September 22nd, 2010 by Nina Atwood
Dear Nina: Iíve been dating my boyfriend for nearly 4 months.† We love each other very much and have talked about getting engaged and getting married. The one thing that has been sitting with me has been the fact that he is overweight and had gastric bypass nearly 3 years ago.†I hadnít ďseenĒ his weight until last week when my therapist brought up her concerns over the fact that he is overweight.†She thinks that if I continue dating him Iíll end up being unhappy in the long run.†
He and I have a very open communication style and talk about everything.†I told him that if he gained 50 pounds (for example) that would be the start of the end for us.†I know itís horrible to say and I canít believe I actually think this way, but itís true.†I want to marry a guy who will be able to do things with our kids, etc.† My therapistís thoughts have really sat with me and bothered me.†I love this guy and can see a wonderful future with him.†How do I put what my therapist has said behind me and focus on how I feel about the guy in my life?†How do you weigh what others say without feeling the need to take what they say as truth? – Darlene
Dear Darlene: Your therapistís words rankled because they touched a nerve inside of you, not because she injected thoughts that werenít there before. You are the one who told your boyfriend that if he gained 50 pounds that would be the beginning of the end; it is your own doubts and fears at play here. She popped your fantasy bubble and asked you to face reality about this relationship. Better that happens now than after marriage.
Real love is about acceptance – being able to embrace the entire person you say you love, warts and all. Your boyfriend has an eating disorder, had surgery and lost weight,†and will probably battle this issue the rest of his life in some form or other. Thatís part of the package you are marrying.
Whatís important is the essence of him – the person inside the package – his values, his ability to love and be loved, his character, how kind he is, what kind of father he will be. You discover character by observing a personís behavior. It takes time to peel away the layers of a person, come down from the early relationship enchantment, and know who you are choosing. You know youíre choosing the right person when you realize that time will take away your beauty and virility, illness can strike, and yet you will truly love him/her in sickness and in health, 50 pounds plus or minus.
Iím not sure youíre ready yet for marriage, Darlene. Itís only been four months, and that may not be enough time for the two of you to really know one another†so that you†are choosing the entire person, not just a fantasy. My advice: slow down this speeding train of a courtship.†Focus on the relationship; give yourselves time for the glow of enchantment to fade. Thoroughly examine your heart and mind, Darlene. When your love for him is no longer conditional on his body weight, then youíre ready to marry.