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Husband's Weight Problem

Question:

I have been married for many years. The marriage has been rocky. I have a sort of love for my husband but I think it’s more  loyalty and  security for me. He is a good provider and I believe he really loves me still. My problem is I am repulsed by his weight problem. He has a very large belly. His health is suffering also. I am completely embarrassed by his appearance. I make excuses not to do things in public with him if I can help it. I believe other people look at him with similar repulsion. I have done everything over the years to try to convince him to do something. I have threatened, pleaded, begged, smothered him with kindness, used sex, anything I could think of and the problem remains. I know I am part of the problem. I carry shame from childhood regarding prejudices against obese people. My father verbally abused my sister about her weight. I felt a great deal of sympathy for my sister. I also feel sorry for my husband. He is a very nice person but I can’t see passed this issue with him. I end-up nagging him about this and I know that’s not good or helpful. It’s desperation on my part. When we are out with friends I feel mortified and stifled by his weight and appearance. When I am out without him I am a totally different and fun person. Don’t get me wrong. I am not looking for a perfect man. Once in the past he was able to get his weight and girth down and I was happy about this. Our sex life also improved from both physical and emotional aspects. Any advice you can give me will be appreciated. Thank You.

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Answer:

It seems that you find your self behaving toward your husband somewhat like your father did toward your over-weight sister. I agree with you when you state that this marital problem is partly created by you and not your husaband alone. The real question is what is there you can do about it your marital relationship?

It might be helpful for the two of you to seek marriage therapy with a good Psychologist or experienced Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Please be aware that if you go in that direction and your husband agrees to the marriage therapy, there are no guarantees about his weight problem.

As you are probably aware, obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Part of the problem has to do with not only losing weight but keeping it off as well. Some well known Hollywood and Television stars are excellent examples of people who were obese, went through extensive weight loss problems and ended up regaining what they had lost.

It may seem to you as though your husband stubbornly refuses to lose weight. Of course, that is always a possibility. There are those people who, when nagged, dig their heals in even more and refuse to change. However, there is another possibility. That possibility is that your husband may feel hopeless about weight loss causing him to just give up. Also, it is within the realm of possibility that he feels depressed about his weight. Many men and women with weight problems feel a sense of depression and hopelessness because they feel out of control. If that is the case with your husband then he is not stubbornly fighting against your wishes as much as just feeling hopeless. This is possible whether or not he is aware of this.

Would your husband seek medical help with his weight problem? Perhaps he had done so already but it is always a good idea to seek additional health advice.

I very much want to caution you about something. If his weight is the only or the primary problem between the two of you I then have to ask myself and you should ask yourself, why you are so unhappy? Surely his weight problem cannot be the only reason for your frustration and anger? If weight is truly the main problem or the only problem, then, why would you want to leave your husband? I believe you need to ask your self this question. I would not like to think that you would leave him only to discover you made a mistake. I am not dismissing his weight as something that truly bothers you but I do wonder what else might be going on in your mind?

Either in addition to or instead of marriage therapy, your own individual therapy might be a good idea just so that you can learn what is really happening in your mind at this point in your life.

I certainly want to wish you good luck and I do hope that your husband does find the strength to get himself to a healthy weight.

Dr. Schwartz.

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