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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife's Obesity Is Symptom of Marriage in Big Trouble

DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Frustrated Wife," who had gained more than 100 pounds and whose husband had moved to another bedroom, was way out of line. If that man really loved his wife, he would urge her to go to counseling with him, and go with her to a diet clinic where he could learn to support her needs while overcoming her eating problem, if that is, indeed, what she has.

Abby, I am more than 100 pounds overweight. My husband would never, ever tell me it was food or him and to take my pick! He has encouraged me to join him on walks and eat healthier foods with him. This should be something they do together. This should be not only a healthier eating experience for her, but a bonding experience for both of them.

You advised her to see a dietitian and then a psychotherapist, which are good ideas for long-term help. However, I think the more appropriate action for her -- and her loving husband -- is marriage counseling. It takes many months to gain more than 100 pounds, and for her husband to just now be having a problem means something more must have happened. I think her weight problem is just another symptom of the marriage heading downhill, not just her love of food. -- CINDY IN ARIZONA

DEAR CINDY: I'm printing your letter because I received a bushel of mail from overweight women who felt I was wrong not to take her side. I'm sorry if this sounds cruel, but obesity has reached such epidemic proportions in our country that the surgeon general has spoken out about it. It is a serious health issue. Obesity is a trigger for diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer. I refuse to keep my mouth shut about it because speaking out is politically incorrect. My job is to give readers honest answers. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: That poor woman is a compulsive overeater with a serious problem. It is an illness, Abby -- one that society doesn't recognize.

I agree the woman needs help, but that wasn't the point of her letter. She asked if her husband was justified in withholding sex. NO, HE IS NOT! I understand he may not like the fact that she has gained weight, but to cut her off and move out of the bedroom is horrible. Marriage vows say "for better or for worse." -- REBECCA IN NEW ORLEANS

DEAR REBECCA: I agree the woman is a compulsive overeater, and there are organizations that can help her. (I have recommended Overeaters Anonymous for years.) Notice that she didn't ask for a referral for a self-help group.

As to the husband's "cutting her off and moving out of the bedroom" -- I'm sure the man would perform if he could. I wish you could see the mail on my desk from husbands who have complained that they are either so visually turned off they can no longer do the deed, or are physically unable to perform because of their wives' girth. (Women married to overweight husbands have expressed similar stories.)

Remember, the woman wrote: "My husband has repeatedly asked me to lose weight, but I have not. ... I think he expects too much, as I love to eat." That woman needs help, not another enabler.

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