My husband wants me to weigh 115 lbs at 5’8″ and I keep trying to do it because i am afraid not to. This weight issue has existed since we were married in 1973. We have had an abnormal relationship through the births of 5 children. I left him numerous times during my middle thirties when my daughters were teens. I wanted them to know that this was abnormal behavior and explained everything to them so they would know that it was wrong and that I was trying to get away from this treatment. He was abusive physically, verbally and mentally. My problem was that I couldn’t raise my kids by myself. I was in the projects and they started to get into trouble. So I went back to him. In addition, I still loved him and he was promising to change. He worked hard to change. He stopped threatening me and worked hard to stop the abuse. He even worked to stop making me feel bad if I gained weight but he ended up trying in other ways and eventually manipulated me into dieting again. I eventually gave up fighting it. I realize he is suffering with mental illness. I am too. I know I must be sick to live like this. I just don’t want either of us to hurt. I am scared and tired. Right now my weight is 123 lbs and he is telling me how overweight I am and pressuring me to start dieting. He wants me to be around 110 to 115 lbs. I know this is sick but I am really tired of the fight.

A: I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this for such a long time — more than four years! The core problem, of course, is that the subtitle in this relationship is that he won’t love you less you lose weight. Good relationships don’t work like this.┬áThis is called a condition of worth. It means that unless you meet the standards he has said you feel unlovable. This is unacceptable. No one should have that much influence over your well-being.

Stop trying. This is the only way out of this loop. The moment you try to lose weight to please him you lose yourself. It means that you believe you’re not lovable until you lose the weight. It is time to do something for yourself, if you want to, not for him.

This is a vicious cycle. He won’t accept you — and the more you try to win his approval the worse you feel about yourself and then the harder you try again. Stop trying. This is a time in your life when you need to nurture yourself. Find ways to take care of you mentally, physically and socially — don’t let your husband’s pathology become yours.

Wishing you patience and peace,

Dr. Dan
Proof Positive
Blog @ PsychCentral