Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girlshed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
QUESTION: I am 5’4″ and weigh 145 pounds. I’m looking to lose 25 pounds but it seems the harder I try, the more weight I gain. My husband is always on my case about losing weight, and this has put a strain on my marriage. He tries to be supportive but I see his “encouragement” and “advice” as an attack. We are in counseling but it does not seem to help. I know I am not obese, but my husband makes me feel like I have 250 pounds to lose instead of 25. Can you help?—Kathryn
DEAR KATHRYN: I’m so sorry you are struggling. I am not a counselor—and it is fantastic that you are getting help from one. But I have to say that it sounds like you are not only unhappy with your marriage, but you are unhappy with yourself, and the weight is connected to that. It’s a big circle, really—feeling bad about yourself causes you to hear any comment about your weight from your husband (even those that are truly supportive) as criticism, and the difficulties of your relationship can’t be separated from his comments about your weight.
Your husband—and you—may be looking at your weight as a symbol of something in your marriage that’s broken and needs to be fixed. It’s easy to distract yourself from the REAL, inner problems in a marriage with the superficial, outer problems. Solving your weight issue won’t save your marriage, but addressing your own personal happiness (regardless of what that means for your relationship with your husband) will very likely help you drop those pounds. So. You said you are in counseling. But are you in INDIVIDUAL counseling? I think you would benefit from it if you aren’t. Unhappy marriages are made of unhappy people, and, while couples counseling can certainly be valuable, you will likely get something different, something just for you, out of individual counseling. So I would go that route. Work on your own happiness, your own issues, your own STUFF. That might make the difference for you. I know how hard it is to detach from a partner … to not make your whole life about what he wants, what he likes and doesn’t like. Sometimes I do that when I’m not even aware of it. You need to take a brave step in the direction of YOUR happiness. That could help your marriage—or at least give you some clarity about your future.