Ask Amy: Wife gains a husband, husband gains weight

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for nine years.

When we were newly married, we had the luxury of running after work and hiking on the weekends. We did not have a lot of stress.

Fast-forward to two kids, a home, careers, and a life out of balance — and my husband has gained about 60 pounds.

I am not judging him, as I completely understand the problem of stress eating, aging, and having too little time to work out.

I’ll love him no matter what.

My issue is his health. I’m terrified of him having a heart attack or a stroke.

He is a smart guy and knows he needs to lose weight, but the problem is that he won’t try.

He eats bags of cookies, brownies, and fast food. He refuses to go to the doctor because he says he “needs to lose weight first,” but he won’t make the effort to do so. He hasn’t had a physical in more than seven years.

I cannot bring myself to tell him that he really needs to lose weight, as I don’t want to make him feel worse than I know he already does.

I’m guessing it’s partially an emotional issue.

It’s getting to the point where something has to change.

How do I address this with him without making him feel ashamed or judged?

— Worried About Wellness Wife

Dear Worried: Your husband knows that he has an eating and weight problem. He has expressed as much to you, because he says that he is avoiding getting a checkup because of the dreaded scale at the doctor’s office (anyone can decline to be weighed by the doctor, by the way).

So first, you should urge your husband to see his doctor and ask not to be weighed, if being weighed makes him uncomfortable.

People sometimes overeat for a variety of complicated reasons, and if a person is committed to diving in and decoding these reasons and triggers, it can help them to regain a sense of control. A nutritionist can help to reset some of these behaviors through education and coaching; a therapist can help by talking about stress and offering coping techniques.

You could open this up as a topic, if he is willing to discuss it.

Assure him that you love him, that you’ve got his back, and that you will make space for him to pursue any endeavors that might help him to regain his good health. If he doesn’t want to discuss it, leave the topic alone. He’ll get there when he’s ready.

Dear Amy: My legal given name, “Jan,” is a form of another common name, “Janet.”

I have always used my legal name, and my family and friends call me by that name. It is the only name I’ve ever known.

There is a woman living in my town who always calls me “Janet,” even though my daughter and I have told her many times what my real name is.

Yesterday in a grocery store she called me “Janet” twice, and I didn’t answer because my back was turned so I didn’t see her and — hello — its not my name.

She then came up to me, addressed me as “Janet,” and asked me a question.

This really bothers me!

Should I remind her again, or just put up with it?

— Bugged in a Small Town

Dear Bugged: I wonder if you’ve ever told this person that your name, “Jan” is not short for “Janet.” She may know a Jan/Janet, and reflexively revert to a name that isn’t yours.

The next time this happens, be patient: “You always call me Janet, but I get confused because that’s not my name. My folks named me Jan. It’s not short for Janet. It’s just Jan. So you can call me “Just Jan” if you want, but I really do not answer to Janet.”

After that, if you continue to be misnamed, I think you should accept it as a quirk, and choose to greet it with a sigh.

Dear Amy: “Uncle Who Cares” thought his overseas niece should respond to her mother’s daily texts.

Those two or three seconds that it takes for the daughter to respond to her mother means the difference between mom going about her day without the added anxiety of worrying so much about her daughter.

As a daughter who’s recently lost their mother, I would gladly spend those few seconds to make her day better, if I could.

— Grieving Daughter

Dear Daughter: Absolutely.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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