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Question to the Sexpert:
“I can’t do it anymore: have sex with my husband, that is. When we first got together 8 years ago he wasn’t a health nut or anything, but he was normal weight and very attractive to me. A few years into dating, he started to let himself go: eating too much and never getting any exercise. In the last three years we’ve been married he’s gained probably another 50 pounds. Not only am I not attracted to him anymore but the sex has gone downhill too. He can’t get erections as easily, they don’t stay hard and he’s lazy about how we do it. It’s just not worth it to me anymore. I refuse to fake interest. If he doesn’t care about his appearance, what else can I do?”
On one hand you’ve got these marriage vow thingees that say something to the effect of , “no, really, I love you so much that you could get hit by a bus and lose all your money and develop a mental illness where your only joy is collecting and cataloging tiny bits of string and I’d still stay with you.” On the other hand, I get really mad at fat people for taking up too much space on the dance floor.
But on a third theoretical hand, I dislike drunk girls with big, hideous purses on the dance floor much more, which brings us full circle back to the problem at hand: people you don’t want to have sex with.
In a perfect world, where everyone is patient, unconditionally positive and devoid of any shallowness, you’d be able to look past his physical changes and continue to make love unabated because encased in those layers of onion rings and cheese steaks is the man you fell for years ago. Or, in an alternate perfect world, he’d wake up one day and remove the fat suit he’s been wearing as part of an overly elaborate practical joke for the last several years and announce, “Ha! Fooled you!”
In another alternate world, a slightly more realistic one, the two of you will start a lifestyle change consisting of proper nutrition and exercise together and over time, he would shed those extra pounds, revitalizing your marriage in the process. Like this happy couple. You can cooperate as a team, finding shared activities with a common goal of better health and getting back to the hot fuckin’ of yesteryear.
But no matter what: you’ve got to talk to him about this. Whether you decide to work together on changing his habits, or to just give up on sex entirely, he’s going to require notification. This is an unavoidable conversation. Besides, no matter how stealth you think you are, he already knows. By not openly discussing it, you’re just making the problem worse. Another thing that usually goes out the window with good eating and exercise habits is confidence. And every day that you give him that “ewwww….really, do I have to?” look is a day he eats his feelings, reaching for the Krispy Kreme of your affection.
I want to take a moment to put out a few disclaimers for the readership:
1. Heavy people can have perfectly good, wicked hot sex. While research does indicate that obesity can put a damper on male sexual performance, it’s certainly not a rule that all big guys suck in the sack.
2. Not everyone finds weight gain on their partner to be such a deal breaker. And you, sweetheart, may not have all the glowingly positive traits you had 8 years ago either. Can you still do the standing splits? Are you sure your jokes are still cutting edge or is there some standard crap content he’s heard about a dozen times?
3. Weight gain is the tip of the iceberg in physical changes that happen to people as they age. If you can’t hang with an expanding waistline, his inevitable balding, graying, wrinkling, sagging and liver spots are pretty much going to sign the divorce papers for you.
No one should ever feel obligated to have sex with anyone they don’t want to. There is no reason to subject yourself to sex you don’t want out of duty, loyalty or anything else. And further, I side with you that we do have a very real obligation to our partners to remain the person to whom they promised themselves. I agree with Dan Savage that dropping something that was part of your selling points at the beginning once the papers have been signed is disingenuous and unfair.
Obviously we can’t all stay 23 and flawless looking forever, but having a significant other is a reason to be better, not an excuse to take a vacation from self improvement.
IN PRACTICAL TERMS:
1. You need to actually talk to him about this, how it makes you feel and what you’d like to have happen. Tell him, at minimum, to get his lazy ass moving around in the bed more instead of boring you to tears with the minimal effort you’ve experienced as of late.
2. Do that whole work-together-on-changing-your-lifestyles stuff. It’ll work miracles.
3. In the meantime, focus on other intimate activities like making out and pleasuring each other in ways that don’t require an unflagging erection.
You make no mention of how his personality has changed over this time or whether or not you get along otherwise. Make sure the weight isn’t just an easy excuse for being disinterested in a relationship that isn’t working. Focus on the parts of him that are still attractive and keep you together. Or don’t. Whatever. You’re the only one who make that call. Good luck.
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