My husband won't take a shower or bath!

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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 291
   Posted 10/16/2010 9:40 AM (GMT -6)   
I've been married around 30 years to a man that is so depressed, he has bad bad hygiene. I have to beg him to take a shower. It's almost like he's afraid to do it. Anyone have this problem or know someone that has it? How can I make him to think about his hygiene? It makes it even worse is he smokes.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 790
   Posted 10/16/2010 10:11 AM (GMT -6)   
I know this behaviour to be common, though is not widely talked about. Ask him if he wants to make this a goal for himself, but do not start with the full bath or shower. Start small and build it up. ie, he has to brush teeth everyday for three days, then brush teeth and wash face for three days, then brush teeth, wash face, wash under arms and grion area for three days, and keep building on it.

Make the order any order, but it is too big a change to expect the whole lot to be done at once in his eyes.

Good luck.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 10/16/2010 11:52 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree with awty. Have to start with small steps.

For me it was brush teeth & wash face once per day. Plus eat at least a handful of food twice a day (sometimes it literally was only a handful of cereal straight out of the box).
And I also had a goal of trying to take "sponge bath" once every 3 days. For some crazy reason I was terrified of the water too. It has happened more than once. Don't know why. I am an excellent swimmer & it's not like a full grown adult is going to die in the shower or tub anyways. I didn't really think about anything in particular, just was afraid in general.
So I would stand next to the tub or sink & wet a washcloth and wet myself down and then soap the washcloth & get all soapy, then get a second washcloth b/c you can't really get all the soap out of the first once without getting too tired to care and rinse off. Drying off was a bit of a problem. Sometimes I'd just lay a couple towels on the bed & lie down wet. Honestly it just seemed like a lot of effort.

After I started feeling the tiniest bit better I worked at sponge bath every other day & wash hair in sink or over tub every 2nd time off (e.g., "bath" on M-W-F-Su-Tu-Th; hair washing on Tu-Sa-W). And on the days I wasn't doing either I'd make myself one of those pre-packaged stir fry meals.

Does he get up to smoke or does he just smoke in bed? I wouldn't suggest trying to change whatever he's doing, but if he does get up & stand by a window or something that might be a good time to encourage him to take 60 seconds and wash up (usually that was the deal I'd agree to -- 60 seconds seems manageable; more than that seems too much). Whatever gets washed in 60 secs, gets washed.

Is he seeing a therapist/psychiatrist? If so, you might also contact them to ask for ideas/assistance. This is a huge task & you are wonderful to be so caring & helpful to your husband but usually depression that's to that level needs to involve one or more professionals in order to improve.

take care,
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