National Eating Disorders Association

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Wife sees me as her trigger

I am happy that I have found this forum as I am trying to understand all I can about EDs. I am a newly wed of only a month and prior to getting married my wife filled me in on her long history with her ED since her teens. This woman is amazing to say the least, as she has been through more than her fair share of life events. As a same sex couple there are always challenges, but her recent issues has almost be insurmountable at times. As of January 1, she began a purposeful journey to lose weight that she had put on. At this point, she has lost a certain amount of weight, but doing so has started to result in health issues. Recently, she has begun to tell me that I am her trigger. I don't need to tell you that hearing those words is like being kicked in the gut. She has been stating that she feels I have an ED as well and that we are in competition - and not to worry because she will win even if it results in her ending up in a pine box. Statements she makes are very concerning - like that losing me or the kids wouldn't make her stop and that when she gets to where she thinks she needs to be weight wise she will stop.

In reading through all the other forum posts I see that I am not alone in feeling helpless. I say and do things that trigger her to become raging mad and then she goes in further into a dark place. I have not seen her this bad since we have been together and I can't help but to think I may be the cause. I know that certain topics are taboo, but I find that some of my unintentional comments are taken to be hurtful. The irony is that I would never do anything to hurt her in a million years. The more I try to protect her from harm the more I end up making mistakes. I feel so incredibly bad when I have said something that hurts her that I shut down. I am almost afraid to move. She is doing the best that she can and no one besides me knows about this issue. People at work actually complement her and make fun of the fact that her clothes don't fit. I want to rip them apart for these comments, but she finds them funny and I believe that it is feeding into her further weight loss. She made a statement about the fact that they can't see what is right in front of them. However, she is very attractive and always looks her best so who would assume this highly intelligent woman is being impacted by this darker side. I sure didn't think it when I met her. As a medical professional I began to see the side effects - the anger, easily bruising, constant headaches, weight loss while still eating and exercising, abdominal pain, chest palpitations/pain... but i never thought that this was the cause.

When we look at our wedding pictures I smile and think about how happy we looked. She says they make her sick. That absolutely makes me come to tears every time I think of that statement. In fact, I find that I am in tears constantly. I try not to be anymore when I am around her, but she can see in my face that I am hurting. I don't want to burden her with my issues so I have chosen to minimize any conversations about issues that I am having with life/work.

I am so lost right now and desperately trying to learn as much as I can about this battle. I am a fixer by nature and this is a whole new world for me. Knowing that i cannot fix this is one thing, but the arguing and knowing that I am a trigger is devastating. I feel like a little piece of me dies each time. Please help shed some light on this situations. Any advice you have is appreciated. This should be the happiest time of our life and I want so desperately for her to get back to that feeling.

Post Edited

Hi smitty911!We are glad that you are finding support here on the NEDA forums. A portion of your post was edited due to the mention of specific numbers that may be triggering to other forum members. Our community guidelines are always available to review here: In the event you need further assistance please call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (Monday-Thursday 9:00AM-9:00PM, Friday 9:00AM-5:00PM, EST).Again, thank you for posting, and we hope you will continue to do so!

I'm so sorry!

Hi Smitty911!

First off, I wanted to say welcome the NEDA online community forums! We are so glad that you have come here for some guidance and support! Secondly, I am so sorry you're going through such a difficult time with your wife right now. I can understand why hearing your wife say those things to you can be so hurtful, especially when all you're trying to do is help. I have experiences on both sides; I have been in a relationship with someone while struggling with an eating disorder myself and I've also witnessed very close friends of mine struggle with an eating disorder. So I can understand the feeling of helplessness on your side but unfortunately I can relate to what your wife is going through, as well.

Do you currently see or talk to anyone about your current situation with your wife? I ask this because I think as "supporters of sufferers," it's hard sometimes to take a step back and take care of ourselves first. I am not a professional, but seeing someone and discussing your feelings could really be beneficial for both of you! Does your wife seek any kind of professional help either or has she in the past? I know you said that she has struggled with an eating disorder since she was a teenager.

The NEDA has a lot of different resources for you to utilize! There is the "Helpline" phone number! There you can speak with trained volunteers about treatment options (for the both of you) in your local area. The phone number is 1-800-931-2237 and it's available Monday-Thursday, 9:00AM-9:00PM and Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM (EST). There is also the "Parent Toolkit" that is located under "Help and Support" at the top of the page and then you're going to want to click on "Parent, Family and Friend Network." Here is the link: I know it says it's for "parents" but there is a lot of useful information and tools to help speak to those who are struggling with an eating disorder.

Again, I am so sorry to hear that you and your family are going through a very difficult time right now but you are NOT alone in this process. Please keep us updated on how you are both doing and always feel free to post as often as you would like on the NEDA online community forums! You always have a listening ear here!

Erin_Patricia1 <3


Hello and welcome to the forum. I too am sad to hear all that you are going through. I can not imagine being directly told to my face that I am responsible for and the trigger for someone else's problems. But in reality, you are not. It is her choice to act on her behaviors no matter the source of the trigger. We all play roles in others lives, but no one can make us do anything. Same thing with binging, or self harm. It truly comes down to a choice. When we become very entrenched in a behavior, often times professional help is needed to break the cycle, thus therapy or hospitalization, but no one can really say you made me do this or that. Right now I am trying to learn boundaries from a boundariless family. I say but he makes me tell him things I don't want to. I am being told no he isn't you have to stand up and say no I do not want to tell you that. So back to you. I am sorry you are suffering. The pain has got to be huge. But be careful not to take on the attacks personally. You right now are her target. Take a step away so the arrows don't hit you. Also, you can not fix her. My family couldn't fix me as hard as they tried. A person has to want to change. You can be there to support her but not be her punching bag. I am not a professional, so take what I say and keep what sounds good through out the rest. This is what I have experienced and heard from therapists. There was a book, mostly directed at another diagnosis that mentions walking on eggshells and it seems that that is what you are doing, fearful of saying anything that would be upsetting. That is a very difficult way to live. Because it seems that anything you say could set her off. I would try to just be myself. Otherwise she's got you wrapped around her finger and you are in a knot. Then you are afraid to speak and you are trying to be so careful and when you do speak you feel like you said the wrong thing. A vicious little circle. I would try to just take a few deep breaths and try to be you. If she blames you, don't take it personally. If you can get some help for yourself and we are always here for you on the forum. I am glad you posted. Post as much as you need. Take care, I hope I helped some. iwanttolive

Smitty - Tribal Wisdom


( Written before I saw what iwantolive wrote ! )

I work on some big forums with the women, and have done that for over a decade. Here's what I believe "the tribe" of people who have EDs themselves would likely tell her:

And that's that she needs to get her sh** together and look into getting treatment. The fact that she's thinking of leaving your marriage because of issues with her ED ; they would frown on that. They might indeed commiserate with her some, because they might understand those kinds of urges, but from the tribal standpoint not too many of them would be in agreement with this sort of step, and see it as mostly an attempt to avoid dealing with her own issues, and yet another sign that she needs to get treatment. Because basically you really can't allow your ED to screw things up to this extent.

As far as your own weight loss being a trigger, it probably is to some degree. But it's kind of the same thing : There are always going to be triggers in this world, and if otherwise-innocent stuff is continually messing you up, then you need to be responsible and think about therapy.

" How do I fix this?? "

The thing is, we can't really fix it ; they have to want to fix it themselves. Which as I'm sure you are finding, doesn't do much for our own fixing urges.

In any case, this isn't much of an answer I know, but just to say that if it seems like she's not handling things well, there would be other people who might tell her the same thing.

Also, I was wondering : Are there some times when she says that she knows that some of this is crazy ?

Most people with EDs understand that it is.



Hey smitty911.
A lot of people said a lot of good stuff in this thread.
I think that they've said pretty much everything that needs to be said about the ED aspect.
You two haven't been married long, but did your wife exhibit this level of illusionmet or dissociated thought before?
And if she continues this, do you think that the marriage can last?

More importantly is this (her ED and what seems like her absolute dedication to it) affecting the kids? If not, do you think it will do so?
It sounds like she's said that she's prioritizing the ED before her relationship with you as well as her own life and the livelihood of the children.
This is very disconcerting to hear. If you determine that she might be a danger to the children there may come a time where you have to put them before her and your relationship. I know that isn't easy to hear, and recovery would be ideal, but there are certain things that must be prioritized.

I think consulting a professional 3rd party might be a good idea. If you don't know where to start you could ask your doctor to point you in the right direction. They might direct you toward a dietician or therapist or organization that could get you more information. Ultimately she's going to be the one who needs to make an appointment with a therapist or nutritionist. That being said, if it gets to the point where she collapses and ends up in the hospital you may need to tell them that she has an eating disorder. That then may lead to her being hospitalized for her ED which may even end up saving her life.

Sorry for the rant but I hope that gave you something to think about.

- Adage


Thank you all for the support and the information. Things seem to be taking a turn for the worse. My wife has continued on with her weight loss and has a target goal that is dangerous, in my opinion. While on this journey we have found ourselves fighting and arguing which has come extremely close to ending our marriage. The fighting is not typically about her ED, but I truly believe that the ED is causing some irrational thinking and short temper. Our most recent fight was due to some of my family members pointing out that I have lost too much weight. My wife has also said this to me in the recent past, but I didn't understand when she was saying that I look sickly and way too thin. This has caused her to feel like she is in competition with me and now feels that I have taken the one thing from her that was hers alone, her ED. I did not intend for this to happen, but I find it difficult to sit down and eat when she is starving herself. When she agrees to eat, I eat. When she won't, I won't. This is not a scare tactic, but again I just couldn't bring myself to eat in front of her. So, as a result, I lost weight and compounded the issue. The feelings and anxiety that I have caused in her are undeniably hurtful. I can see that from her point of view, but I never meant for this to happen. She says that I don't make her a priority, but I try with all my heart to eliminate stress, be helpful and to be supportive. I can do better, but this has also back fired causing an increase in stress.

I just don't know what I am doing. I try to talk to her about this when the topic comes up, but I just don't understand the devil that is inside causing her to torture herself. I have read the literature on what not to say or do, but I seem to mess up. I don't want to be her trigger and I don't want my marriage to end, but both of these are occurring. Please help me save my marriage.

I love my wife...

I just can't stand this. I can't tell what is real and what is the ED. We argued all night resulting in no sleep and she has not eaten. She has said that she is done and has taken off her wedding rings. I just can't tell if the ED is making the fights worse or if the fights are making the ED worse. I know that I am at fault for the arguments and I would give anything for them to stop, but in the past 2 weeks they have been almost constant. We had a large blow out last weekend resulting in another chance, but last nights has put her over the edge. I just don't know what to do..... please someone... help.


Hey Smitty,

You wrote :

"The fighting is not typically about her ED, but I truly believe that the ED is causing some irrational thinking and short temper."

I think you have a pretty good reason to believe this is true. People with ED's can become increasingly irritable and on edge and sensitive to all sorts of various things. Within the online tribe of people who have EDs themselves , this phenomenon is well known, and is what's known as being "Hangry"- a combination of "hungry" and "angry". So I suspect that this is a lot of what you are seeing from your wife when she finds herself irritable and extra-sensitive, and when her temper gets short.

"...but I didn't understand when she was saying that I look sickly and way too thin. This has caused her to feel like she is in competition with me and now feels that I have taken the one thing from her that was hers alone, her ED. "

Yep, the girls will talk about this too. Seeing others who seem thinner than themselves really can be a trigger, and not only does it bring up those competitive and "comparing" feelings, but as you said, it can also cause them to feel as though their own accomplishments are somehow being devalued. And it can be even worse when these triggers are coming from someone within their very own family.

"I find it difficult to sit down and eat when she is starving herself. When she agrees to eat, I eat. When she won't, I won't."

I can see where you might not want to feel as though you were subliminally criticizing her in some way, if instead you seemed to be doing the opposite of her at meal time. When someone is already that sensitive, then I can see where this might be something you might want to avoid. Like if you were to eat a lot at a meal, when she was obviously restricting, then she might feel as though you were sending her some sort of an unspoken critical message . Or alternatively, if you were to mimic her own behaviors, she might feel as though you were trying to intrude on her turf, in ways that might feel devaluing to her.

So yes, it's a mess alright. How much walking on eggshells or "mind reading" should be be expected to do ?

My sense is that the healthiest thing would be not to allow yourself and your own food behaviors be influenced by what you think may or may not be helping her.

But yes, what now ?

Again, my sense if that if she were talking to others who found themselves in her situation, they'd be telling her that the fact that she is allowing her thoughts and issues influence your marriage to the extent that she's thinking of leaving you, really should be serving as a big red flag for her. And that she needs to look beyond the issues the two of you seem to be having, and take some responsibility for how much her own larger issues are likely effecting the course of this matter.

Unfortunately I think you are simply too close to things for you to be able to tell her this yourself. It would be better if someone could talk with her who was coming from a more neutral position. Like a couples' counsellor perhaps ?

Because it really does seem like it's time for something like that, and that's what I'd be pushing for now if I were in your position.

Of course she might say it was too late for that, or that given how she feels now, she couldn't see how it might help. If she says that, you might say that it's you who has the need for the two of you to go in ? You are ready to explore the various reasons why you might be the one to blame, and you need her to help you with that ? Rather than to just have things go to pot, without the two of you having taken that opportunity first ?

Because really, when it's just the two of you going at it, without any sort of outside referee, I suspect that the both of you have already seen how well that's been working.

Bob J.