How to help someone who won't help themself
July 23, 2009 8:58 AM Subscribe
How do I deal with a spouse who is overweight and unhappy about it? He has been in this situation for 10 years. I’ve tried to be supportive, but I’m getting tired of hearing him complain and not seeing him do anything concrete to get results.
I love my husband. He’s an amazing guy, and we have a very good relationship. But in some ways, we are very different:
- I’m very logical and tend to make decisions with my head, he’s more emotional and goes with his heart
- I like to follow processes; he prefers to “wing it”
- I learn by reading; he learns by watching/doing
- I’m very even-keeled and don’t get flustered easily; he is more sensitive and moody and has many more highs and lows
For the most part, these differences serve us very well; we balance each other out. But there is one area in which it is becoming very frustrating for me. Over the past 10 years he has gained about 25 lbs and he’s extremely unhappy about it. He hates the way he looks, he hates that his clothes don’t fit, he hates that he doesn’t have the energy to do things he wants. It affects him physically because he had knee surgery a few years ago and the extra weight exacerbates his knee pain.
He’s tried to lose weight on his own by cutting calories and exercising, but nothing sticks for the long term and the weight always comes back. It seems like he’s always “on a diet” and always unhappy about that aspect of his life. He is an emotional eater and finds it very hard to resist food. He also tends to latch onto bits and pieces of research without fully investigating them, or devises his own diet based on what he thinks his body needs – but he has never read a proper book on nutrition (or watched a video, or a presentation, or anything). He’s not a scientific person; he feels he can conquer this on his own. But the proof is in the pudding – after 10 years, he’s not succeeded in losing the weight and keeping it off. I feel it’s partly because he’s not properly educated on the topic. I’ve brought home library books, showed him some articles, and tried to teach him the basics of nutrition (I’m not an expert, but I have a good handle on the basics and have no weight issues). But he doesn’t take an active interest in any of it. I also support him by keeping a healthy environment in the house; we cook healthy meals from scratch and don’t buy a lot of snack or junk food. His problem is mainly quantity. The other day I encouraged him to sign up for a 12-week weightloss challenge; it was a series of seminars that would have covered many important topics and provided the foundation he needs. I thought this would be much better for him than a book because of his learning style. But he refused to go, saying he could do it himself.
He complains about his weight a lot, and I lend a supportive ear. But to be honest, after 10 years, I’m getting tired of it. I feel for his situation, but I’m also starting to get resentful. I feel like I shouldn’t have to keep supporting someone who doesn’t want to help himself. Is this wrong of me? What else can I be doing? I do NOT nag him about his weight or make him feel unattractive; we have a loving relationship and no problems in the bedroom. But I do offer advice when he vents. He’s unhappy, and I want to help him be happy.
If you have any suggestions for him or for me, please share. But please don’t suggest something like WeightWatchers – structured “systems” like that don’t work for him (he would very quickly tire of counting and keep track of points). Thanks Hivemind.