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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Im a 52yr old overweight woman married 25 yrs with 3 grown

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I'm a 52yr old overweight woman married 25 yrs with 3 grown children out of the house. My marriage has drifted apart. We love each other but don't respect each other all the time. I think he's a crouch and he thinks I've changed and he doesn't like my weight gain and he openly lusts for women in front of me when he's drunk and I don't trust him. He's started traveling a lot with work and he's become very distant. How do we gain respect for each other again. I told him I just feel like a cook, maid and a hole.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Your husband's feeling of attraction and love for you are based quite heavily on his physical/sexual attraction to you. That is, he finds that he cannot feel attraction or a personal sense of pride in you as his wife, if you are significantly overweight. This isn't a particularly well-rounded or mature construction of 'love' in a marriage, but this 'is what it is' and represents the reality you live with. Probably not much of a prospect that he'll change his view of attraction/love i.e., feeling more warmth and sexual attraction toward overweight condition. This speculation about your husband is consistent with your report that he lusts after thinner women in public, at times.

There may be other issues in the relationship that have caused it to become stagnant and deteriorate in recent years, in addition to his view of you as increasingly, sexually unattractive partner, due to your weight gain. These issues would have to be uncovered in marital therapy, if he would agree to this. But I think you would readily agree that he is fairly 'superficially' married, and is leading a separate, parallel life, and on some levels, may have become emotionally divorced from you as his partner---though you live together. Thus, he cares little about anything related to this marriage, e.g., caring for the house, helping out with any chores. In fact, he may feel that the situation is "unhappy but o.k.' as it is because you owe it to him to keep playing the role of maid and sexual object, caring for his mother, etc.; he may perceive that with your age, weight and other attributes, you don't have many other options for your life. This is a demeaning, disrespectful attitude to hold of one's spouse, but I suspect there is a great deal of truth to it.

This is the sort of situation in which older men begin to search out extra-marital affairs, as well. Do you suspect he might be having one, or had one recently?

I'm not advocating divorce, but I do want to ask you the question: "What would you do with yourself; what sort of "self" and life would you create for yourself, if you were no longer married to this man"?

I'll pause here and wait for your response; will get back to you then, later today or tomorrow a.m.

Edited by DoctorMichael on 2/1/2011 at 5:07 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He lusted for women when I was thin. I've developed thyroid trouble about 9 yrs ago and I'm 30 lbs overweight and when I lost weight 10 yrs ago he said I looked anorexic and didn't trust me when I left the house. Our lifestyle is that I cook meals everyday and that's all I do on weekends while he watches football. We drink some on weekends because we have a pool and lots of company and can't stand each other when we do. I've stopped drinking before, but he wouldn't and then complained because I did. The last time he lusted for a woman out here, I busted his head open with a mug (and didn't even remember doing it-drunk and things haven't been good since and I was truly remorseful and he knows that.We don't have a good sex life because he's selfish and it's unrewarding for me and I've tried to introduce toys but he doesn't want to use them. I'm friendly and I go to work everyday but we don't share finances because he's selfish with his money too and when we finally do go to dinner or a movie (2or 3 times a year) I have to pay. He travels in work and eats out all the time and whatever else he wants to do. I just feel like he doesn't look at me the same and we built a house on his parents property so I'm the one that would have to leave. I feel like I'm overweight because of our lifestyle but he has no interest in exercising or walking with me and dieting is hard because we no longer finish one meal and he's wanting to know what the next one is. And when he's out of town, he gets mad if I go out to eat or do something on my own. I complain a lot about my weight too and I complain about how my feet hurt and I'm going through menopause and I complain about that too to the point he thinks I'm a hypochondriac. I think I'm depressed. If we were to split up, in a years time I would see me thinner because I wouldn't be cooking as much but I would probably be on welfare because I'm a hairdresser with no benefits that only works part time because I take care of his mother. People love me because they say I'm so much fun and so funny but he acts like he can't stand me. I even walked up on him while he was talking about me last weekend but he stopped when I walked up and all I heard is "it don't help when you got a wife that" and then he saw me.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for the second post. It clarifies a lot and causes me to throw away some of the ideas I formed based on your first post. I'm more inclined to believe that he is simply a fairly insecure but narcissistic man. Curious that he wants to control your behavior and becomes anxious if you do much independently, but then is quite emotionally disengaged from you. This is how people treated their indentured servants many decades ago.

You can ask him to join you in marital therapy to improve your communication and overall relationship, but I suspect he will refuse; he is comfortable enough with the current situation that he won't want to change or do anything different; and he seems like the type of man who doesn't easily face up to his own shortcomings and contributions to conflicts in a relationship.

I too, suspect you are angry, feel helpless and hopeless, and are depressed about this situation. What to do? Since he finds your weight loss threatening and any time you go out by yourself when he is away, threatening, then you do have some emotional leverage with him, and I would capitalize on it. I would simply announce that you will be joining a health club or gym, and that you will be hiring a personal training to help you get your health back. Naturally, your feet hurt because if you are 30 lbs overweight or so, this is like carrying a 30 lb backpack on your shoulders all day long, without any relief, day after day. Also, I'd like to have you give SERIOUS consideration to the idea of beginning a new career track either at a vocational training school or an undergraduate degree program that is practical and will lead to a good job. This might be in social work or special education or landscape architecture or biotechnology---something that give your real job preparation. I'm suggesting that you seriously think about laying out a plan to move ahead with your life with or without his support, and in the end, with or without him. Now, I suspect that when you show some progress with your weight and especially, if you start looking to become more intellectually and financially independent through additional training, you will see a strong reaction from your husband---he will act in ways that reflect the fact that the is threatened in terms of his sense of control over you. It may get him to re-evaluate how he is treating you; maybe, maybe not. But, you'd then have some genuine options!

What do you think?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I just wish I could tell if he truly loves me or it's cheaper to keep her. He sais he does at times but I can't hear him cause his actions are so loud. Can this be fixed or should I even try?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
You are truly on the right track in realizing that peoples' behavior communicates everything that is important about their feelings. One can say, 'I love you', but if their actions consistently contradict it, then they really don't love you. Also, you very well have a good frame of reference or a template inside of your mind regarding how a husband who really loves his wife would act toward her. You've seen this template throughout your life; you probably know some couples where the husband fits a "loving husband" template pretty well. So when you compare your husband's behavior to this frame of reference regarding how you KNOW how you'd like or reasonably expect to be treated, then you can decide if he truly loves you or not. I don't think answering your question about how to tell if he truly loves you is very hard----just look at his behavior over the past few years toward you.

Could it be that he thinks it is simply cheaper to keep you around than to divorce you? I think you could ask him that directly and see what he says, could you not?

This situation could only be fixed if he is willing to go to marital therapy. If he is unwilling, then I think it might make sense for you to quietly and plan fully set about to improve yourself health wise and career wise for possibly living a single life. See if he responds to this personal 'overhaul' of your 'self'. If he doesn't change his behavior toward you or show a willingness to get into couples therapy, then you would be in a very much better position to decide if you should stay or leave. So we are talking about gradual plan that might run a couple of years---to get yourself physically, psychologically and intellectually 'in shape' to embark on a better life, should you choose to do so.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your original question. Please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
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