My Big Fat First Wedding

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Tears and Changes

We saw five marriage therapists in seven years. Finally I broached the issue of my weight with Carol, our last counselor. How could he not desire me, I asked, weeping, when I'd given him two children he treasured so much?

Carol, a size two on a fat day, nodded her sage therapist's nod and turned to Robert. "You know, many men would find your wife sexually attractive precisely because she looks so...," and here she scrambled for the perfect word before continuing, "maternal." She might as well have slapped me. Hell, Carol, I wanted to scream, why not just say "matronly"?

Still, Carol convinced me that if losing weight could save my marriage, I should give it a go. I joined a gym, a cavernous place with a smoothie bar and gleaming equipment. As I walked to nowhere on the treadmill I wondered if I'd really be happier if I were thinner.

Would Robert want to have sex with me; would we stay married 50 years; would our children get into Ivy League colleges? Unlikely. On the other hand, what if being thin had everything to do with happily-ever-after?

Week after week I walked until my leg muscles burned. I managed to lose 10 pounds but nothing else changed. Robert still wasn't begging to see me naked. And I still longed for him to want me in every sense of the word, emotionally, spiritually and, yes, physically.

In the end, after two separations and gallons of tears, Robert and I divorced. It was the most painful and the most wonderful thing we ever did for each other. With sex out of the equation, he and I became what we should have been all along: good friends.

I missed Robert. I missed being married. But a funny thing happened after my divorce: I relaxed. Without someone monitoring every morsel, I stopped needing to eat everything in sight. And once I began dating men who were actually pursuing me, rather than the other way around, I (almost) stopped caring that I could no longer fit into a size 8. Or even a 10, some days.

I focused on work, kids, and friends, and pretty soon I was married again. My second husband, Tim, isn't a graceful athlete like Robert, but a thoughtful software engineer, a geek god who's as enthusiastic about my body as he is about my mind. I am still not thin, all these years later, but I'm thinner than when I was married to Robert. Now I eat because I love food and because Tim is a great cook, not because I'm lonely. I exercise not because my husband tells me I should, but because I discovered tennis, which has become an unexpected addiction. I am not angular, but fit and healthy.

Continued on page 4:  Starting Over


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