My husband is very overweight and always has to have something in his hands or mouth, i have tried to talk to him, with no luck. He used to be a smoker, he is now very overweight due to his obsession with eating. Not only is it embarassing, but not healthy, he has sleep apena, there is a history of stroke . His mother had one at 56 & she was overweight also. It is very draining, I dont know how to bring this up, he gets very angry and defensive. I run an addiction recovery program thru my church, and he really would benefit from it, but I dont know how to approach him, as he gets very defensive and is in denial that he has a problem. HELP !! What do I do?? It is affecting our relationship.

A: As an addictions specialist, you know that you can’t make your husband pay attention to his eating disorder. He may now be so defensive about it, that he just can’t hear it from you. He may also feel that you are trying to control him and continues the behaviors to show you that he will be in charge of himself. That kind of stubbornness is unfortunate but there is nothing to be gained from pointing it out to him.

All you can do is tell him that you love him and that you don’t want to be a young widow. Then leave it alone. He has to decide for himself that he wants to make changes in his lifestyle.

To keep yourself in balance, I suggest you read up on the tools that Al-anon teaches the partners and families of alcoholics. By learning to lovingly detach from the other person’s addictions, partners can take care of themselves and stop doing things that inadvertently enable the behaviors. There are Al-anon family meetings all over the UK. Do a websearch to find one near you. You might also check out http://www.b-eat.co.uk/Home, the website for the eating disorders association in the UK. They too have meetings and resources for families.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Addictions counselor is frustrated with husband’s eating disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/19/addictions-counselor-is-frustrated-with-husbands-eating-disorder/