I should begin by saying that one of my character traits is being utterly straight-forward, and sometimes my bluntness lands me in trouble. I’m not afraid to tell someone they have bad hygiene habits, so I will never be awkward while telling someone to get away from me if they smell bad or look unkempt.
There was once this guy, Jacob, a senior strategist at my workplace, a Japan returnee, a newbie. He was very quiet, but I couldn’t resist starting a conversation, because he was so fascinating. As it turned, these conversations led to an interesting discussion on personal hygiene and relationships.
Why Hygiene Is Important For A Healthy Sexual Relationship
Our conversations were mostly during the lunch hour when I would waylay him and ask questions, about his hometown, why he went to Japan and why he had returned. So it turned out that he had a great job in Kyoto and met this very pretty girl. Soon, they moved in together.
After ten years of blissful togetherness, Jacob gave in to the mounting pressure to marry a girl from his own community. He talked his partner about the situation and they parted ways amicably. He then returned to his parents, and a suitable match was fixed and got married.
Within the year he got a divorce on grounds of incompatibility, which can be difficult in the Catholic community. By now, Jacob and I had become good friends and we shared a lot of stuff with each other.
I probed the reasons for his divorce, could it have been that he was emotionally obsessed by his Japanese lover? But Jacob was adamant that it wasn’t. He had gotten over his former lover. The reason for his divorce was a little more complicated than that. His wife, he said, had poor hygiene habits and refused to change them.
How Lack Of Hygiene Led To A Divorce
Jacob was a pretty clean person himself, but I didn’t think he was a cleanliness or control freak. After he told me his wife had poor hygiene habits, and that was the reason he divorced her, I was astonished. Did people really end marriages because of something like this?
But turns out, the matter wasn’t as silly as I had initially thought. Once he broke it down and explained what he meant by his statement, I understood the importance of marrying someone hygienic.
She wouldn’t wax or clean
I had even asked Jacob if he suffered from OCD. Then he elaborated – she had hair all over her body, which he was OK with, because waxing wasn’t very common those days – 1999 or thereabouts.
She had long armpit hair and he didn’t even want to discuss the nether regions, because he was so upset. So early on in the marriage he brought it up with his wife, who took great offense. Her argument was, “I am a gold medal winner in engineering, how dare you talk to me about body hair.”
Her menstruating habits were disgusting
He was willing to add shaving the nasties to bath-time foreplay, but she wouldn’t wash each time she peed, he said as his face wrinkled in disgust. Not to mention the days when she had her period.
She wouldn’t bathe for days after getting her period, and there were pads and tampons lying around in the bathroom. He didn’t have a problem discussing periods, but he was mildly disgusted when the bathroom was left in a mess like that.
He was hesitant to talk about this, but during these 4-5 days, she would eat all her meals in bed and not even clean up after. There were food stains on her clothes and on the sheets. “I decided to sleep on the couch,” Jacob said.
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She wouldn’t wash her hair
She would use coconut oil for her hair, giving off a rancid overall smell. People who use mustard oil also have a similar putrid aura around them.
However, his wife would apply these oils and wash them once a week. For the rest of the days, he had to put up with the smell. Needless to say, her lack of hygiene habits and rituals put a cork in their sex life as well.
For a lot of men, it’s all about finding the right hole and getting the job done. But Jacob, having sampled luxurious intimacy with his former lover, wanted more than that, and good hygiene was a major part of it.
Hygiene is personal, but important in intimacy
Thinking about Jacob’s story, I couldn’t but wonder about hygiene and intimacy. Washing genitalia after every round of pee, and staying waxed/shaven – surely these are common courtesies to our own bodies, and our partners. And, it’s not just women either. There are communities where men are required to be circumcised, which I think adds to the hygiene factor. The uncircumcised penis collects smegma, (a sebaceous secretion in the folds of the skin, especially under a man’s foreskin) and besides being smelly, can cause several infections in their female sexual partners.
It was then I realized that bad hygiene habits mostly varies from person to person. But, while I hate to stereotype, I can’t deny that I have met people from one section of society who shared common hygiene traits.
A few years later, in 2001 I met Jacob; he had remarried a girl from his church in Seattle. He looked happy. And she looked pretty clean. It was a match made in heaven.
It is a sign of carelessness, messiness and laziness. People who have poor hygiene habits can be quite disgusting to share a house with.
Basic hygiene habits like bathing, washing hands, and dental care are important to prevent diseases and be clean. Lack of hygiene can lose you a job, a life partner, and many things in life because nobody wants to be around dirty people.