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"My Wife Is Down When It Comes To Her Appearance"
Mar 12 2018
"My Wife Is Down When It Comes To Her Appearance"
This week our resident agony aunt Niamh Fitzpatrick has some advice for a listener who wants to help his wife get in shape. Hi Neil and Niamh, My sister is getting married in about six months' time and my wife has been talking for ages about how she wants to be in shape for the wedding. But she isn’t doing anything about it and I worry that she will regret it when the wedding comes around. I love my wife no matter what size she is, to me she is beautiful inside and out. We’re together ten years and I can honestly say that we’re happy together. She’s the love of my life and she’s a fantastic mother, our kids are doing great and it’s largely down to her, the house runs smoothly as she’s so organised. However, she herself is not happy as she gained over two stone after having our kids and has never lost it and it really bothers her (the kids are 6, 4 and 2). She is never happy with her clothes and just seems to wear black all the time, she doesn’t wear make-up and just scrapes her hair back, it’s as if she doesn’t care about how she looks. She’s not depressed or anything, she’s just down when it comes to her appearance. She’ll often even duck out of going to things because she has nothing to wear, so she’ll make an excuse and not go. And anytime there’s photos to be taken she hops up and says that she’ll take the pics, but I know that’s because she hates being in photos. But at the wedding she won’t be able to duck out of the family photos and I just don’t want her to get stressed out coming up to it and to dread the day, yet I can see this happening. If she could just get out walking a bit and maybe join a slimming class I’m sure she could lose this weight but she just can’t seem to get her act in gear. She has great intentions but never manages to stick with anything for any length of time. She works full time and is excellent at her job, she’s even been recently promoted. Her work even has a gym so she could go to that if she wanted but she says she’s too tired. Do I say something to her about this? Or do I stand back and see what happens and pick up the pieces if it all goes wrong? I love her and just need some help figuring out how to help her. Thanks in advance. Niamh's Advice: Your intention is pure, you clearly love your wife and genuinely just want her to be happy. Some people would say to do nothing and leave it to your wife to sort, but I think that if you go about this the right way it could actually be the very thing that your wife needs – a bit of well thought out support. Firstly, it’s about understanding that your wife knows exactly what’s going on here, she hasn’t missed the fact that she has weight to lose, nor that the wedding is approaching and she needs to get going or she will find herself stressed coming up to it. She knows that for her health and also for her mental well-being, getting in shape would be good for her. She even knows what she needs to do in order to shift the pounds – which is to exercise regularly and consistently and to eat appropriately. What she doesn’t know, is how she can do all this on top of the other jobs that are her responsibility. That’s where you can come in. Step back and consider what jobs she has to do before she would be free to think about exercising or going to a slimming class. You described a woman who has three children under 6, a full-time career, plus whatever household tasks that you share between you. It’s not a question of why she hasn’t gotten her act in gear, it’s more a question of how could she with all this going on? She is achieving in many areas of her life: She has a good relationship with you and a happy marriage She’s a great mother and has three healthy happy children She’s running a busy household efficiently She’s performing in her career and her employer is happy What’s left after all this? Nothing. Your wife is depleted and the item that gets put on the long finger is herself, simply because she has run out of road. This is the bit that she may not actually realise, as she is probably so used to this life of juggling that she doesn’t recognise that she is out of balance. So, think about what you can do to free up physical and emotional space for your wife to be able to think of herself. Could you get the kids up in the mornings to let her get out to walk? Could you put them to bed for the same reason? Could you be home in the evening to let her go to slimming class? Who does the laundry, housework, making the lunches, getting up at night – do you share all this or is this largely her responsibility? See what you can do that would free up some space to allow her to not be so depleted. Then, next time she gives out about not having anything to wear that fits her, or that she makes any noises at all about being unhappy with her body, wait for a good time and say something like this: “You know when you said that you’re fed up of not fitting into your clothes, well I know that life is hectic now but if you had some space to do something about that, would you want to? If you would, then let’s talk about how we can make that happen. Your life is full on and there’s little or no space left for you, but we’re in this together so we can figure out how I can help make that space. Please know that I love you as you are, to me you are beautiful inside and out. But if you’d like to make some changes then let’s figure it out. Would that help?” Then find out what her obstacles are in her own mind and that will help shape the plan that the two of you can come up with. In time, a very useful practical thing would be to consider getting her a gift of something like a personal shopper who can show her how to dress for her shape, both now and as that shape changes when she gets fitter. The larger shops and shopping centres will have a personal shopper who knows the stock and can teach her how to dress for her shape. For an appointment with Niamh, visit niamhfitzpatrickpsychology.ie. To engage her as a speaker for your event or company, go to outlaw.ie.