what the heck?

I Lost A Ton Of Weight. My Husband Is Nervous.

I worry I’m overreacting... but at the same time, WTF?

Written by Penelope
Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images

Welcome to Ask A MWLTF (Yes, that’s Mother Who Likes to F*ck.), a monthly anonymous advice column from Scary Mommy. Here we’ll dissect all your burning questions about motherhood, sex, romance, intimacy, and friendship with the help of our columnist, Penelope, a writer and mental health practitioner in training. She’ll dish out her most sound advice for parents on the delicate dance of raising kids without sacrificing other important relationships. Email her at askpenelope@scarymommy.com.


I’m a happily married mother of two, and I’ve always considered myself a pretty body-positive person and tried to model body positivity for both of my daughters. I’ll be honest; it hasn’t always been easy. I was in my early 30s when I got pregnant with my first daughter, and at the time, I’d more or less made peace with my size 14 figure. I knew I’d never look like the women on the covers of the magazines I consumed as a pre-teen in the ‘80s, but that was fine. I felt healthy and happy in my body. During my first pregnancy, I gained the weight of my baby, plus 25 pounds of what my OB referred to as “maternal reserves.” The baby weight came off. The maternal reserves stuck around. The same thing happened with my second pregnancy, and before I knew it, I was, according to my doctor’s BMI chart, “moderately obese.”

My husband is a sweetheart and told me often that he didn’t find me any less attractive than the day we met. I believed him, but all the same, the weight took a toll on my sex drive. I just didn’t feel as sexy or as uninhibited as I had before the extra pounds. I tried all the usual diets, the different exercising fads, but nothing ever seemed to bring permanent results. Then, about six months ago, I talked with my doctor and decided to give some of the new GLP-1 inhibitor medications a try. The results were awesome. I followed a healthy eating plan and dropped 40 pounds in five months. I was back in the size 14, curvy, sexy body of my 20s. Also, I looked hot. I bought a new, sexier wardrobe. I started wearing more makeup. I even found myself being a little more flirtatious in social situations — though never in a way that crossed any boundaries. Still, my husband noticed the changes and, to my surprise, didn't like them.

He said he felt insecure and worried that with my thinner body back, I wouldn’t want him anymore and would find someone new. He said he didn’t want to feel this way, but he did. He grew cool to me and initiated sex less often. In response, I withdrew as well. Now, weirdly, I feel as though my new, healthier body has somehow put my marital sex life (and maybe my marriage) in jeopardy, which is not an outcome I ever could have imagined. I worry that I’m overreacting by taking my husband’s reaction as a personal attack. At the same time, WTF?



Dear Overreacting,

As odd as this may sound, your letter brought to mind a childhood memory about breakfast cereal — an incident I hadn’t thought of in decades. When I was 5 or 6, I saw a commercial for something called Strawberry Shortcake cereal, which sounded to me like the most wonderful thing I could imagine. My parents were strict about sugary snacks and wouldn’t buy Corn Flakes, much less these pink pellets that were basically high fructose corn syrup bombs in milk. For months, I begged and pleaded. I can still remember how badly I wanted it, just one box. Eventually, they relented. Maybe it was my birthday. My mother brought home one beautiful box of the cereal and poured me a heaping bowl. I took a few slow bites, then scarfed the rest. It was possibly the sweetest thing I’d ever tasted, and maybe that’s why about an hour after eating it, I vomited the whole bowl up. All that anticipation for nothing.

I bring up this memory not to compare your very exciting weight-loss journey to a stomach-turning indulgence but because ever since this incident, I’ve struggled with the fact that, so often, getting the things I want most has led to unanticipated complications and disappointment. I think this has been the case in all areas of life, but especially in romantic relationships. Sexual desire is messy and ever-changing. Bodies are as well. And so while I completely understand how upsetting it must be for your husband to respond this way to your new, slimmer physique, I think his reaction is probably more common than you’d guess. Change can be wonderful, but it can also be scary, and I can imagine that having your partner’s body change so quickly, even when the changes are positive and healthy, could trigger some feelings of insecurity on his part and then frustration on yours. The part of all of this that seems the most promising is his owning up to his feelings — “he said he didn’t want to feel this way, but he did.”

Being able to identify and articulate one’s feelings to a partner — particularly when the feeling conveys something vulnerable such as, “I’m afraid now that you’ve lost weight you’ll leave me” — and also being able to express that you want to feel differently, is about half the battle of a successful relationship. The other half (your part) is the ability to tolerate a partner’s unpleasant feelings or insecurities, maybe even to express compassion around them, and then to go right along with the business of being true to yourself in spirit and flesh.

Thanks to the miracles of modern science, you’ve gotten back the body in which you feel vibrantly yourself. This sudden change makes your husband nervous. Provided you don’t now run off and have a sordid affair with your yoga instructor, he’ll get used to the changes and come to appreciate that your loyalty to him was always based on far more than the fact that he accepted you at a higher weight. Maybe he’ll even be inspired to make some change of his own.