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My husband has put on so much weight that I'm not attracted to him anymore

Ask Roe: Whether you stay in this relationship or leave, I urge you to stay focused and respectful

Dear Roe,

I’m at a loss of what to do. My husband and I haven’t had sex for nearly two years. I do miss sex but not with my husband; he is morbidly obese and putting on more and more weight. It’s very difficult to have good sex. I’ve tried helping him lose weight, but nothing works. He orgasms within a couple of minutes max and has a small penis. For me, sex is a waste of time. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t listen, so I’ve just not initiated sex. I’ve told him it’s to do with his weight mainly, it’s such a turn-off. Although he’s always been big, he’s tipped over the edge to become morbidly obese. I worry about his health, I try to help but he does nothing. I really do not know what to do. It’s not the type of marriage I want at all.

You don’t have to stay in a relationship when you’re no longer attracted to your partner and you don’t enjoy the sex. That’s the reality – if this isn’t the marriage you want, you can leave. It won’t be easy – processing losing your attraction to your partner and ending a marriage rarely is – but it is that simple. You do not have to stay.

But whether you stay in this relationship or leave, I urge you to stay focused and respectful. In your letter, your primary focus is your husband’s weight, but your husband’s weight is not the source of all your issues. If, after years of marriage, your husband doesn’t know what you enjoy in bed and you haven’t explored any non-penetrative sex acts that could make your sexual life more fulfilling, those are connection and communication problems that pre-exist his weight gain. There are a few issues here, and conflating them isn’t helpful.


There’s also a lot of anger and resentment in your letter, and I worry that you’re directing this at your husband in person, too. No fat person is unaware of their body, nor is shaming a person about being fat ever a helpful strategy to encourage them to lose weight healthily. All you’re doing by repeatedly telling your husband that you find his weight unattractive is hurting him emotionally. And there is no size at which a person becomes less worthy of respect and decency.


If you want to try make this marriage work, I suggest helping your husband find a body-positive doctor and therapist (both to ensure mental health isn’t at the root of his recent weight gain, and so he can address any anxiety about your relationship.) I would also recommend a couple’s counsellor and doing some research into how fatphobia affects people.

If you cannot stay in this marriage because there’s no longer a romantic or sexual connection, that is understandable, and you should leave. If you cannot stay in this marriage without insulting and dehumanising your husband, you should also leave. No longer being sexually attracted to your husband may not be something in your control, but the way you treat him is.