Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

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Da Boston Landwhaler Da Boston Landwhaler
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Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

So here’s an interesting point. We just came off a workshop on employee motivation and one of the topics covered was the issue of the passive-aggressive worker. I thought I’d share one of the quotes they pulled off for us: “Passive–aggressive behaviour is a personality trait that entails  passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It is a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavowed, resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible [Wetzler, Scott (1992). Living with the passive–aggressive man. Simon & Schuster. pp. 35–37]”

Now given, this was a labour relations workshop however, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between the passive-aggressive worker and the fat spouses with whom many of us are cursed. Let’s break this down –

Passive–aggressive behaviour is a personality trait that entails passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations.

How many times have we heard lines like: I don’t have time to exercise, I can’t loose weight, I eat to fulfil an emotional void, I can’t afford a gym membership (amazingly purchasing massive amounts of food seems to pose no problem)  or the granddaddy of them all ‘Acceptance at any size’?  Obstructionist resistance? Just head to your local grocery (or worse yet Walmart) and take a look at the shopping baskets of any fat person in the checkout line. Enough fatty and calorie dense foods to feed a small third African village – all for one person. Obstructionist resistance indeed!

It is a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavowed, resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations.

To paraphrase one of our regular posters ‘Obesity is a choice, its not a matter of can’t it’s a matter of won’t’

Learned helplessness – I can’t help myself. I need special work, health ,life and travel accommodations  … all for free.

Procrastination – I’m starting a new diet, joining a new gym, eating healthy blah blah blah  …. Starting tomorrow, next week, next month, in the new year etc.. Needless to say, tomorrow, next week, next month, the new year etc never comes around.

Stubbornness , resentment, sullenness, - Ah yes, the dreaded concept of fattitude rears again it’s ugly head

Deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible

It’s not my fault I’m fat, It’s genetic, It’s my metabolism, Exercise doesn’t work for me, ‘Science’ shows that diets don’t work, My gym doesn’t have special accommodations for fat people, I don’t have time to work out, It’s Big-Food’s fault for pushing calorie-dense fast food etc…. and let’s not forget  I’m naturally big-boned (while double fisting a couple of candy bars).


I’m not saying that I’m right, but for me anyway, the parallels are almost inescapable. Could it be that the fat spouse is nothing more than a closet passive aggressive; and if so what’s the source of this agression? I’d be interested in seeing if any one else shares my opinion or if I’m just out on a limb here.
Proud Plumpette Proud Plumpette
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

I agree, in many cases, this could be the truth. I know my mother is fat out of resentment for other people. She likes the facts that her body says 'Fuck you!' to others. It's the ultimate expression of apathy for her. If someone asks her if she would like a lighter option, she gives them a nasty look and says 'Do I LOOK like I eat diet ANYTHING?!'.

I think she does so many other things for other people, that she feels this is the thing she does for herself. She likes to eat, and she likes to eat crap, so it's her way of getting what she wants. It's her addiction. She feels like atleast she gets some enjoyment out of life, while simultaneously sticking it to everyone who cares about weight. It's selfish, yes. But she is selfless in almost every other way. I think that may also be what happens to some. Rather than moderate time for others, and time for themselves, they give up their life to please everyone but themselves. This of course leads them to settle on a vice to get by, and also leads to their resentful and passive aggressive behaviour. The person begins to feel obligated to continue looking after others and they get caught in a cycle of self destruction.

I know when she was married to my father she would deliberately have a Coke, chips, and a Big Turk bar just to piss him off if he mentioned her weight. But he was also an abusive asshole who could have put it in a better way. That's beside the point though, she did eat to get to him. I have known other fatlings that do this as well. It's fairly common, from what I understand. But I don't think it's the rule.
Da Boston Landwhaler Da Boston Landwhaler
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

I'm not sure I agree with your synopsis.  It seems to me that a great many obese spouses 'accept' and 'welcome' their obesity for the simple reason that it lowers the expectations of everyone around them (I suppose I mean personal expectations) and in many ways allows them to abdicate self-responsibility. I'll give you and example that springs to mind .... there is a stereotype that most obese people are messy and'or dirty. It's never a good idea to kow-tow to stereotypes but look at the posters here. How many people compalin about their obese spouses being messy, not helping to maintain the family home, lack of ambition, hygiene problems and hostility when faced with anything resembling an intervention or reasonable talk.

Why?

Loosing weight = Personal responsibility.  
Personal responsibility = Personal expectations.
Personal expectations = Public expectations.
Public expectations = Personal improvement (health, hygiene, public presentation).  
Personal improvement = Possibility of failure.
Possibility of failure = Lack of willingness to take possession of your life.
Lack of willingness to take possession of your life = Avoidance
Avoidance = Passive aggresive behaviour



Fat Spouse Fat Spouse
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

Very late response, but maybe it'll help someone. It'll help me just to say it.

I absolutely believe this is my problem. And I want to change. I spoke with my husband about this yesterday. I know how to lose weight, and I've done it before. I actually really enjoy working out, but I just don't want to give up eating what I want, when I want it. Life since getting married has felt like prison, even though I'm married to a good man who is very patient with me. Before marriage and having children, I did what I wanted, traveled, chose my path based on what I wanted and what would make my parents proud of me. I feel as though I've been reduced to maid, chauffeur, cook, nanny, and booty-call girl (getting sex on my husband's terms, since his drive has been low all his life.) I've always eaten too much, but never like this. And I used to use foul language sometimes, but before marriage I hadn't used curse words in about 5 years. Why the change? Anger + a perceived lack of autonomy over my life = acting out in a covert way.

I spoke with my husband about this, since he's my closest friend and wants a change, not just for him, but for me as well. I told him I think I need to spend time in a support group for passive-aggressive spouses to learn better ways of expressing my needs than by adding more gross fat to my body. So, that's my next move.

Hang in there. Your spouse may not even realize he/she is doing this. I've been married for 6+ years to a man I've found to be a huge blessing in many ways, but a huge, huge disappointment in so many essential ways (not being very masculine in his approach to work or sex, not being the spiritual leader he misrepresented himself as, not taking care of his own body, letting me work myself into the ground, making almost no money, not being social, etc.) I've got to realize I've been a disappointment to him, as well, and to give the best I can, even if I feel he doesn't deserve it. I can't eat out of protest, but I must face my feelings consciously, decide how to productively deal with them, and do it, one step at a time.

Thanks for listening, if anyone is.
FS (soon to be FS no more)
Mme.X Mme.X
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

I'm listening, and thanks for posting.

Being obese can certainly be a way of gaining control over one's sexual relationship ... in the form of saying "no." This is certainly so in my husband's case, and unfortunately, it hurts him, too.  But losing weight is also a form of exerting control over one's body (as anorexics know).

I think that the key here is figuring out 'What exactly do I want?' --and then going for it. It sounds as though you are on your way to doing just that: figuring out what you want and working towards it not indirectly (which is what passive/aggressive or addictive behavior is) but rather deliberately and productively.

Good luck to you in your positive quest, not just regarding weight, but regarding the bigger picture that it's part of, and that you are now, it sounds like, in touch with.  You can do 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.
Pig Slayer Pig Slayer
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

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loveinaturtleshell loveinaturtleshell
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

Once upon a time most people were of a reasonable weight.   I recall very few obese ppl in HS (grad in mid 70s).   We had some stout kids and chubby kids, but no one really huge.   Some really skinny, but most of us were within 10lbs or so of the weight charts.   Yes, even adults at the time.   I think the American population at large suffers from some kind of cultural depression.   The society in which we live is not a positive one.   Negative behavior seems reinforced (staying in comfort zones and isolating oneself by watching all kinds of TV, gaming, Internet --- those seem negative behaviors to me --)   We are strongly encouraged to overspend and consume, buying the latest ---(and marketers make certain that we do by making products obsolete before we arrive home with them).   Then all the red tape, paperwork, robocalls, being put on  hold....for the simplest tasks!   Why not go home and stuff yourself with goodies after living this kind of life day after day    We are hardly aware of what we do, we are just trying to feel less anxious and more in control.   At least we can eat what we like.   I am not OW, not at all.   I tend to exercise, work in my garden, read, etc to escape this cold odd world.   But food is nice, it gives pleasure, and for some, they were set up in their childhood to eat everything on plates to please others, so it can feel like over eating is meaningful and fun and makes others happy.    Not sure if any of this sounds coherent, but there is something happening to society at large that is causing this bc there have always been unhappy marriages, angry people, and sadness.   Maybe just too much food too easily available   If we rid ourselves of every single easy food place tomorrow, would it help?     Only one McD's per state for example.   Candy only sold in state run stores, and only certain hours.   No pancakes on Fridays?   Dessertless Mondays and Wednesdays in restaurants.   Bread and water only sold in convenience stores.   I don't know, just being ridiculous, but that is what they did during WW2.   Food rationing.   Maybe an idea whose time has come???
poolboy poolboy
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Re: Is spousal obesity a form of passive-agressive behaviour?

I like the premise here. I do think the overwhelming societal problems with obesity and sugar addicted stuff snuck up on the 70's generation. Lots of ez food, lots of desserts and candy and stuff everywhere.
My wife would keep sugar everywhere and have desserts all the time. I outlawed desserts on the weekdays, and she still sneaks the kids off for treats and rewards them with food when I'm away. I really hope they do not follow her plump little habits. You should see my kids with their weekend syrup with waffles. Hell, I used to put sugar on my Frosted Flakes, because they didn't have enough punch. ...and I loved the bottom-of-the bag stuff
I'm a carb freak. I love them, but I also ran everywhere that I went since I was 5. I have lots of energy and I've generally used it up.
But I'm older now. I've gained a few pounds, and I'm watching my glucose levels bump up a couple of points a year. So I wanna watch it.
But OMG. sugar is friggin Everywhere. No white bread/tortillas/potatoes/rice/juice/dairy.
So what does the wife make? : white bread/tortillas/potatoes/rice, even when I've sent her links, and asked her to find her way around it, made recipes, etc.
Don't say I should do the cooking & shopping.
I was doing it. She bitched - a lot - so I gave it back to her. Now she Bitches about me not doing it.
anyway - junk food and hidden sugar are big issues.