Friday, May 24, 2013

Please Help Me.


Dear ESB,

I never really thought I would ever be writing to you, but at this moment I feel so damn confused and don’t want my friends and family to weigh in because I’m embarrassed.

My husband and I have been together for about 6 years, married for 2. We met through work and quickly became BFFs... about 6 months into our friendship we started dating. He inspired me and made me feel amazing and I know I did the same for him.  

We, however, had very different sexual pasts. I wouldn’t say that I was ever promiscuous, I just had a much more varied sex life (toys, positions, frequency, oral etc.) and he had a much more vanilla sex life. In the beginning of our relationship we had a very healthy sex life, nothing really rocked my world, but the intimacy we shared was enough to make sex awesome nonetheless.

When we decided to move across country something changed. At this point it’s probably pertinent to mention that he is in incredible shape (like he is one of the most attractive men I’ve ever seen). I, on the other hand, have always been told I was beautiful, but began to put on some weight. I went from a size 6/8 to about 10/12 (about 15 lbs)... Now at this point our sex life screeches to a halt and I notice and start mentally freaking out. We just moved across country, this is my best friend what the FUCK is going on???   

Things started kind of slow - he would ask me if I had exercised at all when he got home from work, or he would start commenting on what I was eating. At first, I obliged him by answering because I thought he was merely curious... It became evident that curiosity wasn’t his motivation. Sensing he was having issues with the way that I looked - I brought it up and asked if the reason we weren’t being physical with one another was because I had gained weight... At first he denied it, but after several conversations over the next couple weeks he fessed up.

I tried to understand where he was coming from - he is in incredible shape, it makes sense that he would want his GF to take care of the way she looks. But then I started to get really fucking angry because I was feeling rejected and shitty. When we weren’t discussing sex, our relationship was/is great. We had fun, laughed, cuddled - but we weren’t being intimate. I can’t even count the number of times he and I had talked about it, but nothing really changed, things really just kept getting worse.

The constant criticism of what I put in my mouth or what I cooked or where we went for dinner continued, the sex was obsolete, and our friendship started to suffer. We blamed it on the move and the stress of our new careers, but the truth was I could handle all of that. What I couldn’t handle was feeling rejected and judged by the person I thought loved me for who I was. There is so much back story for why this was so hurtful to me and how paralyzed I felt, but seriously no one wants to read about my daddy issues...

Fast forward - he proposed, despite us having this very serious issue. I said yes, because I felt like everything else about him was amazing and perfect. We have been married two years.

We didn’t have sex on our wedding night. Or the next day. We have had sex less than 10 times in two years. We have fought like crazy (about this issue and ONLY this issue), and now I don’t know what to do.  

To be fair, I have gained a total of about 30 lbs at this point, have made no effort to diet and have no patience and snap at him for asking/talking/mentioning anything about my weight and/or food choices. And am generally more edgy, critical and angry.

Last week we had, what I thought to be, a constructive argument that ended in us both understanding how we played a role in what happened. I, however, have changed. And although I warned him several years ago that if he continued down this road - I was going to resent him and that I didn’t know if I would be able to forgive him - here we are. And now I am depressed and sad - I smoke pot daily to destress. I hate looking in the mirror. I binge eat. And some days I just want to die.

I love him. And despite most of your readers probably wanting me to shoot him in the face - he is a good man. He still makes me laugh, cuddles me, rubs my back and I can tell him almost anything - and in the last couple weeks he has really made an effort to stop being critical. But there is still no intimacy and now I don’t know how or if I should get it back.

He has stated that for all those years he viewed my resistance to getting into great shape as a slap in the face, because he demonstrates how important it is to him and stays in shape and that it felt like I wasn’t taking his needs and desires into consideration. I feel like it’s really important that I mention that because I do see the validity in that statement...

But another part of me wants to shake myself. At this point I can’t even think straight - I go from completely agreeing with him to wanting to slap myself for being so weak. It’s been so many years of promises broken in this regard, but the times when this isn’t being focused on things are OK, not amazing, but OK.

The shitty part is - I would really like to be in good shape again. I miss feeling beautiful and not because some guy was telling me I was.  

I wish I could live in the first years of our relationship again, because I miss him and I miss the comfort and safety I felt.  

Please help me. I am mortified - I don’t know what to do. Is my baggage making me hyper sensitive? Is it wrong that I still so desperately want him to want me? Why is this so taboo feeling?

Thanks for “listening” + sorry for the long email.  I didn't read it back, but I can't be crying at work right now.

*****

GET IN SHAPE.

Not for him, for you.

Swear off pot for a year, get in shape and get yourself to therapy. Talk through those "daddy issues" you didn't want to get into here. There's something else going on with you.

On the one hand, this guy is a dick for not wanting to sleep with you just because you've gained weight…. On the other hand, there is nothing less attractive than someone who is angry + depressed + binge-eating.

There's something else going on with you and you need to work it out. Once you're in a healthier place, you can decide if Mr. Incredible Shape is someone you actually want to be married to.


Sasha Pivovarova in Commes des Garçons by Peter Lindbergh for Numéro #67 (October 2005) via Catbirdfuckyeahcommedesgarcons

85 comments:

  1. Wow, I can't believe he refused to sleep with you for gaining 10/15 lbs. You're human, will his features/looks never change?-- His concern would be genuine if it was based on the merits of your health, not his vanity. I'm sorry. Is this really how you want the rest of your life to be? Even if you lose weight, he is so programmed into harping on you, it might just branch over to something else.
    Its just hard for me to wrap my head around, I've dated/slept with skinny guys, buff guys, portly guys, my "favorite" body type belongs to whichever one I'm with at the time.

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    1. Agreed. I think even if you get in shape, the fear that he could stop wanting you, that the intimacy could be gone, could be toxic to your relationship. And I'm sorry, I don't think it's reasonable to hurt someone you love so badly over something like 15 pounds.

      I understand that things spiral in relationships and he didn't plan on this amount of anger, pain, and resentment, but this seems extreme to me. And I get physical attraction changing, but the guilting and pain that went along with it make me worry about their relationship (as she thought most of the commenters would).

      So, yes, I guess, get in shape because you want to. But also, get to individual and couple's therapy and work out the issues at the heart of this. Because one day, if you get pregnant, sick, or, I don't know, OLDER, your body is going to change, and you need to be secure in the knowledge that he'll love you and make you feel loved anyway.

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    2. Yes, 15 lbs. is a small change and over the course of a marriage, people's bodies will change. However, he has made it clear that fitness is extremely important to him. While the weight gain is part of it, I wouldn't want to hook up if my partner spent all day smoking pot at home while I took care of myself.

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  2. I completely agree with esb's advice. I know it can be hard to get healthy and harder to do it if you feel like you are doing it for someone else. But it will make you feel better. Our bodies really prefer being in a healthy state and that is why exercise causes the release of so many positive chemicals into our brains. And once you are healthier and feel beautiful again for yourself than you will be in a better place to deal with the problems related to your husband. Also, therapy helps. Don't be afraid of it (though I too think it is about the scariest thing out there).

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    1. Same here. Also, we have no idea (neither does the OP) if the root cause of the weight gain (depression, etc) may have been why he stopped feeling sexually attracted to her, and the weight gain was just an additional factor. I can't imagine wanting to be intimate with a person who was high and pissed off all the time.

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  3. Agree with ESB. Maybe you can even try to work out and cook together? Get healthy AND try to rekindle the friendship/romance? Kill two birds with one stone, if you will. Easier said than done, but it would probably help you feel better and show him that you are taking his feelings into consideration.

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  4. I don't know...there's a weird moral tinge to his criticism, like it's ok for him not to be attracted to you anymore because you aren't making the effort that he does. So if it were a catastrophic event, and not your supposed lack of willpower/effort, that had changed your looks, then would he still be attracted to you? And would your fights be the same? It's hard to disentangle where this is all coming from.
    If I were in your position, I'm not sure I could at this point "get healthy for my own sake" without having some separation from this crap. Either a physical separation, like, if you're not constantly surrounded by rejection, will you stop eating for comfort? or, he also needs to go to a therapist and figure out his issues re sex, then give you a break and try to have a healthy life together, in all senses of the word.

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    1. Weird moral tinge - yes yes yes.

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    2. She is not really "constantly surrounded by rejection" if he is still cuddly and loving towards her. This seems exclusively about sex and intimacy.

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    3. Agree w/ Anonymous. He's not withholding affection and he's talking to her about his feelings and issues.

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    4. Maybe I'm in the minority but if a weird catastrophic event changed my looks, I would not expect my husband to still be sexually attracted to me. It would suck for me, but it's not his fault.

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    5. Anon @ 8:18, I agree with you in that sentiment. I think the implied corollary is perhaps "...but I also would expect him to accept it as fact and our new normal, and not guilt me about it".

      The person who wrote in mentioned that he felt betrayed by her lack of dedication to fitness, and if that's actually true, then perhaps his lack of attraction is more emotional than physical. In which case, a catastrophic event might not have killed his sex drive, since the emotions would be different. This is, of course, if you take the husband at his word about his feelings.

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    6. Agreed. I think it is Insane that 10/15 lbs was enough to make him not interested in sex AT ALL. Totally blows my mind.

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  5. It sounds to me like you might be hesitating on losing weight because you don't want to seem like you're "giving in" to what your husband wants. I definitely felt that way. All through high school and college, my mom and sister would tell me how pretty I would be IF I lost weight. I refused to get in shape because I didn't want them to think I was just doing whatever they thought I should do so that I would look like how they wanted me to. After I got married, I realized that I was being silly, took a good look in the mirror, and asked myself what *I* wanted. And I wanted to lose weight - not because of what they said to me, but just because I wanted to.

    Don't be afraid to what you really want to do because you're afraid of "losing" the argument. That said, he should still love you as you are, and you should definitely go to counseling. It isn't a bad thing. Sometimes people need a bit of outside help, which is FINE and important.

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    1. Totally agree with you & esb. I've been there (weight gain + sex issues + stubborn) and it reeeeally hard to say "I do want to lose the weight" and not feel like you're "giving in." But it's so important for you and your relationship. I agree with above commenters that the issue for OP's partner may be more than physical attraction an that therapy (for OP individually and for the couple) is the way to go. Hugs to you, lady.

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  6. The most interesting thing to me is that he proposed and you were married in the midst of these sex/body issues. I think it is obvious he truly loves you but there is more going on here than a few extra pounds. You sound like you are in a pretty low place and could really benefit from some therapy, and taking control of your body issues. Do it for yourself, but I wouldn't give up on your relationship just yet.

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    1. Proposals and marriage aren't always about love. Sometimes they're about control.

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  7. I recently started getting back into the the swing of things after not exercising for a while. I'd recommend signing up for a once a week class (I've been taking a hilariously new age-y yoga class). At first I only went because I had already payed for the classes and didn't want to waste the money, but after a few weeks I was really looking forward to it. It's made me more interested in getting other forms of exercise because remember how great it feels.

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  8. One of the things my husbad and I did before we were married was have a few very blunt discussions about our bodies and what would be expected of us in terms of weight, grooming, health etc. I am of the belief that bodily maintenance within the parameters of good health, and wanting to please your spouse is really important. Obviously a sense of humour and realistic expectations are necessary. Unkindly freaking out because you put on a few pounds cuz you just had a baby or something is totally not allowed. And frankly as the LW has demonstrated, having someone hound you over your weight is mega unmotivating.

    Personally I love showing off the fruits of my fitness labor to my husband. And he likes when I notice his pecs or whatever. Its a nice way to show appreciation for each other.

    I agree with ESB--consider getting in shape again but maybe try it on your own terms. Find an activity you super love. Don't just hit the treadmill at the gym and hate yourself and everyone else for it. Personally I take trapeze classes. Super motivating, super fun. Use this as a way to re-discover your body and what its capable of.

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    1. It's pretty brilliant that you and your husband had that discussion before you got married. Whenever you see those lists of Things You Must Discuss Before Marriage, it's always money, kids, religion, careers--never weight, health, and grooming.

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  9. First of all, this weight gain of yours is not the end of world. I know it feels like it, but it's not. It's only thirty pounds. You can totally lose thirty pounds. Lots of people who aren't as smart or strong or resilient as you have done it, so you can do it too.

    But your problem isn't the weight--it's that you're feeling depressed, angry, and hopeless. As long as you continue down this path, you're not going to be the person you want to be, with or without the weight and with or without your insensitive husband. So yes, please talk to someone about how you're feeling, preferably a therapist. You deserve a happier life than this and you should do everything in your power to make sure you get that life.

    As for your husband, I understand his point of view, even though I think he handled this situation very badly. Ironically, if he hadn't made your weight gain into a big thing, you wouldn't have felt so rejected and would've probably lost the weight already. Have you talked to him about how his guilt trips and nagging have actually made it harder for you to deal with your weight? If not, that's something you might want to talk to him about. The thing you need most of all to be your healthiest, happiest self is his kindness and compassion. If he can't understand that, then he's got some serious work to do on himself.

    If you decide to lose the weight (for yourself--not for him), then you might find it really beneficial to hire a trainer and/or nutritionist--somebody you can talk to about diet and exercise who is also NOT your husband. The last person you need coaching you is him. In fact, any talk of food, health, or fitness should be completely off the table. And if he brings it up, you can just shoot back, "I'm eating exactly what my doctor says I should" or "Sorry, honey, that's between me and my trainer."

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    1. Well said, Molly. I really agree with all of this. You do deserve to have a happy life with your sexy self and your sexy man...the only thing in your way is yourself. Big encouraging hugs to you!

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    2. Molly is hitting the nail on the head.

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    3. Agreed to everything Molly has said!

      I just wanted to chime in that getting a trainer at a local gym has been in my recent experience the best thing.

      Going on your own can be demoralizing by itself, but having someone hired to gently push you and get you doing/trying things you normally wouldn't do is fantastic.

      Plus this is not an every day commitment, 3 hours a week for yourself and you'll notice a difference in no time. Fifteen to 30 pounds? No problem.

      You CAN do this!

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  10. He DOES love you for you. He just isn't sexually attracted to you when you're clearly in an unhealthy state. And that is fair. He has the right to what he is and isn't attracted to. You were his sexual type at one time. Now you aren't. But that doesn't change the fact that he still loves you. I agree 100% with ESB. Forgive yourself for the past two years and make a fresh start. Make yourself a priority and take care of yourself in all aspects–not just your physical health but your emotional and mental health as well. Do it for you but also do it a little bit for your husband who has stuck by you through a rough patch and who it sounds like only wants the best for you.

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    1. THIS. Unfortunately, love isn't the same as attraction. And you should be happy that he loves you enough to tell you the truth and have an open conversation about your relationship. Communication is often more important than sex. I had the exact same thing happen on my honeymoon. The "Yeah, I'm so glad we're married, and I love you forever, but damn gurl, put those clothes back on." While I gawked, The last 3 weeks since the wedding I've been rocking the gym, and there's nothing like the (a) endorphins (b) pride and determination and (c) smile on that man's face when he sees you rockin it in a sport's bra.

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    2. Communication is often more important than sex.

      But it doesn't sound like he's communicating with her effectively. He's just nagging and picking at her, making her feel like shit about herself, which in turn is inspiring her to binge eat out of self-loathing and depression. So there's a communication and a sex fail.

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    3. Yes, I agree. If my husband gained a lot of weight, I would still love him. I'd still want to married to him. He would still be my best friend. I would still value him for all his wonderful qualities. But would I be excited to sleep with him? Probably not. I'd make an effort, but it would be tougher for me to be attracted to him.

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    4. There are many reasons to find someone attractive. If they are all physical then they can all disappear with weight gain. I think it's really sexy how my husband looks at me and that would not change with weight gain.
      I can not believe physical appearance is the only thing that turns people on.
      The one thing that is true is that if I gain weight and I myself don't feel sexy then our sex life will probably suffer,

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  11. Marriages, for better or worse, are contracts. They may be jerky contracts, or glorious, but they have a transactional component. He signed up for one female body, he got a different one. Bodies matter to him. So maybe we don't want anyone to sign up for a body, but many of us do anyway. So be it.

    That's his side of this. We'll leave aside, for now, whether he's right or wrong.

    But, as everyone has said, you need to focus on your side of this first. 30 pounds is one thing, pot and binge eating are another. You need to face those problems, they are indicators. Therapists exist for good reasons.

    Let your husband off the hook, for now. Turn your gaze away from him, and how he sees you, for now. Go figure out your sorrows.

    Then and only then you can decide if he's a good guy, an asshole but your particular dear asshole, or just plain an asshole with values you can't support.

    Losing weight per se is at the bottom of your list of priorities right now, but it may happen in collateral benefit with fixing everything else.

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  12. UGGGGGHHHHHHH. This sucks majorly.

    I think you should get to therapy, for yourself, because you are feeling down and you need a safe space to talk through this shit. I also think you guys need couples counseling like woah. When esb says "There's something else going on" I think she's right to the extent that you are being constantly judged by the person who's supposed to love you most in the world. That will fuck with your head.

    It's really, really hard to get into good shape and lose weight when you feel like shit about yourself. Right now you don't really feel loved, and you feel like crap about yourself, and so you're treating yourself like crap b/c you think you deserve it. (been there, done that.) It's going to be hard for your to get into good shape if you keep thinking you deserve this treatment--from your partner and from yourself--because you're coming from a sad, shitty place. So you have to get out of the crappy emotional place that you're in, and you have to do it be being kind to yourself.

    As someone who's been in her own sneaky body image hate spiral, here's my advice:

    --Find some way of exercising that brings you joy. Try different things until you find something that makes you feel really great about yourself. This isn't about maximum cardio burn. It's about moving everyday in a way that makes you feel GOOD in your own skin. Commit to working out a lot for the next 30 days. It takes 30 days to begin to change habits, so don't give up until then. I put little gold stickers on the calendar every day I work out, and it feels soooo good to see those stars filling up the calendar at the end of the month.

    --Your husband is not allowed to make comments about exercise, food, diet, or weight. Full stop. You need your home to be a safe space and at this point there is no way he can bring these topics up without you sinking into a pit of despair. So these issues are off the goddamn table.

    --I'm going to reiterate: go to therapy and work through these body image issues. You should feel beautiful and worthy of love regardless of your weight. Make sure you wind up with a body-positive therapist who's going to help you realize the truth of that.

    --Lay off the pot. Consider SSRIs if you're struggling; it's a better deal than self-medication. Also, buy a vibrator.

    --Be kind to yourself. Your goal should be: feeling comfortable and confident in your own skin. If you focus on the ## on the scale, you will sink into despair and quit within a week. Focus on being good to yourself, on loving yourself and your body for what it can do.

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  13. I agree with ESB that the most important thing you can do for yourself is to get therapy.

    In the mean time, however, there are small changes you can make to help get your self-esteem ball rolling. After dealing with a year of depression, withdrawing from social life and excessive self-criticism, I started to watch stupid yoga videos or exercise videos at home and work out while I'm high. Doing yoga made me feel in touch with my body and was a great stress relief and esteem booster. I found that if I made a strong resolution to only eat a pre-prepared healthy snak (or at least a pre-portioned unhealthy one) my munchies stopped leading to binging and the inevitable regret and self-criticism it brought that comes soon after. Instead, it gave me small bits of proof that I can follow my own will and make healthy decisions. I understand that it is best to stop smoking completely, but because it felt like such a stress release, just changing my habits while high made such a vast improvement that it might not be necessary to quit (yet). As time passes, I find myself smoking less and making healthier decisions on the regular, and I don't feel guilty for a week after eating a pint of ice cream.

    Another suggestion that may be helpful is finding and watching porn with curvier / bigger female bodies. This might be helpful for both you and your partner. It doesn't have to be BBW, just something closer to your currrent body(i.e. normal people, not that thinner folks are abnormal). Find some amateur stuff, or just start searching and find the right keywords to get your preferred results. Try Girls Out West (normal lookin' Aussies. Seeing a body you recognize enjoying pleasure, giving pleasure, being accepted and desired and cared for can have a profound change on the way both you and your partner approach your body (mentally and physically). Help yourselves both find a way to desire and appreciate what you have now for its unique benefits, appreciate that you may truly have more to love, even if it is only temporary.

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  14. Yes. He is a dick for not wanting to sleep with you. And he's a dick for trying to nag you into losing weight. Fuck. That.

    If YOU want to lose weight, do it, but don't do it for him. I would be worried about going down that road because you are literally changing your body for him. What if you lose 30 pounds and he's still not happy? What if he would really prefer if you were a size 2, instead of your old size 6? And you know your boobs probably could be bigger too, and wouldn't you look prettier as a blonde? Where does it end???

    If it were me, I would do the following: 1) start seeing a counselor/therapist because it sounds like you are (understandably) depressed about this issue, 2) start going to couples therapy, because it sounds like you are building up some resentment towards him about this (justified, IMO) and the best way to work through it will be with a neutral professional 3) talk with your husband about the weight thing one last time (possibly in couples therapy)...does he want you to lose weight because he wants you to be skinny? Or because he wants you to be healthy because he loves you and he wants you to be here as long as possible? If he says for health reasons, then I would compromise with him: you will start eating better and exercising, but not with the point of losing weight, with the point of being healthier. If you end up losing a couple of pounds, great, but that's not the point. I think it's really important to establish that because other wise you will have so much pressure on you to lose weight. Since you are already binge eating to cope with the stress you are under, it's not a big leap to see how being under so much stress to LOSE WEIGHT could lead to some really unhealthy behavior. Yes, 30 pounds doesn't sound like that much, but what happens if you start trying to lose weight for him and it doesn't go well? Will he be satisfied that you are eating better and being active, or will he still want you to be skinnier?

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    1. Honestly, way too harsh on this dude. We're only getting her side of the story here. Men are inherently more visual than women, and it sucks sometimes, but it is what it is. We can't control what we do or don't desire.

      Also, as so many here have mentioned, the insecurity that comes with weight gain is also a hugely unsexy turnoff. I am right there in the thick (no pun intended) of this right now myself. An unhappy relocation, isolation, weight gain, insecurity. It sucks. And it's completely obvious to my husband every day that I am ashamed I let this happen to myself. Also weirdly hard to turn the ship around.

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    2. that "men are visual creatures" line is such a cop- out. What, do women just get off on scented candles? Its thinking like that that makes it normal for sitcoms to feature ugly,overweight, bald men with super hot thin wives.

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    3. I don't think he's a dick for not *wanting* to sleep with her. But he's a dick for the way he's handling it, for just accepting that she not only no longer gets to have a sex life because one thing has changed, but adding pressure and judgement to it.

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  15. I think therapy for yourself is imperative. I also think couple's counseling to learn how to talk about sensitive issues without shredding each other's hearts to pieces is also imperative.

    I don't know how old you are, letter writer, or what your personal body history is, but one thing you might need to talk about with your husband is what "being healthy" or in "incredible shape" looks like. I say this, because I was a late bloomer, and now at 27 do I think I'm FINALLY done growing into my damn woman-body, and I've had to radically alter my mental image of what "super hot me" looks like. One huge eye-opener for me was doing a body fat percentage test with a personal trainer at the gym, and then doing the math out from it. Even if I had 0% body fat, I will never, ever be 115lbs again (my "this is what I weighed when I was 18" ideal).

    Our bodies really, truly do change as we get older. Numerical weight is a poor way to judge how you're doing, health-wise, when you're in a 20-lbs range of "normal". My damn hips will never fit into my old jeans, even if I get crazy fit like those chicks in the Insanity workout videos. For some people, a tiny bit of belly fat will never, ever go away, and will sit stubbornly on top of 6-pack abs. For some people, their legs will always dimple with cellulite, even though they're running marathons every year.

    So for you--what do you imagine when you think of your "healthy" self? Is it realistic? What does your husband picture when he's imagining you "taking care of yourself"? Did you used to exercise and eat avocados and berries for every meal, and your habits actually changed, or were you just naturally and effortlessly thin? If you go to the gym 4 times a week and make healthy diet choices and stop binging, and you only lose 5 or 10 pounds, will you guys consider that a triumph, or a failure? Will legitimate health and healthy habits be enough?

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  16. I think there's a difference between disliking gained weight and seeing that you're falling into unhealthy habits.

    Have you considered that maybe at first he was trying to point out your unhealthy habits rather than commenting on your weight? And because of daddy issues that you mention or whatever issues you took it as an attack? And then things just escalated?

    I know it can be really hard to break a cycle of miscommunication in a relationship and get to a really good, safe, non-critical, productive space. So maybe try couple therapy to help you get there. If you're anti-therapy then the BOTH of you need to buckle down and really talk shit out without saying hurtful things, without misconstruing what the other is saying, and try to get to that place yourselves.

    Another thing is that it sucks to be with someone that's miserable and really dislikes themselves. Maybe that's what your husband dislikes more than the weight?

    Not to say its all your fault or anything like that. He needs to work on how to effectively communicate. He needs to be sensitive to your issues and what he needs to do to be emotionally supportive. He needs a lot of help too, obviously.

    But if he's a really good man like you say he is and you're both on the same page of wanting to get through this TOGETHER, I really think you can. Good luck and I hope you can start to feel better.

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    1. RE your second paragraph: good point. We ladies are so sensitive about our bodies and for good reason! We're expected to be healthy and fit and skinny (but not too skinny), and if we gain ounce, we'd better be pregnant or else the world will end. And if we are pregnant, we'd better not gain too much weight. It's insanity, I tell you. So I get why the OP (and many other women) could take the husband's comments as an attack or rejection, when really he was worried about her downward spiral.

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  17. ESB hit it right on the money. And the core of everything you said, the thing that you should listen to and act on, is this:

    "The shitty part is - I would really like to be in good shape again. I miss feeling beautiful and not because some guy was telling me I was."

    THIS is what YOU want. Grab it by the horns, start taking care of YOU, and see what else in your life improves as a result.

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  18. There's a Dan Savage question similar to this, but from the guy's perspective of not being physically attracted to his wife anymore and not knowing what to do about it because he still loves her. I would check out his site because this question comes up a lot and there is some good advice from both him and the readers.

    I personally think you guys just need to STOP talking and start having sex. Maybe it's not the best for him bc he's not physically attracted to you - too bad for him for now. The more you are talking about it and the less you are actually just doing it and being intimate, the more it gets built up into this huge "thing" and can't happen naturally. Obviously, you need to be working out your own issues and at least working towards losing weight in the meantime, but it shouldn't be THAT hard for him to suck it up like once a month right? And you know, you might try to lose weight and it might not work - because that happens. You will get fitter and definitely feel more confident in your skin, but maybe not lose all the weight. Good luck because life is short and you deserve happiness and pleasure.

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  19. Agree 100% with ESB, and with the rec to check out Dan Savage on this issue. I would just add talking to a doctor - there could be medical reasons for the initial 15 lb gain - thyroid, etc.

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    Replies
    1. Seconded - check with a doctor

      Delete
  20. Alright, so, everyone who is calling this guy a dick might consider what I'm about to write "victim blaming" but here's what I hear when I read this--based on the tone and word choices (and based on my own experiences):

    You get together when you are a size 6/8 and he thinks you are beautiful but you do not think of yourself as beautiful. He probably knows this, but figures him telling you and showing you that you are beautiful will help you see and appreciate how you look.

    You move and it's stressful for both of you and at the same time you put on weight. I'm sure his attraction wanes a bit based off the weight gain but I would bet money that you were giving off signals that you were uncomfortable. You don't have sex. This is not his fault alone unless you were initiating sex and he was not reciprocating (I never read this as him withholding sex based on weight gain as some others seem to have interpreted it).

    [sidebar: how does this statement relate to the story? "We, however, had very different sexual pasts. I wouldn’t say that I was ever promiscuous, I just had a much more varied sex life (toys, positions, frequency, oral etc.) and he had a much more vanilla sex life."]

    Both of you start to feel weird and bad about not having sex and are probably both worried about what the other one thinks and/or are blaming them. He, immaturely, sure, acts out on these worries by questioning your habits. He might think he's being helpful or he might just be acting out. He probably doesn't realize how bad it's hurting b/c he isn't in your head--doesn't know you are freaking out about him not wanting to have sex and worried about your own weight gain.

    Anyway, I offer this perspective only to say that I think everyone is being hard on each other and themselves and probably misplacing blame for stuff. I'm not trying to say it's the LW's fault, just that it doesn't sound like her husband is a villain either.

    I think sexual attraction is important and a hard topic to talk about. I think body issues are just as messy and complicated.

    I agree with ESB. It sounds like therapy is step one. I've never really gone to therapy so I'm not sure what's recommended but it sounds like both individual and couples therapy might help. Good luck. I hope you can work things out--however they are meant to progress.

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    1. I think you make a good point. I'm sort of in camp: "your husband is being a dick," but I also think that it's very, very possible he thought he was/is being helpful and is only making the situation worse.

      My partner was always overweight, and in recent years I've gained a bit of weight myself. He's a machine when it comes to willpower and has lost something like 80 lbs. (He looks great. Also, his collar bone now jabs my head when we cuddle. You win some, you lose some.)

      I've really wanted to lose a the weight and get into good shape, but it has been haaaaaard for me. Hard because I'm super sensitive, and because of personal baggage, and because I was feeling sorry for myself, and because I was scared, and because sometimes I'm a little bit lazy. And he would try to support me by doing a lot of the things your husband did: checking in if I worked out/ate healthy, trying to remind me to make good choices about food, etc. (We were having plenty of sex, though.) It made my skin crawl, and made me feel terrible about myself.

      And, man, have we had our fights about this issue. It's been a long process, but I've had to be very clear about a) why these ways of "support" are actually making me feel terrible about myself and b) what I really do need/want from him about this issue. And he's been very clear about what is important to him (that I am as healthy as possible, regardless of weight, so we have a long life together) and find ways to be supportive.

      So now we run together 5 days a week. And he gives me lots of positive reinforcement. And he gets kind of disappointed/pissy when I say I am going to do something (go to the gym after work, run with him in the morning, etc.) and I don't do it just because I didn't feel like it. He feels like I've broken a promise to him, and so feels hurt. And I get that!

      tl; dr. Give him the benefit of the doubt, but find a way for both of you to a) talk about this issue and b) do something about it.

      Delete
    2. Hillary you said: "(I never read this as him withholding sex based on weight gain as some others seem to have interpreted it)"

      But in the original letter she writes:

      "I... asked if the reason we weren’t being physical with one another was because I had gained weight... At first he denied it, but after several conversations over the next couple weeks he fessed up."

      Delete
  21. I think I'm the only one who doesn't think the husband is being a dick. If my SO gained 30 lbs and smoked pot every day and was short and mean to me I wouldn't want to sleep with them either.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, I get that. I'd be more pissed about the pot smoking, depression, and anger. Because like somebody else here said, that kind of attitude and mindset is NOT a turn on.

      Delete
    2. I have to agree. If my husband were doing these self-destructive things, I'm pretty sure I would never be turned on by him. I definitely encourage my husband to eat well because I want him to be healthy, but yeah, I honestly wouldn't be too happy if he gained a lot of weight. That said, there are ways to encourage healthy habits that don't involve demeaning the other person, and if her husband is doing that, that's a problem. Anyway, I agree with esb that the LW should get fit for herself, but should also look into therapy if possible, both for herself and for her relationship.

      Delete
    3. Hold on... reading comprehension check.

      I wish I could agree, but I think your facts are off.

      It sounded like their sex life "screeched to a half" after she gained 15 pounds. Which is really, truly, not a lot.

      Then she was confused, then she confronted him, then he confessed it was about her weight, then she tried to understand, and THEN she got angry. Not sure when the pot smoking started, but seems like that was later as well.

      Delete
  22. Therapy. Couple's therapy. Sex therapy?

    Go away with a friend and have some fun out in the world.

    As someone else said - vibrator (and porn?)

    Take up dancing or as someone else said - trapeze. Or join a mountain climbing group, or yoga or swimming - something actually pleasurable, and just enjoy being physical, forget about the weight for now.

    See a doctor and get tests done just in case you've got a thyroid problem.

    Sincerely good luck.

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  23. I agree completely with ESB. You have a relationship issue and you have some you issues. You have to work on both.

    I'd also like to add that my husband and I went to couples therapy before we got married and it was completely and totally life-changing. I am so glad we did it. We both went to individual and couples therapy and dealt with some BIG issues we didn't even know we had. Sometimes your sex life can be a magnifying glass that alerts you to other stuff that is going on.

    Our therapist was the bomb. It was an expense, but we only went for 6 months (though you should go as long as you need to). It's crazy to me that 6 months of therapy could help so much. I went into therapy thinking we were just going to ease our break-up with a sort of therapist/mediator, but it turned us around completely!

    I also second the advice some commenters have given to get out with a friend or friends. My therapist gave me that advice and it helped SO much. Friends who love you can provide great perspective on things, and having fun is one of the best ways to break a depression and feel more independent (provided that it isn't a chemical problem).

    Good luck! You have some hard work ahead of you, but things are going to get better no matter what! Just get in some quality therapy! There are groups that provide discounted therapy if you can't afford full price.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. seconding this - I have issues with this too - but the fear you have to tell your friends is probably way bigger than the reality of talking to them. Choose wisely, but confide in some important peeps and it may be a huge weight off your shoulders (terrible pun not intended).

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  24. Therapy now seriously. And start considering if divorce as a potential option.

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  25. For one slightly different perspective - I don't think it's actually your weight that's causing this distance between you. From what you describe about your conversations on it, it sounds like its a much bigger deal that you (admittedly) haven't tried at all to be proactive about your weight. This can make it seem like you don't really give a shit what he thinks, which can be hurtful. I've had sort of a similar situation, in that I have some hormone issues that cause my weight to fluctuate wildly (size 6-12, or about 30#). As long as I'm being proactive about taking reasonable care of myself and health, my husband (also fabulously in shape and very fitness dedicated) is super supportive and complementary. But he's said multiple times it means a lot to know I want to take care of my self/health (not just a weight issue, but overall health) because I care what he thinks. If your husband is working himself like crazy as a (maybe in your opinion misguided) way to show you he cares, it would be hurtful to not feel like you did the same. So just one other perspective on it - it really might be more intention and effort than looks. Maybe not, but something to consider. But also agree with everyone else - stop smoking pot for a year while you figure your business out with a great therapist. And find ways to take care of your health that you LIKE and make you feel better and more confident no matter your weight.

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  26. This blows my mind. If you want to get in shape (see: FEELING GOOD! not striving for a bangin model bod) then do that for yourself; not for your insensitive prick of a husband. You have spent your entire 2 years of marriage being criticized/belittled/neglected. Think those are too strong of words? OK- so he cuddles, gives back massages, makes you laugh, and lets you tell him things. And then he focuses conversations on criticizing your physical features, making you feel like shit. That, my dear, is a major mind fuck and a form of passive aggressive abuse.

    Your sex life wasn't fantastic to start- why fight an uphill battle? I'd give him a taste of his own medicine & give up on trying to get laid; If he wonders why then let him know the sex just wasn't as good as it could have been anyway. Let him know how it feels to be criticized.

    Sound harsh? I'm sick of women not sticking up for themselves. Relationships take work, but work TOGETHER. You shouldn't have to dive deep into the depths of depression because of how your partner, your supposed #1 support system, makes you feel.

    I'd cut my losses, ditch him, and find a guy who is going to make you happy 100% of the time, chubby or skinny, for many years of your life- every time your happy 60 year old wrinkly ass hops in to bed.

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    Replies
    1. Oh boy.

      No one can make you happy 100% of the time, and also, you shouldn't be looking for your happiness in another person.

      Delete
    2. Um, some people in this world still see marriage as a lifelong commitment. You know, for better or for worse.

      This is a rough patch between them that CAN be worked through, and they will be stronger for it in the end. We're all jerks to the people we love at some point or another, but one of the main perks of marriage is that our spouse can't just "cut their losses" and leave our jerky asses in the dust when the going gets tough.

      This is one of probably many hard patches in a lifelong marriage, my friend. There will be highs and lows, but it sounds like you're with someone who is committed to you and truly loves you (yay!!) even though he's not doing so hot at handling this particular difficult situation (who would be? We're not born knowing how to navigate these types of things).

      Delete
    3. The guy making you happy 100% of the time might be off the mark, but otherwise Anon has a point.

      - different Anon

      Delete
    4. Doesn't sound like you married a husband. You married your friend. Nice n theory, but ths friend doesn't think of you in a sexual way. It's not you. The chemistry is not there. Stop torturing yourself. Find something you love to do and move on. Maybe he's gay?

      Delete
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  28. Thank you, Anon 3:40 PM. I was on the fence about husband, trying not to judge based on our limited and inevitably biased info on him. But you know what? Fuck that shit.

    I mean ESB's advice and Hillary's voice of reason are refreshing as always. And I know it's not constructive to tear husband apart on this forum. But the letter just made me so mad and sad. I know we probably don't need to identify a "victim" and "villain" here, that accusations and blame are unconstructive, but she is at least the victim of some emotional abuse -- there, I said it, because it really sounds like that. Yes, she has issues, but he directly contributed to at least some of them. And I just don't think that part is defensible.

    If he truly cares for her well-being instead of just her weight, why didn't LW talk about him proactively and positively trying to get her to live a healthier lifestyle... or was that part of what she shut out when he brought it up? Everything we're telling her -- exercising, eating better, stop smoking pot, go to therapy -- has he not offered her any of this? Are we giving him the benefit of the doubt here?

    I am not sure if I would... because what I'm hearing is "in the last couple weeks he has really made an effort to stop being critical."
    - Not being critical is not the same thing as being supportive.

    I'm hearing "He has stated that for all those years he viewed my resistance to getting into great shape as a slap in the face, because he demonstrates how important it is to him and stays in shape and that it felt like I wasn’t taking his needs and desires into consideration."
    - Him, him, he, and him. Taking needs into consideration is a two-way street. What about her needs for positive encouragement and self-esteem? What about HER desires? Ugh. Re-reading this just made me fume.

    Being obviously insensitive to your spouse is just not acceptable when she is losing her shit over YOUR preferences, however valid they might be. It sounds like you need to grow up and change your tune, which you can work on while she gets her shit together.

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    Replies
    1. Be careful, you do not know his side of the story. He is watching the woman he married go deeper and deeper into a very unhealthy lifestyle which can be threatening to a spouse... especially a man.
      He honestly needs work on communication, and she needs work on her perspective and her own baggage.
      Perhaps he had a female figure in his family life that went down this very same path or similar and it is influencing his behavior - just as her past is influencing her reactions.
      She has some part in this -I'd say more than 50%.

      Delete
  29. I once had a very fit boyfriend who would frequently make comments about overweight people, not in a outright disparaging manner, but in a way you could tell he was judging them. This used to drive me nuts as he would make these kinds of comments about my family members (all of whom were only slightly overweight), and especially my legitimately obese dog. After having several arguments over the matter we talked it out and I realized that the heart of what was motivating his judgement were were his own self-image & body issues. Growing up as an overweight kid/teenager, he blamed a lot of the social and athletic experiences he missed out on on his obesity, and was subconsciously projecting his own struggles onto other people.

    The point of this anecdote is that it might be very helpful for the husband to seek out some therapy as well regarding any potential body image and sex issues he might have. I obviously don't know the OP's frame shape, but 15lbs just seems like it would represent such a small change to one's overall figure that it's likely there's more going on in the husband's camp.

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    Replies
    1. This sounds like my sister. You make a very good point.

      Delete
  30. As someone who has struggled with eating disorders and who is married to someone who has struggled with eating disorders - yeah you should do some yoga or whatever but dude needs to have some EMPATHY. It is really, really, really fucking hard to feel OK about your body as a woman in western society, and as much as you want to change your body, that very desire can sabotage you. For me, the more I want to lose weight, the more I stress out about how I wish I were skinnier, the more I binge eat. When I am like "oh yeah we promised to love each other no matter what," that's when I feel more positive and manage to get myself to aforementioned yoga class or whatever. Feeling judged by your partner (or yourself) can make everything that seems so simple (eat less! get in shape!) an incredibly complicated emotional experience. And I'm sorry but going up like 2 sizes is not a dramatic change in body type. I tend to think attraction is often tied into social status -- i.e. thinking your partner is hot to the rest of society can factor into desire as much as their actual body/appearance. Anyway, I would focus on trying to be in good health -- if you take in relatively healthy foods and get a decent amount of exercise, your body will be the size it wants to be. It's entirely possible that your previous weight was not your natural set weight. OK enough of my sociological dissertation. Do something that makes you feel hot (whether it's exercise or porn or new lingerie), not freaked out about whether or not he thinks you're hot.

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    Replies
    1. These are great suggestions and just I wanted to add my newest strategy for making myself feel hot. Go to an art museum and spend some time checking out the all the ladies of the first couple millenia that got immortalized in marble, terra cotta , paint, etc. Helps remind me that there is no objective standard of beauty and that a pear shaped figure can be smoking hot too!

      Delete
    2. Oooh...I like this! Also, this. I honestly find a 14 just as hot as a 6, if not more so, and any dude who didn't agree sure as hell wouldn't be getting into my pants.

      Delete
  31. Yeah, the fact that he lost it over 15 pounds throws up a big warning sign for me. Dude's gotta be pretty superficial to get that worked up over a jean size. Fair enough to lose a little of the mojo after 30 pounds, but criticizing food choices/checking up on exercise is not the way to remedy the situation. How's about this: "You mean so much to me and I want us to both be healthy. Let's go for a walk."

    Stop the weed and get yourself healthy again. (And I don't think that has to mean weight loss. You're what, a size 12 now? Who gives a shit?) Give yourself some space if you need to. And once you're feeling good about yourself again, make a decision on the relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I TL;DRed the comment thread. This is a really tricky issue. I'm a total gym rat - I love learning new sports, love lifting weights, love figuring out what my body can do, love the community I get from rowing and crossfit. I work out because it's my happy place, because it helps me cope with my depression and anxiety, because it's 'me' time.

    I don't think I'd enjoy it anywhere near as much if I was doing it to build a body that would appease my husband.

    THAT SAID: you sound unhealthy and unhappy. In my experience, there is nothing like finding a sport or fitness activity that you love to help break through depression. You start to see yourself differently, you start to take pleasure in an endorphin high, and you start to gain confidence. But you've got to find something that you love for its own sake.

    Nth the commenters who say you should go to therapy. Go to therapy. Think about any physical activities that you really enjoy - do you like learning new skills? Dancing? Zoning out while you run? Make it a mission to find a sport/fitness programme that you enjoy. Pay attention to your nutrition, not for the sake of weight loss, but because self care is important.

    And tell your husband that he just can't comment on your weight or fitness any more. It's mean and saddening.

    Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This makes me so sad. As someone with good body image, I nonetheless know I feel more self conscious after looking at fashion magazines and some other forms of media I feel are judging me. My solution? I avoid them. The knowledge that you are judged every day at home, somewhere that is supposed to be safe, means that you have no place to recharge your self-confidence batteries. If you are sapped of self confidence you're probably not going to want to do something for yourself and you're going to stay on this merry go round.
    On a second note, I am saddened to see another example of men pushing their ideals of beauty on their partners. It's YOUR body, it's not designed to be someone else's ornament, it's a functional piece of equipment designed for you to experience and enjoy life.
    Good luck. You're in a sh*tty situation and my thoughts are with you.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ok, going anon on this one...

    What hits me with this post is the "not having sex". In all honesty: I'm married to a man I know loves me, but if we stopped having sex, even if he didn't pick on my body as a reason, I'd be gutted. Sex (even casual sex) can be a comfort/pleasure/reassurance/connection/mode of communication/etc. Even with casual lovers, sex feels good, and I feel connected and grounded and better about myself when I have sex with people I care about. Sex with my husband is all that plus love/caring/desire/trust/closeness/comfort. Being cut off from that is just... no. There've been times when work and scheduling have been stressful and we've gone two weeks without having sex, and, honestly, I didn't deal well, even with cuddles and other affection. (Disclaimer: I know that's my issue, and I deal with it, but that doesn't mean I don't feel astoundingly shitty about it). Basically: sex is important, and being cut off from that would be super painful, and being criticized while already feeling vulnerable (... show me a woman who isn't vulnerable about body criticism after gaining weight, seriously) would be salt on the wound.

    That said: feeling un-shitty about yourself is important. Get therapy for the not-in-control and the Issues. Get the pot-smoking and binge-eating under control, because that seriously can't help matters. Make it clear that body-based criticism is Not Ok while you're dealing with your shit. Are there physical activities you used to like? Look into doing those again. Without the husband.

    Once you've dealt with your shit and don't feel like crap about yourself and your life, take a hard look at your relationship. Do you resent him? Can you get over it? Would therapy help? What about your body changing as you get older? Do you want children ('cause yay body changes...)? Can he deal with those changes? Do you trust him to? I don't think it's a great idea to go in-depth into the issues while you're feeling shaky and he's harping on a sensitive spot, but, in the long run, you're probably gonna have to.

    Whether he's a dick or not, I can't say - I'm also gonna take your word for it that the rest of your relationship is excellent enough that you'd be happy with him. You need to deal with your shit to a) be happy with your own life/self/body, and b) be in a position to evaluate your relationship with open eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  35. So I am the only one who read this and thought... your husband might be gay?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Nope, definitely crossed my mind.

      Delete
    2. It at least made me think if they aren't having sex, where is he getting off..

      Delete
    3. She calls him 'BFF' and 'Best Friend' and mentions the highlight of the relationship as 'fun, laughter, cuddles and back rubs' and this has been going on since before they were married.

      Could it be that the weight issue is a convenient excuse NOT to have sex with her? After all, he denied it at first until she pushed the issue.

      (ps I AM gay and I've been in these types of straight relationships.)

      Delete
    4. I also wondered if there wasn't a little shaming/weirdness about the fact that she had a more varied sexual past than her husband?

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    5. That didn't initially occur to me, but now that you mention it, I have an uncle who was closeted and married to a woman for a long time. And when he finally got caught cheating on her with men, he blamed it on her weight.

      Delete
    6. This was my first reaction as well.....

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    7. This was my first thought. Also, all the pot smoking and binge eating is probably very unsexy to him. Bottom line, it isn't about your weight, maybe it's about fit/healthy vs unfit/unhealthy. He needs to figure out his issues too, this is a deeper problem than just lack of sex.

      Delete
  36. I agree with ESB regarding seeing a therapist to sort out some things.

    Two other thoughts -

    - I've recently moved to Europe and noticed that amongst couples here (from various Euro countries), it seems more normal/okay for one partner to tell the other that they need to lose weight. I've found that interesting, since in N. America the cultural norms around that are much different.

    - If you're up to it, take a peek at Intuitive Eating. It has really helped me sort out and deal with a lot of food/weight issues. And I will mention that some of it has to do with rejecting the opinions and suggestions of others about what you should eat and how you should look.

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    1. Okay, now I've read the comment thread and would like to add:

      Our society has become mega hung up on weight as a sign of health, when the evidence on the topic is less clear cut. We attach all this value to being skinny, and I notice that people are so willing to tell each other to lose weight, "for yourself," and I think that ultimately it's really still for society, etc.

      Eating in a way that nourishes you and makes you feel good, and exercising because you want to - those things have to come from inside yourself.

      I think the comments touching on the topic of what happens when you get older, have kids, etc., are spot-on. Nobody stays the same shape forever.

      To me this whole thing sounds pretty fraught. If you can't feel safe to sort out your own issues with food, etc., at home, how will you ever get to a good place? And if you partner is able to be so unkind to you on this topic, well, what does that say about him? I agree with others that he needs to be involved in whatever therapy road you go down - on his own, or with you.

      I don't think any individual person has the right to expect your body to be a certain way. Is it natural to be more or less attracted to someone based on appearance? Sure. But that doesn't mean that anybody gets to say how you should look, not even your husband.

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