My Husband Called Me Fat: Weight Gain Marriage Problems

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I am fat. I am not curvy, big-boned, zaftique, heavy, chubby or full-figured. Some charts would call me obese, others, less kindly, would call me morbidly so. But, I am more than a size 22 body. I am a person. Lately, it seems that I have been, unbeknownst to me, walking around with a label on my back that says maybe I am not aware of my size, and maybe I need to be told. For my own good, of course. By people who love me.

Perhaps I didn't realize that I took up more space than most people. That my stomach was bigger than my boobs, and that to shave my legs nearly cut off my air supply. Perhaps if they told me I was fat, and that my health could be in jeopardy, then it would all be OK I would start to exercise and lose weight, just like the "before and afters" that we see in the magazines every month. What a revelation. If I hadn't been told, I would never have known I was fat. Thanks for sharing. I love you too.

Let me backtrack and lay off the sarcasm a little. I have spent more than half my life being overweight. Pretty, but overweight. When I first came to America (about 20 years ago) I was a full-figured size 16. I was instantly told that if I just lost a bit of weight I would look like a model. Yay for me, to live in America AND be a model! So, I went to a weight loss group, walked to and from Port Authority every day, and took African Tribal Dance classes (yes, really). I lost 50 pounds in a few months. I was told that to be at goal I had to lose another 15 pounds. Already, being at l5Olbs and 5ft 10 I was fairly thin. To be 135 pounds was not going to happen. I could already see my ribcage, and I knew that I could barely maintain where I was. So I gave up. Apparently even 150lbs was too fat. As soon as I had weighed in at the weight loss group, and was told I still had 15 more to go, I went out to eat. I ditched the African dancing, and I decided to go back to normal eating. 1 rapidly put the weight back on, along with about 50 extra pounds over the course of the next 15 years.

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Of course, it didn't happen gradually. I didn't wake up like that. I admit that I ate a lot of ice cream and chocolate on those long commuter rides to and from New York City. I know food was my coping mechanism for every situation; my achilles heel if you will, but it was ok, my husband and friends loved me for who I was, not my size. Oops, that's where I was wrong.

Apparently people do see your size, and while they love you for who you are, some are thinking that if you "just ate less and exercised more..." it would all work out. If I did what I was told I would be slim, and every morning I would be dancing through the dew drops in my nice little size 8 body. If I only lost weight, I too could be happy..... just like them. I didn't know I was that unhappy until they pointed it out to me. Silly me.

The last few years have not been pretty. A nasty divorce, and a lot of emotional hell left me exhausted and even fatter. Did I mention my daughter also had open heart surgery last July? A few bumps on the road of life. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who stop eating when they are stressed, I just eat more.
As the dust cleared, the divorce was finalized, and I started to sift through the rubble of my old life to rebuild a new one (I know that sounds so dramatic, but I just had to write it). Everything I knew to be true, wasn't. I felt that my married life was a lie. Fat really did matter.

I needed to move on. I had to start over with a new story. Here I was at 42, a single mom. I was working part time but I also decided to start a business on the side. I wanted to follow my passion of design, while making a fairly regular income until I could support myself with my business.

It took a long time, but my confidence began to come back and I decided to join weight watchers for the umpteenth time. I promised myself that this time I would not quit for a year. I committed to a year of meetings. I have lost 40lbs in 6 months. Enough that my clothes are too big and my face has changed. No- one tells you that your face looks older with less weight on it! This is not a good thing. But, I have more energy, almost always make good food choices and am more optimistic with life in general. That definitely makes up for the few extra wrinkles. My face now tells the story of who I am, and I am pleased with my story. Time does heal, it just takes, well, time....

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So, as I move through all of this I have been supported by my friends and family. I have had shoulders to cry on, people I have called in the middle of the night and others who have been there to give advice when I needed it. A few friends found the divorce years too difficult, so they were a little absent for a while, but most have weathered the storm with me, and I find that now my circle of family and friends is stronger than before. I know where to go to for help, who will make me laugh and who will tell me to "get over myself' if I am taking life too seriously. It's good to have these people in my life.

In the middle of all this drama has been my fatness. Apparently it is more impactful than I knew. A friend told me this year that she loved me and cared about me, but could not deal with my food addiction. The fact that this year has been so much better for me made her observations even more hurtful. Her comments also brought about a feeling of hilarity (in my head, I didn't voice it) as we had barely spoken in the last few years, and she had not seen me in over 2 years. To realize that when she last saw me I was judged by how I looked brought me feelings that I couldn't even comprehend. It took weeks for me to deal with what she said. When I finally had the courage to call her about it she assured me that she was not judging me. That she loved, X, Y and Z about me, but couldn't deal with my food addiction.
She explained that if only I followed her way of life, I would be so much happier with myself.

That is a statement that hangs in the air for me, and, to be honest, the statement that stung the most. Who are we to judge who is happier than someone else? Last time I checked we all had flaws. Isn't that what makes us human. Apparently being fat is so bad that people are allowed to comment on it. If I had asked for an opinion, or was lamenting the size of my thighs to someone, I could understand where this judgment came from, but to offer unsolicited advice of this nature seems unkind.

I felt that everything else I was, and had become, in her eyes, was nothing compared to the fact that I was still fat. I am a different person than I was. I am more confident and more assertive and so much happier than I have been in years, but is that all erased because of the way I look?

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I still don't know how I feel about this. I do know that being overweight is a stigma, and people assume we just eat rubbish all the time and lay on the sofa. Some of this is probably true. Most overweight people do make bad food choices and food is a coping mechanism. For some it is just that they eat very fast, and need more to feel full. It doesn't matter what the reason is, no-one is perfect. I know people who drink and smoke too much. Others, who have more subtle flaws, like spending too much on shoes, or slipping their children Nyquil when they are being really obnoxious (you know who you are). It doesn't mean we love these people any less, it just means that this is a tiny part of who they are. A small piece of the pie that makes up their entire being. It is the "whole" that we love. I fear that if we pointed out everyone's flaws we would not be liked by many people and we, in turn, would not like many people. In hindsight, I think that giving people unsolicited advice does not change anything. It just creates a sadness that sifts to our core; we realize that some people don't see who we really are, they are too busy looking at our layers.

I was all ready to erase this horrible fat exploration topic from my mind when I got a phone call from another dear friend last night. We chatted for ages, then she started talking about how she had started going to a gym and had a trainer etc. I made all the appropriate noises, and was glad that this was a new thing for her to be excited about. Then the conversation took a very weird turn. She asked me if I exercised. I said no, but went on to tell her about my weight loss and that I was becoming more active and it was all a process for me, she wanted to know why I wasn't exercising.

She continued to talk about my size, and how she was worried about me. How I had to see a doctor before I started to exercise; to have my exercise monitored and how I had to exercise in order to be around for a long time - because she loved me and worried about me.

Once again I had been blindsided by a friend who felt that it was OK for her to "tell me off' me about my weight. I was so hurt, and she knew it. She said my voice sounded really uptight and annoyed and she was right. Who the hell gives someone the right to say that to a friend?? I don't care if it is out of love. Every person who has a TV, or reads a magazine, knows that change has to come from within. We need to feel better about ourselves, and feel that we are worthwhile, in order to make permanent changes.

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While being overweight is an obvious, physical issue, it is also one of the most sensitive and complicated issues that people have to deal with. If it was easy, we would all be slim. To insinuate that our lives are less than theirs is demeaning, and just reinforces our feelings of being inferior. I did tell her that my weight was a really difficult topic for me, but I was making great progress, and I knew that eventually I would exercise on a more formal level. This just led to more questions, and I felt backed into a corner. I don't like to have to defend myself, especially when I know that I have come so far over the last few years.

Of course I am not happy about being fat, but I think most people have something they aren't happy about. Aren't we always works in progress? Isn't that what makes our lives so interesting. Always learning and changing? For myself I think that being fat is a combination of things. I know now that I am on the right track, but it has taken a lot of insight and a lot of hard lessons, I know that encouragement and love and an unwavering support system is what I need (and 1 think most people would agree). No matter how many times I get on the diet wagon there are people who support me every step of the way. I feel bad enough about what I've done, telling me off doesn't help.

What I feel in my heart is that tough love, and people saying hurtful things, does not help. If you are being carried off to Rehab with a syringe in your arm then yes, maybe you need tough love but honestly, unless that person with the syringe really wants to be at the Rehab clinic they will lie and cheat their way out again, its human nature. We need to fix out emotional insides first before we can fix the physical.

What I really don't understand is why it is still acceptable to openly criticize people who are overweight? Is it because we are just categorized as lazy and weak-willed? Is it because our weakness is so obvious to the outside world? Do we disgust people by the way we look? Are we a blight on the landscape? I don't believe that I am ever happy being fat, and I don't think most fat people would really, deep down agree with that either, We tend to either be overly motherly and nurturing, or very funny. This helps to cover up our insecurity, or to get the laugh before we are laughed at. It's a self-defense mechanism. I don't agree with fat acceptance as a slogan, but I do think that every person in the world should be treated with respect, and be allowed their dignity regardless of size or color.

All I ask is that people really think before saying something that could cause hurt to anyone, especially to overweight people. How would you feel if a friend started telling you that what you did was wrong and self destructive? That you would be such a better person if only you were more like them? Criticism doesn't motivate. Love and acceptance motivates.

I think it's noteworthy that while my friend spoke I could hear the repetitive sound of her dragging on a cigarette....

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Even though you are going through a quite difficult time in your married life, there is still something there to hold on to. You want to prevent a divorce, but it seems the walls are closing in around you and neither one of you knows what to do. How do you stay together when a marriage runs into difficulty?

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The first thing you need to do is remember why you fell in love in the first place. What was it about this person that attracted you? What were the qualities that you respected about your partner? Are these qualities and reasons you were attracted still there? Look deeply and beyond the hassles of daily life to find the friend and lover you married. In all probability, that person is still inside your spouse, and the attraction is still there just waiting to be rekindled.

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Play Together

Another way to prevent a divorce is to do things together that you both love and that cause the playful spirit to come out in both of you. Adult life can be hard. Remembering how to play together is an important step to rekindling your love. What were the things you did together when you were dating and when you first were married? Try doing some of those things together now.

Active Listening

Try to listen closely to each other. When problems and arguments pile up over the years, it becomes difficult to listen, to really hear the other. Take time now to slow down, try to close out the rest of the world and talk to each other with open hearts and open ears. Listen to why the other is hurting and express why you are. However, do this with respect and not anger. Try to put yourself in the other's shoes and feel what they are feeling.

These discussions are not about solving problems, but rather about hearing what the issues truly are. Many times we think we know what the problems are when the true underlying issues are clouded and hidden. If you seriously want to prevent a divorce, you have to listen to what those underlying issues are.

Forgive and Forget

It is essential that you forgive all the hurts and indiscretions of your partner over the years. If you have learned to authentically listen to each other, then forgiving your partner will be an easier task. It is just as important to 'forget'. You have to move on and leave the past in the past. If you can do these things, then you will be able to prevent a divorce from destroying your family.

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Divorce does not have to be your only option. Even if it feels as though your relationship can't be saved because of the ongoing conflicts between you and your spouse, it can be. There are techniques that you can begin using today that will not only stop a divorce, but will help also you build a stronger and more loving marriage.

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