Your Concern May Be Adding to His Problem

Dear Karen,

I’ve tried everything under the sun to get my husband to lose weight, because I want him to be around for a long time – and he’s got to be shortening his life with all the extra weight (not to mention I am just not that attracted to him).  I’ve tried: crying; demanding; asking nicely; explaining why he needs to; getting mad at him; working the “what about the kids” angle; not wanting to be intimate with him, and probably a few more.  Nothing is working.  I really need your help with this.  Thanks. — Reyna, NY

Dear Reyna,

It must be hard to live with this situation – for both of you.  Let’s figure out what you can do to make matters easier.

OK.  Let’s be honest here; no matter what their own physical appearance is, or health, or financial situation, etc., most women want a fit, healthy, successful partner.

What happens in real life, however, is that we end up with flawed human beings (just like us!), who want – more than anything – to be loved and respected and accepted for exactly who they are.

When that happens, it creates the feeling of being safe in the relationship, which is a powerful foundation for having the courage to become who they can be.

Don’t you want that for yourself?  Can you think of anyone who wouldn’t want to have that in their intimate (or any) relationships?

I’m sure you don’t intend this, but what your husband is experiencing from you is judgment and criticism.

Do you see that?

Would you feel motivated to change anything (at all), if what you felt coming from the person trying to “help” you was coming from that place of (basically) rejection?

I don’t think so.

I’d bet, actually, that what it would inspire in you would be doing/being more of whatever you were doing to cause the judgment/criticism, not less.

We tend to get defensive in the face of judgment, don’t we?  And it can often trigger the “F— you!” response…in whatever way we happen to act that out.  In your husband’s case, it may look like eating more of the foods that you *know* are making him fatter (and making you more upset with him).

How to end the vicious cycle?

Accept him.

Take your focus off his eating habits and his weight, and put more of your attention on what you love, admire, respect, like, appreciate and/or feel grateful for about him.

Keep in mind that whatever we put our attention on grows…it’s like a very powerful fertilizer, making the object of our attention flourish like crazy.

What do you want to see grow: his belly, or his happiness?

Not only that, what do you want to see grow in you: your fear and frustration, or your feelings of love?

Note of caution: if you decide to take this on, be consistent in your way of being with him.  If you’re loving and accepting one day, getting him his dish of ice cream and sitting with him while he enjoys it, and then the next day you’re making snide comments about his muffin-top, you won’t get anywhere at all.

My advice is to get yourself whatever support system will work (have a buddy, write in a journal daily, commit to him that you’re done having a problem with his weight) – because, let’s face it, we need to have help to tackle these issues in our lives.  Hey, if we knew how to manage it effectively, we’d already be doing it!

You can do this, Reyna – it may be hard, but you’ll both be so much happier as a result.

Oh, and by the way, don’t be the least bit surprised if, once you’re really “off it” about his weight and eating habits, and are consistently focusing on what’s right about him, he starts to make different choices about how he takes care of himself.