How to express personal grooming preferences?
We have a lot of issues. Most are probably mine.
But I could use some advice and prayer for wisdom about how to handle one that I’ve avoided for a long time:
To be honest, and it’s hard to admit this, I find my wife’s body hair to be a turn-off. Down there is totally unmaintained and extensive. (And it sometimes smells terrible.) She does shave her legs, but very infrequently, and even then it’s pretty haphazard, with lots of missed spots and scratchy stubble.
I’ve tried for years to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t matter, because I feel like it shouldn’t.
But it’s hard to be authentic and enthusiastic when part of you is saying “ew.” And lately I’ve realized that in doing this I’m walling myself off emotionally.
So what can I say? How can I do so both lovingly and honestly?
Thank you for all of the thoughtful comments! I probably won’t touch on every point raised, but here goes:
That’s a great reminder to make it a positive request rather than a negative criticism. But that’s been historically difficult, see below regarding effort and extra things.
I definitely wouldn’t say “smells terrible” in person. (Remember, I’m having a hard time even voicing something as benign as personal preferences.) I mentioned it here because I wondered if it was connected to the unkempt hair: the smell is similar to the toilet if it hasn’t been flushed all night. Except far stronger. Also, having no other point of reference, I wasn’t sure if it was normal. I don’t think it’s the smell of arousal, since there are times when she’s aroused that it doesn’t smell like that.
I’ve tried lots of subtle approaches, including grooming myself, but those don’t seem to register. We once tried grooming together, but it wasn’t particularly enjoyable for either of us. We have the same issue with showers or baths, and also very different temperature sensitivities.
I don’t think she has any practical difficulties in shaving, it seems more like a matter of not worth the time or effort. She’s always very busy, and I think this just isn’t important to her. (And we have a pattern where things that aren’t urgent don’t get much attention.) “Extra things” to show love don’t happen. And I think she wouldn’t feel she has the time for a monthly spa treatment.
I’m concerned that a talk about “looking our best for each other” in general will come off as implying that she looks terrible in general, which isn’t at all the case. And offering to groom her is likely to be received as “you’re bad at it, let me do it for you.”
I’ve often asked myself whether I’m comparing her to some inappropriate standard, but I don’t think I am. As far as leg shaving, my unconscious standard is probably every woman I saw in a swimsuit from childhood through adulthood. Not that I was examining them all that closely (though on the beach in my teenage years, I probably was!), but I never saw pubic hair on upper thighs until I got married. And the stubble is prickly and uncomfortable to the touch.
And as for pubic grooming, I think it’s a matter of associating hairiness with men: it just kind of turns my stomach. And practically, my fingers get tangled and stuck in it, and when I’m going down on her it ends up like a cold wet mop that gets in my mouth. So I’m just hoping for some trimming and maintenance. I don’t even know if I’d like her shaved, given the likelihood of stubble.
So let me boil that down to some follow-up questions:
- Is the occasional smell likely to be a normal one? (You can’t smell it, and I have no point of reference.)
- What is the positive request I can make that feels like an invitation rather than an additional burden? (And how do you make a positive invitation out of “ouch, you missed a spot”?)
- How can I gently express that this is important to me, so it doesn’t just get ignored?
I think you’ve identified an approach to try for bringing it up–oral sex. Just tell her you love giving her pleasure that way but completely untrimmed makes it more difficult for a variety of reasons.
You don’t have to tell her it’s a big turnoff or anything. Nor do you have to request complete hair removal (some women find suggesting that to be insulting).
“the smell is similar to the toilet if it hasn’t been flushed all night”
Presumably you mean when folks avoid flushing to keep from waking the house and by morning it’s a stew of urine? An over-powering urine smell could be caused by not drinking enough water. Does she hydrate sufficiently? A few microscopic droplets of clear urine from a well-hydrated person clinging to the southern hairs would hold much less scent than a few microscopic droplets of highly concentrated urine from someone who drinks very little water.
Also, are you one of those folks with a super sensitive nose? Could you (truthfully) make it about an unusual sensitivity on your part? My DD can smell when a woman is on her period from across the room.
- Have always loved my DW’s hair. When it smells funky, we take extra care in washing. DW is EXTRA SENSITIVE to many fragrances, we have to watch where we sit in church. Many of my/our favorites now make her very sick and choking. We use a Medline body foam we got from the hospital.
With the virus, we now get it as a prescription.