If comments like “she is dirty” or “I cannot stand his odour” were directed at a stranger, who would give a damn? I mean, if you are a visitor at her home, you are not obliged to stay longer. If it was a random man you bumped into somewhere on the streets, there would still be a way out – you could turn and walk on the other side of the street, or you pray the winds do not blow in your direction again. But how about when it is someone you cannot avoid day and night? Someone who ends up in your bed every night? What if it was your spouse whose hygiene was wanting?
While being unhygienic at home is undesirable, it is not uncommon. Recent news reports on a dirty apartment rented by a budding TV show host attest to this. So your friends envy you for marrying a gorgeous woman – she dons nice designer outfits, wears a sweet fragrance, is loving and she oozes sexiness.
Or is your man the kind girls consider cute – he wears the most expensive cologne, designer jeans and fitting cotton shirts one who never forgets to buy you chocolate – but you wish if only they knew better, or peeped into his apartment and saw how his socks trailed allover or that he repeats his boxers week-in, week-out.
How unhygienic is your spouse?
It could be she does not care enough to clean up after breastfeeding. She knows how to prepare your best dish, but her kitchen could be mistaken for a dumping centre. The pans, the curtains, and the bathroom, look like they were last cleaned two years ago. She does not know cleanliness.
Your man on the other hand could be the kind who throws his dirty pants all over the bedroom, and the odour from his feet is unbearable. You also wonder whether he remembers the last time he held a shaver in his hands to take care of his under arms and down there. Oh, did I say that? No, I did not!
Last week, a young man sought help when he shared concerns about his wife’s hygiene on a morning radio breakfast show. The problem was posted on the station’s Facebook page and the debate raised some dust. The responses were diverse, with some people blaming the woman for being irresponsible while Charles and Grace argued that instead of lamenting about her being dirty, this man ought to take initiative to help out around the house.
What causes poor hygiene?
Pastor Michael Kyazze, a marriage counsellor, says it is important for spouses to establish the root of the problem.
“The question to ask first is whether your partner acknowledges that they have a problem. It is also important to establish how long your spouse has been in that state and establish where the dirt is is it all over the house, body, clothes, where?”
Kyazze says one’s upbringing has a strong bearing in his or her hygiene. “Some people were raised and taught to brush their teeth in the morning while for others it is whenever they eat food. The same applies to bathing. Some bathe once but it is usually recommended that whenever you are going to be intimate with your spouse, you are clean from head to toe.”
Julie Balikoowa, the leader of the Esther’s Ministry that mentors young women, says upbringing cannot be overemphasised.
“Often parents tell their children what a responsible woman or man does and how they behave. By doing so, the parents are teaching their son or daughter good manners, including hygiene so if one is unhygienic, it is possible their upbringing was poor.”
Balikoowa argues that laziness causes poor hygiene on the part of women. “You find the woman is simply lazy that she does not personally take care of her surrounding but wants a housemaid to do everything,” she says.
She, however, clarifies that hygiene or the lack of it in the home is not an issue for women alone but men too. “Some men can be poor at hygiene,” she claims. “You leave the house for two or three days and on return everything in the house is in sorry state. They just cannot clean anything.”
It could also be out of sheer ignorance, as one woman who asked to remain anonymous claimed.
“My husband does not think that after washing utensils, they need to be dried before food is served on them,” she said, “He can also wear the same underwear for two days.”
As I learnt, there is an issue of body infections that, for example, cause smelly feet. Sinuses may also cause a smelly nose. But much of these infections are caused by behavioural factors.
Paul Matovu of St Francis Hospital Naggalama, says, if for example, a man does not bathe regularly, his undergarments may be a habour for genital infections, which causes bad odour among others. Wearing dirty socks or not changing them regularly may also cause fungal infections that may cause smelly feet.
The result of poor hygiene does not only affect the wife and husband, but the children. Matovu says there is a disease called Pinea capitis, which is common among children, where children develop whitish patches on their heads. The disease, commonly known as ebisente in Luganda is a result of children not bathing regularly and it is the parents’ responsibility to bathe children.
What is the remedy?
Matovu says it is important that spouses maintain good body hygiene by bathing and shaving regularly. One may also consider using deodorants to help reduce sweating and body odour.
Balikoowa aises that people find a way to talk about the issue without hurting the other spouse’s feelings.
“You could say something like ‘Honey, I am uncomfortable with the way you do.’ That is if your spouse has repeatedly done the same thing you consider not right.” If your spouse does not change his or her behaviour, Balikoowa says then you ought to lead by example. “If he left the house disorganised, clean it and put things in order. When they find it neat, it is possible next time they will think twice about their actions.”
Sharon Baguma, a marriage counsellor, says one may consider talking to a trusted couple, people one can confide in, so they can get tips on how to deal with the situation. “But,” Baguma stresses, “Before you go talking to other people, it is important to think about whether there is a way you can help out.” Helping out might involve doing home chores together, hiring a maid or professional cleaners, especially if it is a large home.
Kyazze adds that it is important that one appreciates his or her spouse for the small level of cleanliness they have displayed.
Deal with it
While personal hygiene might be one of the most entertaining subjects to laugh about with your friends after a bad date, it becomes more serious in the rare event that that date turns into a relationship. Some people have no trouble telling their boyfriend or girlfriend that they have bad breath or that they need a shower. But for most of us, these subjects are delicate. However, if a hygiene issue is stinking up your relationship, you will have to get over your embarrassment and talk to your partner.
1. Hint. No matter the problem smelly armpits, dandruff, or not-so-great cleaning habits in their, um, nether regions, the first thing couples rely on is hints. These range from not-so-subtle jibes, such as leaving your partner’s toothbrush exposed before a date, to subtler encouragements, such as commenting that your partner tastes good just after having brushed his or her teeth.
2. Gently question and suggest. If somebody you are dating doesn’t get the hint, it’s time to gently suggest. Sometimes, people have poor personal hygiene habits simply because they have never learned any better – or don’t know they have a problem. In these cases, suggest: “Why don’t you try a dandruff shampoo? It works really well”.
3. Straight-out say so. For some people, hints and suggestions work about as well as projecting your desires onto them psychically. For these people, you need to come right out and say what’s bothering you. “I’m sorry, but your breath isn’t very nice,” is a huge wake up call for most. You don’t need to say much more.
4. Give an ultimatum. For some, saying there’s a problem simply isn’t enough. This generally happens only in longer-term relationships, when a couple has become comfortable enough together not to worry about, say, going “number two” at their boyfriend or girlfriend’s apartment. If, say, your girlfriend doesn’t brush her teeth as much, tell her you won’t kiss her until she brushes them.
5. Come to terms. Now it’s time to let out a big sigh. Because unfortunately, some people are fixed in their bad habits. And when that happens, you have a big decision to make: is this problem a deal-breaker, or can you live with it? If your answer is the latter, you need to learn to come to terms with it.
HOW WOULD YOU DEAL WITH A DIRTY PARTNER?
“First, I would tell her that I am not happy with her hygiene. I believe this would help her change. Then I would try to help her improve by teaching her how to bathe, clean the house and not to repeat clothes. But if she does not change, then I let her go,”
Michael Iradukunda, Manager
“If I really loved him, I would volunteer to teach him how to be smart. I know some men are careless about hygiene. But if a man is helped by his spouse, then he can change. I know my efforts would cause change in his life and bring happiness in our relationship,”
Monica Ndyamuhimbisa, Cashier
“To be honest, a dirty person is intolerable. But, I would offer myself to uplift his hygiene. However, if he fails to improve regardless of my efforts, then I can call off the relationship. I know it is useless to stay with someone who you are not comfortable with,”
Sherley Asiimwe, Receptionist
“It is very hard to tolerate someone who is dirty. But if I truly love her, I can teach her to clean, mop, wash clothes and organise the house, including the bedroom. Nevertheless, I can quit if she does not improve at all ,”
Aggrey Muhabuzi, Engineer
“First and foremost, I would teach her the dangers of poor hygiene, then I would involve myself in making her smart. For instance, I would involve myself in cleaning the house, bathing, washing clothes and organising the bed until she learns everything,”
Evarest Byamukama, businessman
“I would tell him that I am dissatisfied with his dirtiness. Then I would help him become clean because quitting is not the solution. Besides, I would make sure outsiders don’t know that I am not happy with his hygiene since it may cause a conflict between us,”
Beatrice Awino Lecturer
“For the good of our love, I would commit myself to clean him up. For instance, I would emphasise he regularly changes his pants, stockings, shirts and beddings. Besides, I would make sure that he bathes every day,”
Irene Nakatabazi, Hair stylist
“What I know is that changing someone needs patience, commitment and determination. So, I would offer my precious time to change her. I would do that if I truly loved her and if she is also a trusted person,”
Peter Kalema, Actor
SOURCE: Daily Monitor