National Eating Disorders Association

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My wife with ED is blaming our marriage

My wife believes that the root cause of her ED, is our marriage, and primarily me. I am seeking feedback on how to best handle and stay supportive, as I fear she will divorce me in thinking that will be the best solution. We also have 2 year old twins.

History- I have known about her disorder for majority of 8 years, but without dealing with it much. I try and let her know I won't to be supportive, but she believes I am anything but supportive. I worry she is blaming it all on me and our marriage, without trying to take accountability.

Additionally, we argue too often, and have blow-out fights over the littlest things. I know I want to stay in this marriage, but I also want her to get healthy and also back to being happy. she has made it clear that she is not happy in my presence. I don't know how much of this is true, or if she is deflecting the blame on me as her coping mechanism?

any help is appreciated


Hey there Tatam,

I'm sorry things are in this sorry state ! It's not uncommon for people with EDs to become frustrated with their life in general, and as you said, they can cast around for something to blame it on.

Also , people with EDs often believe that *some* kind of important change is just what it will take for them to change their ED too. They will want to move to a new city, break up with their partner - They get kind of desperate, and find themselves believing that some kind of large external change will be what it takes to make the difference they know that they need.

"... we argue too often, and have blow-out fights over the littlest things. I know I want to stay in this marriage, but I also want her to get healthy and also back to being happy. she has made it clear that she is not happy in my presence….

Well exactly. They do know that they need to change, but they can also come to believe that their partners are constantly looking at them critically, and wondering why they aren't taking steps to change.

This sort of belief can get on their nerves as well. When really it's their own guilt, you know ?

So it's not odd that people with EDs often find themselves getting edgy, and unfortunately sometimes they take it out on those who love them the most. So we find ourselves always walking on eggshells, and worrying about what sort of wrong thing we'll do or say next.

Really, I think things like this revolve around bad communication. Like with the fights you guys have : I'm sure you've figured out by now that they aren't really about those small things. But more about the tension she feels.

Do you think that she'd like to see things be better ? This ongoing tension can't feel good to her either.

Getting down to what the real issue is is probably what it's going to take. And the two of you may need to see a counselor for that. Someone who can keep the conversation on topic, and who can help the both of you cut though to what the real issues are.

Because it kind of sounds like whatever is at the real core of this isn't getting talked about now. Or at least not in a way that doesn't feel threatening to her you know ?

Keep writing ?

Bob J.

throw reason out of the window

I know exactly what you describe,and I know it's awful. I'm sorry it is happening to you, but I'm glad you're here seeking some help.

Many times nobody has the right answers, but we can use our collective experience to not do the same wrong things others among us already did.

I'm gonna tell you what I have learnt. You two are not two rational people. You would have more or less control about your thoughts, actions and feelings, she doesn't. So you can't reason with her, some of the time you would, but when you least expect it, reason won't matter. So you have to learn to think outside the box.

You can't win an argument. All the arguments will make both of you lose something.

You can't change her mind, you can't make her understand something that she's trying so hard not to understand. You'll just get madder and madder. So stop that. When this starts and you see it's not going anywhere, stop talking. Say something like "I'm gonna leave you alone for a while, because this isn't good for any of us." "I'm sorry because I really didn't want us to fight". Maybe it won't be better in many hours, but it won't get nastier either.

You can't convince her,but sometimes you can lower her level of anxiety.That's where you have to aim to all the time, if you can. I'm not gonna say it's easy. She's gonna keep picking fights (and blaming you) and you have to learn to dodge them, and not to take her bait.

If you know you did something really wrong, do your best to atone for that. But chances are you didn't. EDs come to happen for a great number of reasons, not just because of one. You just happen to be the closest, and you are witnessing her lowest moment, and she hates you for that. She wants to be alone with her best friend, the ED, un-judged. Kids are OK because she can fool them. But you know she's doing something very wrong, and you don't believe the lies she has to tell herself to keep that. She figures that if she can be alone in her realty, she could believe it's real, and be safe. Your presence, or that of any "normie" reminds her she's not in control.

Maybe when you were a teenager your parents told you not to hang out with this or that friend, who was a bad influence. Then you wanted to hang out more with them, you would just be more careful about your parents not knowing about it. She wants to hang out with her "friend" without anyone reminding her she's a bad friend. Your presence is a constant reminder that's she's been caught.

Finally, learn all you can. Reading here, and listening to her. First, you won't feel alone with your problems, you'll know it's not you, because all the partners, we go through the same. Second, you would feel a bit less walking on eggshells. And you will be able to say, "I don't want you to be sick, but I get what you're going through", or " I wish you had a better way, but I get that right now you feel that you need this to feel safe, and maybe happy. I'm on your side no matter what".

I wish you the best of luck. Before divorce, maybe you can find a way to give her some space without making anything permanent. And it can do some good. Be sure to let her know you give her space but that you are there for her if she needs anything.

Please stay strong. There are many things in her journey we can't fix, we can't even influence, she has to do it. We just need to be sure they know they can count on us when and if they reach to us, and make sure we don't make things worse for them. That is mostly a thankless job, often you get mean words as a response. You have to know she's on the edge and most of the bad things it's not her, but her disease talking.

Finally the most unfair thing, you can't ask anything in return. You can't burden her with the guilt of how she's making you feel. Because it won't make her treat you better, it will make her want to not having to deal with you at all. Maybe she's blaming your marriage, but on the inside she can't stand hurting you and that's why she's pushing you away.

I hope some of this help you see some things in a different light and to have some ideas about how to make things better. I hope you have other things that take your mind off this for a minute and charge your batteries, you are gonna need that, to take care of yourself too.

Good luck to both of you.