Not Happy With My Wife's Appearance

How do I come to terms with my wife being over-weight?

Dov Answers:

I had a difficult wedding - for me it was turmoil, and the doubt I harbored deep inside about marrying that girl was gnawing and torturing me. We didn't really fit because (1) I felt that we were not religious soul-mates (I was far more hashkafically 'deep' than she was), and (2) I had this nagging realization that she was neither a hottie, nor wished to be one... I had two panic attacks during the engagement due to these two seemingly opposite concerns. In me they coexisted just fine! I am no James Bond. But I went through with it because I admired that girl, felt I could probably love her, and saw that she really liked me - and that meant a lot. Sadly, she did not really know me that well, because #1 - I was an addict (but didn't really face that myself yet, at the time), and #2 - she did not realize how shaky I felt inside about devoting the rest of my life to being with her (and being with her in olam haba, as well). It drove me crazy...

So we were married and it wasn't long before we had sex problems - really she had problems with me, cuz she knew nothing about sexuality/etc., and was essentially a blank slate - she had no specific expectations. So lucky....I was the one with expectations. She was ready to learn what it means to be physically close with her very own loving man - her other half. Unfortunately for her, my expectations - born out of my own strange combo of Chazals I had learned about and (l"h) porn videos - never gave her a chance. I was too busy trying to put her in the exact place of my (actually quite innocent and heartfelt) expectations from perfect porn stars and fantasy-women I had read about.... it was torture for her, and for me. The Chazals and shaalos u'tshuvos I had researched all strengthened the veracity of my lusty perspective - in my own mind. The poor girl had much to contend with...

Now, I wasn't intentionally doing anything wrong. I honestly believed that I needed and could not in all fairness be expected to live without the right kind of sex with the right-shaped woman who acted just the right way. Nothing evil about that! Wrong maybe, but not evil. Hey - everyone has rights. I expected her to be OK with fulfilling mine, as my very own wife. Nu?

In the meantime, somewhat independent of all that, my addiction grew far worse, more wide-ranging, shaming, and damaging. It got so bad that I had to get sober! I have been sober for a few years now, by the chesed of Hashem. I go to meetings regularly, have a chevra I talk to daily, have (and use) a sponsor, work the steps by using them in real life, etc. Our marriage has improved immeasurably in every respect (including sexually), our family life is great, and I (and my wife and children) owe this new life to Hashem (working for me through the people of the Program, of course).

Now to tachlis. I have discovered that: (1) I can learn to appreciate the pretty things about my wife (and have a true nechoma through that appreciation) even though I am not pleased with other things. (2) I can actually grow up and be less self-centered inside my heart - instead of honestly feeling that I must be a real saint for being so nice and considerate considering that I am so tragically unsatisfied. (3) I learned that there is nothing as sexually exciting and fulfilling as actually looking into the eyes of a person who is totally given to me, loves me honestly, and is using her very femininity to be with me. These treasures will not be achieved by connecting to anyone else, no matter how 'hot' they are, and will not be improved upon in any way by my wife losing twenty pounds or getting other additional accouterments (including flotation devices!). Nor will it be improved by her becoming more 'dirty' or sexually hungry. Moderation is just fine, b"H - but only through my sobriety have I come to the 'insane' ability to accept any moderation at all, especially in the sexual arena.

I also learned what foreplay means. The only real foreplay is my going to shacharis, coming home with a smile and a good word for everyone in the house, and taking the time to ask her what her day is/was like and being able to honestly share my day with her when asked about it. And the best and most effective foreplay of all is letting go of sex for that day. Keeping it optional and not demanding anything from her in payment for my niceness. Surrendering my outcomes to Hashem (living step 3) is the only way I could ever have the freedom to improve at all and finally get the good life. I had to learn it slowly and am still learning it. Without recovery, I am too busy manipulating outcomes to my satisfaction! And my wife and kids have the good life now, too, and they know it. The older children see the stark difference in our home from ten years+ ago!

The single most important ingredient for our relationship quality (which is now to my utter amazement is b"H very, very good) is: my sobriety and recovery. Even my wife will tell you that, should you ask her - and she is far from being a "program person". We share everything now.