Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thoughts about an article on when one partner is fat and the other is not

Someone on a weight loss forum linked this article yesterday: Put a Stop to 'Do I Look Fat?' When One Partner Is Overweight, Resolving Conflict in the Relationship Takes Two. Take a chance to read it through as my thoughts today have to do with this article. It's short.

I'm not going to say the study is a perfect study (43 couples is a ridiculously small sample), but I'm not surprised by their conclusions. Nor am I surprised at the couple's experience highlighted in the article.

It is terribly hard on both people in a relationship when one is overweight and the other is not - especially if this was not the situation for the entire relationship.

While my situation was not as extreme as the couple sharing their story in the article, a lot of similarities are there.  I was the heavy one. My husband was the thin one. My husband has always been thinner as is everyone in his family. He has really good eating habits and self control with food. He moved more, nibbled less. He was never a sports enthusiastic or a great outdoorsman, but he liked being fit and strong.

I have battled weight since high school. I have a terrible sweet tooth and I tend to be very sedentary. I don't seem to have this need to move.

When we met, I was about the weight I am now. I was just much less fit. So, I was overweight, but not enormously heavy. At first in our relationship as we spent a lot of time walking and playing tennis, I dropped weight and got fitter, but then I started working, got pregnant, had a baby and the weight just kept piling on. By our 5th anniversary I was quite, quite heavy.

I knew it bothered my husband. I knew he worried about my health. I knew it affected his attraction to me, but I couldn't lose the weight for him. I tried once, but then regained it all plus some. Problems got worse.

He tried to bring it up, but how could he without hurting me? We were both hurting because of my weight - I was mad at him. He was mad at me. He felt I was letting him down. I felt he only loved a me for how I looked - that it was all that mattered. And the anger remained in my heart, but I couldn't do anything about it. I felt paralyzed.

I cannot even explain to myself why I felt so powerless with the weight gain. I know some triggers now - sleep deprivation and carb/sugar addiction, but I truly felt hopeless - completely.

When I started to take my health more seriously and actively started working on losing weight and getting fit, my husband, I'm sure of it, was too afraid to be hopeful. He had gotten hopeful in the past only to see I couldn't keep up with it. It was frustrating for me as I needed support to help me, but I understood where his head was and didn't get mad at him for doubting me. He had every reason to have doubts.

When I had lost about 40 pounds, I could see him starting to believe in me. And he gave the support I needed. He didn't judge me or comment on my choices. I shared with him my struggles, my discoveries and we learned together. He trusted my findings as they were rooted in experience and research.

Last Christmas and this vacation we both rolled well with the small weight gain. We both trusted that I would relose the small amount of weight gained and I did. Actually, I think he was worried the first Christmas that perhaps I would relapse, but my immediate dive back into good diet and exercise set his mind at ease.

This past fall was extremely difficult for me and I  did regain.  I was losing the balancing act I had gained. I kept up a good fitness routine, but got too lax with eating and added too many carbs to the mix and had too little sleep.

Just as I was getting things back together after the new year, my husband made a comment about my weight. I could hear in his voice his fear of saying anything to me about it. He wanted to be supportive, but was afraid at the same time. He asked, "Just how much have you gained recently? I can see it in your arms and your gut."  I didn't tell him the pounds (as the number doesn't really matter), but I said, "yes, I gained quite a bit. I'm already working on relosing it."  I didn't get mad at him, but if I weren't on top of it already, I might have and that is really so unfair. It's just that weight issues really are that sensitive an issue. As a spouse to an overweight partner you really are damned if you do and damned if you don't. I feel bad about that and now that I'm in a better position mentally, I can see how terribly hard it must have been for my husband to watch me balloon up in size and to get so unfit and unhealthy.

He always loved me, but he feared for what our future would be. And now that my eyes are open and I really see things more clearly, I see what an unhealthy future was awaiting me. Heck, had already hit me! At 40 I was falling apart!

I know that my weight is something I will always struggle with. As this 30 pound regain that I had shows. I think this fall scared my husband and I both a bit. Things didn't go to extreme - I can still wear the same sized clothes and I'm still working on my fitness, but these 25-30 pound swings can't be good for my body either. My husband mentioned just yesterday when I said how bad the sugar cravings are for me, "You just can't let Christmas get to you any more. You're going to have to be more careful."  I hear him say that and it's what I'm saying in my head too, but quite honestly, the idea of going a lifetime or another 43 years with low/no sugary treats is a bit daunting. If it just didn't taste so good!

So I struggle. I could lie and pretend for you all that I'm on top of it all the time. That I am superwoman. Well, I am not. I struggle. Things were going great and I somehow lost control. I am still learning. Learning what makes things easier and harder to follow routine. Regular exercise helps, but it's not enough. There's so much more to the equation. I just hope the next time I'm super busy and pulled too thin that I handle my diet better. I deserve  a healthier me. My children deserve it. My husband deserves it.

1 comment:

  1. I feel you there... My fiance and I were both obese but lost the weight before we got together, a fact that always helped us understand each other. But a couple of years ago, when I started gaining and not doing anything about it, we definitely had some arguments and misunderstandings and hard times over it. In the end, there was nothing he could do for me other than be healthy himself... I found my way there on my own time.