Monday, September 13, 2010

Husbands! Gotta Love 'Em!

Flat Creek Trail - GSMNP
October, 2008

This post has gone through several titles.  "How To Handle Husbands," didn't stay long as I do intend this to always be a G-rated blog and wasn't sure what sort of audience that heading might attract!   "Come To Jesus Meeting" was in the running, but although my religious beliefs are well-known, it really isn't my intent to attract Billy Graham as a follower, although, of course, he'd be welcome!  "Help, I'm Married," also went through the "maybe" stage, but I think I've ultimately settled on the current one. 

As far as husbands go, I think I got the best.  Sure, he has his "quirks" and oh boy, what a post I could write about those, but in the interest of 33 MORE years of wedded bliss (cough, cough) to go with the 33 behind me, I think I'll just stick with telling you about our come to Jesus meeting.  He does read this blog!! 

At the risk of being anticlimactic, I'll say this right up front.   There wasn't much, if any, new material that came from the discussion.  Mr. B knows all about my issues with food and my problems with weight control.  He has always, without fail, been kind and loved me at 203 as much as he loved me at 138.  He loves me right now at 159.  He listens and says, "what can I do?" and "I just want you to be happy." 

During this period of relapse, there have been some differences and that has been scary to me.  Since beginning this blog last May, I believe that the writing has begun to uncover some layers that had remained hidden for many years.  That culminated in last week's posts and were the discoveries I was attempting to communicate to him over the weekend.  I think he senses that I have hit rock bottom (this scares him) and also, my determination to change.  This might be a bit threatening to him because it can't help but mean change for him as well. 

I think, in a sense, he wants his cake plus all the trimmings.  He is so proud of me at my goal weight (he just beams when I walk down the staircase in something new or something he hasn't seen in awhile), but he also enjoys the me that comes home from the grocery store with all sorts of goodies, the me that suggests pizza for dinner, the me that packs a killer picnic lunch you don't even want to know about, the me that can plan and execute a backyard party to die for, and the me that says, "look the HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW sign is on" when we pass Krispy Kreme doughnuts

He is a normal eater with a normal appetite.  He can do all of the above things with no obvious repercussions.  He is NOT a healthy eater and does not share my passion for becoming one.  This is a problem.  I know my choices are mine and mine alone, but we are each other's best friend and sometimes it is highly discouraging to me that this is one of the few things we don't share and therefore, will never be able to function fully as a "team" when planning, discussing and implementing healthy clean eating.  He loves to cook and is an EXCELLENT cook.  Thank goodness, one of us is!  I know it is frustrating to him when he wants to plan an elaborate dinner party and I ask if it can be a healthy menu.  The answer is no and his stubborn, only child, my way or no way syndrome kicks in resulting in much pouting and "let's just forget the whole thing."  I feel pretty strongly about my home representing frugal living, healthy eating and a sustainable environment and I can be pretty stubborn too.  We have not yet found the "let's meet each other halfway" point on this subject and sometimes, the conversations aren't pretty!!  This is also a PERFECT example of what I talked about in last week's posts.  I give in to make him happy, but I'm already angry because I feel manipulated into participating in something I didn't want to do in the first place, the food is delicious and I eat it - ALL OF IT!!

It also means that I am having to retrain myself to function alone in this way and I'm not used to that.  In all of the above situations and all of the areas I discussed in the earlier posts, I'm having to learn to say, "no" or "can't we do it this way," or "this is what I'm eating, can you take care of yourself tonight," or the hardest one of all, "I"m going to need to ask you to not eat that in front of me," or even harder, "for now, we can't have that in the house."   It compounds the whole issue when he shouldn't be eating the stuff he's eating to start with and I am thinking how much fun it would be if we could plan and eat our healthy meals/snacks together.   Did you hear the BIG SIGH OF FRUSTRATION here??

Here are some of the specific things I asked from him:
1)  I am the ultimate planner and his preferred method of operation is flying by the seat of his pants.  I have asked that with respect to our social life and eating out (which BTW, he loves to do), there be no flying by the seat of our pants.  If it is a sudden social invitation, we say "no" and we plan restaurant eating so that I can look ahead, decide EXACTLY what I'm going to order, tell him in advance and ask him to either order for me or hold me accountable.  He will not even "allow" me to open a menu. 

2) I've asked him to identify some food items he enjoys that aren't temptations to me.  Believe it or not, there are some of those!! LOL! 

3) I've told him that my grocery shopping is now limited to ONE time a week.  We will cook and eat from what we have on hand or what I purchase during that one visit.  I am a good, frugal shopper and love meandering around in different grocery stores to see what they have.  This has become a problem in terms of impulse purchases and uncounted calories via demon sample pushers.  I've asked that any items he wants be on the fridge magnetic board and if they aren't there, he doesn't get them until the following week.

4) Mostly, I've asked that he not allow me to manipulate him into becoming an "enabler" even when the enabling might benefit him (think HOT Krispy Kreme doughnuts that was MY idea to go get).  If you don't read Diane's Fit To The Finish  blog, you should.  Her post from this morning, especially the last two paragraphs, were given to me in perfect timing. 

Our "Come To Jesus" meeting was a great discussion and made even better by the fact that we had driven to the mountains and were enjoying a wonderful trail that runs along the river.  He listened and I believe he senses something a little different about this valley.  He does want it all (the at-goal me AND the me that suggests the doughnuts) but he would like to see the depressed, remorseful, sick at her stomach from overeating, me go away for good.  What remains to be seen is whether the layers I'm uncovering about who I really am and the changes required from BOTH of us to find and embrace her, will be accepted.   I hope so, because I think I'm going there with or without his full support.  He's my best friend, my soul mate and my partner of 33 years - I really want him to go with me.   We'll have such a good time!

All this has caused my curious nature to run rampant.   Those of you with DH's, significant others and/or kids still at home, tell me about your relationship with that person/kids with respect to YOUR food and weight issues.  Is it a team effort, are they enablers, do you get resistance, how in the heck to you cook meals that please them if they aren't on board without sabotaging your own efforts?  Talk back to me - I think it will benefit us all.

I'm going to try and tie all this together in tomorrow's post.  It's been a tough few days, but I truly believe that, "darkness may linger in the night, but joy comes in the morning."   And BTW - I am on day 3 of on-plan eating. 


  1. Yah for Day 3 of on-plan eating! I'm on day 1 but it's all written down and followed.

    DH! Loved your story. My hubby is a NSP (naturally skinny person) and he's never questioned what to eat or not eat (i.e. spam - his mom used to cook w/ it and I admit I bought it when we were first married EEK!). DH now has about 50 more lbs. on him than on our wedding day, but he needed some on him back then...still, not 50. He loves all kinds of stuff that I wouldn't touch and some that I would. He doesn't push food, he just has a different agenda than what I do. So now I refuse to buy certain things (chips)just because there is no value in them and none of us need them - so he'll buy them himself. I'm okay with that, as long as he keeps them to himself. Which he does. But he has almost no interest in eating healthily, i.e. what's good for his body. He is, however, interested in eating to he can avoid surgery/health problems, but he isn't consistent in that...hmmm, I'm writing an epistle here. I can't blame him for my issues - he does eat whatever (almost) I put in front of him, and I'm thankful for that. But he has a bigger smile when it's something that HE likes (steak, meat, meat, meat). DH also likes walking but prefers playing a good game of soccer say or exercising by playing, whereas I am an exercise person - love "activity" but need a set exercise plan to follow. So yah, that's my story (I think)!!
    PS Oh and I must be an internal/external clausterphobic too, and DH likes to fly by the seat of his pants and I'm a planner...we sound like twins!!

  2. I love that picture and I think I could love Mr. B:) And most days I love my own hubby:)

  3. Just sign my name at the end of your paragraph ending with "Did you hear the BIG SIGH OF FRUSTRATION here??" !!!

    Instead of writing a book here (um... very opinionated about this topic, LOL!) I'll just offer a post I did on it, if you have time. I titled it "Protect Your Success".

    There was also one later here:

    But overall, I hope your dear one realizes this is not forever. That this rigid approach you are taking is to save your life, literally, and that in time you will make progress and be able to loosen up the reigns of control.

    That you will be more comfortable in the future, more flexible, and stronger, and able to navigate those minefields that to him are no biggee... but to US are dangerous in the beginning.

    Why, I don't even hit the roof (much) anymore when Jim brings home half gallons of ice cream. There was a time when the only kind he dared buy (and survive with his life intact) was the one I hated, Chocolate Chip Mint... ugh!!

    Anyway, if he can be patient, he will end up with an even BETTER you. :-)

    Oh drat... I wrote a book after all!

  4. I understand the frustration when those around you won't get onboard with an idea. The truth is that both of you are sides of the same coin. Equal yet opposite. Your desire to eat healthily is no more important than his desire to eat junk. We make our own choices, even if they are not conducive to a long and healthy life.

    I can appreciate the appeal of creating a "bubble" around you, but that really won't solve anything unless you plan on staying inside it. Trying to control your environment will almost certainly end in failure. There are too many variables and surprises. For someone who likes to plan things meticulously, it's a nightmare. But that is life.

    Rather than try to change or control him, try to compromise. You will BOTH need to make concessions otherwise you'll both end up resenting each other because neither of you budged.

    You definitely need to plan LESS. Rejecting social situations because they are spontaneous is a shame and completely unnecessary. With the same token, you need to look at the menu and you order what you would like.

    At the end of the day, this is a power struggle and it's destructive. If either of you wins, the other feels trampled on. Nobody likes to be dominated. If you can both find some common ground and compromise on your differences, it'll be a lot easier.

    Life is far too complex to have a grip on everything except your own willpower. All you can hope to control is yourself. Ironically, that is all you actually NEED to control :)

  5. Hey Sharon, I hope you don't mind me popping in for one more comment.

    Mark raises some valid and important points. And I agree with a lot of it. But ya know, timing is important. There is a time for all things...

    I'm only speaking from personal experience... no expert here.

    But remember when you first learned to ride a bike? It was hard, and could even be dangerous if not careful. There were rules (like where you were allowed to ride). There were curfews. There were safety issues... you used training wheels to help you in the beginning. You wore a helmet...

    So in the beginning, it WAS more rigid, for your own safety. Later as you got proficient and gained skill and confidence, you relaxed some of those rules. You went off on a spontaneous ride and just had fun. You learned, you got stronger, you enjoyed yourself... you get the idea.

    Not everyone can handle it all in the beginning. I couldn't. I know plenty of people with lots of food issues to work through that just can't have certain trigger foods in the house... not til later, when they are stronger.

    This is not forever. It's just for now. I didn't read that you were trying to change HIM, but that you were trying to change YOU, and just needed not to be pushed into situations that you didn't feel ready to handle.

    In time, you WILL be ready to handle anything, planned or spontaneous. That's a great thing to look forward to!

    Sorry... I warned you I was opinionated on this topic! LOL!

  6. I'm glad your talk went well. I'm so lucky. DH was naturally skinny and could eat any amount and never gain. Until he hit his late 40s. Then he gained about 30 pounds and was very unhappy. He's always exercised (run, biked, soccer) every day, but it couldn't stop the pounds. He has always encouraged my own exercise and weight loss efforts (38 years worth), and, at my request, went to WW with me in 2007. He reached lifetime after four months and has never been above his goal weight since then. He eats whatever I fix and, except for occasional encounters with handfuls of raisins or peanuts, doesn't eat off plan. A great example and very supportive. My #1 cheerleader. He lives the idea that the way I'm learning to exercise and eat is the way the two of us will exercise and eat, always. Yes, I'm so lucky.

  7. Oh, the tougher side of getting fit and eating healthy. It involves of course not just us, but those around us.

    These two lines speak to me:
    He is a normal eater with a normal appetite. He can do all of the above things with no obvious repercussions. He is NOT a healthy eater and does not share my passion for becoming one.

    What I would like to point out is "no repercussions," yet. Unfortunately, even if he is thin, there are other impacts to not eating healthy, as we are aware: increase in blood pressure, heart disease, even diabetes. Just because one is thin does not mean they are immune from other implications of not eating healthy. He should be careful...

  8. Well, Sharon, I'm not going to repeat what everyone else has said. All have good points--even Mark's comment about the power struggle.

    The first way to end a power struggle is not compromise, tho. :) If compromise were an easy thing for the two of you in this situation, it would have already happened. Compromise will happen second.

    What happens to end the power struggle before compromise seals the deal? YOU step out of it. Two people can not have a power truggle if one steps out of the ring. shrug. Simple as that.

    How do you step out of it? Well, you do not make him responsible for your choices. He is not the menu keeper... Other than that, you say no. You decide what you can eat and allow him to have what he wants, if you guys can't have the same meal.

    When he cooks (Wahoo!), if it's not exactly what you want--be a picky eater! Really. And have backup food. He doesn't need to be offended; you don't need to feel forced into something.

    Not "going along" doesn't mean that you're fighting against. It doesn't; it just feels that way. It doesn't even mean that you're not a team. :)

    It means that you're adults, walking side by side towards the same goal. That's a good thing. Being locked in combat or one knuckling under to the other--not so good.

    Sharon, remember, this is kind of new ground for you. It's not the first time you've lost weight, and you certainly don't have much to lose this time, but there seems to be a deeper look at what is behind the way you eat.

    Perhaps that is fueled by the fear that you've regained some weight and don't want to regain the rest.

    That is a valid fear. And needs a deeper look. You'll feel your way thru this. And by that time your husband will have adjusted, too. I suspect you will, indeed, meet in the middle.

    You will.


  9. Hi Sharon - To answer your question directly, my husband and I compromise.

    This mostly takes the form of trying new recipes. We each rate the dish 1 to 10, with anything 8, 9 or 10 getting on the "keep this and do it again" list.

    While hunting out the new stuff, we look for things that are healthy (for me), yet appealing to his tastes. So far, it has worked well, and after 7 or 8 recipes, we now have a good rotation (between those things, and the old standards we can fix either way).

    The end result is that he is happy, and we are both eating healthier (me a little more so than him, but I'm the one who needs to lose weight).

    When he just has to have that unhealthy thing, we go out. He orders what he wants, and I order healthy - so we are each satisfied. So far, it has worked for us.

    My husband, like yours, wants to know what he can do to help me (short of sacrificing his own tastes). This works for us. And I think it will get us through my weight loss journey just fine. On social occasions, I just let everyone do their thing, and I take care of my own needs. I've learned how to toughen myself against the temptations, mostly out of necessity. It is a skill I'll need one day, when I am in maintaining mode anyway.

    I know you'll find something that works for the two of you! Mr. B sounds like a good guy, and he has a terrific wife!! xxox

  10. What is a DH? I get the "H" for husband....

    As sweet as yours sounds, it would be hard to live with him! A normal eater!!

    Weight is a very sensitive subject in our house. My husband is on track to be as huge as his father, a man who can barely carry his own weight because it has worn his knees down so badly. I now weigh a few pounds less than when we got married. H weighs about 25-30 more. I always had a weight problem, I can tell you that I did not expect to marry one and thereby have two!!!

  11. No husband here, so not much advice. But Vickie has successfully gotten her whole family, including her husband to change their eating habits. You might pick up a few pointers from her blog:

    Also I wonder if he is interested at all in his health. He is at the age where things like cholesterol, stroke, heart disease etc. actually might become reality. Reading the Nutrition Action Health letter was a big motivating factor for me in this area.

  12. Hi, Sharon! There's an award for you on my blog. After all of the hard work you've done--and will continue to do--to search for answers, no one deserves this particular award more than you! :) Deb

  13. Sharon, I didn't read all of the comments but I did read Mark's and it rang a bell with me...I too have been controlling and I had to let it go (because it took over me and I wasn't a happy person to live with) -- and in that, I learned that it IS me that I have to control, not those around me. I have to live in "real life" and learn to make good decisions there. Not everyone embraces certain foods and that's their choice. And that's okay. I can make choices too, for my health, and although I don't want to step on everyone's toes when I do it, I can work around their choices and make my own choices. It has taken me a long time to relinquish this control and I think that's why I've struggled with successful weight loss over those years, however, I have also learned to let go and live in "real life". Sorry for the rambling, but I'm thinking out loud here! :) I used to panic when I wasn't in control of the menu, when I didn't know what food would be there etc., and now I just navigate around it all. I'm learning. Control is a nasty thing and it can wreak havoc. But I needed to work on that before I could really be successful with my weight loss.