I Lost Weight, and My Husband Stopped Having Sex With Me
We shouldn’t change for anyone but ourselves, not even our spouses
When I was heavy, my ex-husband, Deon, never shied away from showing his love for my full figure. Growing up, people who loved extra breasts and thighs were called “Chubby Chasers.” Deon hated the term.
“Liking big girls isn’t a ‘black guy’ thing. Everyone has a type,” he’d say. “I like you, just as you are right now — that’s all there is to it.”
To an overweight woman with a binge-eating disorder, these words meant something profound. I’d taken the phrase “as you are right now” to suggest he loved me for who I am as a person like we all expect our spouses to do. Either you like the person you’re with, or you don’t, right?
Sex in a committed relationship is about finding someone that allows you to let go and be comfortable with ourselves. Size should have nothing to do with attraction in a relationship, but so many times, it does.
I first noticed Deon’s attraction to my body at work, long before we started dating. We’d both signed on to perform for a haunted event at a popular theme park and landed in the same maze.
Opening night, I’d slipped into the co-ed tent to change ahead of the rush. Deon came early as well and walked in on me standing in my bra and blood-spattered culottes.
“Whoa,” he’d said, taking a step back, his eyes tracing the lace on my bra before finding the dirt floor. “Sorry.”
“You’re fine,” I replied, struggling to get into a tattered pirate top. “I’m on my way out anyway.”
I passed by him, thinking nothing of our strange introduction or the way he watched me leave. I’d spent a long time working in theme parks in Hollywood. A body like the one I had never got much attention aside from being typecast in “fat girl” roles. In the days before Ashley Graham, women with a body like mine in a narcissistic town got little attention, period.
One of the core truths of human nature is that we all want someone to see us, to value us. His gaze made me feel accepted. The surprised yet hungry look in his eyes stuck in my mind. It remained there in my head, all the way up until we started dating, got engaged, and said, “I do.”
At the start of our marriage, I never noticed signs of Deon wanting me to remain obese. Even once his behavior shifted, I blame myself for the food I placed in my mouth each night, not him. Still, he never tried to stop me at first.
“You’re not fat,” he’d tell me, “you’re beautiful. If you don’t want to eat your diet food today, then don’t. You’ll start again tomorrow. I’ll go get you some food.”
I used this as an excuse to eat myself sick almost every day. I had my reasons for always promising myself I would try to lose weight again tomorrow. Anyone who’s had mental illness understands how impossible facing your own denial is. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the attention my new body brought me yet I still struggled with my secret desire to be thinner.
God took pity on me and let me gain weight in the right places. I looked good, but wanting to be at peace in your own body is so much more important than being attractive to other people.
For me, the extra weight made me uncomfortable. Still, I chose to remain overweight. Hiding the scale proved easier than facing my growing problem.
After a few years, my doctor put an end to my voluntary ignorance by telling me some sobering news.
“If you gain another twenty pounds, you’ll have diabetes,” the doctor said. “Then, there’s the risk of heart disease and a myriad of other complications. You can fix this now. To get into a healthy weight range, you need to lose around one hundred pounds.”
With my health in jeopardy, reality forced its way into my life. I’d started exercising and working with the doctor to lose weight. The first thirty pounds came off with ease. I celebrated, but Deon remained apprehensive about my new appearance.
“You look nice,” he’d tell me each time I caught him studying my shrinking body, shrugging his shoulders. “You looked nice before, too, though.”
Then, Deon would give me a deep kiss, smacking my ass as he tossed me on the bed with a laugh. Then, he’d prove to me how much he loved to hold onto my wide hips, to run his hands down my soft belly. Deon couldn’t admit to my problem.
My husband started acting strange soon after I shed the first fifty pounds. With each pound lost, Deon and I had less and less sex. But it was more complicated than this. He and I started to lose the sexual tension that plays a part in a successful marriage.
I noticed he no longer stopped to watch me undress when he passed by in the hall or surprised me in the shower. If I decided to walk around the house, butt naked, he didn’t stare like he used to. I’d tell him, “You don’t need to sneak a look, I’m your wife!”
He’s depressed, I’d thought, his job is hard. Who wants to have sex when they’re beaten up and tired?
But Deon wouldn’t even accept a simple back rub any longer. One night, when I pressed about why he didn’t express his sexual desire like he used to, he told me, “I used to like your extra weight, how you felt on top of me.”
When a husband feels they are losing their wife, or experience a change in her they’re not ready for, I imagine they hurt so much more than they are willing to reveal. Deon wanted to sense the pressure of my thighs as I straddled him once I turned the lights down, and the music on.
He missed the way I pressed my stomach into his skin as my hands worked his tired muscles, the heat of my body. The sound of my voice as I whispered, “relax,” in his ear.
Deon started suggesting we eat out more and more often in the following weeks. He made pizza, desserts, southern biscuits with gravy that stuck to our ribs.
“I got a promotion,” he explained. “Why shouldn’t we enjoy ourselves? We don’t have kids.”
I allowed myself to indulge for a while. I had my reasons. Self-care can be difficult. Also, I missed the way my husband praised my plus-sized body.
“I’m still me.”
Twenty pounds came back fast, as did Deon’s enthusiasm for the return of my fuller hips. That night, we had sex for the first time in quite a long time. The act made realize that, though Deon swore he’d never want to change me, he might not have spoken the full truth. As expected, his interest started to slip once the weight came off again.
One night, as I curled up by his side in bed, I’d placed his hand on my waist, moving it along the plains of my body. He brushed me off, and I asked, “why?”
“You feel different now, you’re not so soft anymore,” he’d told me.
“I had to lose weight, not just for my health. The doctor says I’m losing at a healthy pace, what’s the big deal?” I said, “I’m still me.”
“I disagree,” he replied. “I wish you’d put on some weight. Touching you is kind of weird now, I don’t know.”
“Sorry,” he’d added, when he noticed my face fall and my eyebrows knit in pained confusion. “I’m just not into having sex, not anymore.”
But I held onto no pain. Instead, I’d blinked a few times, stunned, while a few choice thoughts milled around my head. The first thought being, what the actual fuck?
In committed relationships, our partner’s opinions of who we are, our bodies, mean a lot to us. Changing for the person we love can sometimes seem the right thing to do, but was it for me?
No. We seek approval from those who we hold closest to us, our spouses, family, and friends. Yet, no-one should have the power to change us. A spouse that loves their partner wouldn’t ask a question like the one Deon asked me. It doesn’t matter what their sexual preferences are.
The second thought surfaced after Deon asked, “Don’t you think it’d be a good idea to put on a few pounds again?”
Forget this, I told myself.
I deserved someone who wanted me for me. We all do.
“You can’t be serious?” I’d replied. “I’m not going to gain weight and jeopardize my health. Yeah, no, I’ll pass.”
Deon never touched me again.
Don’t change for anyone but yourself.
Our marriage didn’t last long after this. A few months passed and we signed the divorce papers.
Deon revealed his saving grace through our separation a few weeks later. Her name was Sarah, an old co-worker with a lovely full figure. He’d clung to her Double D’s like life preservers through the choppy waters of divorce.
I remember being glad for him, though I will say I found it interesting how much her body resembled mine a few years ago. I didn’t mind in the slightest.
I’d made changes for myself, not for him or anyone else. And someday, I’ll find someone who appreciates who I am, no matter my size. A spouse who asks you to change who you are for them is not the type of person we should strive to be with.
So, I’d wished them well, everyone won.
Deon got the girl he wanted, and I walked learning Deon’s philosophy that everyone has a type really is true. Because, once he tried to change me, I realized he no longer was my type.