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My wife is overweight and I don't feel attracted to her anymore

Tagged as: Health, Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (20 February 2008) 10 Answers - (Newest, 15 January 2013)
A male South Africa age 51-59, *ontoon writes:

I'm married for 13 years. My wife and I have an 8 year old child. I feel like I'm trapped because I no longer find my wife attractive.

The main problem is her weight. She weighs more than I do (83kg). She's packed on the weight ever since the child was born. I just find her body unappealing. We hardly make love anymore, maybe once a month at best.

I feel guilty about this because I do love my wife. She's a great person who practically worships me (not necessarily a good thing in itself but that is a separate matter). I've only lightly touched on the weight issue with her because my perception is that it will crush her. With some encouragement she has started going to the gym but I don't think it's a very serious effort because she loses no weight and her efforts are squandered by the calories she snacks on throughout the day. I'm not a hypocrite because in the last 6 months I was working out and managed to drop 15 pounds and keep it off by altering my eating habits. I'd like her to do the same.

What can I do to find my wife attractive again? It's really getting to a point where I start fantasizing about an affair for some excitement. I don't particularly want a divorce, but I don't want to live with someone who I have a hard time to give honest compliments about.

Please, if you want to get on a soap box and start lecturing about loving 'for better or for worse', save yourself the effort. I don't really care about the vows in the sense that it does not reflect the way I feel now. I'm trying to find a way to have some sexual interest in my wife. I'm open minded enough to ponder whether I'm experiencing a mid-life crisis. Anyways, would appreciate hearing from others in similar situations and knowing what you did and/or what became of your relationship.

View related questions: affair, crush, divorce, overweight, trapped

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (15 January 2013):

I am in the same boat.

Women see red when their weight is spoken about.

She needs to do more physical Activity.

Hamster wheel sounds good.

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A male reader, rationality65 United States +, writes (6 January 2013):

The problem is SHE'S not posting saying I'm overweight and my husband isn't attracted to me!

As someone who begged his wife to lose weight for over 20 years, nothing you say or do will get her to change if she doesn't want to. We have 2 kids and I'm approaching 50 now and we're finally splitting up. I'm sad and angry at myself for wasting the one life I've been given waiting for someone who could care less about my needs.

A relationship is all about what's important to the individual and some people are attracted to fat, some aren't. Marriage is supposed to be our only sexual relationship and if someone doesn't hold up there end of the bargain, divorce should be an option.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 May 2008):

I've been on both sides of this issue. I used to be very overweight and yet my husband still acted attracted to me (in spite of not liking how I looked myself).

Now I've gotten in shape but my husband has ballooned to almost 300 pounds...and I have a really hard time being attracted to him.

I feel so guilty because he could see past the weight when it was me but I can't see past it now that it is him.

Just my thoughts--she knows she is overweight and she knows what to do (eat less, exercise more), she is just having trouble DOING it due to habits, emotions, lifestyle, food addictions, cravings, etc.

I suggest you make it easy for her by taking her on more active "dates", setting an example by eating healthy, doing your part to make sure the home mostly contains healthy foods (don't bring home chips and expect her not to eat them), building her up emotionally so she isn't using food as a release, etc. Research healthy lifestyles yourself so you can set the right example.

I can promise that if she thinks you are judging what she eats, then she will start to hide her eating and make the problem worse. At most, I'd throw out the unhealthy and high calorie foods when she isn't looking and replenish cupboards with healthy stuff when you can. Make her breakfast in bed but make it mostly fruit. Offer to take over some of the cooking and make it low calorie without being obvious about it. Keep the emphasis on "becoming more healthy together."

Also, a quick weight gain can mean there is binge eating going on. My husband and I both struggled with that. Buying things in smaller packages and keeping junk out of the home helps. Therapy might be needed too.

Good luck.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2008):

I agree with the rest of the answers.

It's a fine tightrope to walk but you've gotta talk about it with her.

The problem is not so much that she's imperfect looking, but that she has slipped so far from the woman that you originally chose to marry. Everyone gets older & flabbier over the years and childbearing is hard on even the fittest woman. But I think it's clear that you're talking about a weight gain that is a lot more extreme & quick than that.

And don't forget that post-partum depression might be playing a role in her weight gain too.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (16 April 2008):

You need to talk about the problem, tell her how you feel. I beleive this is a legitimate complaint. But beware, if you are too harsh, it may come back to bite you. Try to be an effective coach, by encouraging her, complimenting her wheen you start too see results. Tell her how much more you like her when she drops a few pounds. Reward her when she does good, and if she doesnt, then you have a reason to be hard on her, and let her know why you are being hard on her.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (29 February 2008):

I think you have every right to your feelings. Of course bodies change over time, but if you are repulsed by her body to the point that you do not desire her sexually/physically, then you have a few choices to make. If you are unhappy only with her excess weight, then you can try to talk to her about working out together and eating better so that both you will be in better shape. Of course, she may become defensive and angry and refuse.

In that case, you can simply live without sex, but this doesn't sound feasible. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be physically attracted to your wife and for being "turned off" by lots of excess pounds. We all have our likes and dislikes.

If I were you, I'd seriously be wondering if the wife's weight were the real issue. It's possible you have fallen out of love for a variety of reasons and the excess weight is what you're focusing on because you do not want to admit that even if she were thinner you would still not desire/love her. If this is the case, you need to be honest with yourself and think seriously about whether you want to remain in the marital relationship.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (23 February 2008):

Tisha-1 agony auntMy 2 cents on this...

If you really want to help your wife to lose weight, work out with her. Get up 45 minutes earlier, both of you, and go for a power walk, first thing. Every day.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (21 February 2008):

I say this....Just tell your wife straightup and to her face and not hold any punchs back. You want her to be slimmer. give her time...let's say...14 to 18 months! If she can't lose the excessive weight by then, that you are going to leave her. Now tell her that you'll be there with her all the very supportive, but keep it real. My son's mother was 118 pounds when we met, but she balloned to 240 pounds and did not seem to care. I gave her 18 months to lose the weight or I would leave. I was supportive of her and she did lose 100 pounds. I say, just tell her you love her, but this body is not what drew your attention to her and you will not stand for it.

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A female reader, AskEve United Kingdom +, writes (20 February 2008):

AskEve agony auntYou have to tread very carefully here as you don't want to hurt her feelings. Just because a woman is overweight, doesn't mean she can't turn you on in the bedroom. There is lots you can do to spice up your sex life if you just talk about it together but if you find her physically unattractive then it won't help much.

Whatever you suggest to her about her weight it's going to hurt her. Why don't you go round about it and put a bet on with her for example. Say to her if she loses 30 pounds then you'll give her $500 to buy some new clothes. If she questions you about her weight then tell her tactfully that you love her to bits but she would look even sexier dropping some weight. What you mustn't do is tell her you find her UNATTRACTIVE as this would crush her and she'd only eat more! Give her lots of encouragement too if she decides to take you up on your bet.


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A male reader, harshbutfair United Kingdom +, writes (20 February 2008):

harshbutfair agony auntThis is a sad situation and no doubt you'll get people who are quick to criticise you.

The problem with sexual attraction, as you've found, is that the conscious mind has very little control over what turns you on. You can love your wife and admire her (although even that is questionable, here) but unless you find her sexually attractive, then you have problems that are not easy to fix. Males, like it or not, are wired to be sexually attracted to fit, healthy, younger women because over millions of years of evolution that is what has proved fertile.

The terrible dilemma you have is what to do about it? You're right that directly approaching your wife and explaining your lack of desire could be crushing for her self esteem. You've already broached the subject with with limited results. I wonder can you take up any healthy activities together? Hiking? Cycling? Sports?

An affair would almost certainly provide a sexual release but at what cost and would that cost be acceptable to you (and your family)?

This is a very tough problem and I hope some of the wiser aunts can give you better advice than I.


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