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Please Be Gentle

Dear Miss SmartyPants,

I don't know how to ask this question without sounding like a pig. So, I'm just going to ask it ... after giving you a little back story first. I'm a 35-year-old male and my wife is 31. We're both working professionals (me: computers /she: physical therapist) and when we married five-and-a-half years ago, we were "pleasantly plump."

About a year-and-a-half ago, she lost 30+ pounds in six months and has managed to keep it off. She looks terrific - gorgeous, even - and to show off her new body she has changed to a more revealing wardrobe. So, her "assets" are more emphasized than ever before.

My problem is, when I married her, she was beautiful but dressed sort of plainly and had low self esteem about her looks. I used to always tell her she was beautiful and she'd coyly say, "No I'm not." Now, she's sort of become the Vogue magazine version of beautiful and her career has really started to take off.

For myself, I've become insecure about whether I deserve to be married to such a beautiful person. My conscience questions whether she'd want to stay with me - a guy who lost 40 pounds and managed to somehow regain it all back within the same year. So my pig headed question is, "What needs to happen to me in order to feel reassured by a woman who once felt within my grasp, but no longer feels that way?"

Please Be Gentle

Dear Gentle,

The only oinking I hear is the suggestion that getting in shape puts the burden on her to reassure you. Grow up, Wilbur. It's your job to take care of yourself.

So do it. Not for her, though - she liked you plump, remember? Enough to marry you?

Do it so you can say you beat your insecurities instead of just feeding them Cheetos. Mmm, yum. But I digress.

Don't do as I do, do as I say. And what I say is take care of yourself by eating wisely, exercising, blah x 3, but I also mean dealing with your depleted self-worth (on which exercise in particular can work wonders, for what it's worth). Carried with the right attitude, a few extra pounds can be perfectly attractive.

Whining that you're not good enough for someone? People can't run away fast enough. Your weight is merely a symptom.

Now, you may be thinking, she may have been happy with a large man when she was a large woman, but now that she is dy-no-mite ... Yeah, it's not like that type of change in preference - shallow or not - doesn't happen. It does.

But, practical considerations: What she does is beyond your control. You can either stay as-is, if that's the way you're most comfortable with yourself, or work on your body, if that's what feels right to you. In both cases, she will do what she will do.

I just hope that in the process you'll at least be honest with each other. One burden that is on her is to let you know if her hot self has developed a different opinion of you. E.g., "Exercise and self-discipline have become important to me, and it's now difficult for me to respect the way you treat yourself." If that's in fact the way she feels. Maybe not.

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