Fat Chance

25 Aug

women legs with overweight standing on bathroom scalesDear LetterBalm: My wife and I used to have a great sex life, but now we’re down to nothing. We’re both in our 50s, and I have told her the reason we don’t have sex is because I have physical problems. She seems to accept this, but the real reason is that she’s gained almost 100 pounds in the last 10 years, and I don’t find her attractive. I know this makes me look like a jerk, but I can’t get turned on by her. When I try to bring up her weight diplomatically, she gets angry and things between us are frosty for a month or so. (Otherwise, we get along well.) My wife used to exercise and watch her diet, but now I think she doesn’t love me enough anymore to take care of herself. I’m no Adonis, but I try to stay fit. She’s the love of my life and all this makes me sad and lonely. I don’t want any other woman. How can I reach her?

–Love-Starved

Ms. L.B. wants you to know that, all good intentions aside, there is no way to bring up avoirdupois diplomatically to a woman who is almost 100 pounds overweight. This is an opportunity to take a look at yourself. Are you humming along, thinking you’re the devoted husband, yet your wife may be harboring resentments? Is she comfort/secret eating? Are there unresolved issues – children, finances, work, in-laws, chronic illness? Are you really listening to her, or are you dismissing her concerns? You believe you and your wife get along well, but the fact that you’re lying about your lack of interest in lovemaking suggests a lack of honesty in your marriage. If things were A-O.K., your wife would want to lose poundage for herself, as well as to please her husband. You need to have a serious talk that doesn’t mention weight and opens her to talk truthfully about any lingering grievances. Ask her why you feel she doesn’t love you as much as she did. Something along these lines:

Cass, I’ve known for a long time that things aren’t right between us. You’re the love of my life, and I don’t want any other woman, so when you’re sad, so am I. Honey, I see that you are resentful and silent, and I feel bad that I can’t draw you out. I feel you don’t love me as much as you did before. Is this true? I think a lot of this has to do with me and the patronizing way I treat you. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you and dismissed your concerns as unimportant. Do you think it would be a good idea if we went to couples counseling? To me, you’ll always be the beautiful, vibrant woman I saw across the dance floor more than 30 years ago, and I want you back if you’ll have me.

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