Sunday, March 26, 2023
HomeRelationship AdviceI'm (40M) not attracted to my wife(49F).

I’m (40M) not attracted to my wife(49F).

I need some advice. I’m a 40-year-old man. I’ve been married to my wife for 15 years and we have 2 teenage kids. She’s a good mom and a decent partner, but I’m not attracted to her at all anymore and I feel conflicted about what to do next.

When we met, obviously things were different, but it’s just changed over the years. She’s gained at least 150-200lbs and I don’t even want to be intimate with her at all. I’m sure she knows on some level since we barely have sex anymore and when we kiss, it’s about as passionless as it can be.

I’ve tried talking to her about it before, taking the angle about ‘I’m worried about your health,’ that didn’t work. I’ve tried cooking healthier and being more active together. It just never sticks and it feels like if I’m not leading the way, she won’t do it. Every time we start to go down the path of being more active or healthier, she turns it into this huge, grand production about how we have to overhaul our entire lives instead of just trying to make small, incremental changes so it never goes anywhere. Frankly, it’s exhausting.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the greatest physical specimen, but I’ve tried to keep my body in relatively decent shape over the years. I exercise regularly. I try to not eat a lot of garbage food and cook healthy meals.

Beyond the physical, I don’t know…I just feel distant and unconnected. We still have things in common, but it feels like we’re roommates and not spouses. Our interactions are routine and boring. There’s just nothing there. I care about her, but I don’t think I’m in love with her anymore.

I don’t want to spend the next 15 years of my life married to someone I’m not attracted to. I’m totally unhappy and I can feel it building to a crisis. I’m increasingly thinking about divorce but obviously, I’m worried about the fallout for her and the kids. I don’t know what to do.

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  1. I think you might get a lot of complaints or angry posts, but (as a woman) every single thing you listed here is legitimate.

    I think people tend to overlook the fact that self care and health are actually values that each of us have (or don’t have). When your partner isn’t doing those things it’s not just you being a superficial jerk. It’s an actual incompatibility and a serious issue in the relationship.

    All of that said, I’m sure that your wife is fully aware of her weight gain and your lack of attraction. There’s no doubt a reason for it. Could be depression, stress, fatigue from too many responsibilities at home or work, or it could’ve even stemmed from her feeling unattractive to you in the first place and using food as a coping mechanism (and then the cycle just perpetuated itself). Probably some combination of the above and maybe other things I haven’t mentioned.

    As for how to start, I think this is EITHER at the level of
    1. therapy if you want to give it one last try, or
    2. telling her most of the things you said in this post—and that without some real change, you unfortunately see no alternative other than divorce.

    If you go the second route, you don’t have to start with her weight, but start with the lack of emotional connection and intimacy. That gives her something to think about that isn’t just physical and that she can probably do something about immediately.

    Maybe the two of you could buy a couples workbook on Amazon. Something based around increasing trust and/or intimacy? And also couples games to get to know each other better after years together. There are also apps for this type of thing. I would suggest searching the app store.

    From there, it could increase closeness to where maybe she starts feeling a little motivated to do some self-care.

    In any case, I agree that more serious action is required at this point. This is your life and it’s important that you be proactive about it. If you and your spouse are no longer a good match, that is okay.

    I would like to add, that of course human beings gain and lose weight throughout a lifetime. People get sick, go through difficult times, get less attractive at times and more attractive at other times. Genuine, lasting love with a compatible mate is stronger than all of those things.

    But I also feel like your situation is in the extreme and the connection isn’t there; it’s deeply affecting your mental health and your happiness. That is also valid and important. Sometimes it’s just not the right situation/person anymore.

  2. You are contemplating divorce, have you told her that her weight is making you not attracted to her? 150-200 lbs is a lot of weight to put on, is it possible she had a medical issue or mental health issue? Has she seen a DR?

  3. Child of divorce here. Sounds like you should get divorced. I get the whole stay together for the kids thing, but staying in an unhappy, unloving, passionless marriage isn’t setting a good example for them either.

  4. tell her you are signing up for couples therapy. you need to be honest about this with her, and therapy is a decent way to do this. if she is truly blocking your every suggestion, then she needs to stop denying that this is the path to divorce.
    Op, you should be in a healthy relationship. Gaining 20 – 30 lbs after a few kids is common, but 150 – 200 lbs is not normal, and it’s not what you married.

  5. You’re feelings are valid. I would feel the same way too.

    Have you really really spoken to her about how unhappy you are? Have you sat her down and said “wife, I’m very unhappy. I desperately want us to make changes” ?

    It’s a hard talk to have.

    Is it possible that the only way you’ve communicated your issues is by trying to encourage a healthy lifestyle? If you’ve not seriously talked things through it is likely that your wife may not realise how unhappy you feel.

    Is couples therapy an option? Perhaps having an impartial mediator will help you both communicate better.

    A therapist may help her to realise why she is sabotaging these diets and lifestyle changes (trying to overhaul your whole life overnight is a sabotage move-as it rarely works)

    It will give you the chance to talk through the connection issues. How and why you feel distant.

    Once new trust is built, It may also provide you with some guidance and a safe environment to actually discuss how and why the weight thing bothers you.
    I know you want to protect her feelings by talking about health, but if it’s got to the point that you want to leave her… maybe you need to have a real conversation. A therapist can help you to plan/navigate that conversation (you can request single sessions with your couples therapist).

    I also have to ask, as she started menopause? That can create huge changes to weight, health and mood. Menopause won’t last forever.

    You mention that you feel distant and that your connection has gone.
    Have you done any exercises to help re-build it? Date nights, cuddling, a new hobby together, a class together or possibly a couples holiday. If you are feeling distant, try to find ways new to create emotional closeness.

    However, you are still young. So is she. If this really isn’t working for you, she isn’t open to any of the above or you try the above ideas and nothing changes after a year (a say a year because it can take a while for new hobbies and changes to fully impact the relationship)…. Then you should move on. Don’t spend another 15 years unhappy.

    Unless, of course, you already want to separate and you posted here in the hope that people will encourage you to take the leap?….

  6. I don’t live in an “lb” country, but do you mean she is now 68-90kg (15-200lb) total weight or that this is the incremental weight she has added? If it is truly the later, I am speechless, I am a 6’2″ dude who weights about 85kg.

  7. >She has gained 150-200lbs

    Whoever tells you that this is not a reason to leave someone is literally ignorant or/and stupid.

    150-200lbs is like she ate a full grown man for crying out loud. You can’t help a person that doesn’t want to be helped.

  8. Hey man,

    I, 42M, I’ve also been married for 15 years. The difference is that the roles have been reversed. Over the past five years, I totally became a glutton and gained about 30 pounds, and on the flipside my wife is a personal trainer. She is fit and healthy. Over the years she too has asked me to eat less junk food, smaller portions, and Not so late. I never listened to her and just wanted to live my life with my own happiness, which was food. I loved trying out new restaurants all the time, but she loved working out and during those past five years she ended up going behind my back and seeing another man that was in fit physical condition. I caught the situation before a deep relationship was built. Fast forward to about six months ago, we were out with our kids, we also have two children just as you do, and I looked at myself in the pictures and realize the weight I gained. I am now trying to eat smaller portions and control my eating habits, which is very difficult at this point.

    The point I’m trying to make is that I understand you love your wife, and you want what’s best for her and yourself, but she is going to need to want it. If she does not want to lose weight, you can take the horse to the water, but he can’t make it drink. She needs to desire losing the weight and keeping it off.

    On the flipside the lack of connection that you feel is both mental and physical. As a man, if I am not physical with my wife is there is a feeling of distance from her. As men, we connect more so with physical touch, then emotionally. This could be why you feel the way you feel…

  9. This is tough. It can be hard to break out of the “all-or-nothing” dieting mentality but small healthy changes are the way to go. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body a lot (physically but also hormonally) and it can be hard to stay motivated when the weight doesn’t come of as quickly as it did before you had kids.

  10. It sounds like you’re roommates at this point. We only get one life and deserve to be happy. Maybe she isn’t happy either. Sit down and talk with her. But honestly it’s most likely going to be a divorce. If she lost 200 pounds would you feel differently at this point?

  11. Has she spoken to a doctor? I sincerely doubt she is enjoying your marriage that much more than you but often it’s a medical issue and at the very least, you should make sure she isn’t ill whether or not you work it out.

    I couldn’t lose weight for a solid 5 years no matter what I did and when I first gained it, it was quick and I thought I was fine with it after a lot of insecurities…. Turns out it’s medical and if I had kept avoiding the issue, I’d still be very overweight but more importantly, severely unhappy and without any cause that I could have seen.

  12. My brother and his wife both gained a lot of weight. He was approaching 350 and she was 300 pounds. They both saw the doctor and got their stomachs banded. They are now a much healthier weight. He lost almost 200 pounds over the last few years. I think if you treat it as a medical issue. If your wife weighs 250 to 300 pounds, she won’t be growing old. Get a doctor involved and take a hard look at the stomach band.

  13. You can’t help someone who can’t help themselves. There is a physical and/or mental health reason behind such huge weight gain, but if she won’t take steps to correct it, all your efforts in the world won’t matter. 150-200 pounds is AT LEAST one whole person, and it’s very much reasonable to no longer be attracted to her. If you aren’t satisfied in this relationship and have given it your best effort (and it seems you have), it’s fair to step away. You deserve to be happy, and your kids deserve a happy parent.

  14. 150-200 lbs is basically multiplying yourself by 2 for most people. You do need to talk to her because its not just about your attraction to her bit also her health

  15. You can’t force attraction and I think it’s totally understandable that you are not attracted to a morbidly obese woman. I find it interesting that you worded “tried the angle of health” as opposed to genuinely caring or being hurt by the severity of the health issues this has to be causing. 80 pounds outside of your bmi is considered morbidly obese. She has gained double that amount. I don’t know how your focus could be about attraction and your relationship when a person you care about is actively killing themselves. She needs a physiatrists help and a medical consult to make sure there are no undiagnosed illness that caused the weight gain. I think you need to state to her compassionately, clearly & concisely she has become unattractive to you & that you don’t feel in love anymore. You can’t give someone a chance without being transparent about your feelings and what actually causes them. Can you give me some clarity on why it would turn into an argument if she advocated for incremental lifestyle changes? That is often times the most effective/ sustainable way for people to tackle a huge weight loss journeys. Maybe if y’all did it that way she could have made some progress by now. It wouldn’t have been as instantly gratifying but it would have been better than her loosing 0 pounds.

  16. The longer it takes, the harder will get. Seems to me you already made up your mind. Personally, I don’t think love or attraction can be recovered easily once you lose it. Also, there’ll never be a right time to leave.

  17. It’s very valid to divorce if you are no longer happy in the relationship, regardless of the reason. You should be happy with your life and shouldn’t stay in a situation that makes you unhappy for the sake or benefit of other people, period. Do what is best for you, and things will work out. Tell your wife you are unhappy and why and no longer want to be married. Get a lawyer and take care of that, and then move on and help with the kids but also pursue things that you are passionate about and make you happy. Good luck.

  18. Normally I would think losing interest in someone due to attraction is shallow since looks fade with age but weight is controllable. I’m justifying it as a level of laziness and disregard for oneself which is unattractive, almost like poor hygiene. I think therapy could work but if not, leaving may have to be the solution.

    Unpopular opinion: if she also agrees to wanting a change and finding it too hard with the amount of weight gained.. there’s always surgery. I feel gross suggesting it, but it is an option if she’s comfortable and willing for her own self esteem.

  19. Your feelings are valid, but didn’t she gain this weight over years?

    Couldn’t you have had a discussion when she’d put on 30 lbs?

    or 50 lbs?

    Sounds like you talked to her, but I’m not sure you made it clear that this was a deal breaker and you were considering ending things.

    “I’m worried about your health” is polite but “I’m leaving you if you don’t stop gaining weight” is much clearer.

    There really isn’t anything she can do at this point, right?

    Without major surgery, there is no way she is going to lose that weight and even with that there would be a lot of cosmetic work to be done due to stretched skin.

  20. As a woman, I feel it is my duty to keep my partner happy, and vice versa. I never understood how anyone could let themselves go like that. Whatever happens to your relationship is on her because her weight gain and letting herself go is her own fault. She can’t expect you to be attracted to her after gaining that much weight. It’s slob behavior, lazy and reckless. I make it a point to stay fit and attractive for my partner, and I make sure his needs in bed are met. That’s part of my job. If you’ve done all you can to push her in the right direction, she has nobody to blame but herself. You need to be completely honest with her. Moving forward together isn’t fair to with of you.

  21. It sounds like she could benefit from therapy because the whole “all or nothing” overhaul reaction is a pretty common cognitive distortion. It can really stifle any progress towards a healthier lifestyle. That sucks though, sorry you’re dealing with that. I personally wouldn’t be able to stay with any man that I wasn’t attracted to anymore.

  22. You and me both bud. You and me both.

    Firstly, why 15 years? I think you got another 30, unless you think your wife won’t make it that long?

    Secondly. You’re at the big 40. It’s only downhill from here. Every year you wait is just that much harder to attract a new mate.

    Life’s too short to waste it with someone you don’t love. There is no prize at the end of your life for sacrificing it for someone else. Do what needs to be done. Reassure your kids you love them and do everything you can to make this easy on them.

    Now, if I could only follow my own advice…

  23. Gaining 150-200 lbs is not normal at all. There is clearly something going on with her health, be it mental or physical. That being said, if she developed some other disability, would you leave her then too?

  24. Please don’t tell her you find her unattractive and overweight. You will never be able to undo those words and it will crush her. Focus on the lack of connection and intimacy, you can even talk about being in a health rut that as a family you’re not working out or eating well. Telling her the attraction is gone will not save your marriage or improve things. It will put the nail in the coffin, but in a way that leaves her tremendously damaged. Even if you just want to divorce, just say the connection isn’t there.

    I think once that spark and attraction is gone it is very hard to find again. You could try some single and couples counselling, try go away together maybe? Idk. I’m in a similar situation and it’s hard.

    Good luck to you.

  25. Everything you listed and your feelings are legitimate and fair. I do think you may be misidentifying the core issue though. It sounds like you haven’t just lost physical intimacy but emotional as well. If you don’t want to get divorced just yet, I strongly suggest finding a couples retreat too rebuild intimacy. There are a bunch online when I searched including this one:

    Lastly for the weight gain… I can only speak for me, but I tried everything: I work out 4-7 days a week (Pilates, bjj, boxing, running, yoga), intermittent fasting, watching food and calories, I walk several miles every day. I was gaining weight. It made me feel ugly and depressed. Nothing I did worked- I started cryolipolysis and got fat pockets, I went to a dietitian, I tried velasculpting… nothing. Eventually I started a program called Calibrate and it is working very well. 2lbs every week for 10 weeks so far and still going. I am not saying it would work for her (and it isn’t cheap)…. But what I am saying is that the feelings and emotions that go into weight gain (especially if you CANNOT get it to stop) are incredibly difficult. I suggest flipping the script you have been using: not “ I am worried about your health”, but “i feel emotionally lovely and isolated when we can’t do things together. I want to be able to do things with you again, like go on a hike or go kayaking. I know it is a touchy subject, but we need to talk about for our marriage… how can I help and support you in slimming down enough that we can be active together again?”

  26. I never understood partners letting themselves go. Maybe some couples therapy and maybe going to the gym together. If she still chooses to remain in her state, maybe it’s time to move on. Life is too short to waste time with someone stagnant

  27. I wish, desperately, that my parents had divorced when I was still young.

    Don’t let your kids grow up thinking that this kind of passionless marriage is normal, it can effect every other relationship they have for the rest of their lives.

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