National Eating Disorders Association

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Multiple Life Transitions

So. I just barely got out of therapy myself for anxiety. I'm doing much, much better. Probably am the happiest I've ever been in my life.

But my husband is in the exact opposite place. He has some really bad body image issues and yesterday at my final therapy session we talked about him more than me. From what I described, my therapist thinks my husband is bulimic (he doesn't purge, but he exercises pretty fanatically when he eats too much to "make up" for it).

He's also in the middle of a faith transition, leaving our shared religious background for "secular humanism."

We just bought our first house last month, and a second dog this weekend. I love our life. But he hates himself, his body, everything. He talks about purging, and sometimes he also talks about how sometimes he feels like he doesn't deserve to live because he's so undisciplined with food.

I finally persuaded him to try therapy; he's been going for about 3 weeks.

But today he's the angriest, most upset, most difficult I've ever seen him. And I don't know what to do. I try to be supportive, I try to help him talk things out, I try not to pressure or shame.... But nothing changes. I feel like every time I talk to him about this stuff it makes it worse. But he keeps bringing it up so I keep trying and it's frustrating and hurts me.

I don't want to divorce him; when he's not focused on food, he's a lovely man that I've built a life with (our 7-year anniversary is next month). But I also feel like I'm making all this progress in my life and he's... not. I want him to. I want to support him and help him through this, but I feel so stuck.

And I'm not even sure what I'd expect by posting all this here, but I felt like I needed to tell someone because today has been so impossibly hard. And it's only 10am.

Maybe can anyone say there's a light at the end of this tunnel? If he goes to therapy and I hang on for a few years, that he'll get better some? I don't need him to be perfect--I just want to have conversations with him that aren't about food.



I've just written a long winded update for my own post that reminds mw of you. 7 years married this month with 2 kids and a new house we just bought. My husband has had a long standing eating disorder and there have been so many ups and downs. My husband, too has just agreed to help and I have been getting help myself for several months (and off and on for years).

I can't help you because I'm in the journey too - but I just wanted to say I relate.. and right now with my husband finally having his big realization I definitely see light. I hope the same for you too soon.

Therapy and confronting one's issues.

Hey K,

One thing to remember about therapy, is that quite often people appear to get worse, rather than better, at the beginning !

This is because they are having to confront things that they may have been sweeping under the rug in the past. Which can be an emotionally disruptive experience.

"OK, there's all this stuff in my past, and in my current life too, so what the hell am I supposed to do about it !! "

Which of course there's no quick and easy answer for, which can get a fellow frustrated and pissed off.

Not to get all Sigmund Freud about things, but you might say " I know there must be doubts and uncertainties that are causing you to feel angry. " "It must be frustrating to not know how this is all going to turn out." Things like that, where you try and put yourself in his shoes, you know ?

This is just my two cents of course, but even though his current emotionality may seem frightening, it may also be a sign of progress as well.

Bob J.


Thanks for your comments, KMV and Bob. I know I'm not the only one going through this, but sometimes it just feels so isolating because you don't want to necessarily tell other friends or family for fear of tainting how they see my husband and our relationship, you know?

I do remember when I started therapy that I *felt* worse--but I don't think I lashed out the way my hubby is. Or maybe I did? It's hard to self-assess. He's been better the last couple of days, but I'm still struggling to communicate with him and frequently leave discussions feeling worse than when we started them. It's like nothing I do makes a difference to him but constantly upsets me. Maybe I'm the problem here?

(Perhaps a related note: He mentioned that his therapist told him how she feels like he's holding back, which is how I feel constantly. So again, I guess it's not just me, but I crave a better understanding and therefore trust concerning his thoughts. :/ )


Hey K,

I completely get where you are coming from. While my partner and I have definitely not been together for as long as you and yours have, the body shaming, self-hate etc is definitely a hard thing to process as a caregiver.

We probably all have felt a little worse at the start of therapy, because we are confronting the hard stuff (which is why we wanted to go, right?). My girlfriend has been battling anorexia for 10+ years. She finally went to a day-treatment facility and has definitely taken a turn for the worst. I think (I'm no professional, speaking only for myself here) that trying to understand and process how detrimental this ED has been for our partners is so hard because they are forced to face the fact that what they have been doing to themselves is actually not a good or healthy thing. For my girlfriend, she is angry and on the verge of quitting her treatment because she thinks that no one is on her side. While I only hear her side of the story, it still feels like she is angry and upset and insecure and all of the things because her body is changing and becoming something that she hates. It is a strain in our relationship, and I catch myself feeling guilty about my feelings toward it.

I am also unsure how to process this, because I think therapy and treatment are the best things for these kinds of illnesses. But it is scary when your partner becomes a different person emotionally, mentally, spiritually, etc. You are not alone.

It's all wrong !


Sorry to hear that things with your GF seem to be more agitated these days, but again, I think it may have to do with the fact that everything that therapy, and apparently their "loved ones" want to see them do feels absolutely wrong to them.

On the one hand, they may know in the back of their minds that the changes which are being asked for are good and healthy, but on the other hand, their long-established instincts are telling them the complete opposite This sort of mental conflict can really cause a person to become agitated, and as though they are being backed into a corner, and give them the feeling that everyone is against them, etc.

It must be rough to deal with this I know, but hopefully you can see where it's coming from, and not take it too personally. Which can be difficult when there's anger, and certain personal implications are made.

Plus it's true : Recovery may prove to be too difficult an idea for them to deal with, and they can indeed relapse, so the fact that it's kind of a crap-shoot at the moment, that can be unsettling too. None the less, it is a time of opportunity for them, and that's the part that we need to keep our eyes on I think.