into everything we once had locked up enough so he couldn't access it =). Hands full... always!

To answer your question, I think we have a decent relationship. However, we seldom see each other because we alternate so much and his weekends are spent doing other things.

I do know that he was willing to give up some of the things he loves because I was so against them. However, in the end, he made it very clear he was so mad about it that I just said "screw it" and have tried to be the understanding and accepting one.

I personally believe I am the one who is more adapt to "Molding" I'll say for lack of what you'd actually calling it. It takes me awhile to get used to it, but I'll eventually give in.

He's very stubborn, but I don't think I've ever said "hey, change this or I'll leave you." In fact, I know its disgusting, but I just don't view this as such an issue to actually have grounds to leave.

In other words, I need something thats really going to drill straight to him, immediately, and let him know its unacceptable.

Thanks!

Jessica.:)

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Howdy back actha,

I lived in Ysleta (El Paso), Van Horn and finally Denton TX-- all for about 15 years. That Howdy brought back memories!

Your sentence: "When I met him, he HAD to be clean cut for his job. I do know that he lived with people that I am sure made him keep good hygiene," indicates to me that the issue then is not one of social skills, but one of lack of desire and interest. This then suggests that while he is capable of being clean cut, as you say, he has learned that with you he need not be clean or take care of himself. You knew this going into the marriage so your reason for complaint is somehow lessened in his eyes (it’s like buying a car with bad tires and then complaining about them despite the fact that this is how you purchased it).

Nonetheless, it may be time to retrain him and at this point he is very set in his ways with you. So the issue becomes one of what lengths you will go to make these changes happen.

If you're willing to go at the issue strongly, then there will need to be a 2-step process: 1) a very serious conversation in which you don’t complain about the issue, but you clearly state what your needs are (a daily bathed man, a man with cleanly brushed teeth 2X per day, a man who picks up after himself most of the time, and a man who wears clean clothing once he comes home from work); and, 2) a conversation in which you clearly state that his poor hygiene indicates his lack of respect and love for you as his wife and for his child (for whom he is modeling this behavior). In general, insist that the clearest expression of his love for you has to be that he meet your most basic needs—and this is a basic need (in my mind, poor hygiene at this level would be a deal breaker for most Americans). This conversation should have both 1 and 2 simultaneously occur and be done at a time in which you are alone for an extended period.

Remember, there is no blaming or anger or frustration or mincing of words. Make it a simple conversation about your needs and how he can fulfill them. If he becomes angry, get up and walk away as you tell him: “We can try this conversation again tomorrow.” And then say no more as you leave the room. Don’t buckle or try to soft touch it. If he becomes angry again the next time, then you get up and say the same thing as you leave the room. This is the “broken record,” technique. If he begins to spend less and less time at home b/c you’re “nagging” him, then we have another issue to think about.

If you become emotional and frustrated, he will accuse of nagging, so staying calm and composed is the key.

At a more extreme level, you can put an ultimatum on him: if his hygiene doesn’t improve as you’ve stated, you will be forced to leave for 3-4 days. Make this a matter-of-fact, unemotional, robotic statement of fact w/o any discussion or lengthy conversation. I realize this is a huge step; however, if you’re serious about his hygiene you may need to take it. If his hygiene does not concern you to this level, then plan on living with it for as long as you are together.

Should you decide to “lay down the law,” then write back and we can take you thru the step by step process.

I realize this sounds harsh, and even unsympathetic and insensitive on my part; however, we’re discussing your marriage to the man you love and sometimes it takes a firm, hard approach to achieve a stronger union.

Good luck and I hope this helps,

David

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Then I"m in trouble because I am an emotional wreck just about anytime you ask me to be up front with a possibility of negative emotions. Plus, right now I"m really not in a good state of mind. Been in a funk and can't seem to shake this lonely feeling I"ve got. EITHER WAY. What do I do w/ the steps?

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Good morning Jessica,

The steps are outlined here: "...if his hygiene doesn’t improve as you’ve stated, you will be forced to leave for 3-4 days. Make this a matter-of-fact, unemotional, robotic statement of fact w/o any discussion or lengthy conversation. I realize this is a huge step; however, if you’re serious about his hygiene you may need to take it." but we will need much more detail:

1) Explain to him that you love him and that you always have

2) tell him that you've reached a breaking point regarding his hygiene and that if he loved and respected you, he would make an effort to bathe daily, brush his teeth daily, etc. Lay it our w/o any emotion whatsoever- it has to be squeaky clean in its delivery, otherwise you've lost your power.

3) Tell him that from now you need for him to shower before he comes to bed, brush his teeth and wear clean clothing. Also that you expect for him to carry his weight around the house (be specific of what top 2-3 things you need)

4) IF he begins to argue, get up and walk away into another room. If he follows, leave the house for 1-3 hours. When you return, start the discussion from scratch, like a broken record, but with absolutely no emotion (this is the key point).

5) prepare yourself for some battle. When evening comes, if he's not cleaned up, leave the house and stay with a neighbor or friend for 3 days. In those 3 days, do not call him or answer his calls--- have no contact with him and don't tell where you've gone to. Just tell him you'll return in 1-3 days. Then leave.

6) On day 3, return. If he begins to raise his voice or argue with you about it, ask him only once to stop or you'll leave again. Be prepared to leave for a full 24 hours for this behavior.

7) On your return, if he again begins to argue, do step 6 one more time. Do this until he's ready to listen. Don't nag or talk too much as this eliminates your point since it gives him ammo and another point to focus on besides the main issue.

8) If you finally make it home and he doesn't clean himself up and help pick up after himself, leave again for 3-5 days this stime. Follow this formula to a "T" w/o using words and power. Use your feet to send the message.

One warning here, this may result in tremendous stress in your marriage and could actually send it south quickly, so be sure you want to do this. If you start, don't stop half-way as this will completely undermine your argument and set you up for months and months or years of debate and discussion about your failed attempt to change him.

Good luck and i hope this helps,

David

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