DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding "Puzzled but Still Going Strong" (May 19), who lost weight but is being undermined by her husband. It is possible that the man is co-dependent.
Simply stated, his identity or comfort level is dependent on the wife remaining overweight. When she loses weight, the husband loses a piece of his identity or becomes afraid he will lose his now-slimmer wife to another man. In co-dependency, the co-dependent partner will do everything he/she can do to undermine improvements in the other partner.
Counseling is critical for this couple -- or "Puzzled" alone, if her husband won't go -- to address this issue. Otherwise, he will wear down her resolve. -- DEBBIE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR DEBBIE: Thank you for your comments. My readers were quick to weigh in on this topic, which affects many families across the country, given the pervasive increase in obesity reported by health-care professionals. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Five years ago I had gastric bypass surgery, and since then I have lost 120 pounds. Numerous pre-op tests were performed before my surgery, but one of the most important "tests" was that my husband was interviewed by the surgeon prior to the procedure.
He was asked if he had any concerns about how the surgery would change our lives and if he would have any problems with me losing the weight and being the same person with a different body. He was informed that my eating habits would drastically change and that, if the surgery was to work, my world could no longer be centered around food.
Apparently the medical profession knows the importance of spousal support for weight loss. Perhaps "Puzzled" should make an appointment with her family doctor so he (or she) can explain to her husband how much healthier she is since losing the weight. -- HAPPY IN FLORENCE, KY.
DEAR ABBY: While it may be insecurity on the husband's part, it is important to note that all the examples "Puzzled" gave of the man's behavior are methods of control, as well as providing a very poor role model for the children. Not only is he attempting to sabotage her efforts, but he is teaching their kids that he is less dedicated to the cause than she is. It could also be something more serious. Belittling and demeaning someone is abusive, even though it doesn't leave visible bruises.
Abby, your advice about professional counseling was right on, and I hope for her sake and that of her children, she gets it sooner rather than waiting to see if he "eases up." I know from experience that it is much harder to undo negative role modeling than it is to set a healthy and positive example. -- MOM WHO'S BEEN THERE, DONE THAT AND GOT THE T-SHIRT TO PROVE IT
DEAR ABBY: Several years ago I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off with diet and exercise. My wife's response was to gain 40 pounds. She said she was so angry with me for getting in shape that she decided to get even. She eats everything she wants, never exercises, and now weighs more than 200. Despite many weight-related health problems, she has no intention of changing her habits. My advice to "Puzzled": Resist your spouse's attempts to derail your fitness with all your might. -- RESIGNED IN ALABAMA
DEAR ABBY: "Puzzled" may have become a "diet bore." All too often, dieters shut out everything but themselves and their diet. You CAN have a healthy life that includes your spouse, family, and the things you used to do together. It just requires some balance. I prefer to call it a lifestyle and not a diet. -- WISE WEIGHT WATCHER