National Eating Disorders Association

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New Member - Wife with EDs

Happy New Year all. I have just joined this forum seeking help, tips, advice as my wife is struggling with EDs. We met nearly 8 years ago (this month). I was vacationing with friends in Costa Rica and she had been living there for 3 years (originally from the US about 30 min from where I’m from). We hit it off the night we met at a sports bar watching the NFL playoffs. We kept in touch and ultimately began a long-distance relationship before she decided to move back to the states and move in with me 8 months later. I was thrilled, her family was thrilled and it was a really exciting time for everyone, especially the two of us.

Over the 8 months of our long-distance relationship, I traveled to Costa Rica a few times and spent a week with her. Back then I wasn’t aware of her EDs. When we began living together I didn’t know right away until she was binging in front of me then told me. I was certainly surprised, but not upset with her at all and frantically began reading about eating disorders. I knew it upset her whenever the topic came up, so it was avoided like the plague. I’ve tried to support her in ways that make her feel loved and not alone. We got engaged 6 years ago and either just before or after she starting to seek help. She went to a specialist/coach for a few months and had a binder she was using. I didn’t want to upset her, so whenever she felt like sharing any details with me, I would listen. Unfortunately, we moved to another state and it was too far to continue going back to the specialist and she said there wasn’t anyone like that near where we were moving to. I took her word for it and never tried to look into it to help as I’ve always tried to be sensitive to her feelings on the matter.

We have been married for over 4 years now and have been talking about starting a family, but I’m clearly concerned for her health and want to make sure she addresses her EDs. We’ve both been really busy at work (she started a new job) and is working longer hours. We have been fighting more frequently over the past couple of months and we both got things off our chest. I told her I was concerned for her well being along with the desire but fear of trying to have a baby. She told me her friend had referred her to someone for help, but was vague. As always I didn’t question it. All these years have gone by and I have allowed her to continue with her EDs “waiting” for the right time to address it when she is ready. Christmas Day we got into a huge fight and she left my family’s place to spend the night with her parents. The next day she came home to pack up things and spent two nights at a hotel. Now she is at her friend’s apartment while she’s moving out of it this month. She’s there alone.

We have barely had any contact since last week. On NYE, she texted me wishing a good night and wanted to speak New Year’s Day. I didn’t hear from her until she texted she was on her way over which I wasn’t expecting. She came home and told me how she was feeling hurt and angry over things said on Xmas day, but also how she feels alone at home if I fall asleep on the sofa. *Our bedroom is upstairs and we have two bathrooms. She goes upstairs after dinner or eating late to purge and shower before, so instead of confronting her I sleep on the sofa then will eventually wake up and go to bed.* More importantly, she told me she signed up for an online program and was going to have books sent home. I told her I was glad she was doing that and that I myself have been looking into getting help. I’ve realized that there never is a right time and now need to finally do something to learn how to better support my wife. I’m proud she is starting program, but she said she can’t be home, packed up more things and went back to her friend’s apartment. She has about 10 days left before her friend has to completely move out and I don’t want her to feel like she needs to continue to stay away from me. I want to learn how to support her the right way. I’m really just beginning this new journey, so any tips, advice, feedback, etc. would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Hey M.

EDs can be secretive, and very personal as well, so it's understandable when we feel as though we don't want to intrude. Particularly if that's not been a rewarding experience for us in the past. And yet ignoring the situation generally doesn't help things either. So a guy can begin to feel boxed in for sure.

And you are right, if she's going to feel as though she is returning because of circumstances, rather than by choice, that might turn out to be a matter of tension as well. And you probably know by now how tension can effect things for her.

One thing you might do is simply ask her how you can support her best. Honestly, she may not have any sort of good answer for that when you first ask her, but I think it's OK to ask her to put her mind to it, and provide you with a reasonable answer. One the doesn't rely heavily on the two of you just ignoring things as you did in the past. She would probably agree that that approach didn't work out very well before.

Some kind of something that actually might feel legitimately supportive to her, you know ?

Granted, it would mean acknowledging the issue, but within that framework it's possible that she could come up with something that would feel OK to her, and not feel overly intrusive, or involve ramping up the tension again, even if it's something seemly small.

Again, this might be something that she'll have to put her mind to, but as far as the overall pictures goes, it could be a good thing for her to try and think about. Progress and all that, you know ?



Thanks so much for your thoughtful response and feedback, BobJ. Since my post, I have done a lot this week. I’ve chatted with someone from the NEDA who gave me several types of resources for myself and for my wife. I participated in a support group that was a video chat and I spoke with a therapist who specializes in EDs. I’m planning to meet with her for myself.

I did ask my wife what can I do to help work her way back home. I told her I was committed to supporting her the proper way and that I was taking action at learning how. I also filled her in on what I was already beginning to do. This was all via text messages which I know isn’t the best way to communicate. She didn’t respond and I followed up the next day to ask her if she was available to talk this weekend. No word yet.


It sounds like you really have taken some responsible steps for yourself. Not too many fellows would do that, and as far as setting things aside, as you did for some years, it really does sound like you are done with that approach, and are ready to confront things head on.

Which may be what she is afraid of, and why you have not heard from her yet.

None the less, if she really is doing this online program thing, she probably knows that just taking half-measures isn't going to work, and that like yourself, if she's serious about getting better, she's going to have to go all-in. But yes, for the moment she may feel intimidated by what she assumes will be your expectations. Like she's got the recovery thing to deal with, and then she's got you.

So yeah, it probably would be good if she could sit down and think about how being around you could be a positive, rather than just one more pressure to deal with.

If you meet with this ED person, maybe she could give you some suggestions too ?

The fact that you are going to such lengths to understand things will be a good thing too I think. People with EDs often believe that no outsiders can ever really "get it' about what they are going though, but personally I don't think that's the case. Granted, our readings don't always go into that part, but if you keep poking around you may find things that help you have a better idea about the sorts of things that she's up against, inside that head of hers. That sort of knowledge can help you craft your responses to her, in ways that may feel understanding to her. In ways that may help put her a bit more at ease.

In any case, I hope you can make the moving-back-in thing work for you both. Keep in touch, OK ?


Editing Note

Hi, BobJ48, a portion of your post was deleted since you posted things from articles that were not given credit to the author. If you would like you can reach out to us with the specific link to see if it can be approved, please feel free to do so. The NEDA Helpline is open Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm EST and Fridays 9am-5pm EST. To learn more please take a look at our community guidelines here: