My Wife Hasn’t Bathed for 2½ Years, Claiming It’s ‘Bothersome’

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m an unemployed man in my late 60s. I married my wife, who is the same age as me, for love when we were in our 20s. In the early days of our marriage, she used to take a bath every other day, but now she no longer takes baths, and it has been 2½ years.

When I ask why she doesn’t bathe, she replies, “It’s bothersome.” She pretty much stopped bathing after our only daughter got married. In the last 10 years, she’s probably bathed only about three times.

She’s always been lazy by nature. After we got married, she hardly ever cooked, and I used to buy dinner on my way home from work every day. There were times when she didn’t take out the trash on collection days, and our home became like a garbage dump.

She loves watching TV and spends all day indoors, chuckling to herself, and never goes outside. Even when I suggest a walk, she says it’s bothersome. We manage our daily lives reasonably well and I have no intention of divorcing. But I wish she’d at least take a bath. There’s no love between us anymore.

— I, Nagano Prefecture

Dear Mr. I:

It’s concerning that your wife doesn’t take baths. Only three times in 10 years is astonishing. There are many things that are worrisome, like not taking out the trash and allowing the house to become a garbage dump, and not going outside for years.

You’ve written that there’s no love anymore between you and your wife, but the fact that you wrote about this situation shows that you still care for her.

Like many others, I, too, think it would be good if she went outside and got some exercise. However, we all have the right to live as we please.

If this way of life creates a situation where it’s realistically problematic for others or if it becomes painful for you, some assistance might be needed. But this should happen only if the person in question desires it.

You haven’t mentioned any health issues resulting from her unhygienic lifestyle, but from what you’ve written, it seems like your wife is content with her current life. It doesn’t seem like she’s causing a clear inconvenience to others either. Interfering might worsen her relationship with others, so it might be best to observe the current situation and address specific issues as they arise, while talking with her.

— Yutaka Ono, psychiatrist