Wife's Serious Weight Problem
As my wife 'Beverly' entered middle age, she developed a voracious appetite for food; seemingly overnight it replaced what had been a healthy sex drive. She began doing things like spending afternoons at the food courts or binging on fast-food in her car. At home, she would close the door to her bedroom and eat for hours. She eventually became unable to control her appetite even when we dined with friends or my business associates, sometimes causing stares, smirks, and catty comments with the way she would devour her meal- which invariably consisted of not only appetizers, as if she needed any, but 2 entrees and 2 or 3 desserts. Ditto weddings, birthday parties, and holiday meals. It wasn't long before she'd put on so much weight that she could no longer fit comfortably into any of her clothes. At that point she panicked and tried dieting, but to no avail. No matter the plan, she could stick to it for only a week or so, before the urge to binge became more than she could resist. Plan B was just to try to hide it. 'I'll just start wearing a girdle when we go out,' I overheard her tell a girlfriend on the phone. But even that plan didn't last very long; the girdle was not only 'uncomfortable,' but a hassle to get into and out of, requiring my assistance. Her wardrobe now consists of large men's t-shirts and sweatpants, underneath which her stomach can be seen hanging to her knees. People, seeing her so obese and out of control began to say of her that she'd 'let herself go.' In fact, it was a vicious cycle. The more the woman ate the heavier she became and the heavier she became the more she ate. Unable to break that cycle, her weight soared to well over 400 lbs.. Her mother eventually became fed up and told her in front of the rest of her family on Thanksgiving that 'she should be ashamed of herself.' Beverly could only hang her head and beg her mother not to 'humiliate' her any further. But she did put down her fork for the rest of afternoon, so there was hope that the harsh message had had the desired effect, that someone had finally gotten through to her about her weight problem. That hope was quickly crushed, though, when she begged me to stop for fast food on the way home.
Her obsession with food also took its toll on our marriage. We began sleeping in separate bedrooms, mainly because of her nightly habit of going downstairs for a 'snack' that would last for hours. When I confronted her during one of these binges, she appeared out of control, cramming food into her mouth non-stop. I pleaded with her to get a hold of herself, but she would only mutter over and over 'I can't stop, Jerry, I can't stop. I want it so bad!' Rebuffed in this way several times, I gave up trying to get her to diet and more or less looked the other way when she would overeat, content to spend more time on my work while hoping that somehow she'll find the strength to change. She, however, wants me to 'accept her as she as is' and constantly worries that I'm going to leave her for another woman. Her mother stopped by the other day with a younger friend of hers. Beverly, per usual, was in bed glutting when they arrived. Her mother immediately went into her room and slammed the door shut. Her angry voice could still be heard as I stood trying to hide my own embarrassment from the other woman. Finally, she emerged from the room, saying 'When he leaves you fatso, I won't blame him a bit.' Then they left. No sooner had the door closed than Beverly came crawling out of her bedroom and threw her arms around my waist. 'I beg you not to see her,' she cried. I told her that I didn't know what she was talking about. 'My mother's friend,' she said; 'I know you want her. And she's the kind who will come after you now that she knows we are having problems.' I told her that she needed professional help and offered to find it for her, but that she would have to take the first step and admit to having an eating disorder.