Thursday, December 14, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Woman's body is husband's fixation

Husband's fixation regarding wife's body appears troubling

Q: My husband of three years and I have finally gotten to where it is practical to try to start a family. We've known for a few years that I have a fertility problem that gets progressively worse each month, but we weren't ready so we decided to wait.

I have given up everything I am supposed to, including alcohol and caffeine, even caffeine-free diet soda at his request, and am taking dance classes twice a week to try to get to a healthier weight. I will be the first to admit that I am not in the best shape I have been in since we have been together, but I am active and only 15 pounds overweight. I thought we were on the same page about starting to try until he told me that I need to be healthier, and part of that request is that I first lose 30 pounds.

Now he wants to attend my next doctor's appointment to prove to me that I am not physically prepared for what I thought we wanted. I'm not sure what to do next and would appreciate any guidance.

Michigan

A: I've been at this gig for 15 years and still, somehow, I can be surprised by the abundance and variety of ways people find to treat their supposed loved ones like dirt.

Your doctor won't say this to you, so I will: Your husband's insensitivity, sense of entitlement and casual disregard for boundaries between his body and yours do far more to disqualify him as father material than your extra pounds do to rule out motherhood for you.

While I realize you are invested in this marriage to the point where you're ready to bring children into it today, I'm nevertheless — or perhaps because of that — going to beg you to look closely enough at your years together to see whether this recent bit of arrogance, objectification and, yes, misogyny out of your husband is wildly out of character for him, or just the one time it's been blatant enough to catch your full attention.

If it's the former, then go ahead, bring him to your appointment, and let the doctor handle his weight concerns — and also hear about your discomfort with his asserting what you can and can't eat, what you can and can't weigh, and what you can and can't be trusted to discuss with your doctor yourself.

If it's the latter — and please note, this "if" is a nod to the limits of this medium, not to the limits of my conviction — then please deal with this painful truth about the man you married. Better now than when the self-image of a child is wet clay in his hands.

Learning to let go may require actual space

Q: How can you let anger go when you still get treated the same way by those involved, and they refuse to see that anything's wrong?

Anonymous

A: Release requires distance. To understand the people who mistreated you, the effect of the mistreatment and any contribution you made to the problem, you need to step back emotionally and try to think objectively about the whats, the whys and the how-not-to-perpetuate-the-cycles.

When you're too close to think objectively, then you likely need physical distance.

One place to start: Why are you standing in harm's way, waiting to feel safe?

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