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Men Stink!

Dear MomSquad,

My husband stinks. I don’t mean he stinks like he’s a bad husband. Actually, he’s a very good husband, he’s good with the kids, he’s loving and kind, and he gets his honey-do list done.

And it’s the latter that is the problem. My husband perspires quite a bit when he plays sports or does chores around the house. And sweat leads to him smelling bad sometimes. But it happens when he’s doing the things I ask him to do, so I mostly just tolerate it and don’t say anything. Lately it seems to have gotten worse. What am I supposed to do?

- Mary

There are catch-22s and then there are Catch-22s. Lots of thoughts here.

Mary, I appreciate your conundrum. That said, NO, you shouldn’t live with a stinky husband just because he’s doing what amounts to his job. The role he plays in your life (and conversely, the role you play in his) must include not only doing his chores and playing with the kids, but also good hygiene. That is as much a part of the job as is getting through your honey-do list. He owes you hygiene and you owe it to him too.

Also, it sounds to me like he must not be able to smell himself (and some 30-40% of people can’t, it isn’t that abnormal). Based on the way you’re describing him, my bet is he doesn’t want to stink, and maybe just doesn’t know that he does. That’s worth exploring. He probably doesn’t want to smell bad around you, if only he was aware that he does.

That brings us to the ‘how’ question. How do you end up communicating the issue to him in a way that doesn’t hurt his feelings or embarrass him too badly, but still ends up solving the problem?

There is always the playful-flirting route. Next time he finishes mowing the lawn or staining the deck or cleaning the gutters, resulting in body odor, put your arms around him, smile, kiss his neck, and then playfully praise him for his hard work but laugh and say something like “hard-working man smells like he’s been working hard!” Something like that. The praise in that sentence offsets the negative information of him stinking and in fact turns his odor into part of the compliment.

Another route might be a little more subtle without being subtle at all, and that is to buy him a sweat-blocking stick of some kind. There are brands of antiperspirants now that don’t use aluminum-sulfate or other metallic ingredients, and maybe those are worth a try. Just put it in a gift box with his name on it next time he does chores, and he’ll get the hint.

With all of that said, let’s close with this:

You are so freaking lucky! I have news for you: men are supposed to stink! If men are doing their jobs correctly, they are going to sweat and are going to stink. That’s just part of the gig. Again, with our modern technology and access to things like water and soap, they have no excuse for not taking care of the odor their active manhood generates, but that doesn’t change the nature of their ancestral biology. Men put in effort and hard work, and they stink as a result, and ladies, we should all be so lucky that we end up with a man who fulfills his nature by stinking as a result of productive work.

Then he should shower.

But we have to allow for the reality that our husbands will stink sometimes when they are doing their job perfectly. And we should celebrate that and embrace it and be proud of your man for being a man… and then hand him a bar of soap and a towel.

Mary, you’re blessed. Now help him fulfill the rest of his responsibilities by shifting the end of the cycle to include a shower. I bet he wants to please you. And then thank the Lord you got that man.

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