“If I tell my wife how I really feel, she’ll just get all upset,” one of my male patients said to me. “I’d rather just be quiet and deal with it on my own.”
This is not an atypical comment I hear from men or women who come to see me for eating disorders treatment. They don’t want conflict. Just keep the boat even keel and things will just settle in after a while. Only it doesn’t. Fifteen years into a marriage where things are just passed over, conflicts are avoided, and feelings are almost never expressed and what do you get? Someone who says things are generally “fine.”
Anyone know what F.I.N.E. stands for?
While the relationship stagnates, my patients typically turn to anything else they can control. They will try to look their best at all times, compulsively exercising, restricting, purging their meals, skipping meals, using cigarettes to stop from eating, or forcing themselves on the next best diet from Dr. Oz. Or they’ll try to people please to such an extent that they have nothing left to give themselves except the late night comfort of a binge, or a surreptitious trek to the 7-11 for a soda, chips, and candy free-for-all in the middle of the day.
But what happens when you do start speaking straight, saying what you think and feel, and allow someone to really see the real you – the vulnerable, forthright and honest you. You may have opened yourself up to a new-found level of intimacy. Your loved one may see you as more human, more real, and safer to express their feelings too in return. You don’t fall in love with a person’s body; you fall in love with their heart and soul. If you don’t bare yours, how will love ever find you?
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.