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folksymama
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« Topic Start: November 18, 2010, 09:56:46 am »

I hope I'm putting this in the correct place...

My husband and I are having...ahem...intimacy issues.  I can't talk with my real life friends about this because well, I fell shallow and horrible, but I need to get it out there.  So you all get to be my sounding board.

My husband is obese.  He has gained well over 150 pounds since we married.  He was always "large-framed" but he carried it well.  In the past 2-3 years he has just gained and gained and gained and there's no end in sight.  I don't WANT to be a shallow horrible bitch, but I'm just not attracted to overweight men.  I know women are supposed to be the ones who are more attracted emotionally and that fuels their sex drive over physicality, but that's not me.  I want my attractive husband back.  I hate having sex with him, I'm not turned on by him, and it just sucks.

He knows he has a weight issue and he's all talk about losing it, but he will fad diet for a while and then jump off the bandwagon.  AND, he KNOWS that it's affecting our sex life.  He will say "I know I've let myself go, but I still need sex."  And when he doesn't get it...the world comes to a screeching halt and he turns into a grouchy person who's no fun to be around.  Which doesn't help me wanting to have sex with him and so it's just a vicious cycle.  I can either just suck it up and "put out" even though it repulses me, or deal with him not getting laid like he thinks he "deserves".

I just don't know what to do.  Do I approach him and just be honest?  That seems like it would be hurtful, and I don't want to hurt him.  I want him to lose weight so he's in better health and can be there to see our kids grow up and it's frustrating that he doesn't see that.  His addiction to food is just more powerful than anything that I can say or do to make him see the light.  I have tried to be supportive.  I've cooked for him specifically, but I don't anymore.  Too many times I would go to the effort of supplying him with specific food, different from what our growing children need, only to find him sneaking "fat snacks" in the middle of the night or find the wrappers in his car.  I'm not going to bust my ass so he can do that.  I've told him if he wants to get serious about losing the weight, then I will help him, but I need him to prove that he's serious by going a while on his own doing what he needs to do before I'm going to invest time in it again only to have him screw around.

Thanks for listening if you've made it this far, and I do apologize for the crass language.  Any advice/input is appreciated.
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« Reply #1: November 18, 2010, 10:03:50 am »


Have you checked to see if there's a medical issue involved?  Maybe there's something else going on?

And .. I don't have advice, but I do have sympathy.  That sounds like a miserable situation.  (what's with some men thinking they have a *right* to sex anyway?  sheesh)
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« Reply #2: November 18, 2010, 10:05:53 am »

<much snippage>

Thanks for listening if you've made it this far, and I do apologize for the crass language.  Any advice/input is appreciated.

First off, I'm so sorry to hear this. It's not a fun place to be for either one of you.

Second: I'm no shrink, and certainly no counselor. That said, I can suggest a site he might look at, where he will certainly find others with similar issues w/r/t eating, a very active community of helpful folks, and dozens of resources he can make use of (or not) as he sees fit. It's free, and it's accessible 24/7. No special purchases required, no money, no nothing--just interest and time.

http://www.sparkpeople.com

I've seen lives changed at this site. Maybe it will help him (and you).
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« Reply #3: November 18, 2010, 10:54:32 am »

First off, I'm so sorry to hear this. It's not a fun place to be for either one of you.

Second: I'm no shrink, and certainly no counselor. That said, I can suggest a site he might look at, where he will certainly find others with similar issues w/r/t eating, a very active community of helpful folks, and dozens of resources he can make use of (or not) as he sees fit. It's free, and it's accessible 24/7. No special purchases required, no money, no nothing--just interest and time.

http://www.sparkpeople.com

I've seen lives changed at this site. Maybe it will help him (and you).


I also do not have any specific advice, but {hugs}. I hope he sees the light soon and becomes proactive.

Also, I LOVE spark people. They have great tools and tons of support and what-not and it's ALL free! Smiley
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« Reply #4: November 18, 2010, 12:01:02 pm »

Have you checked to see if there's a medical issue involved?  Maybe there's something else going on?

If he is addicted to food (and it sounds like he might be from the OP), then there is probably a medical issue of some type involved. If you have insurance that will cover it, he probably needs to see a doctor who specializes in weight issues -- and not one who pushes stomach stapling or other surgical solutions. He may have physical issues that make he always feel hungry or the like. Fad diets generally will not work at all in such.
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« Reply #5: November 18, 2010, 01:54:42 pm »



You have my sympathy as well. I don't think you should feel ashamed. Physical attraction to healthy bodies is a normal thing. We're hard-wired to be attracted to mates who are most likely to survive long enough to help us birth healthy offspring and then raise them to adulthood, just as you said. Yes, we have the ability to 'look past' physical appearance, but sometimes, in certain situations, we just can't.

I'll also throw my support in for sparkpeople.com. It has a lot of great tools, workout descriptions, instructions, videos, ect. Of course he has to be the one to actually use it. 

Maybe there is some kind of physical activity you can get him into that he'll enjoy? Is he interested in any sports? Would he take up yoga? Weight lifting? Even just a daily walk to see the neighborhood would be a start.
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« Reply #6: November 18, 2010, 02:39:01 pm »


I don't think you're shallow for not getting turned on since your husband's gained so much weight. 150 lbs is nothing to bat an eye at. That's another entire person. I don't like the way society seems to be telling us we're shallow if we're not physically attracted to obese bodies. Not liking people because they're overweight/obese is one thing, because whether you like or love someone should be based on the person, not their body. But physical attraction is something we can't really control or overlook, and if obese is not your cup of tea, I don't think you should beat yourself up over "shallowness."

If his weight is significantly affecting your sex life (and it definitely sounds like it is), this is something he should be concerned about, since sex is not all just about the guy. It's a loving experience enjoyed by both partners, ideally. If he's going to "deserve" sex, shouldn't you "deserve" sex you enjoy? I'd suggest finding time to talk to him about it, when neither of you are particularly affected by sex, either in wanting it or not being happy with it or being frustrated. Don't approach it when you're highly emotional about sex, but when you're more neutral, and make it a give and take and make the extra effort to listen.

There are also the health considerations to take, everything we hear day after day about heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, etc. But these messages are pouring in left and right from all media outlets, and I'm sure you (and hopefully your husband) are well aware of them, so I'm not going to do more than mention them.

My parents both gained weight during their marriage. Not 150 lbs, but significant amounts, and my mom would talk and talk and talk about losing it, but never seem to be able to do it. She'd also confide in me that she was worried about my dad's health. They've had a family plan at our local YMCA since we kids were wee little things, and she'd used it sporadically and encourage my dad to use it, but years of this went by with no improvement in their health. (bit of background, my mom had a stroke in her 40s)

What ended up getting things going was Wii Fit. I forget how it got into our house, actually...the Wii was a Christmas gift for my brothers, but the one who primarily used it moved out without taking it with him, and it gathered dust for a while until Wii Fit came along, probably purchased by my mother. Mom started using it daily, I think because she could use it in the privacy of her living room and no one would stare at her, as she thought they were always doing at the Y because she was overweight. Mom's tried workout videos before but those never did much for her because she'd get bored of them. I think what the Wii Fit did that workout videos couldn't was show improvement. The built-in scale was a motivator (though keeping a scale around is not entirely a wise choice because it tempts the focus to be on weight alone) but she could see her progress in particular activities and that in turn motivated her to get better. Once Mom started using it, my dad started as well, just kind of on his own.

That was over a year ago. They haven't touched the Wii Fit in months, but they've begun going to the YMCA regularly. Having lost the excess weight, my mom was no longer afraid people were staring at her, she felt more confident in her strength and stamina, and once she started going, once again my dad followed.

Point of the story...couple points, I guess. Maybe investing in a Wii Fit or something like XBox's new Kinect thing would be beneficial to get the ball rolling. Simple things like going on walks together would also go a long way, and give you two the chance to bond if you turn the walks into dates of a sort. Try a gym membership as well, if you can afford it. Whatever you may encourage him to do, however, I'd highly suggest doing it with him. Even if you're at a healthy weight, being physically active is greatly beneficial. I don't know much about spark people, but a community of support is definitely something to try, for both of you. I emphasize doing these things together because then it makes it not so much about your husband and his weight problem but about improving health for both of you. If he feels less attacked, he may be more inclined to do something about it.

The food thing...that's very difficult to tackle. Junk food tastes so good! Or, for me, it used to. If he can manage to stay off most junky snacky stuffs for a couple weeks, he may lose his taste for them as well. I'd also at least stock the house with non-junk-foody-stuff. Just make it that much more difficult for him to eat junk food, because if it's not in the house then he has to make the effort to get it for himself.

And talk to a doctor. He may have medical issues you don't know about yet because of his weight, or if he as medical issues that you do know about, they should be taken into consideration with whatever plan of action you guys take.
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« Reply #7: November 18, 2010, 02:52:49 pm »



I can second the WiiFit suggestion too. We got one as a family gift last holiday season, and I dropped 30# between watching what I ate AND working with the WiiFit balance board DAILY. Yoga, strength training, and aerobics. It works.
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« Reply #8: November 18, 2010, 05:07:19 pm »

I don't like the way society seems to be telling us we're shallow if we're not physically attracted to obese bodies.

... Isn't it the exactly opposite? Honestly, unless I'm looking at stuff that is body-positive promoting, or BBW-promoting, the push is to be thin, skinny, or be naturally gifted with "all the right" curves. Otherwise, the message is fat = ugly = deserve to be made fun of.
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« Reply #9: November 18, 2010, 07:14:23 pm »

My husband is obese.  He has gained well over 150 pounds since we married.  He was always "large-framed" but he carried it well.  In the past 2-3 years he has just gained and gained and gained and there's no end in sight.  I don't WANT to be a shallow horrible bitch, but I'm just not attracted to overweight men. 

There's really two different pieces to this. (And I'm coming at this from the perspective of being a large woman: I'm about 250 pounds myself, and that's been true through a variety of eating patterns.)

The science about health and weight is a lot more complicated than 'high weight = major health risk', and the reality is that most diets - fad or otherwise - have really lousy success rates long term. (Which means that finding a solution is complicated.)

That said, that kind of weight gain in a couple of years is a *huge* indicator of something medical going on. It may be that something is forcing his metabolism to a standstill (hypothyroidism, any number of other endocrine disorders). It may be that he's not processing some particular nutrient well - so he has immense cravings for foods that contain it, because he's trying to get enough. It could be a number of other things. It could also be an emotional response to something that's manifesting through food, but it's honestly really hard for a body to put on that kind of weight that fast without something physical also going wrong. Bodies want to reach their natural setpoint weight and stay there, and they resist substantial gains past that set point just the same way they resist substantial loss below that set point.

I'd think it'd be very important to first try and figure out what's going on there - because you're not going to begin to get a solution to the rest of it until you get a handle on that.

One thing I know about myself is that I crave fat-heavy foods when my body actually needs them: when I have lung problems, I crave vitamins A and E (which are used to repair lung damage in particular). I now know I'm vitamin D deficient, and so have to supplement (with pretty high prescription level doses) to keep in the optimum range. When I'm actually getting enough of those vitamins (which are essential for a functioning brain and body), I do a lot better, and I have a lot fewer bizarre food cravings. It may be that something like that is going on for your husband. (Along with treating the hypothyroid stuff, which has a more complex response in the body.)

Similar things can happen with sugars if the body's insulin response starts going weird (though the details of that one, I'm less familiar with.)

On the rest of it - it's true that what we're attracted to is something we don't have direct control over. But I wonder, based on how you phrase some of it, if some of your repulsion (as you describe it) is at least partly worry over his health. Obviously, that isn't necessarily going to fix everything that's going on, but it might be that figuring out if there's a health concern and addressing it might solve part of what's going on and give you some more room to figure out other options that work for both of you.

(In the meantime, I think it's fair to set boundaries, and to be clear that this change is something that you're not naturally attracted to, and that that's something you don't want to force. On the other hand, you might look for things that satisfy some of your needs and some of his needs that are doable for you. Which will take up front talking - and him being willing to see doctors, etc. to figure out what's up.)

Besides mainstream doctors, you might consider seeing if you can see a naturopath or herbalist or something like that - sometimes this is an area where they can highlight a particular deficiency or pattern in the body that can be resolved in a way that allopathic medicine struggles with still. I'd try both, not one or the other, to get as many pieces of the picture as you can.
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« Reply #10: November 18, 2010, 09:36:46 pm »

I hope I'm putting this in the correct place...



Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.  I am mostly worried about his weight gain from a health perspective, and you have provided some insight that is worth exploring.  I am going to have a real heart to heart with him, approaching the situation first from the health standpoint, make some suggestions and really push for him to see a doctor.

We have a Y membership, the kids and I use it extensively, but he doesn't.  He works a lot and I understand the last thing he wants to do after a 12-hour work day is to go run, but when he is exercising, he does feel better, and WANTS to eat better and take care of himself.

Thanks again.
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« Reply #11: November 19, 2010, 02:36:52 am »

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.  I am mostly worried about his weight gain from a health perspective, and you have provided some insight that is worth exploring.  I am going to have a real heart to heart with him, approaching the situation first from the health standpoint, make some suggestions and really push for him to see a doctor.

We have a Y membership, the kids and I use it extensively, but he doesn't.  He works a lot and I understand the last thing he wants to do after a 12-hour work day is to go run, but when he is exercising, he does feel better, and WANTS to eat better and take care of himself.

Thanks again.

I can't really add to everything that has already been said, except to let you know that you have friends here for you and just to pm or email me if you want to talk. I'm pretty much always around.
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« Reply #12: November 19, 2010, 08:14:26 am »

Thanks for listening if you've made it this far, and I do apologize for the crass language.  Any advice/input is appreciated.
1.  If you're not physically attracted, you're not physically attracted.  That's not shallow, that's just how you're wired.  (Shallow would be if the only attraction you were basing the relationship on was the physical - but it sounds to me like you're still attracted emotionally/intellectually/etc, and that's part of why this is so frustrating for you.)

2.  Sex isn't an entitlement; marriage doesn't mean automatic consent ("automatic consent" is an oxymoron).  Nor is it any sort of reward for "deservingness" - that, too, undermines the concept of consent.  (Rants - mine, and links to others - available on request, though delivery time would depend on my spoon supply.)

3.  What Jenett said.

4.  You should (both of you should, if possible) educate yourselves about how weight and health correlate (and how they don't!), because a lot of the "common wisdom" on the subject these days is nonsense - and you can't count on his doctor knowing fact from garbage on the subject, since a disturbing number of medical professionals have bought into the myths; you might even have to argue with the doctor to get hir to look for problems like the ones Jenett mentions.  Several of the links I gave Catherine in this post last month might be helpful (the whole thread is probably worth reading/rereading), especially Junkfood Science and The Fat Nutritionist.

5.  If the point is health, then the point is health - you/he should check out Health At Every Size (The Fat Nutritionist has lots of links to HAES-related stuff, as do many of the other sites I mentioned).  Losing that much weight will take time, if he chooses to handle it that way (his body, his choices), and if he's able to lose it (if he's gone up-and-down with fad dieting, or if he has medical conditions that have changed his metabolism, it might not be possible without doing things that are themselves unhealthy); being healthy at whatever weight he's at at any give time is better than thinking of health as something he'll magically gain after he loses weight.

6.  Similarly, it may be helpful to check out Fat Acceptance (again, the links in my post to Catherine give a start point) - mental health is important, too, and I suspect some of the conflict over sex is because he feels unlovable.  You can't and shouldn't try to make yourself be physically attracted (see point 1), and it probably won't work if you tried, but you can make sure he knows about the ways you do still love him and feel attraction (even if that attraction isn't directly sexual).  I think it'll help both of you cope, and make things less rocky in the relationship, to put emphasis on how he is a worthwhile human being independently of how fat he is or isn't.

I think that covers everything I wanted to say - if not, I'll post again.

Sunflower
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