My Husband Doesn’t Like Changing His Clothes!

17 December, 2016
Q As-Salam Alaykum. I am recently married, and I know that Islamically married couples have to be pleasing to each other’s eye. My husband, however, doesn’t like changing his clothes which I find very off-putting and not pleasing to my eye. I wash his clothes so he has clean ones every day, but he doesn’t seem to care; he just keeps doing it. Can you advise me please? Jazak Allah khair.

Answer

Answer:

Wa `Alaikum As-Salam,

I can understand how you might become irritated by this behavior, especially when you are doing everything you know in order to encourage him to change his clothes.

I am wondering how many days does your husband go without changing his clothes? Is this to the point where he is not sanitary and may be exposing himself to a health risk? Does he shower every day and also make wudu’ (ablution)? If your husband is cleaning himself and using proper hygiene, and he changes his underclothes, then he is probably not putting himself at risk. Yet, this might still be unpleasant to you to see him in the same clothes.

It can be difficult to get a person to change a habit, especially if he has been doing this for a long time. You will have to decide how important this is to you. Yes, it is preferable to be pleasing to your spouse’s eye, but then it is even wiser to avoid power struggles, if at all possible. So, unless this issue is of significant importance or a health risk, I would consider whether your want to “fight this battle”. There is a saying where we proclaim, “it is wise to choose your battles”.

Still, there are some things you can try. One is to praise him and tell him how handsome he is each time he changes his clothes. This is called positive reinforcement. You can also try telling him that as soon as he changes his clothes, dinner will be on the table. But if he resists this tactic, don’t press it.

Another positive programming approach that you might try is to put little “love notes” in the pockets of his clean clothes. He might want to change those more often just to see what is coming next. Do this in all of his clean clothes at first. Then after about 2 weeks, start tapering so that maybe every third change he goes without a note. Then after another two weeks, taper so that he never knows when he will find a note, with an average of every two to three changes. Keep the surprises going until it is clear that he has established this new habit.

If there is a health issue involved, you might want to tactfully find a way to teach him or increase his awareness of that risk. Additionally, if you have the opportunity to do so without making your husband feel defensive, you can try to make him aware of the benefits of wearing clean clothes that are related to social and community integration.  In other words, tell him “you will do better overall at work if your clothes are clean, and you will likely make more friends”. You will need to be very tactful when attempting to explain this to your husband though as you do not want to increase his defenses. Increasing his defenses will only result in more resistance, so use this technique with caution.

Let me know if any of these approaches work. Also, let me know the severity of the problem and if it is a health issue.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

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About Dr. Bachmeier
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant in the areas of mental health, cultural, and relationship issues.