National Eating Disorders Association

13 posts / 0 new
Last post
My wife is anorexic, she denies it and I'm second guessing

Hi everyone.

A quick background - About a year and a half ago my wife started exercising and dieting, which at the time I thought was great, as she was well within a healthy weight range. She always made fun of me for going to the gym and for watching what I ate (very ironic now). Her diet was progressing nicely and she needed smaller clothes and was happy. Then the intimacy between us dried up and I chalked this up to a down in a relationship rollercoaster destined for the inevitable up, which never happened. A couple months went by and I never even saw her naked, the bathroom door which she always kept open for everything was now always closed no matter what was going on behind the door. I finally got a glimpse of her naked getting out of the shower (via a mirror in the bathroom of a mirror in the hallway, LOL) and was frightened by what I saw. Fast forward to today she is significantly underweight. She exercises frequently and follows a very restrictive diet. However, she usually eats three meals a day and I have never suspecting purging via vomiting. She restricts using the exercise and supplements. She has also stopped menstruating, she is 39 years old.

I have educated myself on anorexia and basically self-diagnosed since there is absolutely NO WAY she will seek help. My talking about it with her results in arguments and has pushed our marriage to the brink. She sees it as a lifestyle change and I see it as a problem. The fact that she does eat, and its very healthy combined with the fact that as long as I think she is anorexic and has a problem means our marriage will most likely end in divorce keeps me second guessing that there is anything wrong and wondering if I should just bury my head in the sand.

I have seen a couple therapists just so I have someone to talk to about it ( emotionally my wife has shut down, I am more of a silent partner in the relationship now) and to a one they all say she needs help but it frustrates me to no end that she will not seek help because she cannot admit it is a problem - which starts the insane cycle of me thinking that there really isn't.

A lot of the forums and post I read around the internet deal with the recovery struggle and how family members can help but what do you do if they don't see it as a problem, EVER! One close friend of her said it may take her reaching rock bottom and me having to fail 911 for her to see the light. If it comes to that fine but what if she just maintains where she is at, her emotions wrecked, skin and bones and no intimacy - that is not something I think I am ready to live with.

An additional note - my daughter who is 14 approached me today and mentions she is embarrassed to be seen out in public with her mother due to the skinny arms etc. Just what I need, another layer to the problem that isn't.

Edited Post

Hi okpatsfan,

Welcome to the forums! Portions of your post were edited to adhere to the Community Guidelines. We avoid posting about specific numbers such as weights, as other forum members may find them triggering. The rest of our Community Guidelines can be found here:

Again, welcome to the forums and please continue to share your story!

-NEDA Moderator

ED Troubles.

Hey patsfan,

Yes, this sounds like trouble alright, just as everyone else has said, so I hope you won't find yourself continuing to second guess it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but people "getting healthy" is not something that generally results in the list of issues that you've mentioned. Not physically, not emotionally, and not relationship-wise either.

Which…one would think she'd be noticing too. But I gotta tell you, when people are in the thick of it, like she was before things reached this point , they pretty much loose their perspective on everything. Anger - That's an emotion that stays with them, as well as a high level of irritability. In ED language, that's called "Hangry" (hungry+angry) and most people with EDs are familiar with it, once they gain some insight into their situation, I mean.

And yes, you gotta wonder where her insight went. Still, I'd not be so sure that she's lost all of it. Even when they are still pushing full speed ahead with their ED, most people begin to have an idea that things may not be proceeding in quite the direction that they thought they would, when they first discovered the powers of starving and exercising.

And it can be that growing realization that can start to put them more and more on edge, kind of like you are seeing now.

But you are right : There needs to come a point where they are willing to openly acknowledge that there's a problem.

Which…I suspect she knows by now, to be honest. Even for her, in the state she's in, it gets harder and harder to ignore the fact that there are some…negative side effects….to this path that she's on. Granted she may still be losing, which is going to continue to feel like a victory to her, but it's going to be harder and harder for her to square that with the growing list of things that she's loosing in her life as a result of all this.

So what's a person to do ? Do we have to wait until they are willing to label it a problem too ?

Particularly when you know that she is beginning to suspect that it might be ?

One thing you might think about trying is taking a sideways approach. Your marriage is not doing that great. Well hey, maybe that's your fault, or….who knows. But if there's a problem with our marriage, responsible people who honor the idea of marriage often go to marriage counseling. Maybe she doesn't think there's a problem, but if one of the partners thinks that there is, then there is one. So that may be one way to help the both of you start talking about this, should she be willing to go I mean.

In any case, that's the step you need to see next : Her acknowledging that there might just be a problem.

And dollars to dimes she knows that there is, even if she's not to the point of admitting it to you yet.

Not getting any easier

Well, we just got back from a vacation to Germany to see my wife's parents and it had its ups and downs. As requested her parents didn't jump right into voicing their concern about my wife's condition as soon as she got of the airplane (they have not seen her in a couple years) and waited till the comfort of home. Over the course of the 2 week trip her and her mother had several private discussions and I spoke with her parents as well. The cliff notes version was that they see the same things I see (validation for me) and apparently my wife admitted to her mother she is aware there is a problem but is nowhere near ready to admit it to me. My assumption is she may feel this is showing weakness to me and admitting there is a problem would be giving me a "win" moment.

As soon as we arrived back in the states she begins to blame me for everything her parents said to include any other relatives we saw and their opinions of what is going on. She calls me the master manipulator, not only influencing everyone around me but actually convincing them to argue my stance on her ED. Incredible!

I am struggling with being the only bad guy as everything I'm doing is because I truly love her and am scared for her life. It is at the point now where we are basically strangers sharing a house. My daughter is visiting family up North for 10 days, we are at day 3 now, and my wife has not said one word to me. No good morning, good-byes or hellos and no good nights...unless I say them first. I try to say at least one nice, benign thing everyday but this is getting harder and harder since I'd get more of a response out of our cat. She says she is finished with the relationship and is ready to move out but then goes out and stocks up on groceries or spends the day landscaping the backyard.

Ugh, so frustrated.


I'm in the same boat. My wife has told me more than a half dozen times in the last year she wants a divorce, including yesterday.

She may want one, too. She's especially pissed that I have involved her family to the point of asking them to an ED-related therapy session with me.

Not getting any easier

OKPATSFAN - what happened? I feel many similarities. I saw a marriage counselor (my wife was too busy to find time), and she said my wife was too sick for marriage counseling and I should go to Al-Anon. I've been to a few Al-Anon meetings and it's been surprisingly enlightening, though it's just been a few so far.

Hi okpatsfan!

I'm so sorry to hear about your wife and the frustration in your relationship! People with EDs tend to lash out at those that love them in an attempt to protect themselves and push others away. It seems like the easiest thing to do at the time, although it tends to be detrimental in the long run.

Have you tried calling the NEDA Helpline? The number is 1-800-931-2237 and is available M-Th 9-9 EST and F 9-5 EST. Not only will the helpline provide you with a listening ear, but it can also help locate resources in your area. Additionally, consider checking out the Parent Toolkit - its not just for parents, I promise! Available here: The toolkit has a lot of great suggestions and resources on how to best support a loved one who has an eating disorder that you might find helpful.

I wish you the best of luck with everything. I know its going to be difficult, but stay strong!


My heart breaks reading your posts. It sounds like your wife has completely withdrawn into the deceivingly comforting world of her ED. I am wondering if maybe she has one or two close friends that you might be able to enlist in the effort to get her to seek help, since she's currently shutting you out? It sounds like her family really isn't an option right now, since they are very long distance and she has already more or less shut them out anyway.

Also, you say that she repeatedly threatens to leave the home. I'm wondering, though, whether you've expressed to her that you are losing hope for the marriage. Your support of her through the recovery process will be critically important and she's lucky to have a husband who loves her and wants very much to help her recover. I encourage you to do whatever you can to get her to see that you are on her team and will be by her side through the recovery process IF she will let you. She needs to recognize what the alternative outcomes are as well. Finally, I encourage you to communicate to her the impact that her health and behaviors are having on your daughter -- that cannot be underestimated. Perhaps if she really hears that message, she will find the strength to seek help. Please keep posting and letting us know how you are doing.

Me too

My wife has always been thin and active. Several years ago on a family visit some of her family confronted her on thinness. She ended up under Dr's care for a few months drinking Ensure and such.

Now our two kids are nearly grown and the past 3 years I find her more unatractive.. She lost some of her features and happy face. She is always angry about small things..I say she I hyper vigilant!

I can not remember the last time she has enjoyed a normal size meal..always taking doggie boxes home. Half eaten food everywhere. My kids notice.

The smallest size clothes fall off her.

She is cold all the time, angry at kids and me, wants to throw any item out of the house that hasn't been used in a month. She is punitive in many remarks about our daughter's sport performance fixates and remarks "how stunning" other people's daughters are. My daughter is athletic but full.. She's beautiful, but not a nymph! But like OP said; we don't need another person with issues! My wife claims she was overweight at our daughter's current age, but I have never seen a photo to prove that!!

I can't stand watching my wife ration food to herself. She orders $9 wine and drinks 1/3. She never finishes all of her food. . It's nuts.. She's tiny wore out a treadmill and now the new one is wearing out. She runs after having the flu for 3 days.. That instance 18 months ago was when I knew it was real. I confronted her on exercising after 3 days being ill...she said she was fine and needed to run since she had been in bed 3 days.. I said fine but why not have some food first!?

I'm at a loss, our kids are launching, my wife is frail and hasn't enjoyed many indulgences with me in years. Her angry talk about our daughter and compulsive treadmill running on Saturday and Sunday. Our marriage was issue free for 19 at 25 years it's on the rocks.
I'll add that her older sister died of brain tumor a year before the compulsions ramped way up..and their mother died of Alzheimer at 65. I know this is scary for her, but again she refuses to consider council so I go alone.

I encouraged my wife to seek grief counseling a couple months ago when I confronted her on her "ice queen" manner pertaining to our daughter. She responded that she us "fine". I've barred my soul to her,she says she is fine. Refused to eat desserts on her last birthday. Refused treats on the beach in Honolulu, said the water in Maui was too cold to swim. Covers her face with scarves in 44 deg. Fahrenheit weather yesterday.

Just testimony and venting on how the heck did this happen? How will it end or resolve?

Post edited

Hi vlostwalt,Thanks so much for posting! Your post has been edited to remove any potentially triggering content for some of our users.  Here on the forums, we try to refrain from using specifics regarding foods, weights, etc.  You can review our community guidelines here: hope you continue to post and find some helpful support here on the forums.

Vlostwalt, there are resources for you

Hi Vlostwalt: I'm sorry to hear about your situation and your frustrations about your wife's behavior. I encourage you to read AshleyK's comment above if you haven't already about calling the NEDA Helpline for advice and accessing the Parent's Toolkit (which is helpful to everyone). Hopefully at some point your wife will seek out support and therapy, and until then you have to take care of yourself as best you can, and having a professional to guide you is a positive step. Know that you are not alone in your struggles. I wish you the best.

V lost weight.

As you are seeing, partners can really get angry about things like this.

I'm not sure how much good it does, but when it comes to frustration, people can find themselves angry alright.

And I can understand why, because if as an adult she's been in treatment before, it's pretty clear that she knows what the story is. And that she has a pretty good idea of the ways it can effect all of the loved ones around her.

"She responded that she is "fine". "

Well of course she is. And she expects everyone else to be "fine" too ? I don't think so.

It's good to have sympathy for our partner's issues, but when they refuse to label their situation a problem, while everyone around them is being negatively effected, then that's a problem right there. And not "fine" at all.

So you and the family may need to have some kind of intervention with her again. I'm not sure how it will work out of course, but the idea that somehow she doesn't know that there's a problem again…that's pretty unlikely I think.

Wife s eating disorder

Hi sorry to hear about your wife's ed I hope and pray you can beat Ana