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?
Well, for starters, you should probably avoid the phrase “smells terrible.”
Make it a positive request (“I want this”) rather than a negative request (“I don’t want this”). You want to see her shaved and clean, rather than you don’t want to see the hair. If you don’t already, you can offer to also shave yourself, so that you’ll both be engaging in more thorough grooming together.
- 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.
I am not a woman, so I could be wrong here, but I thought that a healthy vagina should not ‘smell'(?) Obviously, when a woman becomes sexually excited there is lubrication, which has an aroma that many husbands enjoy. I assume you are not talking about that? Does she have good hygiene (i.e. take showers, baths, etc.) ?
As for the unmaintained pubic hair, as Nova said you should express your preference in terms of wanting to see her groomed.
Sometimes the things we eat can cause odors to come through the pores of our skin; that of the pubic area being folded against itself, the odor would reasonably cling.
Does she have difficulty shaving her legs? Is it hard for her to see or difficult to twist and bend to reach? Could you offer a monthly spa treatment that included leg waxing (among other, more relaxing things, like a massage)? Make it a gift of CARE and PAMPERING for her amazing body that you love rather than cleaning herself up enough to pass muster.
We all have our personal preferences. Thanks for sharing yours with regard to your wife’s personal grooming.
Can you take showers or baths together? Why not try that and then enjoy washing each other.
Would it work to encourage her to consider your ideas by talking about you both looking your best for the other? Doing the extra things to show love? Talk about what you both can do for your relationship?
We can’t change everything (sometimes very little) about our spouse. A few things will never change – unless we do. So, I know you say it has been years, but perhaps this is a way in which you are to show your unconditional love to her.
Also, I’m curious to whom you are comparing her? What is your standard to which she doesn’t match?
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?
In regards to your follow up questions:
-I don’t know that the smell you are describing sounds “healthy”. I notice I have a stronger smell when I have worked out and sweated, if we had sex earlier in the day and I haven’t showered yet
I’ll give some background and kind of put myself out there. When we first got married, I did no grooming. The only way I could have an orgasm at the beginning of our marriage was through OS. DH would often get a hair caught in his throat, and I have experienced that when giving OS as well, so I know it is distracting. He didn’t complain in a mean way, but it was noticeable that it wasn’t always pleasant. So, for several years I would trim most of my hair down really low. I came across an article talking about Brazilian waxes making orgasm easier. I decided to give it a try and got one before a 5 year anniversary trip.
My experience has been that being waxed makes sex and sexual touch more enjoyable, and so I get a Brazilian every month (well except now with the shut down).
Perhaps you can bring it up that way, asking if you can experiment together and both remove hair and see if it feels different.