National Eating Disorders Association

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Eternally lost, confused and heart broken

First time poster, long-time lurker here. I’m 38 and my wife is 36. We met in college and we’ve been married 10 years and have been together for 15. We also have two young children ages 3 and 5.

This past year has been a downward spiral for our relationship. Last August she began a down-roll spiral after having a fight with her mother (who constantly criticizes her and tells her that she is not a good mother). She has always struggled with eating issues. She would use eating disorder behaviors. However, last summer she started losing more weight and admitted that she was sexually abused as a child by her father (she still sees her father frequently, which baffles me) and was verbally abused by her mother. She started seeing therapists and for the last month has been in IOP for her eating disorder. She has gained weight; however, she is now on multiple anti-anxiety medications and was previously addicted to pain killers (she was hooked after having several dental surgeries caused by tooth decay from excessive spitting) and has started losing some of the weight she gained. Therapy hasn’t been easy. Initially I thought that things were improving; however, in June she announced that she wanted to move-out and separate. She stated that she wanted independence and wanted to live on her own. She found an apartment and I helped her move in (I am not sure if I should have). She stated that I was her caretaker for most of our relationship. In retrospect, I agree that for the last several years I was her caretaker instead of an equal partner. I think I became numb to all the spitting and treated her more as a child instead of a partner (which I regret now). Last month she called her parents over to our home and announced in front of them (with me present) that she doesn’t love me, that she never loved me and wanted an immediate divorce (90-day mutual consent). She doesn’t want alimony or custody, just a divorce and the ability to come over to our home on a set schedule (set by her) to see our children. She also stated that she only married me in order to feel protected. She also maintains that she feels no emotions for anyone except our two young children.

I am normally a reserved person and due to my own childhood experience was not an outward loving person for most of our marriage. I doted more on my children than my wife (that has changed as my wife and I have not had any intimacy (e.g. hand holding, kissing, etc) for the last year and I have felt neglected). My wife’s statements and intentions have been devastating. She wants a divorce, I do not. I have pleaded with her to try marriage therapy; however, she doesn’t believe it will help. I told her to journal and try to figure out all of her triggers. She is adamant about divorce. I understand why she may feel that way; however, it’s so hard to swallow. I love my wife more than anything and would do anything for her; however, I fear that I have lost her to ED. I have been an emotional wreck for the last several weeks and yesterday decided to write her a rather lengthy letter detailing my thoughts, emotions, and apologized for letting her down in our marriage. I told her that I would always love her and that I wouldn’t prevent her from divorcing me if that meant she would find happiness. However, I don’t want to lose her. I also don’t want to be a trigger and contribute to her ED. I feel like I am in a permanent state of purgatory.

I asked her to speak to her ED therapist to see about a trial separation in which she has no contact with myself, our children or her parents to see if she still has triggers (I read this on another site. I can also see her anxiety levels jump when our children whine or have temper tantrums). She is going to see her therapist tomorrow to discuss this. However, she stated that it won’t change her mind about divorce. Currently, she comes over after work most nights and spends the night with me. She also wants to do more things as a family. It’s as if nothing has changed (sans the intimacy). My brain tells me to keep fighting for her; however, my heart is telling me that it’s too late and to just her go. I am so confused and just needed to vent. I want her to be happy and healthy yet at the same time I fear that she will sink even further.

Thank you for allowing me to vent.


I'm sorry that things have come to this. I can only imagine how trying this must be for you.

I suppose there's hope in her seeing her therapist. Separation sounds like a less drastic course than divorce.

As you said, if you do separate, she'll get to see how much difference it does or does not make in the ways she feels about things. And how much more full of life she feels when you are out of the picture, and it's just her and her ED.

I'm glad you took the step to write her. She'll have the chance to read what you've said in private, and have some time to think about how she wants to respond. Rather than just being impulsive with her reactions, as might otherwise be the case if you said these same things to her face to face.

I know you feel bad for her though. People with EDs often struggle with depression too, which can be a really hard thing to beat, and can have a real influence on their outlook and the sorts of decisions they make.

It's a tough situation though, when we've done all we can, and yet that's still not enough. Which really can be how it is sometimes : Even when we do 100% (or as close as any reasonable person can) with our half of the relationship, it can still not be enough to bring about the changes that need to happen. And really, I hope that you can draw some bits of comfort from knowing that you are doing your best with your 50% of the relationship. Pretty much by definition, the other 50% will always be hers, and something that's out of your hands.

In the mean time, it does seem like how things evolve is going to be up to her. That's not much comfort I know, given the things you've heard her say, but it's probably wrong to think that she has no investment in your relationship, despite her protestations, and even if she seems to have gone emotionally numb. That sort of numbness can be a feature of EDs too, and those who are suffering from it don't always make the sorts of decisions that they might otherwise make if they were not under it's spell.

In any case, just some thoughts. I'm glad you were able to write all this out, and that if it seems to help, I hope that you'll keep writing.


I am so sorry to hear this.

I am so sorry to hear this. It does sound like a bit of a roller coaster full of confusing emotions. I think the scariest emotion in the world is helplessness. You fear losing your wife and there isn't much you can do about it. Like Bob said, unfortunately, part of this is out of your hands which is the risk we take when we commit to any relationship.

Maybe you could benefit from some therapy of your own to clarify your own thoughts/feelings and help you make some difficult decisions as you navigate the current relationships? A consideration.

I also encourage you to keep posting.


Firstly so sorry you are going through this. Your situation is my ultimate fear of where my own relationship is headed. Often my girlfriend will blame our relationship on the reasons why she has gained or a myriad of other things. Any time she starts to actually recover there's this turning point where the ED brain takes over and sees any and all progress as an impediment or a betrayal of her illness and she starts to feel like going off to live alone so she can let the negative behaviours fully take hold. "Starve in peace." as she says. Hopefully that isn't what is happening here. In her better moments I realise she does love me even though she doesn't show it often and theres times where she sees that herself and it's enough to keep us together for now. It's the hardest thing being here for those we love with this awful condition and at times can feel like a sacrifice of yourself for very little in return. I just can't help but think in the worst times to just keep loving her. If I can do nothing else (and sometimes the situation is so helpless that I can't.. just keep doing that.) Whether you stay together or seperate for a time or for good let her know that you love her often and keep loving her. Wish you the best of luck Richard. Hang in there mate.