National Eating Disorders Association

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Wife unsure about marriage after ED treatment

Hello. My wife has been in inpatient / PHP for the past 21/2 months for anorexia and past trauma. She is beginning to have doubts about whether our marriage is what she wants, where her sexuality lies, and how much effort to put into saving our marriage and family. She says that all the other forms of love (caring, supporting, wanting to be there for you, etc.) are there but that the "romantic" part of love is gone. I have no idea where a lot of this came from. We had difficulties before she went into treatment, but never discussed alternate sexuality, We have two children and have been married for 14 years. Part of me wants to say that the treatment center "steered" her along a path but I know that would be improper - not that it couldn't happen. She's coming home later this week, and we are supposed to begin couples treatment and she will likely also attend IOP.

Anyone seen this before? Is this a typical "side effect" of being away for so long in an intensive recovery program? Does it return to normal? What do we need to do (if she's willing) to save our marriage? I love her deeply, and I believe she loves me (if not as romantically as she used to) and I know she loves our kids and family...

I'm at my ropes end, and its starting to look like a noose.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Welcome to the forums!

Hi spacemonkey,

Welcome to the community!

I don’t have any experiences like what you are going through but I just wanted to post to say that I am happy you decided to post here for support. I hope that others here can offer something more concrete but know you are not alone here.

Eating disorders affect entire families and supporting a loved one can be stressful and confusing. Now that your wife is out of treatment you will be looking to establish a new normal. Good for you for starting counseling right away, I hope the guidance will help you two have fruitful conversations about your relationship and the new part of the recovery journey you are starting when your wife gets out of treatment.

Please keep posting, I wish you the best. Take care of yourself.

Hello and welcome to the

Hello and welcome to the forums spacemonkey. I'm sorry to hear that you're at such a potentially life changing crossroads, But I am glad that you were able to find these forums. I have to say that I have a lot of respect for how much you are supporting your wife. Without a solid support network, it can be very difficult for people with eating disorders to recover.

That being said, do you feel that you've had proper support yourself? Is there anyone whom you can confide in - a therapist or a close friend? You want to make sure that you are taking care of your wife as well as yourself.

As far as your specific case is concerned, I'm sorry to say that I do not have any direct or second hand experience to share. It may be that these apparent changes to your wife's sexuality may have been there all along and are coming out with the eating disorder. It may also be the case that these feelings are tied to the eating disorder in some way. I'm certainly no health professional though; these thoughts are simply speculation.

I do hope that you are able to have a good heart to heart with your wife and shine light on how the both of you are feeling.
NEDA has a helpline if you'd like to share that with one of their trained volunteers: 1-800-931-2237

Also, here are a few links that I found that you may find helpful: (not just for parents)

Best of luck; and please keep us updated.


Sexuality issues.

Dear SM,

Oh brother, after submitting herself to treatment, I'm so sorry that there remains so much uncertainty surrounding all of this. And after 14 years of marriage and the two children you share.

How much of this has to do with her experiences in treatment is hard to say. In treatment people are asked to face up to their issues it's true, so if she's had questions about her sexuality, it's possible that this is one of those issues. How certain about where she believes she stands with all this… it's probably still hard to say. Treatment can shake a person up it's true, so while she may indeed have questions, hopefully she will not find herself making any rash decisions until things have had time to settle down some.

I believe you are right about the love and respect part though, and as long as that holds true between the both of you, you may just have to trust that things will end up working out in a way that turns out for the best. Couples counseling is the proper course of action in situations like this, so the two of you are taking a step that's respectful of your relationship by the both of you agreeing to that.

In the mean time you'll just have to have faith I think, and keep the good parts of your relationship in mind. Even though things are unsettled, it sounds like she's doing that too, so it's hard to imagine that there's more you can ask of yourselves.

Even so, I can only imagine how rough all this must be for you right now, so do keep in touch, if writing here seems to help any.

Bob J.