I've been married for almost 20 years. I've always battled my weight problems, successfully and unsuccessfully. I'm 5'7" tall. When we married I was probably 175 lbs. and am now approximately 100 lbs. overweight. I'm currently seeing a physician and losing weight and exercising regularly. However, I've seen this page before. I've lost weight, only to put it and then some back on.
My weight issue is very, very troubling for my husband. He's told me for years and years that he's embarrassed and ashamed of me. He's told me that my legs and my belly and my big butt just mortify him. Not to mention that our sex life is non-existent. I guess that for many, many years I sort of considered myself fortunate to have a husband considering my physical appearance, sad to say. I might also mention in passing that I have a thyroid condition that is treated with medication. Thyroid conditions can make it harder to lose weight among other problems.
I think however, that in the past few years I've also sort of come to a point in my life and with myself that I want more than anything to lose weight and sustain the weight loss, but that also, I really don't define myself by my appearance. I am a mother and a good one, a wife and a good one. I help my husband w/our business. I have many other good qualities about myself that I take pride in.
This issue of my being overweight permeates every area of our marriage. My husband says that since he's ashamed and embarrassed of me that he doesn't relish the thought of days at the lake or waterfront because of my appearance in a bathing suit. He recoils at that thought. He states that it interferes in every area, because he doesn't have a wife he can be proud of. He states that he does love me for who I am and all that I am and do, but that this weight issue just is so troubling for him. He states that he'd like to leave this marriage. But that when he weighs out the scale of whether he be better off here with his wife and children or elsewhere, he figures that he'd be better off staying here and just coping the best he can with all the embarrassment of having an obese spouse.
We've been to counseling, but all that ever amounted to was that he's just unhappy with my weight and my appearance. I'd also like to mention that I don't consider myself to be an embarrassment. No, I'm not happy being overweight for more than one reason, but I do wear appropriate clothing, and am able to do and go anywhere I wish, and try to conduct myself with proper decorum.
This all just makes me so sad. Now I find out that he's shared this information with my 15 year-old and it makes her angry at him that he feels this way about her mother. I told him that I wish he hadn't shared this with our children and kept our issues just that, our issues. He told me that he doesn't see me really, really, kicking this thing in the butt and doing something about it. I've lost 18 lbs. over the past 3 months. This information was shared with him. I was told that if I was serious about losing weight, I'd be eating nothing but salads and would be exercising every spare moment that I had to do so.
It angers me that in my opinion he is ignorant to this subject and has no desire to learn more on it. He just seems to want to criticize. I told him that I am counting fat grams and it's working obviously since I've succeeded in losing 18 lbs. thus far. I told him that I work out for one hour 3 times a week and that I've been told by the gym staff that I shouldn't try to do more than that as it will fatigue my muscles and I won't get as much benefit from them. Not to mention possibly straining a muscle and setting myself back on my progress.
None of this matters, my husband is adamant about the fact that I'm not trying hard enough. His opinion is that this has been an ongoing problem for many years and I've never done anything to successfully deal with it once and for all. As you can probably tell, he's never had a weight problem at all.
My question is this. Sometimes I just don't know if I want to sustain this marriage. I resent being told that I'm an embarrassment and I don't really find it easy to understand that rationale of his. My husband tells me continuously that men are much more visual than are women and that when what they see isn't pretty to look at, it immediately is a turn off. He tells me that people and their snide remarks to him about how she's 'a big girl' are hurtful to him and embarrassing.
How do I know if my marriage is worth fighting for on this issue? As for myself and the continuing effort of trying to lose weight, that will continue. I'm determined to continue this struggle and know that it will be a lifelong one. I resent being defined by this issue. It's almost as if I feel that should I one day succeed in losing all the weight I need to lose and happen to let a few pounds creep back on, then I'll have this nagging feeling of "uh-oh, my husband's gonna be ashamed of me again", when I am not ashamed of me.
I've encouraged him to go to counseling by himself to maybe learn to better manage his feelings on this issue. He won't. I've encouraged him to get on the Internet and look up issues dealing with weight loss and exercise and educate himself on what it is that I struggle with. He won't. According to him the struggle is mine and I've just failed to see how important it is to him and therefore risk losing this marriage. Can you please provide some assistance anonymously? I really feel like telling him to just move out and go on with his life and let me go on with mine. Whether or not I succeed in losing this weight is inconsequential in this matter of asking him to leave.
I don't know if I want to go on living with him and pretending to the outside world that everything is just fine. Like I said before I've finally really and truly reached a point in my own psyche that I don't define myself by my bathroom scales and in my opinion those that do can fly to the moon. I am proud of so much else about myself and my life. My husband is the sole provider in our household and should we decide to separate this would prove financially devastating for both of us. Please help.
Troubled (39 year-old woman)
I would like to congratulate you on your ability to understand that appearances and numbers on a scale are not the most important qualities about an individual. You stated that you are at a point in your life where you want to lose the weight and keep it off. You have taken the right steps by following the advice of a physician and the gym staff. This is very important for anyone undertaking regular exercise and desiring to lose weight, however, it becomes even more important when people have a medical condition such as a thyroid condition. It sounds like you have a healthy attitude about yourself and that you take yourself and your health seriously.
As I understand it, your difficulty lies in your husband continually criticizing your appearance. You stated that he has thought about leaving the marriage because of his embarrassment about your weight. It sounds like you have tried to help your husband understand you better by making some very good suggestions such as, going to counseling, explaining the steps you are taking to lose weight, and suggesting that he read about weight loss to learn more. These were some great ideas, unfortunately, they did not turn out to be effective with your husband. Let's leave the subject of helping your husband understand and accept you and try to go a level deeper in the problem.
As a Personal Coach and a Counselor I have found that problems often arise on a level which is superficial to the level on which the root of the problem occurs. An example is, a mother who complains that every afternoon at the grocery store her two year-old screams and throw tantrums. Actually, the root of the problem may be that she is taking her child to the store during nap time. If the problem is addressed at this level (i.e. wait until after the nap to go to the store), then the tantrums may stop completely. This is a very simplified example to illustrate the point. Your situation may not prove to be solved so easily, however, let's see if we can make a start. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you understand your problem on a deeper level.
When did your husband first start complaining about your weight? Could it be that he has always complained, even when you were not overweight and that no matter how much weight you lose, he will still be unsatisfied?
Strangely enough, people often need to put down others to build their own self esteem. It also is a mean in which to manipulate and create dependency in relationships. In a healthy relationship, criticism for your personal, physical or mental attributes should be addressed in a constructive forum. Based on your letter, it is apparent that your relationship with your husband is not physically or emotionally healthy.
How do you feel when your husband says he's ashamed and embarrassed of you? It would not surprise me if you simply said you felt 'hurt.' Ask your husband, how would it make him feel? Allow him to claim responsibility for the feelings that he instills in you. In doing so, ask him yet another question. Would that feeling be conducive to losing weight? Although your husband may deny the rationale of his action-- there is no denying--you have planted a seed. A seed that may very well make him think about his approach to what he feels is motivating you to lose weight.
Now look at the above scenarios. Is there one or a few feelings that seem to emerge? Ask yourself, are you willing to have these feeling for the rest of your life? Harsh, I know. But, you may not be able to change your husband and despite the best diet intention you may not be able to control you weight loss. The bottom line is to change what you can. Change your perception of what is best for you. Nurture yourself, mentally, physically, and spiritually. When you do this, you find the peace and balance necessary to face difficult and life altering decisions.
Coaching teaches a person to learn how to uncover the root or base of a problem and find answers or solutions that work from that base. These kind of solutions are more effective because they address the real problem not just the symptoms.
It sounds like you have a great outlook and are able to concentrate on the important things in life. Continue to do so! I wish you the best!
Women Improving Self Harmony...one woman at a time.