- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Before my husband deployed last summer, he asked me for a divorce. I was scared and angry because I had never worked outside of our home; I felt it was my job to support him and take care of our two children. What was I going to do if he divorced me?

I also was very overweight — more than 300 pounds — and did not feel good about myself. My husband would make “oink, oink” noises and make fun of me to the point that I wouldn’t eat in front of him. We did not have a sex life anymore because he told me I was unattractive and he didn’t want me anymore.

I talked to my pastor, but he said my husband was just being a man, and I needed to understand that men are attracted to what they see and understand where he was coming from.

While my husband was away, I changed a lot of things. I started reading self-help books and stopped listening to my condescending and male-chauvinist pastor. I finished my nursing degree and passed my Registered Nurse licensure. I also lost weight. I am 5 feet 10 inches tall and I now weigh 140 pounds. Guess who wants me now? My husband.

I’m confused because since he came home from Iraq, he wants to be all over me. He wants to take me places and hold my hand; he does not want a divorce and wants to work on our marriage. He is constantly apologizing to me for the way he used to treat me.

My family tells me I should kick him to the curb and date some of the guys who are interested in me, but I love my husband and want my children to have their parents married and together. Could you give me some advice? — Confused

Dear Confused,

First of all, let me congratulate you on your accomplishments. Many spouses who experience a long deployment report feeling an increased sense of independence. This is exactly what happened to you. You have completed your degree, gotten a professional license and, according to statistics, you have done something more than half of Americans need to do — lose weight. YOU GO GIRL. I’m very proud of you.

I’m not so sure you are as confused as you report. From your description, your husband was verbally and emotionally abusive toward you before he deployed. He even asked for a divorce. I know this was a very difficult time for you.

You decided to make some important changes in yourself, and now your husband has had a change of heart.

I won’t tell you to leave your husband, but I will say it doesn’t sound like he has unconditional love for you. What will happen if you gain a few pounds, as many people do? Is he going to treat you as before or ask for a divorce again? I encourage you to consider marital counseling and individual counseling before you make any major decisions.

I can think of a few things that need to be explored. For example, why does your husband base your marriage on you having a thin body?

Also, you could explore possible reasons for your previous weight gain. This is important, because if you don’t know why you gained, your weight is likely to increase. Finally, you said other men are finding you attractive. I know this must be flattering, but please don’t rush into another relationship. You must try to resolve the issues in your marriage before you move forward. I wish you the best. Stay in touch.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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