Q: My wife needs to lose weight. It's really for her health, but she doesn't look very attractive in the floppy tee shirts and sweat pants she always wears. She doesn't want to buy new clothes because she is planning on "losing weight."
If I bring up the fact that she needs to go on a diet, she gets really mad or hurt. If she asks me if she looks pretty, I don't want to lie so I say she looks OK, or she's looked better. I don't know how to motivate her to go on a diet. She is a beautiful woman and would look so much better if she lost weight. I bring home healthy food when I can, but it doesn't stop her from going to the donut shop on her own. What should I do?
A: It's a tough place to be in when you are concerned about your wife's health. However, the way you are trying to motivate her to change is probably just making matters worse.
When you point out the negative, of course it just makes her feel bad. To soothe her hurt feelings she turns to food.
The issue of telling a spouse a white lie, such as, "of course you look beautiful, you always do" when asked, "How do I look?" goes back a long time. In fact, they say the story about telling a white lie to protect your spouse's feelings goes back to one from the Bible, where God told 96-year-old Sarah that she would have a baby within a year with her husband of 99 years, Abraham.
Sarah laughed and said to God, "That old geezer? Forgetaboutit!! " Abraham heard her laughing with God in the next room and asked God what was going on. God said to Abraham, "Oh, Sarah was laughing because I told her she was going to have a baby and she said, "Me? I'm too old!" God changed the story to save Abraham's ego. If he told the truth to Abraham, that Sarah thought he was an old geezer incapable of fathering children, Abraham would be hurt and not want to go near Sarah.
The moral of the story is that it is alright to tell little white lies when the purpose is to protect the feelings and ego of a loved one. This does not include keeping big secrets, such as a gambling problem or infidelity, so don't get carried away with the permission.
The best policy is to continue to focus on the positive aspects of your wife's personality and appearance. The more activities you can do with her, such as walking or bike riding will strengthen your companionship, help her soothe her emotions and burn up some energy.
Offering to cook healthy meals and having healthy snacks around is also useful.
Many women, upon reaching middle age, are not ready for the decrease in metabolism that comes with it. For every year of life, we have to cut back from 50 or more calories a day just to stay even.
Experts say an hour of exercise a day helps maintain weight, and an hour and a half helps lose weight.
Most people are not aware of how difficult it is to lose and maintain a weight loss. Be a support, as best you can.
Janet Hibel has a diplomate in counseling psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (561) 694- 6703.