DEAR AMY: My husband has been significantly overweight most of his life. He recently lost more than 60 pounds on a very strict diet. (I have to work to stay at a healthy weight, but have never been more than 10 to 15 pounds over my ideal weight). He's much healthier now, and I'm extremely proud of him and his dedication to a new lifestyle. However, when he was overweight he was generally relaxed, fun and easy-going (these are also the qualities that attracted me to him). Now, after the weight loss, he generally seems miserable. I'm not the only person to have noticed this change. A few days ago a good friend told me that my husband is "the most miserable skinny person," he's ever known. I've tried to talk with him multiple times, both to let him know how proud I am of him for this accomplishment, and to try to understand why he seems so unhappy despite achieving the goal he set for himself. The most I've been able to get from him is that now that he's lost the weight he's embarrassed about how overweight he was. Amy, I loved my husband when he was overweight and I love him now, but after almost six months of dealing with his negativity, criticism and a much shorter temper than usual, I'm not sure how to help without sounding like I'm trying to derail his health plans. I think much of his negativity stems from hunger and having to deny himself his favorite foods. I want him to maintain his health, but I don't want him to have to choose health at the expense of happiness. Any thoughts on how I can help us through this challenge?
Missing my Chubby Hubby
DEAR MISSING: An often-unanticipated reaction to significant weight loss is that it tends to throw other things off-kilter.
Yes, you miss your chubby hubby. That guy seems to have disappeared. The person who has emerged sounds depressed. I think it's possible that your husband was "self-medicating" some underlying issues through overeating. Now that he doesn't have this crutch, these issues have surfaced.
He has taken charge of his physical health. Now he needs to concentrate on his mental health. A few sessions with a professional counselor who specializes in working with men could help him to put his choices, changes and challenges into perspective.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have two daughters — 40 and 37 years old. The oldest is living in the home she owns. The youngest, "Angela," came back to live with us seven years ago after her divorce. At that time, she said she would pay us something for rent. "Daddy" wouldn't let her, even though she has a good job and makes more than we do. I finally had enough and asked her for one-third of the household bills, which she deposited into our account immediately. (My husband actually backed me up.) Now she is being rude to me. She said she is resentful toward us for living here. She says that when she moves out she is NEVER coming back, except for holidays. She had no housing expenses for six years (except her personal bills), and now she is resentful of US?! I am heartbroken and having trouble sleeping. I just retired from my job of 30 years, and my husband is trying to retire but feels he can't. I know I didn't do anything wrong asking her for rent, but can I smooth this over? Should I let it go?
DEAR BOUND: You needn't let this go. You must let her go.
Taking in an adult child post-divorce is a kindness. Seven years of propping her up is not.
You and "Daddy" have hobbled your daughter. Your assistance has actually denied her the opportunity to experience the wonderful feeling of making it on her own. Her adult development has been stunted, and now she is acting like a tantrum-throwing teenager.
Wish her well. Tell her, "You can do it!" and cheerfully show her the door. She'll be back over the holidays (probably before), and by then you'll be happy to see her.
DEAR AMY: "Flabbergasted" was extremely judgmental of the person sitting next to them on a recent airplane. This particular seat mate sniffed and snorted mucus during the entire journey. Flabbergasted's own perfume might have been the actual cause. I have extreme allergies to many perfumes. If your perfume causes my allergy attack, it's your own damn fault!
DEAR ALLERGIC: Many people responded similarly.