Wife resents husband prioritizing his training over her health

Posted9/29/2019 6:00 AM

Q. My husband and I have three kids, 10, 8 and 1 (who was a surprise but is such a blessing). I gained a lot of weight in this last pregnancy. I am in my 40s and had a hard time with my pregnancy emotionally.

My husband dismissed all of my concerns. He basically said to get over it. I think I have some postpartum depression now, but he said it's been a year and I need to get over that, too.


I am overall healthy but need to lose some more weight and need to get my cholesterol in check. My husband has spent this past year training for a half-Ironman competition. I work full time and I am the one who basically takes care of the kids. He works full time, too, and does coach the kids' soccer teams but uses this as a way to work out as well.

I just find him to be so incredibly selfish. I am desperately trying to lose this baby weight -- I have 10 more to go and then another 15 to get back to my old size -- and get healthy per doctor's orders. He will leave early in the morning to exercise and I have no idea when he is coming back. I am often left to make camp/school lunches, get kids ready, etc. He will sometimes take them in the mornings if he is back in time. It is the same on weekends.

I just want to do a 25-minute exercise tape, but he says I should be doing that while I have a babysitter. We have a babysitter for when I am at work. I need that time to commute to my office and actually work. I am also still pumping twice a day, so time is stretched. I often have to work at night after kids are asleep, and quite frankly I don't love working out at night. My job is incredibly stressful as well.

Do you have any suggestions? How can I stop crying all the time or getting so upset and angry because I am so frustrated with him? He isn't going to change, so I need to change myself. How can I change myself to stop having this deep resentment toward him? I welcome any tips.

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A. Well wait a second. It sounds like his you-need-to-get-over-it-ism has wormed its way into your soul.

"How can I change myself to stop having this deep resentment"? WHA?

That's just ... no.

No, no, no.

I get -- and have long helped to preach -- the whole you-can't-make-other-people-change gospel. But that doesn't mean you're stuck and your only choice is to brainwash yourself into believing a crap sandwich is caviar.

What our inability to change others means is that we're all choosing from a set of options limited to what we control -- but they are options nonetheless.

You can, for example, please, give yourself the love, care, support and respect your husband has failed to. Talk to your doctor, find a compassionate therapist, take your postpartum symptoms seriously, because they are serious stuff.


You can also state your case plainly to your husband: "You leave to train every morning while I do all the kid stuff, and you won't cover me for a 25-minute video? To treat two legitimate health issues? That's just wrong." If his MO is to dismiss your feelings, then make him dismiss your facts.

Likewise, you can also take general note of the hours he trains per week while you care for the kids; ask him for generally equal time per week to tend to your needs; believe in your right to have that; stand your ground.

You can stop saying you have a sitter for when "I am" at work, and make that an unflinching, "we are."

You can wean, if you're ready.

You can reach out to people you trust to care about you. Family, friends, mere acquaintances, strangers even, fellow parents -- you'll recognize the good ones. They're the people who hear you're an over-40 third-time new mom who is torn up over 25 pounds and will say to you, "Hey, hey. You're taking care of the world. Be patient with yourself."

You can stop weighing your worth on a scale.

You can look into your finances and career prospects and rethink this stressful job.

You can talk to an attorney.

You have agency. Use it.

I realize you're burning all your fuel just to get through the days, but even if you have to take a workday off while the babysitter is on, give yourself a break and a really good think, and open yourself to the possibility of real change on your terms. Here, there, on the margins, at the heart of everything, wherever it needs to be.

The universe is going to say no to some of the things you want from life; that doesn't mean you should race it to be first to deny yourself all but your barest needs.

• Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 11 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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