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My husband is obese and has health issues. Should I leave him or continue to try and support him?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family, Health, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (31 August 2015) 7 Answers - (Newest, 31 August 2015)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, *appyocean writes:

My marriage is suffering due to my husbands excessive weight gain, should I leave him or continue to try and support him and hope that things will get better?

We've been together for 11 years and have two young children.

I love him dearly but his weight gain has caused so many problems that I'm not sure how much more I can take.

To say that he is obese would be an understatement.

To start with his health is obviously my main concern, I am terrified that he will end up having a huge heart attack and die.

He can hardly do anything without getting out of breath, he can't put his own socks and shoes on and he can't get dressed without breaking out into a major sweat.

He refuses to go to the doctors. He suffers with sleep apnoea, this disturbs his sleep through the night which means that he falls asleep a lot during the day and we don't get to spend much time together as a family.

I cook healthy, nutritional meals which he will eat but then he'll order a take away later on and he will eat enough for 2/3 people each time.

It is impossible for us to have sexual intercourse, I am only a size 10 and weigh 9 stone. I satisfy him sexually but get nothing in return.

His weight is affecting his mental health which in turn affects me, he gets irate with me whenever his clothes become too small, he gives me a hard time for looking after myself (exercising, eating healthily) and he has become really possessive because he thinks that I am going to run off with someone younger and fitter ( I am 29 he's 45 ).

I have tried and tried so hard to be supportive but I just don't know what I can do anymore.

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A male reader, BrownWolf Canada + , writes (31 August 2015):

BrownWolf agony aunt

It's very easy to run away. Sure...many people can say leave...you deserve to be happy. But what is true happiness?? Turning your back on someone who needs you, or fighting the good and see a success story on the other side.

Running a long race is hard...but when you see the finish line, it gives you new strength.

I believe in this statement...Do for others as you would like others to do for you.

Lets pray you are never in a situation where you need others to stand by you, and they choose instead to abandon you and go on with their lives.

The moment you say those vows...You will be tested...ALWAYS... How else is your vow going to be proven??? To stick around in sickness and in health...how you do prove that?? Well...here it is. Now it's your turn...fail by giving up, or pass by fighting to end.

Choices...Life cares about two rules only...RIGHT and WRONG. Do right and have a happy life. Do wrong...well...we all know where that leads.

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A female reader, bittersweetchicka United States +, writes (31 August 2015):

My opinion is you deserve to be happy.. I feel marriage is a bond each party gives 100% into it. If you have been giving this and he is refusing you are unevenly yolked. You both will never grow, you will probably be angry and it will move to resentment.

Maybe a family intervention ( the whole family's) letting him know about his issues mental and food wise, and making sure he is getting mental health help.. If this does not work or only works on a temp base I would leave, because you again deserve a good life for you and your kids. You have to look at it as what it is a addiction problem, family is pulled down by it, you know what I am saying its the elephant in the room..

Basically, if he is refusing to get help, move forward. Sometimes the addict has to reach their lowest point before they want to change. Maybe you leaving will not be that low- however, what happens if you did not leave your kids see this and think it's okay to be that way too... What would you think, kids pick up on the parents habits... (good and bad)

Just food for thought.

The flip side is you leave, you and your kids process, heal and possibly get help to do those things.. You are happy, you are making sure you are setting an example that it's not okay to be with someone who is an addict and wont change for themselves or family and it's ok if you gave 100% and never got the same in return to leave..

I am not saying this to be mean, I am just going to be real with you.

Don't create excuses for him and don't stay with him for the wrong reasons, because you will only be hurting you and your children.

Good luck, in whatever choice you choose.

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A male reader, TrancedRhythmEar Saudi Arabia +, writes (31 August 2015):

TrancedRhythmEar agony auntYou have lost attraction and with solid reasoning. Hes also starting to manipulate you emotionally to get you to stay. Bad situation. His attitude suggests he does not wish to change.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 August 2015):

I can tell you from my own experience that the impetus has to come from within. I had a confrontation with my wife that led me, after a great many years, to speak to a doctor about depression. Around the same time, my kids asked me to give them a Christmas gift -- to lose 100 lbs. By the time the anti-depressants had kicked in, I was in a position to get serious about making changes. At the time, I was between 24 and 25 stone. Basically waiting for the heart attack that was in the cards.

I did make changes, and did lose weight. But the point was that I'd gone through years (decades, in fact) of constantly outgrowing my clothes, being able to do less and less, and hating to look in the mirror. Losing a major amount of weight is tremendously difficult. You can't stick to it because people are hectoring you -- it's only internal motivation that can do it. Until I'd dealt with depression, I couldn't begin to take that on.

I needed a swift kick in the arse to realize that I needed to be a better husband and father. Whether that swift kick is an organized intervention, or a tearful one-on-one confrontation between the two of you, well, you're in the best position to know. Given his jealous mindset you'll regardless have to reassure him that you haven't anyone else in your life or in your mind, but that what he's doing is undermining your love. But you must make it clear that the ball is squarely in his court.

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A female reader, MSA United States +, writes (31 August 2015):

MSA agony auntIt seems you've been with this man since you were 17 years old?

Do you still love him? He is only growing older and you are still in your youth. This is hard.. especially with him not caring about his health and not in shape.

There are many things you will need to factor in here - Do you still love him and want to be with him? What will happen to your children if you divorce? Will you be able to support yourself?

If you still want to be with this man... you will need to give him a lot of support and encouragement to get healthy and visit the doctor.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (31 August 2015):

If he will not take care of himself and his weight is causing him sleep apnea; it is likely he isn't going to make it out of his 40's. When weight has adverse affects on your health; heart-attack, stroke, or diabetes is certain.

People who don't take care of their health have really given up on life. Rather than give up eating what he likes, he throws caution to the wind. He just doesn't care. Very typical of men in their 40's.

Men don't like going to the doctor. Many are scared of needles, hate getting their blood taken, and don't want the doctor placing dietary-restrictions on them. He apparently doesn't care if he lives long enough to see his children grow to adulthood. From all that you have described; it is unlikely he will. He needs a family-intervention. His parents, you, his siblings, and the kids. The people who love and need him. He doesn't need ostracism or criticism.

People get very sensitive about being told about their weight. The most important factor is how it affects their health. Not just their looks, how they're treated; or how people look at them. They can easily use political correctness in defense; but how about diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks? Being out of breath after only a few steps up a flight of stairs, and being unable to get up from a fall. We can't see him, so we can only judge by your description. Only a doctor is qualified to say what is best for him, and only you can decide what's best for you.

You apparently have no effective line of communication between you as a couple. You have no way to encourage your husband or convince him how it is adversely affecting his marriage, as well as his health. The funny thing is, a good majority of men don't mind letting their wives know how they feel about her being over-weight. Not for health reasons, but appearance!!!

You have no influence over how he cares for himself; and he has no control over his compulsive-eating and bad diet. It's just like alcoholism, or drug addiction; he has a food addiction. It is not as easy as trying to get him to go on a diet. He has to be committed, under a healthcare professional/nutritionist; and it will be very difficult for him. He may even need therapy for his mental-health.

He really wants to lose the weight; but he dreads the thought of what it takes. He knows how hard it will be giving up what he likes to eat. Trying to change his eating habits; and giving up a lot of things he loves that are so bad for him. He will have to incorporate exercise, which is even harder. He struggles doing normal daily activities like tying his shoes, and putting on his pants. So the thought of all that weight-loss entails; he would rather just bypass it altogether.

Leaving him will not make your worries go away. He will still be connected to you by his children. He has every right to see them; so he will remain a very active part of your life. As for your marriage, that's a decision you'll have to make based on how he treats you as a wife. How much he otherwise demonstrates how much he does love you.

If you love him, you will insist that he sees a doctor and start reducing his weight. He doesn't have to turn into a twig, but in his mind; all he sees is giving up food. To a

food-addict, that means starving.

If your sex-life is terrible, and you get no fulfillment; the act is pointless. It's just about him, and not you.

He is selfish in the fact that it limits his mobility; so he can't do activities with you and his kids. He puts food first. I think his first heart-attack will do the trick.

It is inevitable, and he's at the prime age. Continue urging him to see the doctor. Continue making good meals for the whole family. Children learn from their parent's eating habits, so they have to rely on you to learn good nutrition and proper eating habits.

When men see their lives pass before their eyes, that is the moment many decide to take care of themselves. They have to realize their mortality. Women are better about taking care of their health. At least where seeking medical attention when necessary is concerned.

If all else fails, hand down the ultimatum to leave him.

It may not make him stop over-eating or seek treatment; or it may make him hurt himself from stress-eating. So it's

a very delicate situation.

If he has a heart-attack and becomes incapacitated; that could leave only you to look out for you and the kids. I always say the children come first. If it's better they have at least one healthy happy parent, so be it. Do what will make life better for you and your children. He doesn't view the whole picture, and doesn't put his family first. So maybe that will change; if he realizes they can't bear to watch him literally eat himself to an early grave.

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A male reader, Xearo Trinidad and Tobago +, writes (31 August 2015):

He needs a reality wake up call. If you can get someone to advise him on this perhaps then he will turn things around. Even though "you" are trying, it is fine to get outside help. This 3rd party help can also benefit you as well including your kids. Perhaps a dietician or someone knowledgeable in approaching people who suffer from these issues. More than often, these issues are a mental one. I think you can leave divorce as a last resort. Also cut off the sex, and his dependency on you.

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