CAROLYN HAX

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life - Email Carolyn at [email protected]­post.com

Dear Carolyn: My hus­band and I have both gained sig­nif­i­cant weight since we’ve been mar­ried, but I’m try­ing to mit­i­gate that with diet and ex­er­cise. He isn’t, and ev­ery time I try to talk about it, he makes me feel like the bad guy for bring­ing it up.

We’re both ap­proach­ing 40, and I know we’ll never be the “twinks” we were when we met, but I’d like to be bet­ter than I am, and I am find­ing it very dif­fi­cult to get healthy with­out his sup­port.

He’s pre-di­a­betic. He has sleep ap­nea. His sex drive is nowhere near what it was when we met. And it’s frus­trat­ing be­cause all of this is cor­rectable and he’s re­fus­ing to even try.

I love my hus­band. I know my weight strug­gles aren’t his is­sue. But I would find it a lot eas­ier to tackle this if he were more sup­port­ive, and if he would try to be health­ier, too. I don’t know what to do, short of giv­ing him an ul­ti­ma­tum: It’s me or the sugar, dude.

Anony­mous

Dear Anony­mous: I wouldn’t do that – not un­less you’re ready to lose.

Not be­cause he likes sugar bet­ter or be­cause you’re not some­how worth it to him, but be­cause food is a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent that fights dirty.

For one, you two can’t just ban­ish food from your lives and start over; you can’t move away from it or spend time only with friends who ab­stain from it. You’re in its pres­ence at least two or three times a day as you fight it, and the rest of the time it’s call­ing to you from the kitchen.

And, a lot of it is en­gi­neered to tempt or out­right ad­dict you.

And, our bod­ies are wired to hold onto fat harder when­ever we try to get rid of it. And poor nu­tri­tion and in­ac­tiv­ity can lead to­ward de­pres­sion, which can lead to poor nu­tri­tion and in­ac­tiv­ity.

And so on, as you’ve no doubt dis­cov­ered as you go through this your­self. So con­sider that even you feel over­matched with­out his sup­port, yet you’re so much fur­ther along emo­tion­ally than he is: You’ve made the de­ci­sion to tackle this, and started mak­ing dif­fi­cult changes.

He’s just not there yet and won’t get there on bor­rowed mo­ti­va­tion; he needs his own. A lot of it. Any­thing he does in re­sponse to an ul­ti­ma­tum won’t re­ally be his. It’s not hope­less, nec­es­sar­ily. It’s just that, if he does change, it’s go­ing to be on his sched­ule, for his rea­sons.

This also doesn’t mean you can’t speak up. He de­serves to know what his life part­ner sees in and feels about him, and what his in­er­tia may ul­ti­mately cost him – none of which counts as fat-sham­ing. It’s life-alert­ing. If you haven’t yet been hon­est with him, then tell him kindly: You mourn the loss of his sex drive, and strug­gle deeply with watch­ing a pil­lar of your life self-de­struct.

You can also ask him how he wants you to han­dle your con­cern here­after. This is an un­der­rated step. You’ve in­ter­preted his pref­er­ence from his de­fen­sive­ness, but that’s not the same as know­ing what he wants you to say or not say. Plus, ask­ing him forces him to think about what he wants – not just from you, but from him­self.

From now on, too, you can ask him to join you on walks, when­ever you go. Take yes or no for an answer with­out re­act­ing.

Most im­por­tant, once you’ve made these points and asked your ques­tions, stop talk­ing about it – and qui­etly keep do­ing ev­ery­thing you can “to be bet­ter than I am.” A sus­tained ef­fort is tougher with­out his sup­port, but it’s your best ar­gu­ment to win that sup­port. Mak­ing changes against the pull of temp­ta­tion and me­tab­o­lism says these changes are pos­si­ble, and that mes­sage, de­liv­ered steadily, with­out judg­ment, over time, is more per­sua­sive than ul­ti­ma­tums can ever be.

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