Dirty hus­band

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

I have been hap­pily mar­ried for 25 years. “Mike” is a won­der­ful hus­band with a flaw — his per­sonal hy­giene. He show­ers only once or twice a week, and then when he does, he’ll put on the same dirty pants he wore for the past three days.

I have asked him, nu­mer­ous times, to bathe more fre­quently and to change his un­der­wear and socks daily, whether or not he bathes. (He knows I don’t mind do­ing laun­dry, so that’s not his ex­cuse.) He comes home from work and doesn’t change out of his dusty clothes, and then he sits on the fur­ni­ture, leav­ing dirt and body odor. He can’t smell it, so he thinks I am over­sen­si­tive and over­re­act­ing. I am so frus­trated and at my wits’ end.

An­nie, I know he reads your col­umn ev­ery day and hope he will rec­og­nize him­self in this let­ter. I don’t know how else I can get through to him. Please help.

— Anony­mous

Your hus­band may be depressed, as poor per­sonal hy­giene is a symp­tom of self-ne­glect and can sig­nal a ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der. Or he may just be lazy. If he seems men­tally healthy oth­er­wise and he truly thinks you’re just be­ing overly sen­si­tive, then I’m guess­ing it’s the lat­ter. Be­yond af­fect­ing your love life (as I’m sure this has), there are other se­ri­ous con­se­quences. When a per­son doesn’t shower of­ten enough, his skin be­comes hos­pitable to bad bac­te­ria and vul­ner­a­ble to all sorts of in­fec­tions.

He should be show­er­ing three (or more) times a week if he leads a seden­tary life­style, daily if he works out or does man­ual la­bor. And he should be wear­ing a fresh pair of un­der­wear ev­ery day.

If he doesn’t be­lieve you and me, have him con­sult his physi­cian. He can ei­ther get into the shower or get into the doc­tor’s of­fice.

Ia­man 18-year-old fresh­man at col­lege. I had a won­der­ful high-school ex­pe­ri­ence — var­sity vol­ley­ball, tons of friends and two won­der­ful par­ents. I worked hard and got good grades.

Dur­ing my first se­mes­ter at school, I have started to con­stantly worry that I am go­ing to get sick and die. The other day, I had a headache and was con­vinced that I had a brain tu­mor. I went to ur­gent care and asked whether I needed an MRI. The pro­fes­sion­als there said that there was noth­ing se­ri­ously wrong, that I was prob­a­bly de­hy­drated.

I am con­stantly wash­ing my hands for fear that I will get sick. It is start­ing to af­fect my con­cen­tra­tion in class be­cause ev­ery time I get a cramp or a pain in my stom­ach, I think I am dy­ing. I want to en­joy my­self and go back to not be­ing pre­oc­cu­pied with get­ting sick.

— Want­ing to Stop Wor­ry­ing and Start


Make no mis­take; mov­ing away from home for the first time is a big deal. It’s very nat­u­ral for teens to feel anx­i­ety dur­ing their fresh­man year of col­lege. But as you’ve rec­og­nized, your anx­i­ety is more in­tense than the av­er­age stu­dent’s. Your pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with get­ting sick — which is known as hypochon­dria — could be your way of deal­ing with that.

Con­sult your col­lege coun­selor, and prac­tice more pos­i­tive self-talk to help cope with these thoughts when they come up. Your men­tal health is ex­tremely im­por­tant, and I’m glad you re­al­ize that.

He should be show­er­ing three (or more) times a week if he leads a seden­tary life­style, daily if he works out or does man­ual la­bor.

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