National Eating Disorders Association

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Wife controls me, I've had to leave

I am a 25 year old Woman, married to my female partner for 18 months. We dated for two years before getting married, everything was really good. I knew that she liked to "eat healthy" and enjoyed cooking - so did I, how wonderful!
In the last six months, she has become more and more restricted about which foods are "safe" and "unsafe". It all theoretically made sense, but as time went on it was out of hand. At the same time, she was very restrictive about which brands of other foods we could buy. If we were shopping together, she would say "pick up some X" and I would, then she'd check the label and select a different brand. If I couldn't remember which brand we were "supposed" to buy, I would just stop picking up food.
Both of us dropped in weight, and I began to crave "bad" foods. I would stop on the way home from work and buy something to eat, because I was so hungry. I felt very guilty about this, as I knew she wouldn't approve, but the hunger was overwhelming. She knew how much I was eating, and would say she could smell the bad food on me (I don't think she really could, because she wasn't consistent and would accuse me of eating bad food when I hadn't been). I became more secretive, washing my hands and face. Yet, I was still losing weight - though my BMI never dropped to "underweight". I was frustrated as my clothes were too loose, and I had been happy with my body. Now I was hungry and guilty all the time, my clothes looked bad and I felt very alone. She was also very evangelical about her choices, so that if we met with friends food was all she would talk about, dominating the conversation and making it impossible for other people to talk. If we were arranging to meet a group of people she'd want me to ask them ahead of time whether they were eating/ what they might order. When I refused, she'd be very upset and cry.
After a few straight nights of fighting a few weeks ago, and me telling her about the cravings I was feeling and that I couldn't keep eating the way she was eating, I left to stay with a friend. I've seen her a few nights since, and she's dropped to significantly underweight (she was always boarderline). At her house a few nights about I came around to help with the dogs and saw that black mould was growing on dirty dishes in the sink - she's always been a very clean person and the rest of the house is clean. I cleaned the kitchen up for her, and found that the fridge and cupboards were nearly empty. She doesn't see that there is a problem, is very angry with me for leaving but maintains that my eating is the main problem here - that I'm addicted to other stuff and that she can't live with "bad foods" in the house, or knowing that I'm eating them outside the house. Now that I'm gone, I'm worried that she was faint or hurt herself without someone there to watch her.
Any advise or kind words are hugely appreciated.

I'm so sorry you're going

I'm so sorry you're going through this! Sounds like it's been a painfully rough ride. We have a lot of similarities in our experiences. I also met my partner as someone that said they lived a "healthy lifestyle" and it slowly degraded.
So good that you put a boundary down to protect your own health and mind. I really hope that she realizes that the number game is not worth losing lives small happiness. You sound like a very supportive partner. I hope you have some solid living people around you during this time.

Thanks for responding! Are

Thanks for responding! Are you able to share with me how you knew it had become a "problem" with your partner? I feel like I let myself just follow her expectations for far too long, wanting food, not eating and feeling guilty. Only now after a few weeks away and starting to feel normal am I realising just how disordered things were.

Now that some time has passed….

Dear TW,

"Only now after a few weeks away and starting to feel normal am I realising just how disordered things were."

I hope you won't feel too bad about this. When we're in the midst of the drama, it can be easy to lose our perspective. The situation is legitimately serious, and we get drawn in. I think that's just how it goes sometimes.

I'm glad that you are gaining perspective now. While we can still feel upset, at least it's easier to feel some confidence in the things that we are upset about.

If that makes any sense I mean.


Troubled Wife

If it's gotten to where you've had to move out, one would think that she'd be able to understand that there might be some problems that extend beyond your tolerance for "bad foods". But this is just how it can be with orthorexia ( a fear of "bad" foods ) and with eating disorders in general.

By that I mean that the person's mind becomes overcome with thoughts of food, and as you have seen, it can get to the point that that's all they can think about during their waking hours. In fact, when people with EDs finally decide it would be good to think about recovering, this is often what they'll point to : They can't stand the fact that that's all they think about all day long ; Food. They realize that maybe they would have a fuller life if they were able to fee up some space in their minds to be able to think about other things.

From what you've mentioned, it seems like she's really stuck in that spot. Where her mind is overwhelmed by thoughts of food and eating, 24/7, and doesn't have time to think about anything else.

What they fear will happen if they, or those they care about, should happen to eat "unsafe" foods is hard to say. But one thing is sure : "The control thing" which people with EDs will tell you plays a *huge* role in EDs , is something she's deeply concerned about too.

What you can do is hard to say. It doesn't sound like she's able to have much insight into her situation, or the "negative side effects" that her eating habits have brought with them. Having your partner move out…you would think something like that would get her attention, but it just goes to shows the strength of grip that EDs can get on a person's mind.

If you need to communicate with her, you might try writing her a letter, rather than confronting her in person. That way you'll get to say what you want to say, and you'll know that she's heard you. Which doesn't always happen in face to face situations. She'll have time to consider what she want's to write you back as well. If she does write you back.

Do you think she'd be open to couple's counseling ?

Surely she doesn't think everything between the two of you is fine.