Help!

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Worried Worried
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Help!

Hi, newbie here.

I found this site recently as I was trying to find some way of getting support.

I have been in a relationship for over 8 years (married for 3.5). My wife has always been overweight and while I suppose I would be lying if I said it never bothered me, it has now become something of an obsession that worries me almost constantly. I am still attracted to her and love her but find myself disappointed and frustrated with her lack of action. I am worried that she will end up with diabetes or heart disease. Her overeating is now not as bad as it has been in previous years but it is still emotional and addictive eating, so when she's stressed (often) she will eat junk foods. Other times she'll skip meals or replace them with junk.  

About 5 years ago she started to take her health more seriously and lost about 25kg, joined the gym with me, played sports etc. Soon after that we got married and then her problematic relationship with her mother blew up and it affected her greatly, and her health suffered. Within a year or so she'd gained most of the weight back. To her credit she tried again to get active but ended up with a series of injuries that kept her from exercising, leading to more weight gain. I believe she now weighs more than ever before. The injuries are pretty much sorted now but I think it's gone on so long and she's so out of shape that it just seems like too much to try and change anything. I know maintained any weight loss is supposed to be really hard but I think one of the reasons she failed to keep weight off was because she focussed too much on numbers in her goal, instead of on how she could just feel healthier and make a life change for the better.

She is now stuck in a vicious circle because her sleep (suspect sleeping disorder) quality is poor, meaning she doesn't have the energy to do much more than short walks, but without losing weight she probably won't be able to get better sleep.
She has emotional problems (from her childhood) and depression, for which she's on medication and has had counselling help from a number of pyschologists. Some of them were better than others (the most productive time was when she was getting counselling and going to a dietician), but she stopped going about a year ago and now claims they can't help her.
Of course the antidepressants probably aren't helping with the weight and certainly aren't going to fix food addictions.

I suffer from chronic anxiety and am a bit of a health freak, which doesn't always help our relationship. I do most of the cooking which I see as a positive way to try and help. I cook meals from scratch on a regular basis just to make sure she doesn't go hungry and has something nutritious. Luckily she likes good food as well as bad.
I never bring up weight directly but try and encourage regular meals, eating at home together etc and incidental exercise, because I know she has developed issues since her stepfather criticized her weight. The trouble is whenever I talk about her health generally and how I am worried, she just hears me judging her. Other times she'll get defensive and say her health is none of my business. I don't want to add to the voices out there putting unreasonable pressure on women to look like stick figure celebrities, but it's got to the point where she really needs to do something to avoid some serious consequences down the line.

The truth is her health is already affecting both of our lives. I am quite active and it restricts what we can do together. And it makes me worry about the future. Of course the irony is I am risking my own health by worrying all the time about something I can't fix. The trouble is I don't know what to do or how to step back or even if I should. What if someone you love never wants to change or maybe deep down believes they don't deserve to?

Sorry for the rambling post... any thoughts appreciated. THanks!


Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: Help!

This post was updated on .
Worried wrote
My wife has always been overweight and while I suppose I would be lying if I said it never bothered me, it has now become something of an obsession that worries me almost constantly.
What I hear you saying is that this issue is both hers and yours: she is overweight, but you have a tendency to anxiety and obsession, and this plays into it. It seems right to separate the two, to realize that both are an issue.
Worried wrote
The trouble is I don't know what to do or how to step back or even if I should. What if someone you love never wants to change or maybe deep down believes they don't deserve to?
Wow. That last line is very profound. I think that my husband (and perhaps I, too) suffers from that fear--that one does not deserve happiness, or great sex, or dynamic life. And perhaps there is the fear that if one changes, one will realize that one should have, could have, changed earlier. And the fear that one might fail again...  And the form this fear takes is manifold, i.e., not just weight-related. The thin spouses have it, too.

I can't give you advice, except to say that you seem grounded and self-aware and fair-minded.  I can relate to your anxiety, because I am prone to being wound up, too, just as my husband is prone to the opposite (we once joked that he was the ballast in the relationship, literally and figuratively).  So all of it is delicate and complicated.

That said, you feel the way you feel, and no finger-wagging can change that. So you can accept it and then think, now what?  Others can help you think through how you feel, but no one can answer truly the question for you of what to do but you.

Thanks for posting!
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Worried Worried
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Re: Help!

Thanks for the comments, and yes you are definitely right that the anxiety is an issue in itself. I am well aware that it affects my life in ways that go beyond this issue I'm posting about. I have not been healthy in mind and if it's not worrying about this it's something else. But at the same time I feel here there is something objectively worrying, even if I get it out of perspective.

I guess the point I should have made is that my wife put pressure on me to seek help (rightly) because the anxiety was affecting my life. I had some counselling years ago and then when back more recently and it has definitely helped. I feel I have a lot more awareness of my issues and find I can manage anxiety better sometimes. I have become more mindful of my thoughts, and realise how much my own thinking is driving how I feel.

I realise I need to change and how hard that is. I just wish she would seek help again to deal with her own issues because she seems in denial of the need for help.
Mme.X Mme.X
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I feel the same way.  I've always had a good experience with therapists!  They've helped me, and it astonishes me that most people don't want to make use of them.  They are just part of being a contemplative being.  How great is that?

But the spouse does not see it that way. A therapist is just the occasion of making him feel like the bad guy.  

I maintain, however, that talking is good, especially with an impartial third person (as Mary wrote), and I hope that your wife can agree to some marriage counseling. Regardless of whether you and she have separate issues, you also have problems as a couple, and couples counseling might address them...
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
life on hold life on hold
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Re: Help!

In reply to this post by Worried
Sorry to hear about your struggles.  Here are a couple of resources that I found helpful:  Panic Away by Joe Barry (for the anxiety) and Married Man Sex Life Primer by Athol Kay (for your relationship).  I hope you look into them.

My advice to you is to spend a little more time getting your own life back on track.   Try to relax and have some fun with it, as well.  Worrying about your wife's weight isn't going to change anything.  It'll just make you sick and depressed, and it will probably create a huge emotional gulf between the two of you.  It WILL eat you up inside, if you're not careful.  Been there; done that.  Trust me, it's not worth your peace of mind.  I think there are much better ways of going about this...  

My mantra for relationships such as ours has been:  become the sort of person you would like to see your partner become.  Ultimately, you can only change yourself.  Work on bettering yourself...  If she's got half the love and respect you THINK she has for you, then she'll eventually come around and realize that you deserve better from her.  If she doesn't get with the program, despite all of your positive changes, then maybe that's an indicator of some kind?  Maybe she's just not that into you?  Give it some time and see.

Here are some ways to help motivate her
1.  Lose weight
2.  Get in shape and get ripped
3.  Dress sexier
4.  Get outside more.  Find hobbies and other interesting things to do.  
5.  Hang with your friends.  Make more friends!  Get involved in a regular social gathering .
6.  Get your finances in order and pay down debt
7.  Kick butt at work!  Aim high.  If you can in any way better your income, then make a sincere effort.  Sometimes that might mean looking for work elsewhere, if need be.
8.  Improve your attitude.  Become more charming, funny, witty, etc.  

To sum it up,  be the best YOU you can be.  Don't fret about it or give yourself an ulcer trying to accomplish these things...  Just give it your best shot and stay positive.  In time, she will notice a difference in you.  Trust me, she will.  Why?  Others will see it in you, too.  Especially other women.  

I am not advocating infidelity of any kind.  This is just a way (the best way in my opinion) to get her attention.  After seeing the prince you've become, she'll realize that she's gotta get her act together.  It may take a while for her to get moving.  You may not see results right away...  just be patient.

I hope this will help.  Best of luck to you!
Mme.X Mme.X
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AMEN!
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Worried Worried
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Re: Help!

Thanks, some good advice there. I'll look into those books you mention.

I take your point about focussing on myself - rationally I know that's the only thing I can actually change.

Regarding your points, I do already keep fairly fit and exercise regularly but the rest of the suggestions I could certainly do a lot of work on, in particular 5,6,7 & 8.

Oh and regarding Mme.X's post, we are already looking into couples counselling. We've been before and found it helped but definitely need to go again.
Mary Mary
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Mme.X Mme.X
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Thanks, Mary, for your kind words.  I agree with you: all that so many of us need is just someone to really listen and to feel a bit of compassion.  And that sounds so easy, but it is so hard.  It's so easy to judge.  My sense of you is that you are very kind and also ferociously loyal and also kind of lonely and also very human.  I'm so glad if you found a counselor, and -- very amazing to me -- if I had anything to do with it.  No one else seems to listen to me!!  Anyhow, I sincerely hope that he/she is a good counselor and that he/she can let you have a place, a space (mental, physical, emotional) where you can just sort out what you need and figure out how to get there.  I really do think that you can do it, and I send strong thoughts your way!

Sorry not to respond earlier -- my daughter had surgery this week (it went fine) and as usual I am also buried under deadlines at work, so I am trying to take a break from MFS (which it seems that aliens have tried to hijack recently...) and from anything other than my work and work email (and family, obviously).  Wish me luck!

P.S. to Life on Hold about your posting on the other thread about Mary: don't be too hard on Mary!  She does care, and I can tell that her writing style does not always express her ideas or heart accurately.  

One last thought before I sign off for a while: peace!  I wish for everyone the ability to notice one thing that is going right and to focus on it for a while in the midst of what often feels like the rubble of the rest of one's life.  But really, it's the good thing, the kind comment, the little achievement, the fleeting connection, that really does matter...  Sorry to sound like a motivational speaker (bleh, bleh, bleh), but still, I believe it.

 
Madame X (detail), John Singer Sargent, 1883–84, oil on canvas, 82 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (208.6 x 109.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.