In the months leading up to college, my anxiety heightened. I had questions, such as: What if I do not make friends? What if the classes are tough? What if I make a fool of myself in public speaking class? What if I do not pass the computer test? What if I cannot handle college life?
Do you know which questions did not cause me worry? Will my roommate shower? Will my roommate do laundry? Will my roommate keep her side of the room clean? Will I ever have to confront my roommate about excessive body odor?
Thankfully, I knew my roommate before leaving for college, and she always smelled quite nice, so that was one less stressor on my plate. In fact, it never occurred to me that my roommate might be gross, even before I planned to room with my hometown friend. However, shortly after moving into my dorm, I started hearing horror stories about roommates who would not keep themselves clean. It baffled me and made me all the more thankful for my roomie who not only kept herself clean, but cleaned the shower with Clorox Cleanup before showering. She was clean on top of clean.
So, if roommates are not guaranteed to be clean, what about spouses? Spouses live with us much longer than roommates. Spouses sleep closer to us than roommates. Spouses wish to engage in activities which require… togetherness. Therefore, if it is important to you that your roommate be hygienic, it is doubly important that your spouse take measures to look, smell, and be sanitary.
If you plan to get married at any point in your life, ask yourself the following questions:
- How often do I want my future spouse to shower?
- How often do I want my future spouse to shave – face, legs, ?
- How important is it to me for my future spouse to wear perfume or cologne?
- What are my beliefs and desires on make-up – how much should be worn, on what occasions, and how much money should be spent on makeup each year?
- How much money am I willing to spend on the cleanliness and professional dress of my family?
- Are pedicures important to me? Do I expect my spouse to get them as well? Are manicured fingernails important?
- Would I ever be willing to wear an alternative to deodorant? Would I be in support of my future spouse researching and implementing alternative options (e.g., items which may need to be made and cannot be purchased at a big box or convenience store)?
- How many times per day (or per week) do I wish my future spouse to brush and floss?
- Are semi-annual dentist appointments important to me? If not semi-annually, how often do I want my future spouse to see a dentist for a professional cleaning?
- Do I expect my mate to take measures to come to bed clean? When, if ever, will it be okay for my spouse to come to bed unclean? Define unclean in your own words (and compare your definitions with your significant other).
- In as much as I can imagine at present, how much hygiene do I need in my sexual relationship with my spouse (for myself and my spouse)? (e.g., clean skin, clean hair, brushed teeth, washed face, shaved face, shaved legs, perfume or cologne, ?)
- On a scale from 1-10, how important is clean eating to me? Am I concerned with my future spouse’s internal cleanliness?
- Am I okay with smoking – cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping, pipes, marijuana, etc. – or chewing tobacco?
- How frequently do I expect my future spouse to see a stylist/receive haircuts? How open am I to my spouse cutting my hair? How open am I to cutting my spouse’s hair?
- Do I expect my future mate to wear each outfit once before washing or am I comfortable with him or her wearing clothes multiple times between washes? If more than once, how many times? What are my reasons?
- How do I expect to react if my future spouse keeps himself or herself clean, but does not keep the house clean? (e.g., leaves towels and clothes on the floor, allows dishes to stack up, does not mop regularly, etc.)
- How do I feel about the prospect of pets sleeping in the bed with me and my spouse?
- If my future spouse does not meet my cleanliness desires, how will I confront the situation? What are the actual agreed upon methods for the future?
- If my spouse confronts me about my cleanliness and professionalism, how am I likely to respond?
- Have we discussed expectations of cleanliness within marriage?
Before marriage, my future spouse’s grooming regimens rarely (if ever) crossed my mind. However, much like thermostat wars, cleanliness is one of those small, but significant, points of contention which can drive a wedge between couples. While it is on your mind, take some time to consider your preferences in this area. What is important to you and what is not? Perhaps you are content with your spouse showering twice a week as long as he or she keeps a minty fresh mouth. Maybe you like the scraggly hair look as long as he washes it regularly. It could be that you never need your lady to wear makeup as long as she keeps her legs smooth and soft.
We all have hygiene expectations of our future spouses, so uncover them now before you find yourself horrified later. ~smile~
What do you mean you never wash your feet?!
Um, did you use that same washcloth yesterday?!
Okay, I am pretty sure I just saw something crawl through your beard. Shampoo it already!
Your leg hair just stabbed me! Am I bleeding?!
Should the day come when become compelled to address a particular hygiene concern, remember to confront with tact, kindness, and grace.
Men, when you discuss cleanliness with your lady, keep in mind that a woman needs to feel desirable and beautiful to her man. Be gentle in your approach and careful to use words which will not break her heart or make her question your attraction to her. Most women are willing to go out of their way to please their husbands when they feel treasured. (Ladies, since this is such a sensitive area to us, it will be very helpful if you tell him how you want him to address it, if it is ever an issue. And then, commit yourself to accepting the comments with graciousness and gentleness if it does ever come up.)
Ladies, your man needs to feel respected and competent. Be careful not to mother him or nag him about his grooming routines. Instead, let him know that you have great respect for him and that it would mean a lot to you if he would address your particular concern. After you verbalize your desires, let it be and pray. It is impossible for a man to feel respected and nagged at the same time.
Start Noticing Now
One of marriage’s most frustrating truths is this: If your spouse does not want to change, he or she is not going to change. We can drive ourselves crazy thinking of ways to encourage transformation, but we do not have the power to make our loved ones do anything. For this reason, it is important to notice your boyfriend or girlfriend’s habits now. Observe his or her family culture. Do they keep their home clean, their hair cut, and their faces washed? Does he mention dentist appointments? Does she give clues as to her morning and evening rituals? Awkward, but necessary question – does he or she typically smell attractive to you?
If you have concerns about your hygiene compatibility, it is not trivial. You are not petty. If you marry this person, you will live in close quarters and share many intimate moments. Ignoring your concerns is not helping anyone involved; and, if you need to address this issue in pre-engagement or premarital counseling, it is worth bringing up and discussing.
Answer the questions above, and then go back and answer them about yourself. Are your expectations for your cleanliness as strict as those for your future mate? Are there any positive changes you can make to your regimen now which will bless your marriage? If you and your sweetheart are considering matrimony, answer the questions above separately and then exchange answers. Discuss calmly. If certain expectations seem unrealistic, seek to understand his or her reasons and perspectives. See if you can make reasonable compromises.
And, as is true with conflict styles, monetary habits, and worldviews, each person has to ask, “Can I live with this dynamic for the rest of my life?” If cleanliness and living clutter-free doesn’t matter as much to you, or if the other person is already meeting the standards you would desire, then that is wonderful news. However, if you shower twice a day, take impeccable care of your teeth, and book weekly pedicures, you probably will not be okay with a spouse who showers weekly, brushes teeth occasionally, and ignores the finer points of grooming. And, do you know what? That is okay. If a clean spouse matters to you, then do not settle for one who takes little care of his or her hygiene or appearance and is unwilling to change on his or her own.
You are not being petty. ~smile~
Are you currently comfortable with your significant other’s approach to cleanliness?