National Eating Disorders Association

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
My Marriage is crumbling

I have been married 20 years, when we got engaged my wife told me she had been bulimic in her high school years, but she told me she was past that, and so we lived a mostly blissful life until the last year.
She told me she wanted to go somewhere so she could focus on losing weight, and I was highly resistant to that idea, but she was dead set on it, and checked herself into an eating disorder clinic, under the premise that she would go and lose some weight and would be back to our family in a few weeks. I didn't believe her, and was very resistant to her going somewhere when I didn't think weight was a major concern, I could tell she was extremely depressed and was trying to encourage her to go to some intensive therapy, but she told me I needed to trust her, and when I asked for details she said she wouldn't tell me so I let her go.

Well that was almost 3 months ago, and she has been in-patient since. She has since admitted to having the eating disorder the entire marriage and admitted to several other major issues that have left me feeling like the trust in our marriage has been destroyed to a great extent. I have felt deeply hurt, injured, angry, and yet still mostly empathetic for the pain she has been quietly suffering for our entire marriage. I decided to educate myself on the disorder, and have read 4 ED books and an co-dependent book to try to understand what she is going through, and those have helped.

I have recently been feeling like the longer she is in therapy and away from me, the bigger our marital problems have become. We have limited communication, all while major trust shattering secrets have come out, one after another, and while I know her treatment team is trying to help her, I feel like our relationship is just taking a beating without much healing because she is not around to be able to work those issues out, and so I am left to suffer and wait in a helpless state and those ill feelings towards her are chipping away at what I once considered and undying love, which now feels very much like a dying love on life support.

I have tried to stay strong for her and for our kids, but I was recently given an ultimatum that I was not going to be able to continue to communicate or see her if I continue to express the feelings of pain, anger and suffering that I am feeling as a result of her secrets and behaviors because those are an impediment to her therapeutic recovery process. I feel like our marriage is on the brink, and that the longer she stays in treatment, the more likely that a divorce is imminent as huge issues keep being added to the problem pile, with no way to resolve them, and without the communication possible with her being home I feel like our marriage relationship is a dead man walking with the electric chair coming into view.

I have seen others in her treatment group start the divorce process when they stay in treatment for long periods of time, but she tells me she doesn't feel ready to leave and doesn't know if she will ever be ready, and I don't want her to leave if she isn't ready, but how do you balance the needs of treatment vs. the needs of maintaining a marriage/family? and does it ever get better, the pain and sorrow just doesn't seem to be getting easier, it just gets worse the longer we are separated.

Hang on.

This is a powerful story. There is so much going on here and your pain is understandable. You didn’t mention all aspects of the dishonesty but I can guess what that entails – a lesser human being would have quit some time ago. You haven’t quit and to that I say “good for you.

One huge positive point is that your wife is in therapy. She is doing something about it and the process seems intense. The process also seems unfair and inconsiderate of your feelings but that’s what eating disorders do. I know this because I’ve lived through it as well. Saying “it’s really hard” doesn’t capture what’s going on.

At some point, I believe you will A. Get your answers and/or B. Be at peace with the information that you have. That will take a while. For today, July 30, 2015, hang in there. Find a good therapist for yourself or another outlet; someone to remind you that you’re a good Dad, a good husband, a good lots of things even though you don’t often feel that way.

As keepcalm said, this is a

As keepcalm said, this is a very powerful story. I can relate somewhat, as I was the main support of my best friend who suffered from an eating disorder. Though this was nothing like a marriage, our friendship was strained greatly while she was struggling and especially while she was in treatment. I had to constantly remind myself that she had no ill-will towards me; the ED was basically like a completely different person in her. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you're not alone in feeling like this. ED has a habit of not only affecting one person, but the people close to them too. I applaud you on trying so hard to understand what your wife is going through. It shows how much you truly care about her. However, I also know how important it is to care for yourself. You have a lot of responsibility and I can feel how much pressure you're putting on yourself. I would definitely suggest seeking therapy for yourself in this. It's completely normal for you to be affected by what your wife is going through, and I truly think it would benefit you greatly to see a professional as well.

Thank you for reaching out!

Hey sleeplessinAZ,

The balancing act can truly seem impossible sometimes! But step by step, we move forward and recovery happens. Not just for the person with the ED, but for their close supports, as well. Keep trying to figure your path out; it sounds like, so long as you don't give up the hope, you'll reach some sorts of solutions that will work in favor of your family's wellness. For additional, knowledgeable support and direction, feel free to reach out to the NEDA Helpline (1-800-931-2237, M-Th 9am-9pm, F 9am-5pm), and/or NEDA Navigators ( The NEDA Navigators have been through this wild recovery process and would love to help you find your way through yours (and your wife's).

Wishing you blessings as you carry onward! <3
Anna Naomi