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My Married Life: Do You Tell Your Spouse About Bad Breath?

Do you hint, avoid or just call it out?

This morning I was searching for blog ideas when I stumbled across The blog tackles lots of interesting topics, but this entry about bad breath really got me thinking. Readers had strong opinions on whether or not to tell a spouse that she/he had stank breath. Some said, if you have trouble talking to your spouse about something that small, you've obviously got bigger problems. Others admitted it would be hard for them to speak up about it, and still others suggested going the gentle route (i.e., "Hey honey, want a piece of gum?"). Listen, I've been there. And guess what? It was strangely hard to handle. Holly was on the Atkins diet (remember when everyone was ordering their burgers wrapped in "lettuce buns"?), and all of a sudden she developed what we now refer to as the "death breath." It was actually a common side effect of the diet, and it meant that her body was in ketosis (look it up). But here's the thing: She didn't know she had killer breath. And for some weird reason, I took my sweet time before saying something. I guess I was afraid to hurt her feelings. But in retrospect, it makes absolutely no sense. We are usually extremely open with each other and talk about all sorts of off-limits topics. Maybe I was still harboring some old-fashioned ideas about politeness and things that you just "don't say." Anyway, when I finally did say something, she was mortified and asked, "Why didn't you tell me sooner? Have you just been suffering in silence while I exhaled dragon breath on you?" Moral of the story: She went off the diet and made me promise to tell her immediately if death breath returned. Now, I know that Holly and I are each other's first line of defense in the breath arena, which is right up there with spinach-in-the-teeth or toilet-paper-on-the-shoe scenarios. But what's your bad-breath policy?

-- Jack