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I’m a little reluctant to tackle today’s question, but I want to give some balance in this blog. In the past, I’ve answered so many questions from women whose husbands are sloppy, don’t tell the truth, watch pornography, and are cruel and abusive.

This week I received a question from a man who is troubled by his wife’s weight. I know this is a sensitive topic for many women (including me), but I thought it was worth talking about and letting you share with me ways he might address this issue.

Today’s Question: I have been married for 20 years to a wonderful woman whom I love, and I have been a faithful husband. Yet, I am extremely frustrated about her weight. She’s not just overweight, but medically classified as obese, and I can’t get her to change it.

I’ve tried for 15 years! She starts a weight-loss program only to fizzle out a few weeks into it. She acts like I don’t accept her as she is or love her unconditionally when I mention it. I’ve been learning to be more gentle in bringing it up, or not to mention it as much, but she takes advantage of that and doesn’t do anything. Then after months, I blow up about it. It’s a bad cycle. I’m not asking her to get down to her pre-pregnancy weight. I don’t care if she’s a little overweight. I just want her to be healthier and to see some curves back in her body.

I think she feels she’s entitled to not to have to worry about her weight since I’m not able to fully provide for the household and she has to work full time.

What am I to do? It puts a damper on our relationship and big time on our sex-life! I don’t want to be attracted to other women, but I’ve lost hope and am becoming resentful and have lost heart. Help!

Answer: I hear you. Your concerns about your wife’s health are valid, and the effects on your marriage are real. You face a very real battle of discouragement and temptation.

One of the things I always help my coaching and counseling clients figure out, however, is who owns what problem. Your wife’s weight and her possible resentment at having to work full time are her problems to own. She is the only one who can take responsibility and do the work to change her problem(s).

Your problem is you don’t like that she’s not taking responsibility to lose the weight in spite of all your pleading and attempts to convince her that it would be best for her and for your marriage.

Your problem is that now you’re feeling resentful and are turned off sexually even though you say you deeply love her. In addition, although you say you don’t want to be attracted to other women, you’re tempted, and the temptation is growing the more your heart hardens and you lose hope your wife will change.

So first, I want to help you think about some things you can do to deal with your problem, because I sense that most of your energies have been focused on how you can help manage your wife’s weight problem.

Are you in a men’s accountability group and have you shared your struggles with temptation with them? Whether or not your wife changes and loses the weight, you have promised her and God you will be sexually faithful.

During times of discouragement and sexual abstinence (for whatever reasons), temptations to compromise your convictions and God’s truth are great. It’s very important that you have some godly men who can encourage you to trust God in this process and help you to keep your vows. It’s not only important for your marriage, it’s crucial for you.

Secondly, what are you doing with your own resentment that your wife hasn’t worked on her weight? It’s tempting to brood on what she hasn’t done, but if you do that your resentment will grow, your heart will get harder, and it will make it easy for you to justify sinning against her and God.

When we meditate on our spouse’s flaws instead of their strengths, love soon fades because our negative feelings become so strong. God has hardwired our thoughts and feelings to go together so when you’re thinking negative thoughts about her, you can’t help but feel negative feelings.

You say you do love her and that she is a wonderful woman. So capture your negative thoughts before they grow and purpose in your heart to dwell on her strengths. The apostle Paul reminds us to think on things that are good, true, right and noble. (Philippians 4:8).

For example, in spite of her weight, does she take care of her appearance? Focus on the beautiful way she dresses, her hair, her eyes or her smile. Look beyond her shape and into to her heart. God says that inner beauty is far more important than outer beauty.

Although you wish your wife would lose the weight, she is also getting older and her physical attractiveness will fade. If outer beauty is the main impetus for a healthy sex life, then what happens if she loses the weight but her skin is all saggy or her face is etched in wrinkles?

You mention that you suspect your wife is justifying her eating habits because of having to work full time. Have you talked with her about this? If this is true, what efforts have you made to lessen her work load so that she can take more time to plan healthier meals or go to the gym? Does she see you caring for her feelings in the same way you wished she cared about yours? You may not be capable of earning more money, but are you pitching in with house responsibilities and child care chores so that she doesn’t have to work two full time jobs–one at home and the other at work?

Have you offered to help her with her diet by not bringing tempting foods into the house even though you might enjoy eating them and have you been willing to eat the kinds of foods she’ll need to eat to lose weight? Do you invite her to walk with you to get some exercise?

Lastly are you praying for your wife? I suspect your wife isn’t happy with her weight any more than you are. Most women I talk with who are overweight feel stuck and helpless and often get in a terrible cycle of eating more to feel better about not losing weight. Of course that doesn’t solve the problem, and they often end up gaining more weight.

In closing, I want to share a few thoughts with the women who may feel that it is your husband who wrote this.

Right now you might be feeling hurt, angry and shamed. I get it. I too struggle with keeping my weight down, and it has been a 35 year battle to keep 40 pounds of extra weight off that I had when I first met my husband.

You might be thinking he is wrong for feeling the way he does, but is he? Put yourself in your husband’s shoes. If he gained 50 to 100 pounds, would you feel sexually attracted to him? Would it matter to you that he wasn’t taking care of himself?

I think it would matter to you, too. We don’t like when our husband smokes or drinks excessively, and rightly so. These “sins” affect our feelings for him and our ability to feel attracted and close to him. In the same way, when a wife neglects her appearance and expects that it will not impact her attractiveness to her husband, I think she’s not seeing clearly and deceiving herself.

I know there are many reasons why people, especially women, gain weight. I have low thyroid, too, and have had most of my thyroid gland removed so I take daily medication. But let’s be honest here. I challenge you to keep a food diary for one month and record every single thing you put into your mouth, when you eat it and why.

Most of us would have to admit that we eat too much and too much of the wrong foods for the wrong reasons. We’re not losing weight because we are eating more than our body needs!

However, there is an even more important issue here. Unless you have a medical problem, being morbidly obese indicates a heart problem. Food has become your god and you rely on it for comfort, for help, for pleasure, and for pain relief.

It’s important, however, that we take seriously that our physical body is the Lord’s temple, and how we take care of our body says something about our relationship not only with ourselves, but also with God. Are you being a good steward of the body God has given you? You only get one.

Gluttony has become an “acceptable” sin. Gluttony doesn’t merely refer to overeating. Gluttony is indulging our appetites to excess, whether that is with food, alcohol, drugs, sexual satisfaction, or even excessively accumulating more things we don’t need. It’s living out of the lie that “I need MORE ______ in order to be happy.”

How many of us eat more, not because we’re hungry, but just because it tastes good. That’s fine once in a while, but when we do that on a daily basis, we’re being ruled by our appetites instead of being controlled by Christ. We’ve put another god in God’s place, and God calls that idolatry.

So friends, this isn’t your husband’s battle to face, but ours. I pray we take it more seriously. It’s not just about losing weight, https://livingwellnessmedicalcenter.com/phentermine-online/. It’s about obeying God and living as He’s called us to.

You don’t have to do this alone. Some good resources to help you get started are Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave and Carole Lewis’ Group, First Place 4 Health, which many churches sponsor.

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7 Comments

  1. DM on March 6, 2012 at 12:01 am

    thank you for a balanced response to a very sensitive (and practical marriage issue) DM

  2. Anonymous on March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Thanks Leslie,
    Just wanted to mention that strength training for women is key. I love the book, Strong Women Stay Slim, by Dr. Miriam Nelson. It is designed for any age, any fitness level. It helps to take the focus off food deprivation and the scale, and turn the focus to building health.

    Pam

  3. Frusterated on February 13, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    This is amazing advice. I am in the same situation. I already practice all the things you have suggested and it helps most of the time. I can not work at this time because of health issues out of my control and do everything I can around the house to help out in every way. I keep my weight down because I hate the feeling of fat.The thing I do not get is it seems perfectly fine for women to band together and complain about their husbands in every way but when it becomes a women’s weight issue it is taboo. It is just supposed to be accepted. And then women wonder why their guys start watching porn. If the husband can’t even stomach looking at their naked wife the sexual attraction goes away. I would love to be able to just turn that off and not have her outward appearance matter. She is a perfect 10 internally!!! If you want your husband to quit looking else where or be attracted to you, give them a reason to!

    • K on March 14, 2022 at 5:44 pm

      Yes

  4. Dave on January 5, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    This is exactly my situation except it’s been 35 years. I will admit I have made ALL the classic errors to get her to lose the weight. Shaming, comparing to others, commenting on how attractive other women are. I get that I have contributed to the problem and in fact maybe most of the reason she over eats. Still we are at a deadlock. Not sure where to go from here

    • dave on January 5, 2022 at 12:58 pm

      I’ll also add, that while my wife did work for many years, I’m the primary income, and she was able to retire at 52, seven years ago.

  5. K on March 14, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    Oh am in the same boat here. I have literally been unhappy for 16 years. Our marriage has always been ok but in the bedroom I almost never make the first move because I am not attracted to her sadly. She has told me all this time that it’s all in my head and that her weight shouldn’t matter and it’s about loving each other for who they are. While this is somewhat true I have alway made an effort to not be too overweight if at all. She literally tells me she’s super attracted to me and asks why I never say it back. I can’t call her fat. She also says almost daily how much she hates that she is over weight. She does not over eat but has never really tried to lose any weight even though she knows it’s why we only have sex a few times per year. She knows I’m unhappy with her appearance but won’t do anything about it. How am I supposed to convince her that it would help our marriage? I literally have been friends with women that I am jealous of their husbands because they actually say “I stay skinny to make sure my hubby is happy and I have a great marriage and sex life”. Then all I can think about is well why can’t my wife have this mind set?! It’s how I think when I work out plus that I work out to hopefully encourage her to as well. But it doesn’t work

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