You may remember a while ago I wrote a post on how I handle my disordered eating past and current struggles as a mother. This past week I shared a fantastic article that I found on the internet..if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it…What Family and Friends of Someone With An Eating Disorder Should Know. And before I go any further I just want to say my husband is amazing. I shared this article with him and asked that he read it, I’ve shared COUNTLESS books with him and asked him to read them…and he has he wants to do everything he can for me.
Before I even begin on my insight to dealing with an eating disorder as a wife, first and foremost if or when you are dating you MUST be open and transparent if you are struggling or have struggled with an eating disorder. I told Daniel the second I thought things were going to get even slightly serious between us of my past with this mental illness. Marriage is a forever relationship…if you don’t tell them about your eating disorder it is a major disrespect to them and to your relationship.
Once You are Married…Dealing with an Eating Disorder as a Wife
Ok so let’s say you told them and then you got married, yay! But now you are a year or a few years in and you may not be in the depths of your eating disorder but heck if you are like me that ‘voice’ is never going to completely shut up…so here are some lessons I’ve learned.
Tell him what you need
So many days I need to be told I am beautiful. That I am ok if I gain two pounds. I am strong. That I am not crazy because I hear ED. I love you, sometimes seriously I just need him to tell me that nonstop so I cannot lose focus on why I ignore ED when he starts to talk again. Remember though recovered for me ED never goes away completely, of course I have my good days and bad days but on those bad days I have to really FOCUS to stay clear of old habits.
The bottom line if you need to be told you are beautiful. Ask him to tell you. If you need to be told you aren’t fat. Ask him to tell you. A few months ago Daniel sat on the couch and asked what he could do to help after a particularly rough day. The first thing that came to my mind. Tell me you love me, tell me I’m gorgeous, tell me EVERYTHING that ED tells me I am not.
And some days you know what? You may not know what you need but you might just want someone there with you. That is ok too! Sometimes if I don’t have it in me to talk or truly don’t know what I need I just ask Dan to hold me. And he does. ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED!
Buy some lingerie
Yep, I’m going there! An important key to any healthy marriage is a strong and close intimate bond (since my mom reads I’m leaving it right there…but you know what I mean 😉 ). I know, I know if you struggle with body image you likely have nights or days where the last thing you want to do is to be intimate with your husband. Go buy some pretty lingerie, do it! It doesn’t have to be risque, doesn’t have to be expensive just go buy some. Put it on and see if it doesn’t make you feel more beautiful, more sexy, more loveable.
One of the struggles with body image is that you can feel unloveable, unwanted. Intimate relationships help to turn those thoughts down. I would encourage you to push through, get intimate even when your mentally just having a tough ED day. There may be days where you just can’t do it, and that’s ok to BE SURE TO SEE TIP #1. Be open with him and tell him you just need to not do it tonight!
Don’t be afraid
When we were first married I was so afraid to talk to Daniel about my eating disorder. Not sure exactly why. I wasn’t afraid he would leave me (or at least I don’t think I was). However, I was afraid even though we’d talked about my struggles that he’d think I was nutso. That he would somehow realize how tough it really was and that maybe those pre marriage conversations hadn’t really hit home. You CANNOT BE AFRAID. Remember this person promised to be with you through it all, sickness and health, death to us part, you know all that good stuff.
THEY WANT YOU TO TALK TO THEM, I promise! DON’T BE AFRAID!!! They won’t think you are lesser because of your struggles, I’m betting quite the opposite. They will be in awe at your strength.
Food, food, food!
You get married and your little comfort zone of controlling all your food seems to go out the window. They want you to make this, you want to eat this, you aren’t sure you can. I’ll put it this way, your husband loves you and he wouldn’t feed you or want you to eat ANYTHING that’d kill you. Kind of a basic thought but really think on it.
I totally get it, some days you just want won’t be able to ‘eat the food.’ And that is OK, tell him that! But also remember this just as intimate relations bring a couple together, I truly believe food brings you together too. So perhaps use this as an opportunity to introduce him to new foods, to push your limits if you still have struggles with eating ‘nonsafe’ foods. Have fun together in the kitchen or looking up recipes together!!
Crying. For me a good at least monthly, ok Dan yes I know many times more often, cry is REQUIRED. It is totally ok to breakdown. Whether the stress of work, motherhood, ED, whatever – crying and letting it out is ok. On those days where I just don’t know what I need from Dan, I find myself on his shoulder crying asking why I have to deal with this, why won’t it just all go away, and it is OK to breakdown IT IS TOTALLY OK AND TOTALLY HEALTHY!
I hope this insight is helpful and comforting to those who deal with any disordered eating thoughts. Daniel will be writing his own post on dealing with an eating disorder as a husband. Please, my prayer is these posts reach as many people as possible. Please, share with friends, family, loved ones…you might be surprised who eating disorders touch and effect right within your circle.