- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My wife keeps talking about how much I’ve changed since I came back from Iraq. I thought she was talking about my personality or my behavior, but no, she is talking about my weight. I have put on a few pounds, but I’m not unattractive or unhealthy or anything.

My wife purchased a home gym for me that we could not afford, and she even bought me a gym membership at the Pentagon.

She’s no spring chicken herself, but she does keep her weight under control and exercises regularly. It’s like she is putting me down because of my weight gain. She acts like she doesn’t want to be with me anymore and doesn’t desire me sexually.

I don’t know what to think. All I know is every time I try to get close to her, she acts like she is tired or just doesn’t want to be bothered.

I try talking to her about other things so we can have a normal conversation, but she only wants to talk about how I should lose weight. I’m sneaking food and eating away from home because she is cooking all of these vegetarian meals and verbally disciplining me if I put anything in my mouth that is not a carrot stick.

I know you probably don’t know what to think about a man writing you about his weight, but I don’t know what to do. I’m not a vegetarian, I’m a meat eater! — A Husband Who’s Not That Fat

Dear Husband,

I can tell this is really making you feel bad about who you are. It’s not good for your self-esteem to decrease, as is happening in your case.

It isn’t good that you’re sneaking food and eating in secret to avoid your wife’s criticism. I’m sure eating in secret will only lead to more weight.

In my professional opinion, I think her fixation with your weight is a symptom of other issues; what they are, I don’t know. It’s time for you and your wife to start having some real conversations about your relationship.

Right now, these conversations are clouded by your weight gain and your lack of physical and sexual intimacy. Start by asking your wife what your weight gain means to her. Does it mean she is a failure or not a good wife? Is she concerned about your health? These would be normal concerns. Conversely, her isolation and lack of intimacy are not helping you.

I also suggest marital counseling for you. You really need the help of a professional to put the pieces of this puzzle together. If your wife refuses to come to marital therapy, then I suggest individual counseling for you.

You have to move forward when you are ready. She can buy all the gym equipment and memberships she wants, but if you don’t want to use them or want to lose weight, it’s futile.

I wish you only the best and success in your marriage. Hang in there and let me know how you are doing.

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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