Columns Jun 1, 2011 at 4:00 am



@101 EricaP
She didn't change unless you count that transition away from the honeymoon period that we all experience. I know this because we've talked about it and I can observe her contentedness with our infrequent, extremely vanilla sex life. She's just as happy as ever with what we do, it's just that now she only wants it 1% of the time she used to. It's not bait and switch if that's what anyone is thinking. The honeymoon ends.

Honestly, I think the idea of me having sex with someone else is terrifying to her. To her it means the end of our marriage. There's no way that would work. It would crush her and that in turn would ruin me for any kind of life without her. She's the one.

Knowing how things turned out I would absolutely marry her again. Would she make the same statement? I'll have to ask her. She sees how difficult it is for me to go without sex with her, without sex with men, without kinky sex. It doesn't change the way she's wired.
I teach writing at the college level, and I am always looking for creative ways to talk about such issues as tone. I wish I could use the examples provided by both ATTW and the guy last week who "required" a large clit and "bald" pussy, or he didn't see the point in returning to see her.
The reason that people are so irate in their responses is due to the tone of the letters. These may no doubt be nuanced issues and the letter writers may be sensitive and caring humans, but the tone of entitlement and apparent lack of empathy implied affect the way readers perceive these people. And the hyperbole, which can sometimes be benign, but in the context of ATTW's letter, just reeks of hostility. Of course the fact that some readers are taking the claim that a woman doubled her weight within a nine-month period literally as an excuse to justify ATTW's assholery, is telling, as well.
Critical thinking, people, please.
@103: For the sake of argument, let's say someone starts out at, say, 120, and gains 60 pounds. Sure, that's not an entire second person; that's only HALF a second person. (Gosh, that sounds -much- more reasonable.)

A full second person would require an entire second skeleton, set of internal organs, and musculature. How much of the person's original body weight was fat? How much of the weight gain is fat in proportion to the original person? That 60 pounds may not be an entire second person, but it might well be three people's worth of fat added on around the edges.

Getting all knotted up in literal interpretations, complete with quantitative analysis and being outraged by one set of numbers but not another, is an exercise in foolishness.
#105 (Mr. J),
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. You sound like a very caring man, and I hope that you and your wife arrive at a solution that works for both of you.
@104, I just can't imagine writing in to complain about my husband not meeting my sexual needs without talking about his affirmative sexuality. What he does like. And then, asking for advice about the mismatch. But from men writing in, we only hear about what their wives don't like. Not about what they do like.

@105: "now she only wants it" What is the "it"? Why is sex an "it", rather than a bunch of activities, which she probably likes on a sliding scale: some she'd like more often than others. Is there anything that is sexual for her, and not sexual for you? How about things that are physically pleasurable for her, but not overtly sexual? What does that conversation look like?
Given the obviously controversial nature of the false dilemma set up by ATTW, I'm halfway inclined to think it was an attempt at trolling.
@104 again: "people get disinterested for all sorts of reasons having nothing to do with what their partner is or isn't doing."

But when a guy writes (@34): "Unless the new mother has had major complications, [six months] is way too long a period to expect a husband to wait."

What do you make of that? Does that sound like someone who is talking to his wife about hormone-levels, about sound-proofing, about reducing their stress and finding better timing to try to reawaken his wife's sexuality? No, he's just "waiting," not so patiently, for her to step up and do her fucking job, taking care of his penis.
@111: To me that sounds like someone discussing general principles, not his own situation.
@112, but the general principle is that men wait for women to fix themselves and "get back into the ol' sex game."
@104 to echo something thankfully pointed out in @106, I was reacting to the tone of THIS SPECIFIC LETTER, which, as @106 points out, conveys entitlement, lack of empathy, an apparent lack of awareness of the demands of parenthood, and then the fat phobic hyperbole of implying that his wife doubled her size.

I wasn't saying that there are not complex reasons why couples come to dry spells. I wasn't saying that a woman's issues, selfishness or struggles can't be at play in those dry spells. I wasn't saying that ALL men disregard whether or not their wives and lovers enjoy their sex lives.

I was saying that THIS letter--it's tone, it's implications--imply selfishness and entitlement and an utter lack of awareness of the realities of becoming a parent.

So don't you anti-women's studies me by implying that that academic field exists only to blame men for bumps in relationships--your reduction of women's studies to a zero sum game that you combat by arguing "oh women can be bad too" says far more about you than any women studies I've read. And that shit is says ain't flattering.

There's a big difference between someone despairing about a partner letting his or herself go over time and a NEW FATHER considering fucking divorce because of his wife's pregnancy pounds and the time she has devoted to caring for the child. NOTE: the writer doesn't mention weight before the pregnancy, the possibility of post-partum depression thereafter, nor any concern (as EricaP noted) of them having sex for their mutual benefit. Instead he makes a cruel joke at his wife's expense while complaining about a dry spell that most people would expect in the wake of a pregnancy.

And, if you notice? His concern is how he will appear should he take the only two options he can see for himself: he's either a bad husband or a bad father. He doesn't express concern for his wife (about THEIR sex life, not HIS) nor concern for the well-being of their child. Go back and read it: it's ALL about him.

In contrast, take a look at what Henry_Paris wrote @403 in "I Want My MTV" thread. This is how you rebuild the sexuality in a marriage. (I'm going to post this in sections, because it's long)

..I've been clawing my way out of a similar situation for the past two years. It hasn't been easy and things aren't yet fully back on track, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. But solid progress has been made, so I thought I might share a few things that did and did not work.

Just for background, my wife and I had been married for ten years before we starting trying to have kids. We wanted two, we had two, I got a vasectomy. My wife's libido flatlined after the second child and never recovered.

Trying to initiate sexual touching or trying to discuss the situation would cause her to become intensely depressed. She flatly refused the suggestion of counseling (bad experiences with counselors in her past). So I stopped initiating sex, and stopped discussing the situation, in hopes that her libido would eventually recover on its own. A year and a half later, we still hadn't had sex.

At that point I said "We need to work on this or it's going to cost us our marriage, and we love each other too much to let that happen."

We opened a bottle of wine and spent a long time trying to sort out all the related issues. At least in her case (some may apply to your situation, others may not), her issues were A) body issues-- not feeling sexy made her uninterested in having sex, B) role issues-- the 'mom' role had taken over to the exclusion of all else, C) physical changes-- her body responded differently than before giving birth, things that used to feel good no longer did, her sexual interests and focus had changed, and D) opportunities for sexual intimacy seemed to be limited to after the kids went to bed (at which point we're both exhausted).

So here are ten observations from the long road back:
(to be continued)

(More of Henry_Paris' wisdom):
1. People tend to discount general compliments from long-term partners. Saying "You're sexy" has very little impact on body image / self-esteem. Very specific compliments ("you have tremendously sexy legs", "you should wear this particular dress, you look stunning in it", "when your eyes are smiling like that, you're irresistible", etc) often get past that filter and make a difference.

2. Take her shopping to pick out lots of sexy but comfortable underwear, so she can wear sexy underwear any time. The act of picking it out together is bonding and sets the tone, and later she'll feel sexy while wearing it. Throw out all the grandma-underwear if possible.

3. Find ways to have dates and other uninterrupted together time. Try to spend a high percentage of that time NOT talking about the kids. Talk about each others interests.

4. On that note, facilitate each other having time for hobbies, friends, and outside interests. It's too easy for your life to become all about the kids, and you're both more interesting and alluring partners if you have your own identities and can talk about something you don't both already know.

5. When you're bottling up frustrations, even in the interests of helping your partner, that can eventually bleed through into coming across as sullen, brusque, irritable, etc. Resentment comes through and that's *not* sexy. Odds aren't bad that she feels like she's being attacked as the bad guy for not doing something you weren't asking her to do and for not feeling like initiating sex with a sullen, brusque, irritable person. So you both have to genuinely get past feeling like the other person is some kind of an opponent and find ways to feel like you're on the same team. "We are working together to find ways to get more sexual intimacy back into our relationship." If you're not both genuinely bought in to fixing things and not looking to blame the other, it's not going to work.
(Still more of Henry_Paris' wisdom):

6. If you don't have a lock on your bedroom door, get one. Train the kids that sometimes Mom and Dad need some time to be alone and rest and not be disturbed, short of an emergency. This can allow for the occasional quick daytime tryst. Also try waking up before the kids to fool around.

7. All the time, and especially early in the process, spend a lot of time touching in intimate ways explicitly *without* the expectation of things proceeding on to sex. I'd usually initiate this by saying "Let's just cuddle-- no sex" and then curling up together to watch a movie or read books. Lots of body contact. Maybe an arm around her back, wrapped around to cup and hold a breast while you read. It not universally true, but some women take much longer to get into a sexual mood than men do, so if she feels like any time you touch her intimately you're angling for sex and she's not yet in the mood, she'll react negatively. If she gets a lot of intimate touch without the expectation for sex, she'll likely see it as pleasurable and be in a sexier mood later. Plus, having intimate touch feel familiar and comfortable will make the transition to actually having sex after so long without it less jarring. Trust me, the first time will feel like you're trying to have sex with a stranger. It's creepy and off-putting.

8. Especially when you're just beginning to resume having sex, the word "thank you" anywhere close to sex is somewhere between a bear-trap and a land-mine. "That felt wonderful", "I had a great time last night", "You really drove me wild this morning" are all fine. "Thank you" can be interpreted all kinds of wrong ways. Just avoid it. Trust me.

9. People's physical responses and sexual tastes change over time, even moreso in the absence of a shared sexual routine. You both have to recognize that re-initiating things is going to involve a LOT of communication and discovery. Frustrating as it is, you have to treat it a bit like you've just started dating again. You need LOTS of communication, LOTS of attention to body language, and NO assumptions based on the past. You'll also want to both keep a good sense of humor about it all. It's not a bad bet that you'll discover that some things you used to do before and loved don't rock one or the other of your worlds anymore. If you're brave and mutually agreeable to a 'no-fault for respectful experimentation' rule, it's worth trying some things you used to dislike. Sometimes they turn out to be hot now.

10. Be clear from the start that while sex is pleasurable, what you're missing is that deeper feeling of sexual connection with her. I think sometimes the lower-libido partner thinks "if my partner is craving sex and I'm not, they can just masturbate". But that's like saying "You have a box of granola bars in your cubicle, so why do you keep asking me to go on lunch dates with you?" Help her understand that not being desired by a sexual partner makes you feel like an undesirable, unattractive person. Let her know that being her lover is part of your identity and an important part of how you define yourself. And then just listen. A lot.

"For the sake of argument, let's say someone starts out at, say, 120, and gains 60 pounds. Sure, that's not an entire second person; that's only HALF a second person. (Gosh, that sounds -much- more reasonable.)"

No need to speculate--that sounds a lot like my own situation, except that I gained 65 lbs. All of this, according to my OB, was completely normal and healthy. I was very athletic before pregnancy, and I had no complications or health issues during pregnancy whatsoever. A lot of weight came off in the first few months, and then more during extended nursing. I couldn't exercise, though--I was in terrible pain for two months. The baby screamed non-stop and slept precious little. But even under the best circumstances, it would take a long time to lose that much weight! After almost a year, I still had 20-25 lbs to go, but then I got sick and spent a week eating through an IV, which took care of it in a less-than-desirable way.

So, a year went by post-partum with my husband having a big fat wife who was much less capable of having sex than before. Somehow he managed not to leave me or cheat, and amazingly, the next year he had his "old" wife back. It's delightful to realize that many people would consider my husband justified in cheating on me because I wasn't doing enough to solve my weight "problem", or because it took a long time to burn off a LOT of weight that was perfectly normally acquired during pregnancy. I thank God my husband is not like that, but the important thing is, I think all husbands and wives deserve to have a spouse who is not like that. Or else you really shouldn't marry, or should work out terms for some other kind of marriage.
Thanks for sticking up for new mothers, Dan. Glad my man was more understanding than ATTW. And yes, after three years, I'm back to my pre-baby weight.
@114: Sorry, my bad. I thought that was in response to one of the commenters (Mr. J, I think? not going to go back and check), not ATTW.

This is why I'm not ever having babies. And why I prefer to fuck women.
I sometimes wonder if some of us have a very small, uniform and yet precious treasure chest of sexual likes and dislikes. Some of us like and are satisfied with what we have and others of us like to "mix it up" or add to the contents.

I'm only fit to speak for myself, but I know that most of the sex I had in the first year of both of our children's lives was not because I wanted it. We had it because he wanted it and I knew that he needed to show me how deeply he loved me. Though talking I learned that sex was a major way he communicated love to me, and I wanted to hear him "say" it. He's an amazing man with a small "treasure chest", and I'm the inventor, creator, and choreographer who's always wishing to add to my chest. I'm so glad that I "heard" him, and that I allowed that message of "this is how I need to say I love you" to sink deep into my heart. My tired and exhausted body became trained, and I don't recall regretting any intimate moment we had. My mind and heart followed my body. Now that our children are teens we can continue to build upon that foundation and we talk openly. Those years help to expand his "treasure chest", and in love he's the one willing to follow trusting that his mind and heart will arrive. It is a journey.

I guess I'm prone to seeing the glass half full. And, that we can improve if we are willing to work. That and seeing one's children grow into compassionate young adults is an honor, and worth every moment of the journey.

Fair warning, I can't keep a consistent thought in my head today. The above may make no sense, none whatsoever.

@95/Terminally Frosty -- A full grown man needs reassurance that women normally gain weight with pregnancy?

And pointing out that one guy is an asshole isn't misandry. Calm down.
@109 EricaP
"It" is a few activities under a narrow definition of sex. In other comments you cite examples of groundwork intimacy that we share-- stroking her hair, light touches, hugs, kisses, holding hands, etc. Those things are not sex to me. They are extremely important intimate acts that make sex more likely and more fulfilling (as you pointed out). So the "it" I'm referring to is what we do when we get naked to have sex in earnest: oral and PIV with me doing most of the leading of the dance. We went from hours of that per day all the way down to 10 times per year. She to this day is very clear about not wanting to try new things or radically increase our frequency.

"Is there anything that is sexual for her, and not sexual for you?"
No. I will literally do anything she wants sexually. Should she decide what she really wants is to pull my head off during PIV like a praying mantis I'll give it a go, although she lacks the upper body strength. As I said above I do all the little things that don't involve bodily fluids already. Call those things sex if you like. No matter. We both enjoy all of them immensely.

"What does that conversation look like?"
What do you mean?
@122 Kim
That's very beautiful, Kim. Thank you for that.
@124 - I mean, have you asked her if holding hands, reading/watching porn together, playing footsie, giving massages, if she sees any of that as sexual? I know that you don't. But maybe her experience of them is different from how you imagine it.
@126 EricaP
Those things are "sexual" in the sense that she needs them in order to get in the mood for sex later. That I definitely get. I can be in the mood for sex at almost any moment. She needs the groundwork. So you are correct that her experience of those things is different from mine. That's fine with me. Providing her with what she needs is my passion.
But maybe she likes them for their own sake. Not as groundwork/foreplay.
Don't you think that a lot of those "gay people are gay by choice" tight-asses are that way because they are bi or "closeted" or otherwise kinky and self-hating themselves? All I can say is that when I'm within 20 feet of Rick Santorum, he starts to tingle my gaydar (never mind the many kids). Sadly, if a single dick-sucking of a hunk would rip them out of the closet, I suspect they'd already be out.
Okay Dan, I'm a totally str8 guy who could choose to have a glass cutting hard on while I suck you off. I could. Really. Let's try it. Okay? Can we? Please? Where should I meet you? Really...totally str8 here.....boner.... the works. Huh? Can I?
It's good to see you back here, Kim. I hope that this means your recent crisis has passed and that all is well. I've been thinking about you and your family, and holding you in my thoughts.
EricaP: thanks for sharing Henry_Paris' wisdom here. I remember the I want my MTV thread, but I never made it to post #403!
He's got a lot of valuable insights.
@128 EricaP
Yes she does. In fact we both do. I don't do those things just because I have an agenda.
@122 Kim- wow, that was poetic. Coming from a man that has little emotion and even less poetic license, it is the highest compliment I can pay.
Wow, at the bottom...

Next time you're typing, take a good look at your hands.

Love them. They will love you.

And that's going to be pretty much it for a while. Your wife is not happy with what's changed, how her body went from entertainment centre to food court, how her breasts hurt, the floppy belly, etc. She also has a hormonal thingy that prevents her from being interested. Apparently there was a selective advantage 250k years ago and we're stuck with it.

You are not alone.

You have your wife, sure, but I meant that all your married with kids friends have the same problems, the same issues. It's universal.

I have 30 seconds of laptop power left.
Thank you, Mr. J, nocutename, and Tim Horton.

Take care,
Erica, you're fantastic, and your comments on SLOG are always worth consideration, but you often seem to assume much. And, those assumptions always fall into the same two categories: men do not effectively communicate with their partners; they are generally not interested in their partners' sexual needs.

As much as you disliked the tenor of my previous comments (which I'm just throwing out there, I don't have all day to qualify myself in huge posts or time to dig 400+ comments down a thread), from many guys' perspectives you're also beating a dead horse.

Have a pleasant night, and see you on the next thread.
@137, yes, my experience is that many guys do not effectively consider their partner's sexual needs. Things which are not sexual for a guy, are hard for him to think of as sexual for her. But the way my mom talked about my dad bringing her sherry when she was nursing, you could tell that was sexual, to her. For me it's scratching my back, and fairly intense pain. Neither one looks sexual, to your average guy. But I get less sexual if I don't get them.

You take what's in the sign-off acronym (and not in the letter) as totally representative of reality?

So, when someone's acronym says, say, "All day, I think about pregnant ladies," you assume that means that, literally, the writer is thinking about nothing but pregnant ladies all the live long day?

And, even taking that as true, the fact remains that, if the writer is ready to dump or have an affair while his daughter is an "infant," he HASN'T been fair to his wife. Even if she did gain 100 lbs - weight can come off and effort can be made. Expecting her to do it swiftly while taking care of a baby is unreasonable, self-centered, and unimaginative.

And yeah, you seem to have absolutely no understanding of what a "normal" pregnancy might be. 100 lbs might be a lot, but 60 or 70? Not that unusual OR unhealthy. My friend just got put on bedrest for 6 months. I doubt she's going to be in tip-top losing the weight condition after she's done birthing twins and sitting on a couch for 6 months solid. It takes time.
@139 We obviously are doing guesswork as to how much weight she gained and how young the infant is because those key details weren't provided. The signoff of "twice her size" is hyperbolic and intended to convey his disinterest (if not disgust) with her current body.

Now, the reason I read it that way is, as @140 put it, the lack of consideration for her as a new mom implied by the letter itself, in addition to the exaggeration of the situation to the point where he's contemplating divorce with a newborn around. If it was, as you guess, 100 pounds, it's a big fucking difference whether it's been 6 months or, say 2 years since she gave birth.

I also read it that way because, in my experience, guys who are prone to confusing pregnancy weight with regular weight gain, confusing normal weight gain via aging with weight gain that poses a threat to one's health and happiness, and especially those who conflate 20 pounds with 60 pounds and up often have very deep seated fears and repulsion toward ANY excess fat on a woman. The "she doubled her size" strikes me, especially with those details missing and his lack of address of her needs or concerns or issues with her body after pregnancy, as a red flag. Consider that he's publicly insulting his wife about her fatness when she's currently caring for their newborn, much like the writer a few months ago who referred to his wife's fatness as his having to eat old moldy cake! That level of revulsion speaks to a selfish and shallow person, not an adult who genuinely cares for his partner's well-being.

Further, if you notice, he's concerned with how he'll be viewed if he pursues an affair or a divorce. Point to me where he expresses genuine concern for the well-being of his child or his wife, cuz I'm not seeing it.
An ideal thought. To what degree are kinks symptomatic of an underlying personality disorder. Is it ethical to validate (enable) destructive behavior? What sets sexual behavior and attitudes apart from other areas of human experience making them a special case subject to separate rules? Are there any absolutes? Where do you draw the line? At point does being sex positive or GGG cross the line?

You know, sometimes Dan makes up the sign-offs for letters. I've written to him twice, just signing my real name, and he's created the sign-off name, choosing, I assume, something he thinks is catchy and conveys the essence of the letter or the complaint.
So all this sturm und drang over how much weight the wife has gained, what her starting weight was, what is a normal amount of pregnancy weight gain, how much the skeletal system weighs (!) and so forth, start to become not only ridiculous, but may not even be relevant to the letter as originally written.
Look at it again. ATTW finds his "overweight" wife incapable of giving him sexual gratification (presumably because of the weight she's gained in pregnancy which was recent enough that their child is still an infant), and wants to know which of two options--the only two he seems to think are tenable--is worse: cheating or leaving.

He's a shit; he even knows it. What gets me are the men here on this thread who are defending him by agreeing that an overweight wife is clearly incapable of providing sexual gratification. In a brilliant piece of contradiction, in a letter in which he advocates a purely literal reading, Hunter 78 first reads the sign off as factual, and then does a literary interpretation of the stripped-down style of ATTW's prose to suggest that the man is in great psychic pain.

If a woman wrote in and said "Is it better to stay with your balding, beer-bellied husband—who happens to be the father of your infant daughter—and cheat on him to get sexual gratification (and be a shit of a wife) or leave him (and be a shit of a mother)," you can bet that you wouldn't find a lot of women ready to defend her.
75, wendykh-- I agree that (some) men need to grow the fuck up. The question is when and under what circumstances? A man whose wife has put on some pregnancy pounds is an immature jerk if he thinks his need for sex trumps his wife's need for a supportive, helpful, and patient husband.

Now imagine this scenario. (This is a based on a letter I remember from the archives, but I haven't read it recently to make sure I have details right. I'm exaggerating to make a point.)

A man is attracted to a woman, gets to know her, and they marry. The minute the ring is on her finger, she starts to let herself go. This has nothing to do with pregnancy. She eats copious amounts of junk, never exercises, skips the beauty routines (hair, make-up, clothes) that she engaged in when they were dating, and in a few years has gained a hundred pounds. He's made reasonable efforts to be supportive, but she's not getting up from the couch.

He wants to tell her to make an effort to be attractive for him or he'll go elsewhere. She says he has to remain monogamous because it's in their wedding vows.

What about that situation? Do we tell him to grow up, or does he have a point?

I'd say this guy is justified in divorcing or getting his needs met elsewhere. I'd say ATTW above is not. Where do we draw the line between the 2?
Hunter78, please don't make up lies about what I said, just to prove your flimsy point. Avast2006 was the one who mentioned a 60 lb gain as being very large, even if it's not literally "double". I replied to this because my own 65 lb weight gain was in fact normal and healthy. I began pregnancy with a low BMI and low body fat. My OB specifically reassured me that my weight gain was normal, healthy, and NOT bad for the fetus. My husband's desire for me, strangely, remained constant. So, Hunter, you are inferring a lot of false claims here. Why?

My point is that after a healthy pregnancy, it was hard to lose a lot of weight. Eventually, I did, but it took a year and an illness to get it done. It was also much harder for me to have sex after birth, due to pain. The baby also made sex more difficult to fit into our lives. Somehow, though, this failed to "choke off" my husband's desire for me. Somehow, it wasn't too much for him to wait a year for things to improve, maybe because he's not an asshole. Strangely, he also supported me as if my recovery from birth was relevant to his own life, too, and not just some problem I was supposed to "fix" for his sake.

Hunter, without knowing any facts about this, you insist that ATTW's wife has done nothing to "fix" her problem. You therefore seem to think ATTW has an excuse to want to cheat, despite the time frame involved, and the obvious reasons for weight gain and difficulty of loss. You even assume it would be "likely" for my own husband's desires to be killed by a 65 lb pregnancy gain, which is absurd. Basically, you're betraying ignorance about what pregnancy and its aftermaths are like, but that's not stopping you from reaching a lot of conclusions and false attributions along the way.
I think ATTW idea should be dubbed the "Tiki Barber", although Tiki bailed while she was still pregnant...
Actually, in re-reading, it strikes me that nowhere does ATTW say his wife is uninterested (not disinterested, btw, different meaning) in sex. Nowhere does he say she's depressed or sleep-deprived, or has taken a hit to her libido. In other words, he doesn't suggest that she is unenthusiastic in any way for them to have an active sex life. No, his complaint is merely that she's so fat he can't get aroused.
Has he heard of turning off the lights or closing his eyes and thinking of her as the same woman he presumably loves and has been attracted to, while he waits out a temporary situation?

Shakespeare's sonnet 116: "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds."

So I vote for being the leaving-your-daughter-'cause-you-can't-get-it-up-for-her-overweight-new-mother kind of shit, because this woman deserves the freedom to find a man who really loves her.
@139 If ATTW is, as you suggest, tortured and resigned and communicating tersely, giving only necessary facts, he still could have communicated a few more facts: something like "When we got married, my wife was 120 pounds. She started gaining weight rapidly about two years ago, and when she got pregnant it ballooned out of control. Now she's 240 pounds and I've lost all attraction to her." Simple, direct facts, but they would make it clear that the situation is "my wife has a serious weight problem, unrelated to pregnancy" and not "I'm an entitled prick who's clueless about the realities of adult family life." Any mention of attempts he's made to help or encourage her to lose weight would also lend credibility.

Also, 240 pounds on a frame that's meant to carry 120 pounds is something her OBs would have had something to say about. If she's really gained that much, I'm surprised he didn't mention the attending medical concerns around the birth.

Also-also, his timing for this is sucky and suspicious. If she had gained all, or most of, the weight before the pregnancy, why the hell did he knock her up? If he felt trapped and coerced into giving her a baby he didn't really want, then their marriage has bigger problems than his wife's weight. If, regardless of whether it was pregnancy weight or not, he was interested in making a good-faith effort to restore attraction with the wife, he should wait till the baby's 6+ months and then work some of the "Honey, let's work on being healthier" stuff.

People, if you can't handle the occasional dry spell while a partner goes through depression, illness, childbearing, or other sex-dampening events, don't enter a monogamous marriage. And if you don't want people to think you're a selfish, entitled asshole, make some attempt in your communications not to sound like a selfish, entitled asshole.
@145 and @147 ftw!!!

What kills me about this whole conversation is the degree to which many men herein have made a host of assumptions that we cannot possibly know based on the information provided in the letter (ffs, one guy speculated that she trapped him into pregnancy and then refused him sex!) while ignoring the tone and substance of the letter itself. That kind of shoddy analysis screams defensiveness.

Incidentally, I see that kind of defensiveness often from white college students in classes on race, where they're so unconsciously emotionally committed to exonerate whites that they invent possibilities for which there is no evidence in order to downplay or dismiss the actual evidence in front of them. It's quite a startling phenomenon to witness as a teacher, by the way.

I too agree that someone doesn't love you if they see you in such conditional and self-serving terms. And, again, thank you for those who made a distinction between a woman who let herself go in a marriage and a woman recovering from pregnancy and tending to an infant.

I can't stop thinking about this letter. If I was this woman and I learned that this is how my husband understood me and our child, I would fear that I made a horrible mistake marrying him because of the horrible choices that were now in front of me--accepting that he either didn't love me or didn't know what love fucking is to begin with.

he didn't say that she was incapable he said he is NO LONGER PHYSICALLY OR SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO HER. That's significant. If he doesn't like what he sees when he looks at her why should he pretend that he does? He hasn't lost his sexual appetite altogether, he just lost it for her due to the drastic change in her appearance. Call him an asshole but what how does that make you any different than people who tell others what they should and shouldnt find physically attractive in another person?
Wow Dan! I love you, and I love your column. But, now, after your answer to ATTW, I'm officially "in love" with you! :)
@150 Of fucking course he cannot be faulted for what he does or does not find attractive. However, he can absolutely be faulted for not expressing any awareness or concern about the likely causes of this "drastic change in her appearance." Find me any pregnant women who doesn't naturally experience a "drastic change in her appearance" both during and after pregnancy.

The issue here is magnitude, expectation, entitlement and lack of concern for his wife and his child.

The guy is saying that he's considering divorcing his wife because she's still caring an unspecified number of pounds after giving birth to an infant of unspecified age. He doesn't mention compassion for what his wife endured to grow, deliver and than tend to a baby, what she thinks/feels about her body or their sex life, or any sense that this is a totally fucking expected and inevitable sequence of events that is called fucking LIFE. We have no evidence that the wife sees the weight gain as a permanent state, only that this dude is contemplating divorce or cheating if she doesn't shape up immediately to service his needs.

If you cannot see why that's an entitled asshole, I guess I'm finally out of things to say.

The other thing that amazes me about your line of reasoning is that if you believe that no man should have to tolerate the inevitability of growing old in terms of a woman's appearance, that said man is setting himself up for a life of increasingly misery and loneliness for his own unreasonable expectations. Again, try to imagine a woman saying, "I'm sorry, I cannot fuck a man whose ass has sagged, whose balls have sagged, who has lost his hair, who wears dentures, who has age spots, who has bent forward over time, who blah blah blah..." Wouldn't you think such a woman a sad specimen of humanity whose doomed years if not decades of the closing years of her life?

I think it's interesting that people get so wigged out about lack of fidelity. I was writing a series of interviews with married women on their sex lives and one of the women I interviewed ending up finding sex outside of her marriage. She was bright, clearly explained her rationale, discussed her preemptive measures pre-affair, but readers freaked out. It was a completely black and white issue for them. I am not saying cheating is good or bad--but, look at statistics, obviously it is happening and to act so shocked and judgmental seems disingenuous.
@153 Aren't you extrapolating from a specific situation to a much larger set of issues? I don't accept the argument that, for example, my critique of this guy's emotional limitations constitutes "freaking out" about cheating. I both believe in and practice open relationships and I also believe that there are definite circumstances in which cheating is the least worst option. This situation qualifies as neither.

I think justifying either cheating on or, worse, divorcing your wife because she has yet to lose her pregnancy pounds while still tending to an infant is a sign of a selfish, immature and narrow individual. That's all.

I can't speak for the others above who have also taken issue with this guy, but please don't put words in my mouth about my thoughts on monogamy and fidelity, because I'm in 99% agreement with Dan that forced lifelong monogamy leads to unhappiness for all involved, including the children raised in such homes. I think it's an analytical overreach to presume that folks of that position think that "cheating" as A-OKAY under all circumstances.

Welcome to nuance.
@142 I'm not sure what prompted your questions, but my take follows Dan's line about "price of admission." People come with baggage, of different kinds. If you don't appreciate your partner's kink (or smoking, or drug use, or child-from-a-former-marriage), then your choices are to stick around and deal with it ("pay the price of admission"), or to leave.

Even if the baggage is self-destructive, you're not likely to be able to change the person, and the desire to try to save them from themselves shows that you have your own "white-knight" baggage that you haven't dealt with (The rhetorical "you," not you yourself, t-and-c).
@ 152 I have had TWO babies over 8 pounds within two years of each other, I started out overweight and 3 months after having my second child I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight again. The only thing I did was tend to my child and breastfeed. I never gained more than 20 pounds while I was pregnant and eating healthy (as opposed to satisfying every fast food craving you have with gallons of icecream and soda). This idea that every woman is supposed to gain damn near 70 pounds (well 60 since a baby can be anywhere between 5-10 sometimes more pounds on its own) is insane. Your weight gain depends on how much you indulge. I'm not saying he should expect her to lose weight for him but he shouldn't be expected to be ok with her looking like someone he is not attracted to at all either. There are countless women who are neither wealthy or famous who lose pregnancy weight fairly quickly. He *should* give her time to lose the weight (if he hasn't already) but if 6 months have gone by and he still isn't physically or sexually attracted to her at all, why should he force himself to have sex with her? He made NO mention about him wanting to have sex with her and she's saying no, he's saying he doesn't want to have sex with her and because sex is even on the table I'm inclined to believe at least 2 months have passed since the birth of their baby. He sucks for offering being a shitty father as an option. Attraction matters and if you can will yourself to have sex with someone you're not sexually attracted to that just poves the whole choicer argument doesn't it?
@156 - the fact that you didn't gain much weight is probably related to the fact that you were overweight to start with. People who start out underweight usually have to gain quite a bit to have a healthy pregnancy. There's no reason to attack hypothetical women by saying they must have been "indulging" in unhealthy food.

Stick to your point that he doesn't have to have sex with someone he's not attracted to. Sure, but if they were well-matched before, he should wait longer before throwing away a good relationship. Having a baby is stressful; wait till things settle down a little before pressing the relationship-destruct button.
@156. Let's try this one more time: we have no idea how old the infant is, how much pregnancy pounds she gained, what her weight was before the pregnancy, whether or not she is prone to gaining weight, or her health habits before or since delivery.

But your leap that women who gain more than you did or fail to lose it as you did must be slovenly compulsive over eaters sure says a hell of a lot about you.
"Your weight gain depends on how much you indulge."
Baloney. I gained my pregnancy pounds on fish, oranges, yogurt, spinach, and quinoa. I didn't drink pop or eat junk. I actually eat way more junk now than I did then, and I'm midway through another pregnancy but have gained less than 10 lbs. Go figure. You just don't get to write One Size Fits All rules that apply to pregnancy, even for the same person at different times.

If it's a realistic possibility that you will totally lose your attraction to your spouse because of normal, predictable changes in appearance that come with things like pregnancy or aging, then don't have kids or don't get married in the first place. If your love for this person can't survive changes in appearance that you know for sure are bound to happen, then why are you getting married?

Nevertheless, Crinoline still poses a serious question. Aren't there some cases where too much is being asked of the spouse, and if so, where do we draw the line? With weight gain, I'd at least want to see evidence that the spouse had been patient and supportive, and that medical help had been sought. Sudden weight gain happens for medical reasons other than pregnancy, and medical advice can help people take off that weight when possible. I could easily imagine cases where one spouse is doing everything possible to be supportive, but the other is determined to maintain unhealthy habits and shows no consideration. The above letter doesn't seem like one of those cases, but who knows, maybe next year the guy would write in with more of the story, and I wouldn't think him a jerk.
@141: "Consider that he's publicly insulting his wife about her fatness..."

"Publicly"...? Oh, please. If you can find any remotely identifying characteristics in that letter, I can only say "Brilliant, Holmes, how do you do it?"
Why does sex have to end after a baby, and why the time frame of a year? A whole year is a long time to go without sex. Sure giving birth is exhausting and a new baby even more so and you may feel unattractive as well but other things in life are exhausting as well and make us feel unattractive and we deal with them then so why can't it be done after a baby. This just sounds to me like an excuse and a baby is certainly better then the headache.
I'm not talking out of my ass here either. I've had two kids and I wasn't in at my best either physically or emotionally, however I still found ways to keep the my man happy in bed, yes you have to make a bit of an effort but it's worth it. Of course it also helps if the guy helps out with the baby stuff so as to give mom some time off to either excersize or get some rest or even just some "me" time.
@143: " much the skeletal system weighs (!) and so forth, start to become not only ridiculous,..."

Yes, that is the same point I was trying to make when I brought in the skeleton. This number being necessary in order for it to be reasonable to be turne off, that number being outrageous, the other number being the minimum that it takes to conform to the description, blah, blah, blah. I tried (and apparently failed) to explain that this was mostly a rat-hole to go down, and I was being ridiculous to make that point.

You will hear no argument from me over the idea that the Letter Writer is being a shit. He doesn't have to be happy about his wife's weight gain, but he does need to be supportive of her, and it sure as hell isn't license to either cheat or leave.

As I mentioned before, I'm not even convinced it isn't a fake. Given Dan's stances on weight gain and on monogamish relationships, this sounds like an attempt to cobble together a 'gotcha' scenario to challenge those.
I really don't understand why anyone is defending this man. As Dan has always said, you pay the price of admission. If you promised monogamy and commitment to one person, you (if you're not completely naive and dillusional) should expect some changes in their appearance when throughout your lives together. Whether it be giving birth to your child or age, real love is about supporting them. You don't just back out as soon as things become uncomfortable or rough. Real love is communication and respect. That includes respect of the commitment you made to that person, and if you would like to renegotiate or have a problem with there weight or whatever, you talk it out with them. This guy is giving his wife, who recently had a child, little choice. Actually, no choice. He gives no information other that they have an infant and she has gained weight (which is to be expected and everybody's body is different, so those above saying "I lost the weight, she should too," fuck off. You don't know anything about it because the LW gave no information). He is an asshole. Or, like I suspect, a fucking troll testing Dan because people who don't really read him assume he gives license for anyone to cheat. Well no, it depends on the situation ans this is not one of them.
@130: Hahaahahahaha I love you. Let's tag team Dan!
Maybe ATTW's baby is to blame? Some babies are just bad babies.

So because your pregnancies and post-pregnancies proceeded in a certain way ALL pregnancies do? Why would that be the case? Metabolism, age, hormone-levels, the type of baby all play into how much weight we gain and lose under normal circumstances. Why would you assume that pregnancies are all the same?
I don't insist on monogamy, and couples that started off compatibly sometimes lose that compatibility for all kinds of reasons. Spouses turn off to each other, and shouldn't be required to stick it out in a sexless marriage or feel hostage to a spouse he or she is no longer attracted to perpetually just because they got married. People are allowed to change.

This isn't a question of whether a wife "lets herself go," which suggests that her main obligation is to please her husband. People should take care of themselves and make personal appearance choices for themselves alone. But they should also be prepared to accept that their choices affect the way that others respond to them. You are free to make the choice to drive 50 mph in a 23 mph zone, but if you do so, you must accept the responsibility for such a choice and its consequences, if you get caught by a police officer. You assume the risk. Some might not want to risk the getting ticketed, and may choose to drive in compliance with the speed limit, but that choice was made for themselves alone, albeit with other factors informing the decision. Same with weight gain or loss, and grooming. A wife has every right to gain weight, maintain it, or to lose it for her own reasons, and a husband has every right to continue to be attracted to his wife or not for whatever reasons are his and his alone. Maybe her weight doesn't bother him, but her judgmental attitude does, or what-have-you.

There are marriages that end because one partner no longer is attracted to the other all the time. In all cases where there is a loss of compatibility cheating is not a good option. Communication is.
Talk to each other; try to solve the problem, open up the marriage, or leave honorably.

But in any of these scenarios, I'd like to think that the dissatisfied spouse had tried to be compassionate, empathetic, and reasonable. I'd like to think that a thinking person realizes that there will be challenging moments in marriages, and that over time, we all age, and most of us will look worse than when we were young, in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. I'd like to think that a man would try to get past his wife's pregnancy weight gain at least until their child was past infancy, without having to explain and defend my position to a bunch of readers who seem intent on turning this immature asshole's attitude into some sort of litmus test for sexual martyrdom.
@167: "In all cases where there is a loss of compatibility cheating is not a good option."

Well, I have come around to the viewpoint that if you accept that you will be the "Bad Guy" when it all blows up, and if you're confident your spouse is a traditionalist in such matters, and if you're fairly neurotic about safe sex, and if you treat your family respectfully in other ways... then, well, cheating wouldn't make you a candidate for Most Evil Person Ever.
@164 are you str8 like me? It's only for str8 me..... yeah.. that's it.. let's do it buddy. We'll show him!
Seriously, unless you are an endocrinologist, no one here has any room to talk about pregnancy as a one-size-fits-all phenomenon.

I personally gain weight like a puffer fish when I'm pregnant. I even gained weight WHILE BREASTFEEDING ON A RESTRICTED CALORIE NUTRITIONIST DEVELOPED EATING PLAN. To the tune of 20 lbs. Horrifying, trust me. I lost 15 of it within 4 months of stopping breastfeeding.

Look up the connections between prolactin, pitocin, thyroid, and dopamine...go ahead, I'll wait while you Wikipedia (I concede that while some things on Wikipedia are shit, the chemical entries are not part of that). You will quickly see that there are a staggering array of hormonal and genetic variables in baby-making and post-baby-making physique outcomes. Throw in gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and the xeno-estrogens (found in, oh, all the plastic and pesticides, and a lot of the food additives)? There's a perfect storm of why some women get in their bikinis 6 weeks post-partum, and some of us cry when we see bikinis.

This guys reality didn't match up to his fantasy, he should help his baby mama out, not ditch her.

Whatta prick.
p.s. Wynter? Please google "3rd-degree perineal tear".

Then google "4th-degree perineal tear", then click on GOOGLE IMAGES.

Answer your question?
I wish I could decide whether the world needs more divorce or less. In a way, more, because so many couples are poorly-matched and/or ill-selected and because, retroactively at least, every divorce was the right decision, even if one would have advised the party differently beforehand. In a way, less, because so many people who want a divorce don't deserve an easy one.
Hey Dan!

I had wanted to say this before when you started the blow-me challenge: You have made at least one choice.

You didn't make the choice to be gay, but you did make the choice to be open about your sexual preferences (and for this all your readers thank you). Therein lies the rub, it might be OK with your husband if this happened, but most likely it wouldn't with his wife (I think??). So really it wasn't a fair challenge, like who would respond to gay porn faster, or which man loves their spouse more.

Ultimately there isn't any good test, only bad ones, like all the bullshit ones that end up being applied to terrified souls in fear of damnation, persecution, or violence. And, unfortunately, asking people to leave us to our privacy doesn't seem to work either, even though that should be the best choice/test.

So, my test would be for Santorum and his ilk to support comprehensive enforcement of civil rights and other anti-persecution laws.

@167 nocutename
You are thoughtful and eloquent. I continue to be a huge fan of your comments. Thank you.
I've been watching but hesitated writing here because ATTW's letter hit very close to home.

I've always been on the thin side & very athletic (marathon runner). I gained 40 lbs with my baby, who just turned two (including the baby.)

My husband has always been VERY concerned about my looks - he used to proclaim that I had the best body he'd ever seen. That my body was perfect. Things like that.

It worried me, because obviously no one stays physically perfect forever, but he would talk lovingly about growing old together and I pushed my worries to the back of my mind.

Well, I got pregnant, after we'd been together 10 years (only recently married - we made it legal because we were going to try to have a baby.) And as soon as there was a tiny visible bump - I was about 4 months along - my husband became weirded out. Grossed out. Would not touch me, would literally push me away and roll over if I tried to cuddle. It hurt so, so badly.

The birth itself was really difficult and ended in a c-dection due to a chorio infection following prolonged labor - awful. As a result my physical recovery took a while. For most of this time, I was 20 pounds over my ideal weight and my husband was physically uninterested.

By the time I finished breastfeeding at a year, I was within 5 pounds of the day he proposed to me. I looked pretty good, I thought - yeah a few pounds to go but I was a busy mom, working full time and caring for our year-old son. I was 38 years old, and wearing a size 6 (a real 6 not a vanity 6!.

Still, it wasn't enough. One night my husband and I had a long talk over some wine, a good talk - and then he burst out with "PLEASE lose some weight. PLEASE!! When I'm feeling really good about things, you look OK, but if things aren't going just right in my life, I'm not attracted to you AT ALL."

I cried, and yelled at him to get away, he said he was sorry bla bla bla and I went to my room (he'd moved himself upstairs months ago). He knocked on the door, let himself in and said "your crying turns me on, it's so sexy when you're vulnerable, please have sex with me, pleease" and he would NOT go away. Of course he was pretty drunk. I gave in and finally let him have at it while I closed my eyes...

But that was it. 6 months ago I left him, and I now have full legal custody of our son. (It's worth noting that he was verbally abusive to me, on a daily basis, in front of our son. THAT is why I left him, so my son would not grow up thinking that was how people treated one another.) And I look good, and I have a good job, and I have the best little boy a mom could ever hope for...but the thought of trusting another man, of being vulnerable ever again, terrifies me.

Oh and incidentally, he DID cheat on me when our son was just a few months old - I didn't learn about it till after I divorced the bastard - but that feels really incidental compared to his constand harassment over a few pounds of baby weight.

I would ask, can't you just love me for WHO I am? I love you. I'm a good person and you KNOW I'm a good mom...doesn't that mean something to you?

All I can say is, there are guys out there who really, truly cannot get past the idea of having a physically perfect mate. If you happen to be dating someone like that, please run. Run, run, run.
oh, lunachick, you have my deepest sympathy.
But I think you did the right thing, for your son and yourself.
You are worth so much more than your weight, your BMI, your dress size. And any halfway decent and sane man will realize this and cherish you, at 5, 10, even 15 pounds over your 22-year-old weight.
I'm so, so sorry you suffered that.
@176, I am also deeply upset that you had to go through that. Have you found someone solid to talk to, about what was going on during those ten years you were together, before you got pregnant? He sounds as if he was super controlling from the beginning. Isn't it possible that your current fear of trusting & being vulnerable has as much to do with the lessons you internalized over that decade, as with the abuse he handed out postpartum?
I am not the first woman to offer up her own pregnancy in relation to ATTW's letter. Where was the one size fit all cry when women who claimed to have taken well over a year to lose 60 pounds worth of normal baby weight? Yeah...thought so.

My point here is this, he's an ass. But this ralying cry that all women gain half a person from carrying a 5-10 pound fetus in her womb is a crock. I have never read or heard any doctor (and I saw a perinatologist) ever say 50+ pounds of weight gain during pregnancy was normal or healthy for anyone, including women who were underweight. But dont take my word for it:….…

In fact the only thing that says anything about a normal gain of 60 pounds is with TRIPLETS!…

Yes there are super douches who expect women to magically go back down to size and even abusive super douches who are well...abusive super douches. But somewhere along the line is a reasonable man who became a father with a woman who no longer looks like herself at all and the change happened in less than 2 years (pregnancy and childbirth plus recovery from said childbirth). That ISNT fair and to say that any man who isn;t ok with YOUR normal weight gain of 60 pounds is an ass is a bit dramatic, especially considering that 60 pounds for a single baby is NOT normal pregnancy weight gain in the first place.
Well someone mentioned endocronologists and well, here you go:…

"However, too much can be harmful, said the University of Bristol researchers who conducted the current study. The team took body mass index (BMI) and weight measurements of 3,877 women throughout their pregnancy and again 16 years after giving birth.

The results, which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that women who gained more weight during their pregnancy than the Institute of Medicine recommendations were three times more likely to be obese at the end of the 16-year study period than those who experienced more moderate weight gain.

Additionally, the team noted that these women were at a higher risk for the cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions associated with obesity, which may include type 2 diabetes."
Doesn't sound to me as though there's much of a marriage there to begin with, unless the flippant tone is an attempt to gloss over his deep inner pain... Nope, not buying it. He needs to go find someone he can bone without a blindfold and let his wife do the same; better to be a shitty ex-husband and a shitty dad on the weekends than to be a resentful, seething shit in residence.

Oh, and here's my pregnancy weight gain story. NOT.
@ericaP & nocutename - oh, 20/20 hindsight. Yes, there was a clear, classic pattern, if you look at the course of our relationship. Incredibly good-looking guy, 6 foot 4, charismatic, great family (parents met at Stanford, Dad's a doctor, family travels the world, etc etc.) He owned a big house, had killer parties...he was king and he made me feel like a princess.

All the while I had a great job and made most of the money; I had a great, loving family, an education, wonderful friends, all that. But all that seemed so ordinary next to him - he seemed special, smarter, better looking, more confident than anyone and he cared about *me*! Oh, I fell head over heels. And the sex was absolutely, mind-blowingly INCREDIBLE. He had a "policy" that I must have 3 orgasms to every one of his...though sometimes he could push it to 10:1. He taught me what a G-spot is, and how to make it sing. That and so much more.

He was gorgeous, he made ME feel so beautiful, and he took my ecstasy as his responsibility. We occasionally had threesomes with other beautiful women, we let male friends just watch sometimes (other guys were never allowed to join in, my rules) - Oh, it was wonderful.

He treated so me well at first, but expected more, and more...and more over the years, while giving less and less. High standards turned into bizarre double standards where he would create rules for me to follow, and he'd set the hurdles higher and higher till there was just no way I could please him. I bought him a Cartier watch, a $5000 sound and navigation system for his car, a Prada belt, nice shoes, beautiful furniture and designer clothes...I'm a giving person (to a fault, in this case). He has expensive taste and it made me so happy to give him the objects he desired. And he was so happy to take, and take. He got meaner and meaner. He could care less if I ever had an orgasm again...he'd beg me for a blow job...then go to sleep without so much as touching me. First on occasion...then as a matter of course.

By the end, not only did I buy the food, and cook the food and serve it, and work full time and care for our son, but if it wasn't also COMPLETELY cleaned up before we ate dinner, he'd go ballistic. That meant he'd eat the fancy dinners I prepared while he watched TV, while I cleaned the kitchen. He'd be done by the time I sat down. Hardly the family dinners I was raised with, where the children don't sit until the adults do, and you don't stand up till you're excused.

I was a total doormat, and a highly paid professional, full-time working mother at the same time. It was absurd and awful and pathetic, but when I raised a word of protest (i.e. ask him to help me clean the kitchen or serve the food) he would launch into a tirade and be angry for just wasn't worth setting him off.

So, I left. He was just so rude and so mean and so angry by then, every day. He would verbally shred me in front of our son, day after day. Clearly there's some mental illness or personality disorder going on, but he would NOT see a counselor, or a doctor. I was the one with the problem, period.

One day I burned my hand pretty badly - accidentally plunged most of my hand into boiling water while heating a bottle of refirgerated breastmilk for our son - and he laughed and laughed, this nasty derisive laugh. Because I was so stupid for burning myself and "don't you know how stupid that was, how ridiculous you look?" I lost it, cried, said Fuck You!! How can I be with someone who thinks it's funny when I hurt myself? Our son was 6 mionths old, and that's the one time I completely lost it in our baby's presence (he was sleeping nearby). For that I got a long lecture about how I was unable to control my emotions, and how it is extremely inappropriate to use those words and to shout in front of an infant. He NEVER let that one go - from that day on, if e ever discussed self-control, or if I ever asked him to speak more quietly or gently around the baby, he's go right back to how I'm the one who can't control myself and swears in front of the baby.

I was never abused in my previous relationships. I didn't enter this one thinking I would be. We used to have a great time together, really. It's just, after he realized I loved him, he stopped respecting me. The big change happened the week after we were married - he explained that to me, later. He said he panicked, because he realized I wasn't his perfect wife, and he set out to make me that - perfect. Believe me, being a narcissist's project, where they're trying to "fix" you and force you to become their idea of the perfect is not fun. Espeially when you're pregant!

It is insidious. It goes from (seemingly) so good, gradually, bit by bit, to so, so bad once he thinks you're there to stay. Once you're married, once you have an infant...if he thinks you need him and you're not going anywhere because he knows you want to keep the family together...look out.

I'm a lot happier now - that's perhaps the understatement of the century. And for better or worse, I'm a whole lot trusting that men are who they claim to be.
sorry, edit on last sentence - *LESS* trusting.
"I am not the first woman to offer up her own pregnancy in relation to ATTW's letter. Where was the one size fit all cry when women who claimed to have taken well over a year to lose 60 pounds worth of normal baby weight? Yeah...thought so."

No one needed to bother about "one size fits all" because that woman didn't argue that every single woman should always, without fail, gain 60 lbs and lose it in a year. She didn't argue that not gaining 60 lbs was some sort of weird moral failing that involved living on potato chips and ice-cream. From what I've read, you are the only person claiming that "all women" do anything during pregnancy.
@176 / @183, lunachick. So sorry. It's all the words I can find, and I apologize for that. So so sorry.

While function (vagina healing, bleeding stopping) returns after 4-6 weeks after childbirth, hormones, especially with a breastfeeding woman, often do not return to normal for some time, which effects both mood and physique.

It was hard as hell for me to lose weight after my 2nd pregnancy, even with the low cal, low fat foods the FDA and the Dr's push on us.

Turns out i had to go educate myself about sugar, no carbs, no processed food, nothing but meats, veggies, healthy fats and some fruit and weight fell off.

Nobody understands or bothers to mention that she may be trying and like many other Americans, the SAD (Standard American Diet) just isn't cutting it and the weight stays.

Dude doesn't say how supportive is, my ex wanted me to eat healthy and lose weight but if i brought healthy food into the house, he wouldn't touch it. He expected me to still cook for him, all the unhealthy food of course, and choose differently for myself. That isn't support..several of you said he should go shop and cook, and I agree. If he wants to help, he can educate himself on food and take that over for her. She is a lot more likely to eat healthier food if she doesn't have to shop and dream up the recipe. Buy a jogger stroller and the two of you go for sunset walks and eventually jogs. Do it together, don't expect her to do it alone and you might actually grow as a couple too.
@183, wow, thanks for sharing that story. I wish there was a way you could take the good years you shared ("the sex was absolutely, mind-blowingly INCREDIBLE ....he made ME feel so was wonderful...He treated so me well at first") and appreciate them in isolation from your ex-husband's descent into some kind of mental illness. But maybe he was always that controlling perfectionist, and (as you suggest) he was directing it at himself first, with his killer parties & orgasm policies.
"But this ralying cry that all women gain half a person from carrying a 5-10 pound fetus in her womb is a crock."

Nobody is saying that. It's just you insisting that larger weight gains aren't normal, or must be a matter of indulgence, or whatever.

"I have never read or heard any doctor (and I saw a perinatologist) ever say 50+ pounds of weight gain during pregnancy was normal or healthy for anyone, including women who were underweight."

Well, now you have: my OB, who has been practicing for 20 years and also teaches at the medical school here. Do you want his card or something? I'm a little less likely to take medical advice from the generalized guidelines on WebMD than from my own doctor who knows my personal case.

"That ISNT fair and to say that any man who isn;t ok with YOUR normal weight gain of 60 pounds is an ass is a bit dramatic, especially considering that 60 pounds for a single baby is NOT normal pregnancy weight gain in the first place."

There you go again, telling us what's "normal" and right and fair based on your narrow view of what pregnancy should be. Why shouldn't my spouse have been okay with my weight gain, given that our doctor said everything is great, keep eating the same diet, and so on? I'm on pregnancy #3 now, I'm not obese and never have been, I've never had diabetes or any type of health issue during pregnancy. I gained 65 lbs with pregnancy #1, around 45 lbs with pregnancy 2, and in the first 6 months of this pregnancy so far I've gained 10. Go figure. There's not even one size fits all for one person.

But even if I WERE obese or unhealthy, and even if my spouse was NOT okay with it, he would still be an ass if he wanted to cheat or leave without putting any effort into solving the problem together. For pete's sake, people get cancer and lose limbs and develop terrible odor problems and all kinds of "abnormal" things that might make them unattractive. Maybe it's even their fault, if they smoke or have terrible diets or bad habits or whatever. But spouses who love each other try to work that stuff out together first, before ditching each other.
lunachick, I was so sad to read your story, and I'm glad you made it out and on to better things in life!
SuzyI didnt say he should leave you if he didn't want to, I said why is he an ass because he doesn't want to maintain a SEXUAL relationship with someone he is no longer SEXUALLY attracted to? He could still be a good co-parent without having sex with you, he could still be a good co-parent without being in a sexual/romantic relationship with you. But why should he stay in that relationship if he doesn't want to be in it? Why should he be shamed for not wanting to stay? It wasn't JUST WebMD it was also on and endocrinologists themselves have published papers in the Ameican Journal for Clinical Nutrition saying the same damn thing, 60 pounds of weight gain is NOT normal, it is NOT healthy unless you're carrying triplets. Show me one link from a reliable source where it says 60 pound weight gain is normal during a healthy singleton pregnancy and you have your point, until then I am inclined to stick with my facts because they are widely validated.

The other point of the matter is, the man isn't attracted to her anymore. It isn't fair because he was the one that got her pregnant and he made vows to love her regardless. Well he could very well still love her but love does not equal sexual and physical attraction. He shouldn't be shamed into staying with his wife and being celibate and she shouldn't want to be with someone who thinks she's unattractive and "unsexy" what could that be doing to her self esteem? I'm not on such a moral high ground that I'm in the realm of telling people that they have to just suck it up and fuck someone they are not sexually attracted to.

If pregnancy weight gain (which is reversible) is enough to make him throw in the sexual towel, how was the letter writer planning on dealing with the irreversible ravages of age? Was he planning on getting a divorce or having an affair as soon as the wrinkles got a little too close together and the breasts started sagging? After all, the poor fellow just doesn't feel attracted to wrinkles and saggy boobs.
Mmmm... Arnold's son is pretty hot indeed. But is he really jail bait? At 17 years old, you can just drive him to a neighboring state and be a-okay. ;) Who knew California had such prude age of consent laws?
@191 - Just curious, how overweight are you? You're tearing into all these normally-thin women for gaining more weight during pregnancy than WedMD says the average woman should, and you go on about how YOU barely gained a thing...but you also say you were overweight to begin with. So. How overweight were you before you ever got pregnant? And how overweight are you now? Weight and height would be great. Since you're so interested in everyone else's BMI, let's calculate yours.

AzaleaRose stated that the point was that he wasn't attracted to her anymore and shouldn't feel obligated to be with someone he's not attracted to. If sexual/romantic loyalty always boils down to whether-or-not-I-feel-attracted-to-my-spouse-right-now, why does it matter whether it's from baby-weight, or illness, or age?
Hunter, didn't everyone already go through this? You're making all these assumptions that
1. it's a long enough time after the baby that her weight "should" be gone
2. her lifestyle is conducive to losing the weight (i.e. all the responsibilities of taking care of this baby aren't piled soley on her leaving her no time to be fit)
3. she's willfully choosing to be fat

I mean come on, everyone's already pointed out that there's in no way enough information to assume one way or the other.

Also.... not that anyone wanted my opinion on this but with Mr. J and EricaP... though I generally agree with Erica that a lot of men would have better sex lives if they approached things better I think she has the bias that all sex-positive women have, that all women can come to appreciate and love sex the way we do if the men in their life do things right (either in bed and/or emotionally) but I do think it's a little overly optimistic. I've met and conversed with women that just aren't that into sex. It confuses me to no end but it's true. This might be the case with Mr. J though no fault of his own.
Not everybody is cut out to be a father. Someone so self-centered that they would actualy leave their family because they haven't had sex in about an hour is one of those. In this kid's case, losing said father might be addition by subtraction.
@102 and other oblivious dicks:

If ATTW wasn't prepared to have a child, he should have either a) talked to his wife about it to make sure that they were both on the same page and that birth control would be used; and/or b) WRAPPED IT THE FUCK UP.

Stop whining and moaning about all the poor, oppressed het men who are "tricked" by their evil temptress wives into having kids that they didn't want. Condoms are the CHEAPEST, SAFEST, AND EASIEST FORM OF BIRTH CONTROL IN EXISTANCE. If you plan on having sex, at all, during your life, you should carry arround some goddamn condoms. How difficult is that? Women already have tons of forms of birth control that they are solely responsible for, and which do not always work as intended. Men need to take some responsibility too. (If your partner doesn't want you to use condoms, and can't give a convincing reason why, then you should be suspicious and probably not have penetrative sex, at least until you get to know each other better).

If het men are unwilling to face the responsibility of having children, and too ignorant to buy a fucking condom, they should marry their own hand and not have sex with anyone. Don't make birth control the sole responsibility of women, and you won't have to face the prospect of unwanted or accidental pregnancies (barring the extremely unlikely case that both methods of birth control fail).

Before anyone in a het relationship has sex, they should either diligently prepare birth control options to use, or read up on pregnancy and childbirth- preferably both.

Moreover, though ATTW's letter is fairly vague, he is already seething with resentment towards his wife. If she had "tricked" him into having a child, he would have mentioned it, because it would have helped his case enourmously, and been yet another reason why he feels that cheating or leaving would be justified.
ATTW is a jackass not just because he's superficial. He's not a jackass because he's too stupid to realize that unprotected sex= pregnancy, babies, and all the unpleasant things that come with. He's a jackass because, instead of TALKING TO HIS WIFE like an adult, he seeks justification to either cheat on her or leave her to raise an infant on her own, just because he can't get his dick wet. He doesn't give a shit about the health and welfare of his wife and child. He doesn't give a shit about his child's future. The ONLY things that matter to him are how hot his wife looks and how much sex he's getting (and of course, he's way too good to just use his hand for a while like other new fathers).

He doesn't say "honey, I want to get in shape/stay in shape. I was thinking of going to the gym. Would you like to come with me, and we'll hire a good babysitter so we can both relax and stay healthy?" He doesn't ask Dan about ways to give his wife more free time to relax and/or exercise. He doesn't ask Dan about ways to spice up his sex life- assuming that his wife is even ready for sex or exercise yet, this soon after having a baby. He asks Dan whether he should cheat on his wife, or LEAVE HIS FAMILY. He doesn't ask how he could try to improve the situation; he asks how he can LEAVE the situation, for the sole reason that he's not getting enough sexual stimulation right now, because he thinks his wife is fat after having a baby.

You really can't get much more spoiled and selfish than that.
And for hunter78 and others who say "she's not doing enough to lose weight so she can please her husband" and other such bullshit: their child is an INFANT. A BABY. Pregancy weight, whether a little or a lot, does not miraculously fall off the next day. Pregnancy permanently alters a woman's body- physically, emotionally, hormonally. It can take YEARS to get the weight off, because hormones are one of the biggest factors in weight gain, and they can take years to re-balance after a pregancy. When your hormones are going haywire, it really doesn't matter if you run 20-mile marathons every day, you're not going to lose much weight.

Not to mention, raising a kid is a 24/7 job. You don't get to just pop in at the gym twice a week for a workout. You're WAY too busy changing diapers, feeding, cleaning, and picking up slobbery toys strewn all over the house. You don't have time to eat or sleep or bathe, much less go on a weight-loss routine. A kid is a 24/7 obligation for several years.

Before a het guy has sex without a condom, he needs to assess the risk. He needs to read up on pregancy, childbirth, etc., and decide whether or not it's worth it. If he can't handle the idea of sharing the work and being patient with his wife- saggy bellies and hormonal outbursts included- he needs to WEAR. A. CONDOM.

It takes TWO people to make a baby, and both bear responsibility for that child, not just the mother. If this guy is so willing to abandon his own child because his wife gained weight (I mean, really?), he should not have been having PIV sex in the first place. He's old enough to know how babies are made and how to prevent babies from being made. He's not a child- he's just acting like one.
By the way, I'm ONLY referring to heterosexual, sexually active men who don't wear condoms AND who don't want to be fathers/husbands. And, to some degree, women of the same type. There are plenty of men and women out there who do use protection responsibly, and I am not referring to them in my comments.
"If I were one of those choicers, Dan, I would suck your dick just to win the argument."
Sounds like a win-win to me!

"Aging isn't the same, it takes years and both parties are affected. Illness is not the same, she's not ill, she can lose weight and become attractive to him again, if she wants to."

Yup. That's logical. A man who can't stick around a year or two for his wife to correct a reversible condition is going to be GREAT at sticking around for 10 or 20 years living with an irreversible condition.
In the 2nd letter, we've been assuming it was the husband asking, but the word "your" is ambiguous. Read it again and consider that it could be the wife. It's signed "Almost Twice The Wife." What if she's wondering if it would be better if her husband cheated or left.

My answer: If you have any resources at all, it would be better if he left. If you don't have family or an income, it would be better if he stayed. If the jerk leaves now, you've got a good chance of finding someone better for you-- as long as you've got people to help with the baby and give provide you with something to live on until you can sue the jerk for child support. If you're really on your own, living with a jerk is better than nothing.
@198 First off, I do want your opinion, and thank you for sharing it.

Second, I'm not saying that all women could love getting PIV sex every morning if the guy paid more attention to her sex drive. But I think most humans like physical connection. There aren't many women who turn away from snuggling their children. So - if guys find ways to connect physically to their wives, whether though backrubs, foot massages, back scratching, hair brushing, or through more extensive cunnilingus, or holding the vibrator for her, or whatever -- then, yes, I think the emotional connection and the sexual connection between the two people could only improve. It could hardly get worse!

Too many guys don't seem to have an understanding of what physical sensations their wives enjoy.

And I think a big difference between children's affection (which women usually like) and husband's affection (which women often grudgingly put up with) is that the husbands pushed PIV on their wives during those months after childbirth (or at some other stressful time of life) and so the wives got used to putting up with sex they weren't enjoying, and that created a feedback loop of dreading their husband's touch instead of welcoming it.

Is that clearer, mydriasis?

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