My husband doesn’t like that I’ve gained weight

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Hi Meredith,

I love your column and your commenters. I am looking for your (and their) honest advice. My husband is 40 and I'm almost there, have been married for 12 years, together for many more, and have a school-age son. Since having our son, I have gained a lot of weight, and cycle between losing and gaining. During COVID, I gained a lot of the weight back, and have been struggling to lose again.

My husband hates it when I'm overweight. He says he sees me stress eat and is concerned about my health. It's hard for me to believe this and I feel like it's solely about attractiveness. He says it's partly about attractiveness. Per his encouragement, I’m back to seeing a therapist to address depression brought on by COVID. Honestly, I am quite embarrassed to tell anyone my husband thinks I'm fat. My husband is no stud muffin and is somewhat overweight, but has maintained the same weight for years. Overall we are both physically active, and my extra weight does not prevent me from that.

I am so hurt by his comments and feel it is one of the worst things you can say to a woman, that she is overweight and not as attractive. I would love to know what you and your commenters think. I am not sure if he is just being honest and I should respect that and not take it so personally ... or is this really a low move and grounds for separation. I would love other people's views on it. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, however overall, we care about each other, share the same values, have common interests, and built a good life together. I'm so hurt and feel like I can't let this go, but should I?

- Stuck

First, I just want to remind you that everyone's routines have been in flux because of the pandemic. You are not alone in feeling like you've had less control over your mind and body during such a strange time.

Second, it is possible that your husband is concerned about your health, and that it's not just about attraction. The doesn't mean the other comments don't hurt. I'm sure there are some people who don't mind this kind of honesty, but you're not one of them (at the very least, you didn’t like his delivery), and that's OK.

I'm glad you're seeing a therapist because it's a way to figure out which of these feelings are about you, and which are about the way you communicate with your husband. Talk to this professional about how to tell your husband how to best communicate with you about his concerns. It's possible he doesn’t know when he crosses the line into cruel. Also, it would be nice to hear, "And of course I'm madly in love with you and love the life we've built, no matter what" at the end of any of these conversations. Maybe he believes that's implied.

We're coming out of a very complicated year, and I think a lot of couples are exhaling and figuring out how to be loving after conflicts about space, parenting, food, rules for seeing others, etc. Your hurt is real and I don't want you to ignore it or push it into some box of feelings that gets shut forever. I do want you to ask this therapist how to give your marriage the chance to get better.

I also want you to use therapy talk about yourself a lot. What you want, what you like, what stresses you out. Consider this the beginning of the process. No need to make decisions about anything right this second.

– Meredith

Readers? Thoughts on tough love and honest when it hurts?