Anne, I have been married to a wonderful man for 5 years, but I have found myself no longer physically attracted to him because he is, in short, a slob: He showers only once or twice a week and then complains to me that his cloths are never clean and that the house smells, etc. He constantly picks his nose in front of me and in public. Just last night, for example, while picking his nose so deeply I thought his face was going to cave in, he asked me if I was “in the mood,” and as I responded “NO”, he studied the contents of his nose and said, “why not.” ? He then complains that I’m a prude and that our sex life is non-existent. I’m sorry, but I not attracted to a man who picks his nose and smells like a horse. My best friend says I’m over-reacting; that he is just acting like a man. My husband is a wonderful man in almost every other way, and I would like to change him if I could. Am I over-reacting? How do I get a 33-year-man to stop picking his nose and shower a little more often?
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It’s sad to think that your husband is as clueless as you describe, but I can believe that he is. I’ve seen enough guys out there with more hair coming out of their ears and nose than on their heads to know that some guys just don’t understand hygiene at all. I don’t think you are over-reacting; I think you have a legitimate complaint. We all have limits within which we can accept things and outside of which we cannot. Your husband is outside the limits of what you can accept. Given the situation, you have a few options, but only a few. I’d start by providing him with a clear statement of what you cannot accept in his behavior – what he must stop doing and what he must start doing before you will feel okay with him. Be sure and tell him that you understand that his behavior is separate from him – that you love him, but cannot accept his behavior. It is vital to communicate this as people (motivated people anyway) are able to change how they act, but they are never able to change who they are as people. Spell out for him in detail the actions you need to see him take so that you’ve got both an instruction set and a contract. This is an ultimatum too – he either makes these changes or you do take action yourself (Are you willing to leave him over this if he can’t comply?). See what his reaction is to this. You can expect initial defensiveness and hurt from him, but hopefully he can get past that. See if you can get him to sign on (literally) to your contract, then see if he can make these changes. Be willing to compromise in non-essential ways yourself. Perhaps you can match his compliance with your demands by doing something for him that he’d like like being more affectionate towards him. This is serious business but it doesn’t need to be deathly or hostile. I’ll bet that if he can make changes in the direction of what you need from him, that you’d be more willing to give him affection that you’ve previously withheld. In fact, your willingness and desire to be affectionate with a cleaned-up version of this man might be the very reward that will keep him compliant. If he can’t get past himself, then you will probably need to take non-trivial action to get out of the relationship as you won’t be able to live with yourself for tolerating this man.