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Heavy Load

Question:

I am having difficulty in my marriage. I have been with my husband 16 years. Over the years he has gained weight as I have as well. I was 271 lbs. and he is 600 lbs.

Our quality of life has been impacted by his weight gain and the lack of participation in doing things as a family. My kids and myself take vacations, sometimes without my husband, because he refuses to go anywhere that has to deal with walking. If he does go he stays in the room the whole time and complains why did we leave.

I have became the main person for our household for fixing anything that breaks, making sure the housekeeping is being done, cooking, and taking care of the youngest child.

I am an executive and work a full time job that takes me around the world. He owns a restaurant business. I am tired of leaving on trips and coming home to broken appliances, or a house that has been trashed. My husband calls no one to fix anything he expects me to do it all. I have gotten many calls hundreds of miles away to help repair a broken refrigerator.

This week is the last straw. I came home, after being gone for two weeks, to a broken air conditioner. He never called a repairman or me but instead and for the past four nights, moved himself and our 8 year old to the basement. Needless to say I had it fixed the next morning by troubleshooting and buying a part at the hardware store.

I had a stroke several years ago and decided this past year that I have to lose weight and try to do something to reduce my high blood pressure. My husband looked in to weight loss surgery for himself several years ago. I convinced my husband that he and I should try this together. Well part of the preparation was loosing weight prior to the surgery. My husband needed to loose 100 lbs. in 9 months and me about 30 lbs.

Well, my husband has gained even more weight and I turned out being approved for the surgery. I have lost 100 lbs. since September.

Part of what has dawned on me is I have been a crutch for my husband by doing everything for him that he will not do for himself.

I am tired of feeling ashamed of his weight, of not being able to go to dinner, or the movies, or do anything that I feel is very normal, because he does not want to go. Our sex life does not exist. We will do it and last for 2 minutes while he pleases himself. He then says he is too tired to do anymore. Most of his time is spent on porn sites, watching porn tapes and masturbating, sometimes right next to me while I am sleep. He says it’s my fault because I do not approach him enough for sex.

We are finally going to a marriage counselor in the next two weeks but, I do not know where to start. He will say the problem is with me. I have my problems that I know need to be worked on as well but, I am so upset and angry that I feel like I am all-alone.

What can I or should I do?

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Answer:

When you and your husband go to the marriage counselor, it’s important for you to state clearly and unambiguously, what your complaints are about your marriage and how it’s affecting your emotional and physical health. However, avoid blaming your husband for your health problems. Let is be known that you can no longer be a crutch for your husband. If you are clear about the issues that you have reported here, then, you need not worry about your what he will or will not say.

A couple of rules to follow when you meet the therapist is: 1) Do not allow yourself to be seduced into arguing over the past. Discuss problems as they are in the present. 2) Discuss your health, including your stroke and blood pressure issues as well as your worry about the health of your husband. 3) Report all you do at home and how you need help. 4) State the sexual problems as they are. 5) Try not getting defensive, even if he tries to blame you. It is better not to get into the blame game. The therapist is not stupid and will see your husband’s weight problem which will speak for itself.

It is really good that you realize how you have helped your husband so very much that, in effect, he hasn’t had to do anything for himself. In many ways the two of you are coping with addiction. He is the addict. His addiction is to food which he uses to self medicate depression and other emotions. Yes, you have provided him with a crutch and that has made it easier for him to have his addiction. In works something like this: Being his crutch has given you a second full time job. If he got better, where would that leave you? It might seem as though you would feel better but that is doubtful because it feels awful to be unemployed. That is why people unwittingly enable addicts to remain addicted.

Part of this enabling concept is that you have probably always viewed yourself as a care taker. You care for him, your children and, I have a feeling, many other people all during your life. Part of your therapeutic job will be to learn how to not be a care taker any longer.

Remember this: It will be your husband’s job to decide if he wants to end his addiction to food or not. His weight is caused by no one but himself. He may try to blame you because every addict refuses to take responsibility for their own self. However, his weight is not your fault and, your stroke is not his fault.

So, when you enter therapy, try to avoid blaming him for everything that is wrong. Let the therapist know how you realize that you have provided a crutch and will no longer do so. That is my best opinion.

I want wish you the very best of luck and encourage you to eat healthy and care for yourself.

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