How to Respond Husband's Critical Comments

My husband constantly worries about what my daughter and I eat. I am 5'4" and weigh 127 pounds. I eat really healthy most of the time. My daughter is 15 and the same height as me and weighs less than 100lbs. He came home from work and wanted to know why she made brownies?

He watches everything I eat too. I know that I can't change him but what would be the best way for me to respond to him when he makes negative comments about our food choices?

Ben's Answer:

You and your daughter should not have to be subjected to this kind of critical, controlling behavior. If either of you actually had a problem with obesity then it might be appropriate for him to talk to you in a caring, respectful manner to try to help you be more healthy. But neither you or your daughter are overweight. If weight is the issue that your husband is perceiving, then his perceptions are distorted, and he has a real problem. As such, I think you should confront him in an assertive but caring way, and be very clear with him that his behavior is out of line, hurtful, and not the least bit helpful. Try to find out what his real concern is. Healthy eating is one valid issue. Weight is another matter altogether. A 15 year old who is 5'4'' and under 100 lbs is very thin. You husband needs to understand that at that fragile time of life, her self-esteem needs to be supported, not torn down. This sort of critical and distorted focus on her weight can lead to serious body-image issues and even eating disorders - like anorexia. A family meeting may be the best way to go, to really raise these issues in a way that addresses everyone's feelings in a respectful and thoughtful way.

If that doesn't work - couple's therapy, or family therapy might be the way to go, if he's willing.

Your assertive response to your husband is the key factor here - for both your own, and your daughter's sake.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz

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Feb 10, 2010
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How To Respond to Husbands Critical Comments
by: Anonymous

WOW!!!I was that 15 year old. I actually started dating a man at 15, whom I later married, and divorced when I was 42. He was the same way with the weight. As a result, I watched what I ate and exercised obssesivley just to keep my weight down. He gained 50 lbs. during the marriage. I never cared because I loved him anyway...if that's a double standard...I never noticed. He sent the message to me that he only approved of me if I looked thin. He also sent a message to me that women are sexual objects.

Since the divorce, I have spent years in therapy, and this issue has been tuff to undue. I don't know how to get through to someone (husband) who feels this way about women and is controlling. But I do know that it is imperative that you help develop your daughters self esteem in other areas. Tell her that her body is her body, and is not to be judged or up for inspection by someone else. Show her how smart, caring, and funny she is, so that when she meets a man that is only attracted to her for what she looks like, she is strong enough to walk away until she finds someone who loves her for who she is...we do what we do when we don't know any better; we do better when we know better! I got better when I knew better.

After two children, my EX did not like the way my breasts looked. He berataed me for this, and "told" me to get implants because he could not stand to look at them, and since I always did what he told me to do, I had the surgery. After the surgery, I had a near fatal hemmorage, and had two emergency surgeries. Three surgeries in 12 hours. Four additional surgeries to repair damage due to the hemmorage. This was the turning point for me. I almost lost my life while having elective surgery to improve my body for a man that had instilled in my head that he only loved me for what I looked like.

I commend you for eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. Continue to praise your daughter for the wonderful, intelligent young lady that she has become. Keep in mind that even though you are building your daughters self esteem; I believe, his words may be stronger to her. Which is why it is important to encourage your husband to talk to someone; since his words are hurting you and your daughter. If I could prevent one fifteen year old from waking up one day, and having to reclaim her life at the age of 42 I would be very happy.

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