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Advice | Ask Damon: My husband blames me for his poor hygiene and weight gain


Hi Damon: My husband has given up and he blames me. We both gained a lot of weight after getting married and having a baby, but I’ve been doing things to make myself feel better and still look my best. We also live very happily: nice cars, nice place, good jobs, healthy baby. I am happy minus wishes I were thinner. On the other hand, he no longer takes care of himself. He won’t take a shower, won’t brush his teeth, eat until he throws up, and blames me for not being able to exercise. He says he can’t do it when I’m home but he gets mad when I leave home without him. I have had countless conversations with him about my concerns about his health and how it will affect our family. He just blames me for everything. I should encourage him to eat better. I should encourage him to train. But when I do these things he gets mad and tells me all the flaws I have. He also throws in my face all the things he does to take care of our child, as if being a present father should earn an extra favor.

When does enough become enough? I’ve tried for so long to be the good, supportive woman, and now I’m angry and I want better for myself. But how am I supposed to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves, but expects me to magically make everything better?

The good woman?: So here’s an obvious answer: if you’re extremely unhappy with your husband’s behavior, attitude, and hygiene, and it’s been an ongoing pattern, and you’ve tried repeatedly to help him, and he refuses ( and criticizes) you, then you must leave. If you make an effort, it hasn’t been reciprocated and you’re exhausted, there’s no reason to stay.

Some people may encourage you to stay for the sake of the baby. I’m not one of those people. In fact, I think you should leave for the sake of the baby. An “intact” family doesn’t matter if the house is plagued with resentment and contempt.

That said, I am curious about the concept of responsibility. If a loved one is experiencing obvious mental or emotional distress, are we obligated to stay with it? Better yet, how long will that obligation last? You were unclear in your letter about how long you have been married. Which is important, because there is a difference between a year of this behavior and 10 years.

Do you have a question for Damon? Submit it here or email askdamon@washpost.com.

I’m not a doctor (obviously) so I can’t diagnose him, but your husband seems to be showing signs of deep depression. The lack of hygiene and binge eating are most telling. You said you both have good jobs and good pay, so I assume he works from home. (I can’t imagine anyone in a well-paid office job going days or weeks without brushing their teeth and keeping that job.) It’s possible that the sedentary nature of his workday, plus the existential shift that comes with having a child with entails, plus, you know, the raging pandemic we’re still in may have contributed to his malaise, his weight gain, his apparent lack of self-esteem, and his anger.

But you tried to involve him. Tried to encourage him. I was tempted to ask if he’s considered therapy. Maybe you’re just ill-equipped to help him, and it seems like he’s at a point where a mental health professional is the best (and only) option. But you can’t force him to do that, and I’m not confident that a man who refuses to comply with your request to take a regular shower, and also tries to insult you when you offer to help him, will act at your insistence listen. that he see a therapist.

I’m not usually a fan of ultimatums, but if you want to give him more time, tell him this: “If you don’t find a therapist by February (or any other set time) — or even let me help you find one — I leave. However, I think you have fulfilled your obligation. If you want to leave now, you should.

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