Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I love my wife. She is 5-foot-3 and weighs 200 pounds. When we married (35 years ago) she weighed 125 pounds. She is physically challenged because of the weight. I have suggested everything from surgery to the liquid diet. We tried therapy about eight years ago, which ended when she said that, “no skinny [expletive] was going to tell [her] what to do.” (The expletive was the therapist.) We have a wedding of our son in about a year. She professes that she wants to lose weight, but takes minimal, non-effective steps. My unhappiness about the situation does not matter to her. Help! — Frustrated Husband

DEAR HUSBAND: At the risk of being branded another “skinny [expletive]” telling your wife what to do, I’m not going to direct her.

I question the wisdom of your choice to enter counseling with her, which seemed to be focused on her losing weight. It is her body. Obviously this has an impact on you, but she already knows what to do. She is staying fat for a reason. And the reason might be to prove to you who is in charge of her. This is speculation on my part, of course, but we are surrounded by a multimillion-dollar diet industry telling us how to get thin. And it is more complicated than you seem to think.

Losing a substantial amount of weight is challenging enough, but if you are completely unmotivated, it is impossible. Leave your personal unhappiness out of this. Your wife needs to own her own choices. You think you are encouraging her, but it feels like pressure to her, and she is pushing back.

Your wife has a deadline and a reachable goal if she cares enough to try to get there. Tell her you will support her efforts, but after that, don’t bring it up unless she wants to discuss it. Do not recommend any diets or exercise plans. She should consult with her doctor. She might also benefit from joining Overeaters Anonymous, which is a fellowship of people who are engaged in this life-altering struggle (OA.org). Other people who have faced this challenge might be able to understand and coach her better than you can.

DEAR AMY: My 25-year-old daughter rents space in someone’s home. The homeowner is a man in his mid-30s. For her rent, she has her own bedroom, bathroom and living room. He is a nice guy and they get along just fine. The problem is when his girlfriend is over, which is quite often. His bedroom is directly above my daughter’s and she can hear every sound that they make! I’m sure I don’t need to draw you a picture of the problem. It makes it especially awkward when they all meet at the breakfast table in the morning! Unfortunately, she is a frequent guest, and it’s really starting to affect my daughter’s sleep. She’s tried music with headphones but that’s not helpful when she’s trying to fall asleep. She can’t wear ear plugs, as she won’t hear her alarm when it goes off in the morning. She’s so eager to fall asleep before the action starts that she’s started taking sleeping pills, which is a terrible habit to start. Other than this, she loves living there. It’s a great amount of space for the money she pays and it’s very close to where she works. Any advice on how she should handle this? — Curious Mom

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DEAR MOM: If she is sharing common space with this couple and everyone gets along well, she should feel comfortable enough to bring up an awkward (but not that unusual) problem, but veil it in a way that preserves everyone’s privacy.

Let’s say they are all having breakfast together. Over toast and jam, your daughter says, “Hey, have you ever thought about getting a rug in your bedroom? Your room is right over mine and I can hear you at night, so I was thinking a rug would help.”

Also, if she sleeps with ear buds plugged in to her smartphone, the alarm on the phone is such that it rings through the ear buds. I agree that sleeping pills are not the answer.

DEAR AMY: I appreciate that you are promoting charitable giving during the holidays, but I was disturbed that you only featured larger charities. There are so many small charities worthy of mention! — Charitable Giver

DEAR GIVER: Because my column is run nationally, I featured mostly larger charities. My main hope is to inspire people to give — however they choose.