Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lightening the emotional load

If I lured you back from yesterday's post, welcome back!  If you haven't read it yet, you should before reading this part.  The thing on this weight loss journey that has terrified me from day one has been "what if when he's thin and women start paying attention to him, he leaves?"  Don't tell me it's my insecurities because I have seen this story written about more times than I can count.  A husband loses weight and feels he needs to "trade up" to better arm candy so he cheats or leaves his wife.  A wife loses weight, hubby gets jealous and tries to fatten her back up because he's insecure and at least when she was fat she was all his and he didn't have to worry about other men looking at her (from his perspective).  The stories of how relationships and marriages fall apart after weight loss are so plentiful and terrible that you wouldn't believe it.  I read many of these when I was at my heaviest and knew that he would lose faster than I would.  I would have nightmares about him becoming shallow and saying the meanest things to me.  Things he's never said in his life and I know he never would say because 1) he's not cruel and 2) I would knock him into a parallel universe.  But obviously that stuff was making its presence known even before we started this undertaking.

We have lost similarly and the 40 lbs difference there was between our heaviest weights is now down to about a 22 lb difference so you can see that we are similar in weight and therefore body type as well.  (For the most part, I bawk at his "batwings" and whip out my pterodactyl wings or show my "womanly" hips.)  But as he inches ever so close to not having an X in front of any size he wears in shirts and is moving into the 30's waist wise, which is considered "normal" by most standards, I get that little poke in my shoulder.  "He's going to be normal before you are and you're going to hold him back from doing things he wants to do.  He won't want to stop living this new life if your big butt is over the weight limit for kayaks, roller coasters and stuff!"  I have voiced these fears to him and he assures me that he has never felt like I am holding him back and he will wait for me as long as it takes because it's not a victory for him if I'm not there to share it with him.  I offered to take pics of him on a roller coaster or to go parasailing when he's able and I'll video it so he can watch it and remember how good it felt.  He said it wouldn't feel like a victory without me next to him.  That's lovely but only fuels that little voice that says "see, he has to wait for you to do these things."  I desperately want to kayak this year but I don't want to get a "special" kayak to do it.  I don't want to have to buy some uber kayak when we really have nowhere to put them and most rentals are 250 lbs weight limit.  I'm a good 40+ away from that.  He's about 25 lbs or less away.

I suppose this is all still more baggage from the divorce as well as self imposed torture.  I am trying very hard not to think that way because the last thing I want is to have a self fulfilling prophecy on my hands.  He knows my struggle with these thoughts and I'm not the only one bringing childhood issues into the relationship.  This past weekend was what many would refer to as a "rough patch" in a marriage.  A long, stewing, important issue we'd put off until it came to a head and then exploded into something that could've been disastrous.  We are recovering from it but more to the point, we TALKED about it.  Long talks, tears, plans, implementation and the promise to not just try but to do.  We tend to end our very few and far between blowups with a good long talk and then hearing it came down to "assumptions and miscommunication."  I'm hoping this particular issue has finally taught us that when we're not happy with an aspect of our marriage, ignoring it, assuming things and more importantly not communicating about it regardless of whether we think it will hurt the other person's feelings will lead to the same path I have been running from all of my life.   After 20 years together I do not want to end up like my parents.  I talk about my feelings and he bottles his.  I'm hoping this weekend has shown us nothing good comes from bottling (him) or assuming (me).  I always prided us on our communication but the problem comes when it isn't on the things that truly matter then we're missing the point and a wonderful marriage isn't reaching its full potential.

I want us to be happy in every aspect of our lives.  I want to move forward from the baggage of a broken home for communication and weight reasons even though I know a part of it will always be there.  I want to get out from under his baggage of needing to sweep things under the rug as his family always did.  As we lose this weight I want to make sure that we're growing together as a stronger, more unified team that doesn't take what it means to be happy and make others happy for granted.  I know we can do that...we are doing that.  I know my issues will always be there but when it comes down to it, they weren't MY issues...they were my parents issues and I got caught in the crossfire and picked up the suitcase to carry with me.  I can't promise that I'm putting down the suitcase but I'm exchanging it for backpack with the hopes that one day I will exchange it for a change purse and eventually throw it away.

These things were incredibly personal to me but I felt it necessary to share them.  I needed to show you that those whom you may look to as a good example for a marriage (what I've been told, I'm not arrogant enough to say that on my own) doesn't come without its challenges from time to time.  That marriage IS work and that the problems that you have need to be traced.  You need to look within to see if there is something you're bringing to your relationships, your everyday life or your work that weighs you down but doesn't need to or at the very least how can you lighten the load?

How can you lighten your emotional load?

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  1. Deep stuff here but exploring these issues is very necessary for all of us. We all have insecurities. We all (or most of us) can name at least one situation where the very things we fear happened. That's why we're insecure about them. We can dance around them or work through them, but either way is likely to be exhausting in some respects.

  2. We have a lot of these same issues. He doesn't speak up until he explodes. I assume everything is fine, because he doesn't say anything. It's a viscous cycle. We're finally talking about his issues with me being thin. He's so afraid I'm going to leave. I can't get him to understand that he married me at 300+ pounds, why would I leave? Talking about things is always the best way to handle any situation, but one the communication is broken and people aren't being honest, it's hard to get anything resolved. I wish the Mr and you all the best to get through this. *HUGS*

  3. Thanks for sharing. That question is a tough one to answer that I am unsure how to answer. My mental health and my marriage are my most important priorities in my life above everything else. I follow some very childish and elementary rules to preserve both:
    . Treat others (husband) how you could like to be treated.
    . Actions speak louder than words
    . Experience new things. Step out of comfort zone.
    . Is whatever worth it? Stress is a killer.

  4. I'm so glad that you didn't let the "what if!" fears hold you back from progressing through your weight loss journey. You could very well have stayed at your highest weight for fear that something could happen to your marriage.

    Talking things through, although painful at times, is so important and I'm glad you were able to communicate with each other this last weekend.

    My fiance hasn't needed to join me on my WL journey only because he does't need to really lose weight. Even he expressed fears that I was going to get all fit and leave him for someone more fit and active than him. That won't happen, but he was worried either way.

    Thanks for sharing such personal stories of your lives. It really helps me feel connected to your story.

  5. Making a marriage work is as hard as losing weight and keeping it off. Maybe harder. I have bitten my tongue more times than I care to mention in 41 years of wedded bliss. I'm sure hubby has done the same. And yet...I love him more than the sun and the moon. I worry about regain...but my biggest worry is that his cancer (melanoma--the bad kind) will recur and will have spread. What I'm saying is my greatest fear is life without him. So for as many marriages as you read about failing, there are a whole bunch of us out here who are still totally and completely in love with that person we married however many years ago and can't imagine life without them. Why don't they write about those good marriage sometimes?

    GREAT GREAT blogs--Both yesterday and today. I wish I could console you through your insecurities, but I have had them too. My parent's marriage didn't fail, and I'm sure that is a HUGE factor in your concerns. My hubby has loved me through years and years of thickness (can't say through thick and thin, because there wasn't much THIN) and my weight loss is really no big deal to him. Oh yeah, I think he is prouder of me now, but he loved me before and he loves me now and he will love me even if I (PLEASE GOD NOOOOO!) regain the dam weight. I know that in my heart, but I will have to admit it's easier to say NOW with the weight off than it was 180 lbs. ago.

  6. First of all, thanks for sharing. Secondly, you may think I'm crazy, but this just seems like the norm a lot of times. I always have those thoughts in my head about my husband leaving me. I hated telling him my weight ever b/c he will always know what those digits are or how big or small I look. He weighs probably around 100 less than I do. If he left me, I wouldn't be surprised b/c deep down inside, I probably expect it to happen anyway. I remember when my sister was married to her first husband, my dad made a comment after she had gained a lot of weight about how he couldn't blame her husband if he cheated on her. That was a totally sh**ty thing to say. I think I resent him for that. People spew all types of poison to their children and don't expect them to be affected by it.

    At least your Mr has reassured you that he won't leave you b/c you aren't at your goal when he reaches his. Just to let you know, I went parasailing in Myrtle Beach, SC back in August 2008. I weighed 313 pounds, if not more, at the time. My boyfriend, now husband, had gotten the bright idea that he wanted to parasail. This was not remotely interesting to me as I am afraid of heights and at the time couldn't swim. I went along, but I figured I wouldn't be able to go b/c of weight. The guy said it's not a weight requirement, but a wind requirement instead. We ended up being the last people to go, and I felt so uncomfortable knowing they had to have swift enough winds to put us up at the same time and it was me who was the hinderance. I went, and I was terrified, but at least my weight didn't stop me.

  7. I have always struggled with this. ALWAYS. Of course, Hubs has always been, by most standards, a "normal" size (though he'll tell you he was "fat" right before I met him...and I laugh at him because he was a size 28 when I met him). And I can see him struggling as well as I lose weight. Every once in a while he jokes about how I'm going to get "skinny" and drop him like a hot potato, and I assure him that the thought of being with anyone else seems silly to me (even if I do have those "what if" thoughts every now and again when things aren't going so well). I like that you and the Mr. talked about it because it does show a lot of mutual respect in the relationship. I've always told people that the perfect marriage is not one in which the couple never fights, but one in which the couple has learned HOW to fight and how to come through the other side understanding the other person a little better.

    And kudos to you for sharing. Know that you are not alone in your fears. ;)

  8. It's not arrogance to recognize that you have a good marriage that can stand as an example to others. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in something you both work hard to maintain. Own it the same way you own your weight loss.

    I can honestly say that I don't have doubts about my hubby in that way. We have other issues of course, but neither of us is about to leave the other. Least of all over our weights. We were both thin and relatively fit when we got together, and we've both gained significantly since then. Weight is an issue for each of us, but not in the same way.

    Our other issues - now there's a can of worms. We both belong to the "if you don't talk about it, it doesn't exist" school of thought. Despite that, I feel like we have a pretty good marriage. This summer will be 14 years married, and December will be 16 years together.

  9. Awesome blogs, both of them. I am no expert. My marriage is over like your parents. Infidelity from someone who never, ever, ever told me he was unhappy in any way. (When I told friends he had left, they would laugh at me and tell me I must be joking.) Any-hoo. And as I have said before, I have my baggage too. I don't deny that. And were I in your shoes I would most definitely feel the same way you do. But, when you wrote "he will wait for me as long as it takes because it's not a victory for him if I'm not there to share it with him," I teared up. And I thought: "That is something that all of us want--how lucky you are!" And hard as it is sometimes, try to believe in him. You have spent 20 years together fighting life, enjoying life, and struggling through some weekends. Of all the people in the world you should trust, I think it should be the Mr. Wouldn't you want him to trust you completely too? Sometimes, we have to battle our past demons so that we can live the life we want to. Hope you can find a way to believe in him and you more of the time than not. I sure do!

  10. I really loved these posts - I read yesterday's as well but wanted to wait for part 2 to comment.

    I have a lot of trust issues as a result of my parents' marriage ending (too, from infidelity). I try really hard not to let it get the best of me but ultimately I'm still sure that everyone is going to leave me at some point - boyfriends, friends ... even family.

    About today's post, I think this is a fairly common fear. All marriages are work and there's never any guarantee as to what will happen. I love how much you and the Mr. support each other and how openly you do it. It seems as though you not only love each other, but respect each other a great deal. Nobody can tell you what will happen - I think time will only make you grow stronger together and that'll be the thing that proves your fears wrong.

  11. It's tough. Men and women are generally so different in how we're wired and how we approach life! There's a great video series that talks about the differences called Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. My Mr. and I have always talked about everything, but it's still easy to fall into the trap of not really communicating and making assumptions. Airing things BEFORE they get to a boiling point is the best way of lightening my emotional load.

  12. I am so glad that we talk things out. We don't fight often at all and I am thankful for that but I am guilty of holding a lot of stuff in before it just boils over. It can be tough to let it all hang out sometimes but in the long run we will both be better for it. It's also good to get others' opinions on this because we can both see that we definitely are not alone and we're truly blessed just to have such a life together!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing. This was truly a difficult post to write and you did a beautiful job. I also teared up when the Mr. said he would wait for you. He has it soo right!
    My parents are still married, but I was sexually abused by my father. No one knows about it but me and him, and he has been so damaged by his childhood that I am not sure he quite gets what he did even now. But I am almost positive that was the catalyst for my weight gain. However, through the grace of God, I have not gotten more than 50 pounds over weight. I don't say this to take away from your postings, but to let you know that I admire you and appreciate your journey to get where you are, and I am hoping to get to that same place. I am responsible for me now, regardless of the past no matter how bad it may have been.

  14. Hrmm...lightening my emotional load... In order to do this I think I need to be completely up front with Marc about my abandonment issues. He is like the Mr and bottles things up because at the moment he thinks they dont matter, but then latter they mean the world to him. We're closing in on our second anniversary and 5 years being together. I must say we are learning a little bit everyday!

  15. Communication is vital. Why it is so easy to speak freely to a girlfriend for women or a buddy for men, and nearly impossible to be frank and candid with a spouse is baffling. I see it over and over and over, though. Friends come to me with all manner of complaints about their husbands. I'm certain their husbands are doing the same with THEIR friends. It is so much wiser to come TOGETHER as a couple and allow that honesty free reign, even when what we feel is unreasonable, fear-based, illogical. TALK about it even then. I'm so proud of you both for being honest about your feelings, your fears, your needs, your hopes. That is pure marriage muscle and as necessary as your daily fitness workouts. *hugs*

  16. I am so blessed to have wonderful friends like you guys. I am still so blown away at the things you trust to share here and I hope that somehow my talking about my emotional baggage has made you think about ways to make yours a little lighter. I think we all can take away that we're looking to better ourselves in every way but the emotional part can often be the hardest of all.

  17. Sorry I'm late to the comment thread...ran out of time before work this morning.

    First, let me say that it took enormous courage to write these two posts. I'm so glad that the comments I have seen have honored that courage and your reasoning for sharing. You have some awesome readers!

    This one got to me, because my hubby doesn't talk much either, and I don't confront. At least, I don't confront issues with people who are important to me. I can't quite explain that, other than as a failure of courage. As far as weight loss and shared journeys are concerned, we've been through the up and down cycle a few times. Usually I am the one to start the process, and when I've slimmed down to a certain point, he gets on board, catches up with me and often passes me in record time. Whether that's because he's insecure about me leaving or something else, I don't know--he doesn't say. But I know I'm not leaving him, and I trust that he's not leaving me. So I guess it's ok that we don't talk about it. After 33 years, I don't see our habits changing much.

    Oh, I DO relate to the parasailing. We were set to do that on our last Mexican
    Riviera cruise. The people took one look at hubby and said there wasn't enough wind to lift him. He told me to go ahead and do it, but I didn't want to do it without him, so we went for a catamaran ride around the harbor instead. I'm still mad at THEM for making him feel bad. I don't consider it as him holding me back...never crossed my mind. I'm with the Mr.--it wouldn't feel good without the love of my life by my side.

  18. You're right. A lot of people go through this after significant weight loss. And I understand the fear. My husband left me in large part due to my weight so I live in constant fear of that. But I think you've got a good one!

  19. We have had the same kinds of issues. I didn't come from divorce, but I came from a home that would have been better with one, I think. And I have always carried the what if burdens with me. Your comments about work really hit home, because that has been a real issue with me from the beginning, too. And not unfounded. Not that he has taken women up on offers, but he's had them. One was from my (former) best friend. I didn't think after 30 years I was still insecure about it, until he just started a new job...and now the old insecurities are rearing up. I appreciate that you bring these issues up, because most people prefer to not acknowledge them, and they just sit there and stew. As for the activities, since my dh has always been thin and active, we did not do things together all the time anyway. I sometimes watch or take photos, sometimes I didn't even go. I would prefer if we could do more together, but then again he probably would rather not join me at the we just plan those things for a time when we're both off doing something we want to. Still, I've sure missed a lot of things because I wouldn't or couldn't go with him because of my weight. There is no pretending that does not happen, and talking about it sure better than not.

  20. I think this is an important topic. I have also read horrible stories about how weight loss influences a marriage in one or the other way.. Fortunately I'm blessed with a husband that is good at communicating, and not just in general, but with me specifically. Makes it easier!

  21. Ok I know none of this is a news flash for you but I feel like it bears repeating. Men also leave their skinnier then them wives too. The reason I bring this up is because I want to help ease you mind somewhat that men who will cheat on their wives are just awful human beings regardless of the reasons behind it. Ironically enough I just heard that the ex douche cheated on me because he prefers fat girls and since I wasn’t fat I wasn’t his jam. I won’t even get into the many reasons this is total bullshit but I thought with the topic at hand it was worthy of at least throwing out there.

    I guess this is all my attempts to say that the MR isn’t going to leave/cheat on you because he is just a good dude. He loves you and your guys relationship is worth more to both of you. The reason people look up to your marriage is because you guys are perfect for each other. That doesn’t mean you won’t have fights because those happen between people but what matters is what comes out of those fights. What gets resolved because of those fights. How strong you are after those fights. You guys want to be together and both fight to have a happy marriage. That is awesome and that is what I want for myself. Someone who is willing to fight as hard as I am for something that we both know is good for us. It’s not always pretty but it is always worth it.

    I know that doesn’t ease your mind too much and that you have to work through those feelings on your own. But know that sharing and getting it out will help and over time it will lessen. You are brave to share it and I appreciate how honest you are being. You did a good thing here Mrs and I’m proud. Keep fighting the good fight. PS Congrats on the three year work out streak anniversary. Hell yeah you should celebrate!

  22. It's brave of you to write about your feelings like this in an open forum (well, as open as a blog is--you know what I mean, right?). I think the fact that you recognize these issues and are working with your husband to deal with them is a really big thing. So often when we're overweight, it has a lot to do with our emotions and how we cope with things (I know that's the case for me!), so it only makes sense that to be truly healthy, you need to work through your emotional baggage too and not just eat healthier and exercise. But from everything you've said about your husband, it sounds like he is really supportive and a true partner to you--I think if you keep being open with your feelings and talk through the problems, you will get through them!

  23. Oh my friend, I think you know how I feel about communication in a marriage. How good you must both feel after airing things out and realizing where each of you were at and how to change some of those things. After having the bomb dropped in my lap just short of a month ago, I'm still living in a state of part numbness/part out of body experience. I've had a few people say I should just leave, save myself, blah, blah, blah. Well, how do you leave someone who is sick? Why would I? I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I sure as heck can't cure it. But what I CAN do is lead as peaceful and serene a life as possible for ME. That can only lead to more harmony in our home, regardless if he changes what he's doing. It can only help aide in the healing. That being said, right now the communication is non-existent because there is no trust. I'm working my program to sludge through that aspect, but what I can do in the meantime is be truthful in my own communication with myself. I'm in this weird state of putting my emotions off to the side to deal with the facts at hand. It's an odd thing to do because what I *want* to do is focus on the hurt, pain, betrayal, anger, etc. But that will get me nowhere except into a big ol' bag of chips. My hope is one day he'll seek the help he needs and that communication can be open and honest again. Right now, he's not ready for that. He's not prepared to talk about any of it because he's in denial. And I can accept it because those are his choices. I choose to respond differently to the issues than he does. I'm getting healthier and taking care of myself and he sees that his issues aren't the most important thing in my life because they CAN'T be--it wouldn't be healthy for either one of us. Marriage is tough tough work, but we can each do our part to make it better. If he chooses not to, I can't control that; I can only control what I do...and right now, for today, that's good for me. p.s.--went to my meeting this morning at 7am--down 5 lbs! =o)

  24. I read these and appreciated them but didn't have time to respond. I'm taking the time to do that now.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there. I know it was hard, but it certainly meant a lot to those of us who read it, and I know it had to be meaningful for you as well. Even if it was hard. I don't know about you, but when I've blogged something, the process of typing it out opens my eyes to a new way of looking at it every time. I really attribute a lot of my weight loss success to blogging. I hope you are able to look back on sharing these stories as an important step in the process!


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