My husband won't brush his teeth.
May 30, 2014 11:37 AM Subscribe
My husband goes for days at a time without brushing his teeth. Since talking about it doesn't seem to help and I can't control his actions, what can I do to make things better for myself?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (76 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
We are in our late 20's and we've been together for about 9 years, married for 3 of them. It's important that I tell you how wonderful every other aspect of our relationship is, and almost every regular issue we have is my fault due to bad habits acquired growing up in a negative environment (defensiveness, interrupting, etc). My husband is very kind, thoughtful, and loving. He's patient with me and my faults. He is generous and has been exceedingly understanding about my job search struggles and recent career change. He has an excellent job, he is brilliant, and he works very hard. We fit together perfectly ideologically. We have enough interests in common to feel comfortable and enough separate interests to keep things interesting. When we disagree or have an argument we sincerely work to be respectful and productive about it. He's mindful of feminist and LGBTQ issues (which is a rare trait in my experience). I love traveling with him, having conversations...even just being in the same room as him makes my day better. In short, my husband is a stellar example of a partner, someone who I could never hope to or want to replace. I love him more than anything. Any "DTMFA" type advice is not going to be helpful.
I didn't realize the seriousness of his tooth brushing situation until we lived together, and that was after dating for several years. He doesn't have other hygiene issues and has always showered daily. His breath was bad on and off. He always had mints on hand so I thought he just had an unfortunate bad breath issue, but I later learned that he uses mints instead of brushing his teeth. He still uses mints to cover it up. The mint helps for maybe 10 minutes but the bad breath always returns, never mind the health issues that can come of not brushing one's teeth, especially since he just keeps adding sugar. I love kissing him but I can't handle it when his mouth smells. If I ask him about tooth brushing because of his breath and he has brushed his teeth he gets understandably demoralized and frustrated. He might brush his teeth once in a while but the buildup of smell and bacteria before that means that his breath still smells. It smells when he's asleep too, so much that sometimes I can't sleep facing him and have to angle my face away from his mouth when we cuddle.
Full disclosure, I'm not perfect in this either, but I always brush my teeth at least once a day. I had very good dental habits in college and have since gotten lazy. Today I'm starting a very strict regimen for myself hoping that he'll just follow suit. I don't know what else to do. We've tried talking about it and it works for a few days but then he stops again. He wants me to tell him when his breath is bad so he can brush his teeth and he brushes them whenever I ask, but when I do ask it's awkward and/or it hurts his feelings. This is especially problematic since this usually happens when we are about to be intimate and talking about this issue turns us both off. In addition, I don't want to have to remind him all of the time like a parent would because I don't want that kind of dynamic in our relationship. This whole issue is really affecting my libido. I'm having some trouble anyway because of depression related to the job situation I mentioned above, so this ends up being the nail in the coffin. Every time I start to muster up desire and think about acting on it I realize that he hasn't brushed his teeth, I just can't make myself be intimate with him if he hasn't, and starting up the whole please-brush-oh-now-it's-awkward cycle seems too challenging. So then I don't do anything. It's like I've ended up associating thoughts of sex with negative emotions about the teeth issue. I also feel guilty badgering him about it since he is so amazing in every other way and I should be grateful.
Mefites, what can I do? Is there some way to either make myself get over this or make it less unpleasant for myself? Have you discovered any highly successful strategies for long-lasting changes in behavior? Am I being unreasonable? Have you ever dealt with this issue? How will I get my future kids to brush if their dad won't? How can I set this issue aside to refocus my libido?
Thanks for reading.