December 16, 2010 at 10:00 am , by Jennifer Castoro
While this may seem only slightly holiday-related, I think it’s ideal for the season, mostly because I’ve eaten more cookies than a human being should ingest in a year. Plus some pie. And possibly some sweets containing mint. Don’t judge.
Whether holiday weight gain is a myth or a reality, it sure seems real! And in this marriage, it’s real for Sherry, an overweight 31-year-old homemaker and mother of a toddler. She’s married to Mark, a stockbroker who’s no skinny minnie himself and who makes snide comments about his wife’s eating habits. (You can read the original article here.)
Sherry: She’s angry about his obsessing over her size and his constant criticisms. He also freaks out when she lets their daughter eat something less-than-healthy. She wants to lose weight but has never been able to and is annoyed that he feels so free to critique since, in her words, he’s no Brad Pitt. A chubby kid, Sherry felt as though she was a total disappointment to her parents, who also constantly commented on her size despite the fact that they left her brother, also overweight, alone. And they were contradictory: Her mother would make Sherry fried cheese and bacon sandwiches, then make rude comments after she ate them. Mark pushes other buttons, too, accusing her of not keeping the house clean enough, not cooking him dinner and not cleaning his shirts. She also feels trapped being a mom and has no one to turn to to talk about it.
Mark: He thinks he’s being helpful, not hateful, when he comments on Sherry’s weight struggles. He knows he’s husky, too, and that’s why he’s concerned: Mark’s father died at a young age from preventable weight-related issues, and he’s terrified of the same thing happening to himself and Sherry. His family is very close and affectionate, and he thinks Sherry isn’t affectionate enough. He liked her as soon as he met her, in their 20s, but he didn’t realize how reserved she can be. He interprets her leaving the house messy or not cooking dinner or cleaning his clothes as saying she doesn’t love him. He’s just trying to help Sherry change her ways when he remarks about her size, and he thinks she takes it the wrong way.
The counselor: Mark had valid comments and good intentions but didn’t realize he said things in a hurtful way. And Sherry reacted negatively to criticism of any kind, especially since she’d gotten such mixed messages as a kid. Because her family wasn’t close, Sherry filled the void with food while simultaneously holding in all her anger and sadness. They both also expected the other to be a mind-reader, not telling each other how they really felt and keeping silent. Sherry’s treatment involved her letting out her fears and worries about being a mom, which helped immensely because she’d never expressed those thoughts before. And Mark’s related to his family: Because they were so involved with each other, he had no boundaries and became overinvolved in his wife’s struggles as a means of showing his love. Mark focused less on Sherry’s issues and more on his own, and when he did, they both lost weight. Sherry went back to work part-time, which boosted her self-esteem, and Mark finally let out his anger towards his father for leaving the family so early. The couple got back on track and had another baby, a son, and Sherry got to work on the baby weight right away.
What do you think? Was Mark just being mean or was he acting out of concern? Did Sherry respond badly because she was ashamed of her weight? Have you ever faced a similar issue in your marriage?
Photo courtesy of Marshall Astor.