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BEL MOONEY: I find my wife less attractive as she gains weight. How can I help her lose weight?

by Elijah
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 BEL MOONEY: I find my wife less attractive as she gains weight. How can I help her lose weight?

Dear Bel,

My wife and I have been together for over 20 years and I love her very much.

But the older you get, the less effort you seem to make to maintain your weight.

He always had to diet to maintain a healthy weight, but diets are becoming less frequent and his weight is gradually increasing.

He doesn’t exercise and when I suggest that he should improve his health, he always has a ready list of excuses as to why not.

I’m lucky in that I’m naturally thinner and I exercise a lot.

But instead of motivating her to do the same, she just sees it as my lucky genes and consoles herself by thinking that she could never achieve the same thing even if she tried.

The truth is (and I don’t deny it) that I find her less attractive as she continues to gain weight.

The lack of effort in taking care of their appearance bothers me.

I am afraid that as he gets older he will continue to exert less effort and at some point his health will suffer.

I’ve tried many approaches, both supportive and critical, and although she seems to know I’m right, it rarely seems to result in any action.

How can I help her regain a healthy weight before it’s too late?


These days, mentioning weight is opening a can of worms, even though obesity statistics tell the sad truth and the NHS is under pressure.

I have a friend who was fired because she dared to express the rational view that those who are overweight could do something about it themselves, rather than always citing “mental health” or arrogantly opining that fat is beautiful.

There will be people (probably women) who read this and will be mad at you for expressing your problem so succinctly. But I admire the honesty that identifies two issues here.

First of all, you are rightly concerned about the future health of a woman who doesn’t care much about her weight. Secondly, you admit, as a man, that fat is not pleasant for you. Those who say appearance shouldn’t matter are idealists, but they aren’t necessarily right.

I suspect that if your wife was sick and taking medication that caused her to gain weight, you would be nothing but understanding. What bothers you is that she might try to lose unhealthy weight but she doesn’t care. You’ve been trying “many approaches” so I’m not quite sure what I can add.

As someone who didn’t exercise at all until age 59 and have now converted to weight training, I know that one of the crucial benefits is the huge boost in morale as flab decreases.

That is beneficial for everyone. I wish I could give him a pep talk.

I’m afraid you may seem complacent and bossy every time you try to “sell” diet and exercise. Maybe it’s better to start by working together instead of nagging her and then go do your thing.

Like a couple I know, you could share weekly sessions with a personal trainer. It is advisable to prepare healthy fortnightly menus and always shop and cook together. You could buy some weights and exercise bands, put on the music you both loved when you were young, and prance around for an hour a day at home.

Find chair yoga exercises and do them with it. If you enthusiastically tell her that you can make it fun together and that you want to share a healthy future because you love her, then maybe she’ll try it.

Will I ever get over the death of my first true love?

Dear Bel,

In the early 2000s, when I was about 16, I met a boy in a chat room; I’ll call him Tom.

Funny and handsome, he lived in Ireland. I’m in England. We started talking all day every day. We would chat with our webcams on, email, text, and call each other for hours. It was easier to open our hearts in a way we might not have with our “real” friends. This may not make sense, but I fell with all the force of a ‘first love’.

Tom said he felt the same way and since then he called me ‘the fiancée’, not only to me but also to his family and friends who he sometimes spoke to during our calls/chats. Our conversations now included hopes for our future life of getting married and naming our children. It was the typical adolescent certainty that life would simply land in our laps.

The inevitable finally happened with two young men separated by hundreds of miles: I was devastated when Tom told me that he had slept with someone who became his girlfriend for a while. There were tears on both sides, but we reconnected and chatted often online and by phone over the next few years.

BEL MOONEY I find my wife less attractive as she

The last time Tom showed up we had a nice chat about where we were in life. He messaged me again a few days later, but I didn’t respond: I was busy in my last year of college and had just started a new relationship.

A little over a year later, I had been thinking about Tom for a while, as it was the longest we had gone since we ‘met’ each other without some form of communication.

Investigating social networks I discovered that he had died that same weekend, at the age of 25. Shortly after his last message, Tom became ill and was diagnosed with cancer.

This was more than a decade ago. Now I’m about 30 years old. The weight of carrying this on my own and never being able to grieve openly or gain closure is like a millstone around my neck.

I now have a lovely and kind fiancé, but how could I tell him about Tom and expose my pain? I don’t think that’s fair to him and I wouldn’t want to risk upsetting him or our relationship.

I feel guilty for not responding to your last message and for having gone through so much. Did he know how much he meant to me?

I think about all the “almost” moments when we talked about meeting but didn’t. Maybe he thought I’d never find out, or maybe he didn’t think about me at all. Am I being ridiculous?

I would appreciate your thoughts on how I can fix this, or at least take it with me in a healthier way.


First, let me extend a hand of understanding and gently assure you that it is not in the least “ridiculous.”

Your story (an unpublished length three times longer than I can print here) moved me deeply, and I understand why a part of you remains lost in that dream. Tom was your first love and those profound awakenings in adulthood should never be underestimated. Who dares to say that they are not real? In a realistic future, they might have crossed the Irish Sea to meet, even moved in together, gotten bored, fought, been unfaithful, cried, and broken up. Or have been happy.

But circumstances dictated that all of their numerous ‘meetings’ remain on screen and on the phone lines. And, tragically, Tom was destined to never grow old. The sweet ghost of him remains perpetually “funny and handsome” in your imagination. Isn’t that fantasy a mirror of all the unfulfilled youthful longings and lost loves that many of us secretly treasure in our hearts?

Contact bel

Bel answers readers’ questions about emotional and relationship issues each week. Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email

bel.mooney@dailymail.co.uk. Names are changed to protect identities. Bel reads all the letters but regrets that she cannot correspond personally.

The question is: what now? Being in love with a ghost can be very destructive; It would be terrible if you allowed the boy you adored to become an evil spirit that poisoned the past, present and future.

You say I’m the only one you’ve talked to about this, which is a shame. Carrying these memories around – the shock of learning of his early death and the subsequent grief – is clearly very lonely. You are now engaged to a “charming and kind” man and you will make a future with him. An adult relationship requires honesty and trust. You seem almost ashamed of your touching first love story, but I can’t believe the man you want to spend your life with doesn’t understand it.

You write, “I don’t think that’s fair to him and I wouldn’t want to risk upsetting him or our relationship,” but I deeply disagree. Yes, we can all retain some privacy and don’t need to share misdemeanors of youth, but I think his fiancé has a right to know something that ails the woman he loves.

The relatively rapid death from cancer of any 25-year-old is terribly sad and may even call into question our views on life, death and religion. So I think you should talk about all this. There is no need to feel alone anymore.

By trusting each other with stories about what you were like at age 16, what decisions you made, those first passions and first disappointments, you and he will help build and strengthen your future life together. And I think it would be healing to allow poor Tom to become part of that process. You can achieve closure and peace by going on a pilgrimage.

The time has come for you to take a brave step into the next stage of your life. Tell me you know where your first love is buried. I suggest that you and your fiancé plan a short vacation to Ireland this spring, where you can lay flowers on Tom’s grave and say a prayer for his soul.

And finally… there is no classification for suffering.

It’s good to get back into riding, while relearning things you take for granted, like getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, walking (with canes), and climbing stairs.

So, let’s get back to work. My last column featured a woman in her late 80s who wasn’t sure if she should let her family throw her a party.

And among all your lovely, kind wishes for my hip replacement came this little blast from Joan N:

‘I was outraged by his response to the lady who was turning 80. We’re talking about someone with their own bungalow, no financial worries, and a lovely family, so don’t you dare tell readers that every “problem matters to the person experiencing it.”

‘This lady has no “problem”. She has a “dilemma” for which thousands of people would walk over hot coals. After all your years advising readers about her “problems,” do you still not notice the difference?

Joan helped me on a bad day when I had just returned from the hospital and was struggling miserably with the physical therapy exercises. So I called her out on her unnecessary hostility and finished, “You obviously have your own problems, but that doesn’t excuse her tone.”

I understand how readers who face terrible problems will always tend to place themselves in a ‘classification’ of suffering, screaming that their pain is worse than yours.

However, I am right to point out that any problem really matters to the person experiencing it. Some are luckier than others; some are more resistant, etc. We don’t have to make comparisons.

Instinct told me that Joan’s rather rude email was inspired by her own situation. In fact, she responded to explain: ‘I have a problem too; a life-limiting medical condition that I live with every day. I have no family to help me get through this.’

She was sorry…as was I. So I wish you courage, Joan, and I sincerely thank you for helping me clarify this point.

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