April 7, 2011 at 9:32 am | Posted in Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy), Heartbreak, My life | 17 Comments

J and I have been struggling lately.

We’ve fought over insignificant things, really.

But it was constant enough so that it was starting to feel like our marriage was littered with mines. Which would blow up whenever we weren’t paying attention.

In the midst of a therapy session, where I was describing how we had no real connection anymore, the thought struck me.

I was angry with J.

It took me a week of really THINKING about it to figure out why.

My husband has some of the most unhealthy habits around. He doesn’t drink water – his beverage of choice when he’s thirsty is diet soda. (And you know, because it’s DIET, he doesn’t think it’s bad for him.) His concept of portion control is sorely lacking – he thinks nothing of eating whatever he wants whenever he wants in whatever quantity he wants. Which he’s gotten away with for most of his life because he was a skinny kid and young adult.

Worse, though, is the fact that he’s actually wound tighter than I am. The man literally never relaxes; he always moves with a sense of low-grade stress about his 50 page to-do list.

I force him to go to bed every night because he can’t unwind; even if he feels tired, he forces himself to do more tasks because he wants to get it all done.

He’s had high blood pressure since high school but has only been on medication for it for the past 10 years. Even medicated, his BP is usually in the ‘hypertension’ range.

And I am nearly positive I felt this way 5 years ago when we were doing treatments, where I had hope that yes, I would get pregnant:

I am pissed that I am not important enough for my husband to take CARE of himself.

It’s worse now. I’ve found myself REALLY angry a lot when he reaches for the soda after he’s been working in the yard and I know he’s thirsty.

And it wasn’t until I was talking with my therapist that I realized that I was not really angry with J.

It’s grief.

I am deeply, deeply angry with my aunt.

40 years ago, my grandfather had his first heart attack at the age of 45. After triple bypass surgery, his heart was weakened enough that he had issues for years. He did live into his 70s, but he still died too young for me.

30 years ago, my grandmother died suddenly, at age 63, of a stroke.

And all three of their daughters, including my mother, are overweight, with age-onset diabetes and high blood pressure.

I mean, it doesn’t take an medical degree to realize that Judy’s risk of suffering the same fate was sky fucking high.

And that’s just what happened. At age 62.

She should have KNOWN better. We know SO much more than we did three decades ago.

She should have made it her goal to take care of HERSELF as well as the others in her life. But she ignored her health and focused on everyone else.

And now she’s gone. Far too fucking soon.


And I suppose the anger at my husband is because I’m scared he’s a walking time bomb, too. I want him to love me enough that he makes his health a priority.

Because I don’t give a shit if there are dishes in the sink overnight.

I DO, however, care a LOT about whether or not he’ll be around to enjoy our retirement in 30 years.

(And the irony of being angry at my husband because I want him to be LESS stressed out is not lost on me, by the way. :))



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  1. Went to send you an email and saw that you had posted 44 seconds prior to my checking, so I thought I’d respond here first.

    First: have you told your husband this? Not screaming at him to exercise more or eat less or that he’s fat or that he needs to relax? My husband for 7 of the past 10 years together has been overweight and unhealthy. I tried a variety of approaches to get him to change. Trying to get him to be active with me. Making only healthy meals for us at home. Nagging him. Refusing him sex. Telling him he was unattractive to me because of the weight. Crying that I wanted him to be a healthy father. Telling him this wasn’t what I signed up for: that I wanted a healthy, active spouse and he was no longer that person. And, you know what I did that changed this? Nothing. 1.5 years ago he decided he wanted to get in shape. Joined crossfit. Started working out 3x a week. Went on a paleo diet (and still does some form of it) and lost 20 lbs.

    We can’t change the people we love. We can’t make them take better care of themself. All we can do is tell them that we love them and we want them to take better care of themselves and support them if they decide to change. And, accept them for who they are.

    It’s a hard, cold truth. We can’t change people. We can just love them the way they are. WHICH IS WAY HARDER.

  2. I have that exact same problem. But Aaron isn’t skinny. He father had a stroke at 60 and can’t speak or walk. His father identical twin has type 2 diabetes and had a heart attack at 62. And Aaron looks actally like them. I joke that Aaron will die at sixty and I’m prepping myself for it… but I’m not really joking – you know what I mean? It’s awful.

    On the other hand, Aaron doesn’t drink or smoke – but it’s just so frustrating that he thinks that working 70 hours a week is normal, and his idea of working out is doing chores aroudn the house on the weekend…. and green vegtables? Huh!? What are those? And he thinks that diet ice tea is fine to drink ALL THE TIME.

    Would you like to get in on the co-op I’m planning on creating for my retirement? No men. Either one big house with a lot of room, or a little plot of land with a bunch of smalls houses….

    Obviously I don’t have a solution. I try to nag and his answer is that white rice tastes better. Or I didn’t have lunhc, I have have a PINT OF ICE CREAM. And when he goes to the doc, the doc tells him he is in great shape.

  3. Oh – and I continue to vent. Do his parents tell YOU things he should change? That pisses me off to. Aaron is a full grown adult, and I hate it that as the wife, I’m expected to deal with taking care of HIM along with two kids. Shouldn’t they recognize that their health is a priority?

    I think I’ve either said this in comments or on my blog – but someone wrote on aanother blog that it’s a heck of a lot better to refuse a dessert or go for a walk then to spend your retirement in the doctors office because you couldn’t take a little bit of time to care for yourself.

  4. I can certainly understand your fears and frustrations, and it’s good to encourage J to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, but you also have to learn to accept people for who they are. The idea of having control over your life is somewhat of an illusion, and unfortunate health issues can crop up even for those who’ve lead very healthy lives. Acceptance of others is easier said than done, but it’s a good goal.

  5. Men are awesome like that. Heck, it took three trips to the ER before my husband would even ULTRASOUND his gallbladder, and that waiting ended us up in the hospital in a blizzard 7m pregnant. So, yeah. Good times.

    I hope that J can see that you’re just worried about him because you CARE about him. Meanwhile…do you do the shopping? Can you just BUY him LESS pop, or will he go get it himself? My husband would be unlikely to go to the store…. Just a thought! LOL

  6. You have no idea how much I can relate to this. My husband and I used to get into blowouts over McDonalds. MCDONALDS! Especially when we were trying to conceive. It killed me that I was so overly concerned with my body, and he just didn’t care. He’d go hit up the drive thru at least twice and week. It took a trip to the emergency room for a kidney stone and several trips to the doctor about his stomach issues to change his tune. He no longer drinks caffeinated soda, I MAKE him eat healthy dinners during the week, and he now knows that going to fast food joints for lunch only creates a firestorm in our house. Junk every once in a blue moon is okay, but I’d like him to live past 50 rather than enjoy a Big Mac twice a week in his 30s.

  7. As someone who is overweight and doesn’t exercise myself, I can tell you that it often feels like a choice between enjoying my life *now* and spending my life preparing for something I might or might not be able to affect later. Like giving up my free time to study for a test that I may or may not have to take years from now. That’s never felt like a fair trade-off. I have no idea whether J sees it that way or not, but I’m pretty sure he’s not doing it out of not caring for you.

    Like Kate said, you can’t make someone change habits like this. Maybe someday he will change his mind, or maybe he could agree to change one thing for you (the diet soda?). If you’ve already talked to him about some of these habits, though, it’s going to be hard to try to bring it up in a way that’s open and nonjudgmental. I think being able to accept that his unhealthy decisions are really not about you would go a long way. Easier said than done, I know.

  8. Serenity, this is breaking my heart. I probably should just keep my mouth shut, but I have been learning a lot about myself lately and we’re a lot a like. I’m Type A, I’m a control freak, I’m a 1st born that always wants things to work the way I want them. I’ve been that way since birth and part of me always will be. The reality is that things don’t go my way simply because that is the way I want them to go!

    I know you want to change your husband and I know you want him to be around forever, but YOU can not control HIM. You can lovingly make suggestions, but you can’t walk around ANGRY at everything because it isn’t going the way you want it. Seriously, if I didn’t make a concerted effort everyday to control my anger I probably would have killed someone by now. It has taken me a very long time to learn that the only person I can change or control is me. It isn’t easy to let that go and most days I have an internal struggle with the need to control and the need to let other people make their own decisions. I know his health should be a priority. You need to let him know that you want him around and healthy and then put it in his hands. Being angry isn’t changing a damn thing!

    I’m in a totally different situation than you and have had to start making these changes because I wasn’t getting anywhere wallowing in my self-pity and anger. I have something that I carry with me everyday and I’m going to copy and paste a few passages. I hope it helps

    Just for today: I will try to live through this day only,
    and not tackle all my problems at once.
    I can do something for twelve hours that
    would appall me if I felt that I had to
    keep it up for a lifetime.

    Just for today: I will be happy. This
    assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said,
    *Most folks are as happy as they make up their
    minds to be.*

    Just for today: I will adjust myself to what is,
    and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will
    Take my *luck* as it comes, and fit myself into it

    Just for today: I will be un-afraid.
    Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what
    is beautiful,and to believe that as I give to the
    world, so the world will give back to me.

    Serenity, I care a lot about you and don’t want to see you so hurting!

  9. I know what your husband is doing isn’t as bad as smoking but it reminded me of my situation. 3 of my grandparents died of smoking related conditions. I couldnt take him smoking anymore so i accepted his proposal but I told him I would not marry him if he didn’t quit. My grandmother on her death bed (literally) begged him to quit. She had never even smoked, it was from second hand. I told him i loved him too much to watch him slowly slowly kill himself. He quit for good a year later. That was 7 years ago. He judges everyone that smokes now & tries to get his friends & family to quit. His sister got so annoyed that actually got into an argument over it (they quickly made up). I hope things get better.

  10. I hope that you can tell him … because your anger comes from a place of love …

  11. I love that you figured out where the anger was coming from. It’s important to understand why we feel a certain way. Understand why, process it, and move on. Accept the feeling and move on, don’t hold it inside and let it seep out over insignicant things.

    Kudos to you Serenity!

  12. I think you are rightfully angry at J because you fear he will leave you too soon. And it is a valid fear. But, I’m afraid if you associate his love for you (or for O) with his willingness (or non-willingness) to change his habits, it will make him more resistant to change. I don’t know J, of course, beyond what you post here, but he sounds a lot like my husband and I know that is the way my husband would react. He is the type that needs to decide himself that he needs to change, not be made to feel guilty or obligated into it. But! If he can realize making his health a priority means a longer and probably happier life for not only himself but for me and for our son, then he is more likely to listen to what I have to say. I’m just throwing this out there not knowing if this applies to J or not, but it’s what came to mind reading your post.

  13. Honestly, I think sometimes men are just really dumb and/or in denial about their health. I’ve always been really good about going for a physical every year, and Q. NEVER goes. I started to really bug him about this when he turned thirty, and then we had this conversation every few months for a couple of years:
    Me: I really think you should go to get a physical done.
    Q.: But I feel fine!
    Me: Ok, granted, but you should have a baseline of blood tests that show what your normal is so the doctors will be able to tell if anything ever changes.
    Q.: *mutters something. Manifestly does not see a doctor.*

    Then we figured out that Q was underinsured. And since we were pregnant, that spurred him on a little. Not enough though. But we were at the midwives for an appointment one week and he got them to check his blood pressure…and it was borderline hypertension.

    The next day he was in at the doctor’s for a full physical. When he told her he’d never had bloodwork done, she ran every check she could think of. He ended up wearing a blood pressure monitor for a 24 hour period, and ultimately it turned out he’s absolutely fine, except that going to work makes him stressed (I shudder to think of what his blood pressure was in the year past when he had to finish his monograph).

    The point of my rambling is that nothing I said to Q. made any speck of difference. Not pointing out that I go for my physicals. Not explaining to him how stressed and worried I was about my mother and stepfather (who do not currently lead very healthy lives). Not fretting about the fact that his father died in his fifties.

    In the end, it was only the abnormal reading of his blood pressure that got him to go. And then he did take it really seriously. But now that he’s been given a clean bill of health? I doubt he’ll be heading for that physical again next year.

    I’m not in your situation- Q. eats really well and he manages his stress SO much better than I do. But I really do think when it comes to men and their health, they have to make up their minds to change. Nothing we say to them matters (my mother once threatened to refuse to go for her mammogram unless my stepfather went and saw the doctor…it worked that time, but then he gave himself type 2 diabetes by going off his pre-diabetes medication without telling anyone because he ‘felt better’.)

    Hugs. I’m sorry you’re angry and hurting.

  14. Boy, do I get this. My father in law had a heart attack at 57. This past summer, at 65, he had quadruple bypass surgery. This past December, at my son’s 3rd birthday lunch at the diner, he ate, no lie a reuben dripping with grease because instead of bread, it was in between two fried potato pancakes. You cannot make this up. As a result, I am regularly commenting on my husband’s diet and lifestyle, and frankly, begging him to make sure he doesn’t turn into his father. I love him too much not to.

  15. It sounds like you’re getting a lot out of the therapy. It’s not easy to come to terms with the ways in which our loved ones’ not-so-great choices affect our lives.

    I’ve come to realization that the best I can do for my family is encourage us to do active things together on the weekends (often nothing more strenuous than a walk in a new place) and put healthy meals on the table and hope some good habits stick here and there. Because while it might sound nice in theory to have my husband honor my every request, I don’t really want to be his keeper.

    Maybe you could send J over here and B could teach him how to relax, and J could teach B how to be a little more helpful around the house? We just can’t let them talk about how much they drink diet soda ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. I tried to post comment on clarify post, but did not work…

    I totally relate to your post. My husband’s father died at 51 of a heart attack. My husband and I are both overweight. Until recently, I was the only one trying to DO anything about it. His recent oral surgery was part of his new found need to try to be better/healthier; another was getting his ADHD diagnosed and medicated. Once our life (hopefully) settles into a new routine–I hope to get back to working on the eating healthier! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hopefully, J can understand a little better why you are trying to keep him here longer…

  17. I worry about John, but less than I used to, because on the cholesterol meds his blood work is amazing. I hate him, because I want him to put down the sugary stuff and lose 10 lbs, or 20. But then again, so do I…I have HBP, I am about 20lbs overweight right now, and I always reach for diet soda…always. I hate water, it triggers a migraine and while the 2 weeks I would need to make my body adjust would be fine I don’t want to do it, I want that diet coke. So I understand J…I did. My dad died of his Heart attack at 52 and I worry…but I also know that my cholestrol is fine, (His was NOT) and I know that the fibromyalgia means a slow down for me no matter what. I am having a terrible flare after a vigurous weekend , just all that walking and holding the kids. I hate it, I hate my body and I hate this disease that I never signed up for after IVF. SO I get it.

    I don’t want to die, leave my kids, etc. I worry every time I get a migraine, or have a flare…that I won’t be here and my kids will grow up to blog about me, losing their mom too young. SO I understand.

    I don’t know what to say to you about J, you love him, you want what’s best for him and your family. Maybe just try to say that with the love you feel. I know that I’d listen. He will too.

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