Latest update: April 2nd, 2012
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I am so happy that you have finally addressed the subject of a woman married to a heavy husband (Chronicles 11-16). I have been similarly married for seven years. My husband, who was very handsome when we married, has since gained about 100 pounds, if not more. He claims that he cannot control his eating patterns and says that he is a compulsive overeater. I suggested that perhaps he should seek outside professional help or attend overeaters anonymous programs. He is not interested in anything but food. It is an addiction that he is not ready to deal with.
We have five small children. He has been warned by doctors and has already developed a heart condition at the age of 45. He has also been warned about the possibility of getting a stroke, yet he continues to eat. My family is very upset, and many of our friends have suggested that he take action.
I get so upset when people ask me why I don’t do anything about HIS problem. I cook healthy for my family, but he eats most meals out and calls me a party pooper when I suggest we eat healthy. He prefers the starchy fatty foods.
This eating disorder of his results in mood swings. I feel so badly for my children to see this. He has difficulty walking and will probably soon need to have a hip replacement. He can barely move and breathe (he sleeps with a breathing machine) and, needless to say, does not help out around the house. I have spoken with professionals, and some have suggested divorce.
The only good thing is that he provides well in his profession. I feel that he is very selfish because he is not willing to seek help. He sometimes foolishly says that he can control his eating and does not require outside help. He gets extremely upset when I bring up the subject and then disappears and binges. I am at the end of my rope. I too thought that it is a halachic requirement to be healthy and take care of one’s body. What more can I do?
Wife of obese husband
You have obviously tried doing all you can to help your husband abandon his willful suicidal course. He is on a fast downward spiral and cannot be feeling very good about himself, no matter how cocky his manner and attitude. Your criticizing and hounding only compounds his misery – which he feels helpless to do anything about.
Your verbal communication is falling on deaf ears. He tunes you out almost as soon as you start speaking, for he knows your harangues by heart.
Why not attempt a different mode of communication, such as writing him a letter? You can thus express your heartfelt feelings of caring and love for him. Let him know how much you miss the person he once was and how you fear losing him.
Tell him that you want to be by his side to see him through this difficult time, how he owes it to himself and his family to make some serious changes in his life, and speak of others who have done so successfully with proper medical intervention. (Do your homework and get informed by researching the procedures available in this area, such as gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding.)
The following letter allows you a peek into the mindset of the helplessly overweight.
I am writing in response to the woman who is trying to get across to her overweight husband. I have been battling with weight since I was a teenager or even younger. My mother nagged me about my weight for years.
After I had my first child, I became really obese. My husband then became the nag and wasn’t interested in me because of the way I looked. Most people who are severely overweight are using food to comfort themselves, and all the nagging in the world doesn’t help. It has to come from within.
When I went to the doctor and he told me that I have high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I got really scared. I attempted to diet and succeeded at first, but then failed. I wasn’t ready to give up my coping mechanism, which was comfort food. I was so miserable with the way I looked. I huffed and puffed when I went up stairs and had no strength.
Nagging still didn’t help. I don’t think someone who is not battling with weight issues really understands that it’s not just about controlling or taking care of oneself. It’s much deeper. I actually got help to help me deal with issues that were bothering me. I now exercise every day and am in control of my food. I’ve lost a lot of weight, feel great and keep getting loads of compliments. I had to do it when I was ready to do it. Nobody’s pressure did it for me.
Dear Been There,
Congratulations for conquering your long-time battle and for staying the course. When one is faced with such a formidable task, it is not easy to project ahead and see yourself down the line as having actually made progress. But patience and perseverance do pay off, as you have so admirably proven.
You are an inspiration to others, and you are wise to incorporate a physical exercise program in your daily regimen. This not only builds muscle tone, but is also known to rejuvenate nerve cells all over – benefiting your brain as well as your body.
To all those struggling with an overweight issue: Your challenge is not a hopeless one. Instead of floundering in your current predicament, think positive. Today is the first day of the rest of your life – so get up, get going, get healthy! You can do it, and you will never be sorry you did!
About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to email@example.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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