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Monday, March 23, 2009


by Jean

How to tell if your spouse really accepts him or herself - and if he or she doesn't, how to bring the subject up.

I stepped on the scale yesterday and saw that I was sixty-nine pounds down – only twelve more to go to get to my goal weight!  Yahoo!  Hmm…how best to mark this achievement?  Well, there was one thing I needed to do that I’d been putting off: packing up those clothes that are now impossibly big for me and delivering them to the church donation bin. 

I admit that this is something I’ve been putting off, for a couple of reasons: first, I was scared.  What if I get fat again?  But this is a defeatist attitude that my COE support group encourages us to leave behind.  Do your damn-level-best to NEVER get fat again, to NEVER let food control your life again.  Let the clothes go!  The other reason has to do with my cheapskate nature.  Losing another twelve pounds will put me down another size, so I really don’t want to go out and buy new clothes until I’m where I should be.  I mean, what’s the point of getting new clothes now, if they’re only going to be too large in a few months?

As it turns out, though, I don’t have to.  I went through my closet and found a number of garments I’d been holding on to – enough outfits leftover from my “pre-fat” days to see me through to my goal.  Surveying the new pile on my bed, waiting to be washed, ironed, and put back into circulation, pleased me.  But it also made me realize something.

Frustrated spouses post on this site because they don’t get support elsewhere.  A common complaint seems to be that they are “flamed,” or attacked for their attitudes, and told that they should “accept your spouse as he/she is.”

Accepting people for who they are is a good thing to do, yes.  But does your spouse accept herself as she is?  If not, should you be expected to do so?

Your spouse may claim to accept herself as she is, but there is a way to see if she really means it – and if she doesn’t mean it, then you have a great opening for bringing up the issue: just look in her closet.

I’m serious.  Look in your spouse’s closet and check if there are outfits in there that you haven’t seen her wear in years…outfits she CAN’T wear anymore, because she’s “outgrown” them.  If there are, you then have the opening you seek: ask her whether or not she accepts herself the way she is, and if so, why is she holding onto those size ten jeans when she’s been wearing eighteens for at least a year?

I don’t about men, but that’s a hard thing for a woman to do.  My mother had a “two-year rule” – that is, if you haven’t worn the article of clothing in at least two years, chances are you never will again, so you might as well get rid of it.  Now there are exceptions to this rule, of course: timeless formal outfits that you don’t wear too often, but are good to have on hand for special occasions are one; seasonal clothing that weird weather hasn’t permitted you to wear is another. 

A year ago, my closet was populated with clothing I couldn’t get into: pants that about cut me in half if I tried to fasten them, blouses that strained the buttons across the bust, tops with short sleeves that cut into the meat of my upper arms.  But that timeless silk blouse went perfectly with that tweed skirt; those faded jeans were my favorites for hanging around the house on rainy days; that sweater was one I work on my first date with Shep; and he could hardly keep he hands off me when I work that tank top.  Not to mention all those beautiful things he got me last Christmas – he has great taste.

 More than that, though, getting rid of my “thin” clothes seemed like an admission of defeat.  To do so would have been like saying, “I will never lose the weight.  I will always be fat.  I am trapped in this obese, unhealthy body.  I will always be this out-of-control person that I have become.”

 Not a pleasant prospect.  So instead, I did what many fat women do: I put those clothes toward the back, vowing to get back into them “someday.”  Then I bought a few, cheap outfits that actually fit to “see me through” until “someday” happened.  I didn’t want to spend money on myself as I was, so I quit having my hair done, using that expensive perfume my mother gave me for my birthday, and neglected the state of my nails.  I think that’s probably how a lot of obese people begin to get into the habit of “letting themselves go” – it’s not that they’ve given up, but that they’re biding their time.

 “Someday” doesn’t just come, though – you have to make it happen.  So ask your spouse - what are you waiting for?  If you truly accept yourself as you are, give these clothes away to someone who needs them.  If not, let's tackle this problem so you - we - don't have to deal with it anymore.

 Don't wait.

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