'I've Put On Weight And My Husband Doesn't Find Me Attractive Anymore'

"I am struggling to not feel self conscious when I change clothes, or when we have sex.”
Olga Rolenko via Getty Images

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The importance of physical and sexual attraction in a relationship cannot be understated. In an ideal world, you should feel like you’re attracted to your partner and vice versa. But what happens if we realise our partner isn’t attracted to us anymore?

This week’s reader, Janet, writes in with her dilemma.

“How do you find healing or peace with physical inequities in a relationship?” she asks. “My husband is an amazing father, loving husband and, honestly, my best friend. I found out last summer that he has been suppressing feelings of a lack of physical attraction.

“He had primarily dated women who are thin or in shape, while I am not. My fluctuating weight has always been an insecurity for me, so this coming up has really exacerbated the issues. “He claims that he doesn’t see it as a problem, as he loves me and knows that I’m his soulmate. I, however, am struggling to not feel self conscious when I change clothes, or when we have sex.”

What would you say to this reader?

Counselling Directory member Juliet Bunting says she can feel the sense of sadness and urgency within Janet. “When a partner is such a wonderful husband and father it can feel devastating to hear him say that he is not as attracted to you now,” Bunting says.

“You say that this confession has exacerbated your own insecurities about your fluctuating weight. How long have you been experiencing this? There are many things that you could consider taking action on to start to slowly build your own self-esteem.”

Counselling Directory member Dr Sara Stepahanie Okwu believes that learning we haven’t entirely met the ideals of our partner can be very unsettling, but perhaps none more so than in the area of physical attraction.

“This is perhaps due to the emphasis of the value of beauty for women that we have inherited from social and cultural ideologies and the fact that it can strike at the wounds developed from painful past experiences,” she says.

How can this reader talk to her partner about this?

Okwu thinks Janet should be respectful, open and honest when talking to her partner about how his comments have impacted her.

“I would ask you to consider what you wish to achieve or gain from the conversation, what feels important for you to share or to have answers to, what topics feel imperative to discuss,” she says.

She also asks Janet what changes she would like to see, in terms of practicalities. “I would encourage you to broach the conversation at a time which is convenient for you both, when you are both at ease and have the time and energy to offer the conversation that it deserves.”

Bunting thinks Janet should first reflect on her own wellbeing and areas she would like to work on. “You may well feel a sense of empowerment that you want to take action for yourself first and foremost,” Bunting says.

“Maybe then you will feel that you can converse with your husband in a calm and empowered way showing a sense of independence and determination.”

What practical advice would you give this couple?

“It sounds as though you and your husband care deeply for each other and are in a very loving relationship,” Okwu says.

“I would perhaps encourage you both to continue to build on your relationship by making time to cultivate connection with each other’s essential qualities, not just the roles you adopt to maintain the functioning of your family and home.”

Bunting adds that “it’s all too easy to fall into a rut and start to take the other for granted”.

“When stresses of life take over, one can start to reminisce about old times and old relationships. Reminiscing can be nice and it can also be useful to capture elements of yourself that you think you have lost,” she adds.

“You need to strengthen your bond, if you are not engaging in activities together then make this a priority.”

Bunting continues: “Relationship counselling can be hugely beneficial and be a real eye-opener into your marriage. Counselling can also help to identify any insecurities the husband is having about himself, his age and his own wellbeing. It is worth considering if the above suggestions are not working.”

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK