This week’s Feature Friday is written by Joseph R., who writes from a husband’s perspective. Joseph is a psychologist, snowboarder, animal lover, and skateboard enthusiast. More importantly, he is a supporter of his wife and best friend, and an advocate for all those affected by eating disorders.
Five Things I Wish My Wife Knew
Having a spouse in recovery from an eating disorder makes things slightly different from other relationships. Loving someone who has struggled with this type of issue requires some sensitivity, carefully chosen words, and attention to what is not said. Now I admit that I am the furthest thing from the perfect husband. I have made mistakes and said insensitive things. I’ve become fed up with the monster we call ED from time to time and lost my patience. I’ve become annoyed during the reoccurring debacle that used to happen when we had to choose a restaurant to eat at, or the struggle of setting time limits at the gym for her. Sometimes it could (and can still) feel like walking on eggshells. I have found that I often need to remind myself that these feelings are real to her, even if they don’t make sense to me. The experience of having an eating disorder is completely foreign to me, but it shouldn’t stop me from striving to understand and help in any way that I can. I think this probably goes for most people in relationships with those who have struggled with an eating disorder. We don’t mean to be insensitive. We don’t understand. But we want to. So be patient with us too, ok?
Most of us husbands/boyfriends have probably thought about all of the things on this list, and wished, as I often do, that their significant others would simply believe what we know so clearly to be true. These are things that I think about often since I have a wife who is in recovery. In fact I will speak for all husbands and boyfriends when I say we wish you knew…
- You are absolutely beautiful. This sounds generic, and I am sure most spouses say this at some point but it is true and it is probably one of the most important things I can say. Why? Because she spent such a long time telling herself just the opposite. I think I say it a lot but it can really never be said enough. I wish she knew that when I am feeling down, I bring to mind an image of her gorgeous smile, and it always makes me feel better.
- But you are so much more than your body. So I would be a liar if I said her looks weren’t what first caught my attention. But after I developed that initial attraction, it was everything else that kept me coming back! It’s like the first time I went to Chipotle. The initial cool factor about designing my own burrito is what made me want to go in the restaurant. But the food (i.e what is inside the burrito!) is what kept me coming back time and time again. She is smart, I mean for real smart. I know I would not have been able to get through graduate school without my wife. She is also caring, and not to mention fiercely passionate She keeps me on my toes and the spontaneity is part of what makes my life worth living. Finally, she is super weird- a quirky little oddball that I absolutely adore. These quirks are part of what make life interesting and fun for me!
- You are brave. I think it is fair to say that everyone has his or her struggles or their form of demons. But someone who has a history of an eating disorder has had to battle those demons at least 3 times a day, possibly more. I cannot understand what it must be like to have an “ED voice,” but I know it takes true courage to have to stand up to that monster. I applaud her courage today and every day.
- You are a warrior. Yes she had courage to face her struggles, change her behaviors, and do the hard work of recovery early on. But she has also turned herself around and become one of the fiercest warriors in the true sense of the word. Through effective war strategies, and yes it can be a war, she has become successful and gotten her life back. Gotten even more back, I mean she got me after all (Just kidding). But in all seriousness, by being a warrior and continuing to be one, she is now able to advocate for other sufferers and help people heal. To me, that is the mark of a truly beautiful soul, and more admirable than someone who has never experienced adversity.
- I feel when you feel. I don’t know if she knows this, but when she is upset, I am upset. No one likes to see his or her spouse upset. But it’s more than that. If she is having a bad day, it pains me. I want to do anything within my power to help. Sometimes I can’t and that’s painful too. To know that I can’t take away the hurt left behind from this terrible disorder. If ED were a person, I would literally fight him to the death. I may not win, but I would do everything in my power to take him out.
I definitely don’t say these things enough but I think them all the time. Again I will speak for all the husbands/boyfriends/significant others (well all supportive ones at least) of those in recovery or struggling with an eating disorder-we are in your corner! No we don’t “get it” get it, but we are here to help in anyway possible, and even though we make mistakes, we wont give up if you don’t.