National Eating Disorders Association

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Wife newly diagnosed

Good evening. I am new to this and was looking for people in a similar situation. My wife has been suffering from eating issues and a desire to loose weight last year. This snowballed into obsessive behavior of counting calories, extreme excessive exercise, and unhealthy behavior. She was then diagnosed with anorexia nervous. I eventually got her to see someone with no success. Things got significantly worse but ultimately she was strong Enough to seek help. She is scheduled now to start an intensive outpatient program tomorrow.

That all being said, this has been an incredible strain on our marriage. We have been married for almost three years now and it feels more fragile than ever. It doesn't matter what I say or what I do, it's never right. She's rude, short, and so consumed by her own thoughts that just neglects us and our marriage. To make things worse, I don't trust her, that she's not doing everything she can. It makes me feel like I hav to police or check up on her more, and that certainly doesn't help things.

I try to say this is not her, this is the anorexia and all that comes with it. What do you do during this crucial part of recovery? Sometimes I feel that our once strong marriage built off of love cannot sustain this. I feel embarrassed to think these things, but I am afraid that we are no longer strong enough. In a time of my life when I needed her support , she wasn't there for me. I am trying to be supportive but it's hard, especially when you have no one to turn too.

What has worked for people in the past? Any tips from personal experience? Thanks for hearing my story!

hang in there

Hi AJC909. It's heartbreaking to read your post, having been on the other end of that story about 18 years ago (the one with the ED, in a relatively young marriage). I can relate to so much of your story. I would like to tell you, though, that this past weekend we just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary with our three kids. And I am 100% healthy, and have been for about 15 years. So it's definitely possible to get over this hurdle that seems so incredibly high right now. I'd like you to know that your love and support is critical to her recovery. It's so powerful to know that she has something to recover for. And, though it may not seem like it most of the time right now, she likely trusts you more than just about anyone in her world right now, so your influence can be huge.

All that said, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself at the same time that you're caring for and supporting your wife. By that, I mean consider working with a therapist to help you get through this very difficult period (my husband found that very helpful). Also, I want to encourage you to take a look at the Parent Toolkit on the NEDA website, which is very useful to more than just parents of persons with ED's -- really it's useful to all folks trying to support loved ones with ED's. You may also want to consider getting linked up with a NEDA Navigator (see link under Find Help). Navigators are laypersons who are matched up with you based on commonalities, and can offer support, advice, help with resources. In any case, keep posting -- we'd love to hear from you.


Thank you for posting and I completely understand your sense of fear. My fiance is currently recovering from an eating disorder. She was hospitalized for 5 months. The hardest part is when your partner is in deep with their eating disorder. Their thoughts are distorted, but will get better with refeeding and when she accepts recovery. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of patience because it takes time and there are many ups and downs through it all.

I have been seeing a therapist once a week, which has been really helpful. Some of the treatment centers have family groups that you may be able to attend. I would also suggest participating in her treatment by doing family therapy which is usually offered at most treatment facilities. This will help you both figure out how you can support her recovery while not policing her. When my fiance first came home from residential treatment I was policing her and this did not help me, nor her recovery, nor our relationship. We eventually found that gray area where we can communicate more effectively about what is going on without me acting as her provider. As hard as it is to back off, I know that there are somethings that she needs to do on her own like hold herself accountable for meeting her exchanges. When she first came home from residential treatment, we kept a journal by our bedside that we could both write in to tell eachother what was going on. This was helpful until we could actually say what was going on outloud. It may be helpful to work with her therapist to determine a schedule for when you and your wife can check in with each other. For us, it helps to check-in at the end of everyday rather than after every meal or snack, etc. Unfortunately, since she is just starting her recovery journey, she needs to be selfish and get the help she needs to get stronger so she can return to you and be present in your marriage. It is a huge challenge as a carer because your life is on hold and you can't plan for the future, but you'll get back there. For now, just try to take it one day at a time. Keep posting!


Ajc909 I feel your pain! Your story sounds like mine 10 yrs ago. My advice would be keep your chin up and keep after this Ed now! My wife always said she can do it herself mainly because of her job and never a good time to go in for treatment. Well we are still fighting this battle and it has only gotten worse. Good luck!!