Dear Kiki: I cannot tolerate my husband’s nighttime farts

Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area can be submitted to, or anonymously using this form. Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki,

My husband has started to fart in his sleep every night, something that hasn’t bothered me or I haven’t noticed until recently. Sometimes the smell is so strong that it wakes me up, and I find it difficult to get back to sleep. I worry that as the weather cools and the windows are shut at night, it will cause me to resent him in ways that I cannot control. I love him but I cannot tolerate the smell of his farts, and I do need a good night’s sleep to function the next day. It seems to me that asking him to do something he has no conscious control over is unrealistic, and asking him to change his diet to accommodate me is out of line. Is it on him to change or is this a matter of me addressing my sleep issues? What would you do?

Thank you for your help.
Freaky Fragrance

Dear Freaky,

Kudos to you on your clarity in terms of what you do and do not have the right to ask your spouse. That’s a tricky hurdle, and it can be very tempting to expect our loved ones to conform for our convenience. As you say, asking him to change his diet simply to accommodate you is out of line.

However, if he’s having digestive issues, that doesn’t just affect you. He needs to be made aware of it so that he can talk it over with his doctor if necessary. Foul-smelling demons alone can be an indicator of things such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and if he’s experiencing other symptoms as well (constipation, indigestion), his doctor might not know how to address them correctly without the added information of his noxious nighttime nostril-killers.

There’s also the chance that he could be completely willing to make small changes to accommodate you. Should you ask him to become a different person? Obviously not. But if you two can pin down that this trend kicked off when he, say, started having ice cream instead of potato chips as a midnight snack, that might be a minor enough adjustment that your happiness would mean more to him. (Remember, though, that this goes both ways. You might open up a can of “you have no idea how much I hate that perfume” worms, and it behooves you to show him equal consideration.)

If you’re unwilling to ask or he’s unwilling to adjust, you can absolutely handle things on your own. Has your sleep been less sound lately in general? Perhaps it’s time to add melatonin to your routine. Can you burn a candle, light some incense or just pick up a $0.99 Glade Plug-in (no endorsement implied or product placement fee received)?

On really bad nights, especially as you begin to batten down the hatches for winter, consider making yourself a nest on the couch — but if you do, be certain to explain why, even if you’re afraid it might embarrass him. You don’t want him to think an emotional or physical disconnect between the two of you is dragging you away.

There are definitely ways around a confrontation on this. But I encourage you to be upfront. Because while your comfort isn’t necessarily his problem, his health certainly is — and you want him to have all the information he needs to make informed decisions about it.


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xoxo, Kiki

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