- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband has poor hygiene — it’s so bad I can barely stand to be in the same room with him. Not only does he have body odor, but he has breath that can light up a room. Trust me, I try to talk to him about it, but he keeps blowing me off and I don’t know what to do.

We have a unit Christmas formal in two weeks, and there is no way I’m going to let him escort me. My husband works for a defense contractor, and I know the people on his job must complain about his hygiene because they work in close quarters and everyone has a cubicle.

I even volunteer to start the shower or run bath water for him. He only rushes in and rushes out without washing thoroughly.

Ms. Vicki, I can’t make love to my husband; I don’t even want to hold his hand or kiss him. I’m a young woman, and I married him because I wanted to share my life with him and enjoy intimacy, too.

Something happened to him when he retired from the Army. It’s like he stopped caring for himself. We’ve been married for six years and this is not the way I want to continue my life. Is divorce looming for me? — Six Years With Stinky

Dear Stinky,

I cannot confirm if divorce is imminent, but I can confirm marital discord will continue and emotional and physical distance will increase between you and your husband if this situation persists. Oftentimes, a spouse can find themselves in a precarious position: We know the truth, but how do we relay the truth to our spouses and show support without being offensive? Personally, I believe that if your spouse cannot give you the truth, then who will give it to you?

Retirement can be a tough transition, especially from the military to civilian life. I’m not sure what could have happened during this transition that caused your husband to neglect his personal hygiene.

I think you should continue to run his bath water and start the shower for him, too. You must insist that he bathes. Make an appointment for him to see a dentist and discuss his halitosis problem.

My last suggestion is to sit down and talk very candidly about your husband’s hygiene and the negative effect it is having on your overall relationship. He needs to know the truth, and you cannot sugarcoat it.

I regret sounding as if I am holding you responsible for your husband’s hygiene, because I am not. Keep in touch and let me know how these suggestions work.

Reader responses:

• I’m writing you to express my disgust with the sergeant first class who wrote you Dec. 3 complaining about officers in his unit. He should be ashamed of himself. He should know that he shouldn’t write letters complaining about this matter, but try to handle it within the unit. It’s a sergeant first class like this that gives the Army a bad name. Yes, there are options to file complaints just as you mention, but why do that? He should move on and get over it. — From a proud SFC

• Most of the letters you receive are laughable! Like the Marine who is engaged to the cheerleader (Dec. 3). Why would he write you asking if he should get a prenup? What does he need a prenuptial agreement for? We all know the military is one of the lowest paid and most underappreciated professions that exist. He needs to get over his ego. If he can marry a rich cheerleader who is a daddy’s girl, then he should go for it and shut up! — I’ll Take A Rich Daddy’s Girl Any Day

• My letter is in response to the lady who wrote to you Nov. 19 about her husband’s secret children. I think you played around this issue too much. You should have told her, point blank, to divorce him. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist. I hear this all to often when people come into my office expecting me to fix and straighten out all of the garbage, lies and drama. Well guess what? I can’t fix it! She needs to divorce him immediately. — D. Smith, Wheaton

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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