Dear Abby: Ultimatum to wife — Get thin or I’m out

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DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 18 years and have two wonderful kids, ages 14 and 12. Ten months ago, my husband said to me, “I told you I would divorce you if you ever got fat.”

I was shocked! Yes, I have gained some weight over the years, but at 5 feet 5 inches tall and 150 pounds, I was not exactly obese.

I was frightened by what he said, so I took off 25 pounds. He didn’t appear to notice, so I asked him, “Now what do you think?” He said, “You have no muscle tone”!

Abby, nothing I do is good enough. I work part-time and take care of our kids and the house. I go out of my way to cook and bake interesting things for them. Any appreciation? His praise is, “Not bad.”

Abby, what should I do? — BIGGEST LOSER IN NEW YORK

DEAR “LOSER”: Before I answer your question, I should point out that the way some abusers maintain control is by withholding approval, love, money, etc.

For your husband to threaten you with divorce if you didn’t lose weight was brutal. Nothing you do is good enough because keeping you insecure and always trying to gain his approval is how he maintains the upper hand in your marriage.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a woman who is 5 feet 5 inches tall should weigh between 114 and 144 pounds to be considered a normal weight. Losing weight is not easy. You should have been praised for your success.

Since you asked what to do, I’ll tell you: Take him at his word. Your husband may have said your muscle tone is flabby, but from where I sit, what’s sagging is your self-esteem. Go to the gym. Get into a training program. Improve that muscle tone, and along with it your image of yourself.

Then, once you have achieved your goal and feel better about yourself, decide whether you want to remain married to a man who has such poor “muscle tone” between the ears.

MORE DEAR ABBY: She gets funeral bill after boyfriend dies Husband thinks it’s OK to call me fat A cruel offhand comment still hurts months later

DEAR ABBY: I am a 63-year-old widow. I have not been with a man since my husband died 10 years ago.

I am now dating a 31- year-old man. I am deeply in love with him. He says he’s in love with me, too, but his family says he doesn’t know what love is. He was previously in a four-year relationship with someone his own age.

Am I crazy for dating a man who is 31? He’s everything I have always wanted, and what I would consider the perfect man for me. He claims his only problem with dating me is that I will probably pass away in 20 years, and he will be alone and devastated.

My concern is I feel I am preventing him from future children and a possible wife his own age. He says he doesn’t want kids, but I’m not so sure. Please tell me what to do. I have never been in this situation before. — HELP, PLEASE, IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR HELP, PLEASE: As relationships evolve, couples learn more about each other. You didn’t mention how long you and this man have been involved with each other, but if it has been less than a year, you would be wise to slow things down.

It would be in your interest to know why his family thinks he doesn’t know what love is. The answer to that question could be enlightening.

As to your not being certain that he doesn’t want to be a father, in spite of the fact that he says he doesn’t, not everyone wants children. If you aren’t sure that everything he’s telling you is the truth, I suggest you wait a few more innings before swinging for a home run.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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