Diary of a Marriage: Scent of a Woman

And the men who hate it.

Photo courtesy of ThinkStock.com.

I crawled into bed the other night after having slathered myself in a brand-new body lotion. It smelled incredible—like the way a posh spa smells, all fresh and clean, a bit earthy, perhaps, with a hint of eucalyptus and just a touch of light florals. I loved it. I smelled like an angel.

My husband, already in bed, rolled over and groaned. “Ugh, what is that?”

I explained to him my delight at finding a new moisturizer. “I feel like I just left the spa,” I said. And then he uttered a phrase that I still don’t quite understand. It was shocking in its specificity, and in its severity.

“You smell like a putrid oak tree.”

I didn’t even broach the fact that his statement didn’t even really make sense, I was so surprised at how vastly different our olfactory perceptions were. How could he hate it? It wasn’t overtly fragrant, I thought. It was a refined, fresh smell. And it wasn’t like I was wearing my vanilla-buttercream-brown-sugar stuff, or a grandmotherly White Diamonds-type perfume. I knew bad smells. And this wasn’t one of them.

But it’s not just body lotion J. dislikes. He balks when I try to light a pumpkin-scented candle, or when I spritz a light home fragrance. Yet he can sit at the table and do work for hours after a sweaty workout and smell nothing.

While a surprising number of female colleagues noted that their significant others were not offended by bottled scents, a some were definitely able to empathize.

“He hates diffusers,” one said of her guy. “He calls them ‘smelly sticks.’ And he whines every time I light a candle because he claims it ‘messes with the taste of his dinner.’” We looked at one another, baffled.  She shook her head. “ He notices the second he walks into the bathroom if I have a new diffuser. It’s like a weird radar.”

Who were these men, so easily perturbed by the smell of lavender and vanilla and pumpkin spice and eucalyptus? And why do they hate candles so much?

I don’t suspect we’ll ever be able to agree on a fragrance for our home. And J. will always huff out my pretty Diptyque candles before I’m ready, just because he fears that the tiny little flame will somehow flicker too high and spark and burn down our house. He’ll continue to hate my spa-scented moisturizer, and he’ll look on in wonder as I stuff lavender sachets into my drawers. And that’s okay. Because deep down I know the truth: I smell better than him. And he’s just jealous.

What about you, ladies? Do you have a favorite perfume that he just hates? Do you get in a fight every time you try to light a fabulously seasonally scented candle? Or—do you hate any of his colognes?






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