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I'm in a strange place lately. Not sure what to do anymore. This may be disjointed and rambling, but its late and Ive been up since 5am, so I apologize in advance.

So.. I'm the husband, 38yo, married 15 years to the wife, 34yo. I have a 16yo son from a previous relationship he lives with us 90% of the time. The past 5 years, our marriage has been steadily getting worse. Some background: We were both overweight when we got married, nothing crazy, but definitely not thin. My wife has hypothoroidism and possibly other complications, I just like to eat. I was happy with myself, she was happy with me, I was happy with her, she seemed happy with herself.

After 10 years, we finally had the finances to buy a house and decided to become foster parents. After a year of that, my wife was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Things were very tough for her for right away, mobility was limited and ironing out treatment took a long time. She steadily declined and steadily gained weight, partly due to the medications she was taking, partly due to the limited mobility. She had to quit her job, she was barely able to get in and out of the house to the car. We kept fostering through it all, but eventually, complications from an infection landed her in the hospital and I convinced her we had to stop fostering while she recovered. The kids got moved to a different foster home and we took about a year off from fostering, during which my wife continued to decline physically.

We had several talks during the next year about her weight gain and improving her mobility and getting her treatment in order. She would promise to try things, we would make a plan, but she wouldn't follow though. She gave up more and more little things due to her health issues. Small things that bothered me, but I thought that they would improve over time if she would buckle down and work at them. She stopped buying new clothes, showered less, made less effort on her appearance. I know it was hard for her to get around, and I always tried to let her know Id help with anything she needed.

At the end of a year, she started saying how she missed fostering and she felt empty because she didn't work anymore and the house was lonely. I told her that I would be willing to foster again, but that I didn't want to be stuck doing all the work again because of her mobility. She said that she was moving better since she found a new rheumatologist, and we set a goal of some minimal things that she could do to prove that she was capable. I wanted her to be able to have this because I knew it made her happy, but I knew that she was just barely able to get around and it wasnt going to work, but I went along anyway and we got licensed to foster again. We finished training and took another placement, our fourth.

Meanwhile, her condition declined more, to the point where she wasnt able to transport the kids back and forth to school, or visits with their mom. Her life was basically confined to her bed, and occasionally making it out to the living room to sit at her computer desk and play games. That was it. Not brushing her hair, barely brushing her teeth, no showers, no bathroom trips (we have had to put a commode in our bedroom because she cant walk far enough fast enough.) I've made it clear to her that I would help her take showers, help her with whatever she needs, but she never takes me up on it. I guess I'm too passive because I never force the issue or bring up these kind of things with her.

So the last group of kids left this year in April, and I told her that she needs to get into a rehab clinic because she was basically living in bed at this point. We moved her into a vacated bedroom so she could sleep better; her sleep schedule got completely flipped around and she was sleeping all day and up all night. She agreed after a lot of arguing, and we moved her to a rehab clinic. She was there for 30 days and the doctors said she was ready to come home. They had done physical therapy with her, occupational therapy with her and said she met their requirements to be on her own at home with some in home PT and OT appointments for a month or two. I didn't agree but insurance got the final decision. She came home, did the PT and OT, was told to keep working on the exercises on her own after they were done. She did them a few times. Scheduled a consult with a bariatric surgeon, who gave her a goal of losing 35 lbs to prove she can adjust to the lifestyle change required by the surgery. Things seemed to be looking up, so we started fostering again. Took a placement of 3 kids in August.

Here we are in December. She spends her time moving from bedroom to living room computer chair or kitchen table. We have a 4yo foster son at home full time, 5 and 7 yo kids going to school each day. She can barely make it to the car with her walker, she can barely move around the house. No progress on her weight loss goal, no communication with her bariatric doctor. I'm working 25 miles away 5 days a week, doing all the household chores, making dinner when I'm home early enough, transporting the kids two hours each way every sunday to see their mom, basically anything that requires physical activity, I'm it. I'm tired. The house is a mess, there's toys and clutter everywhere. The kids are loud and have behavior issues ranging from stealing, ADHD, and learning disabilities. I feel like we could deal with the kids' issues without her issues, but she is no better.

I'm to the point where I don't want to be around her anymore. She is over 500lbs now, and only 5' 1". I'm not against fat people, I'm over 275lbs, but I'm also 6' 1". She doesn't take care of herself at all. She wears the same clothes for a week, has let her hair go to the point that it has matted and cant be untangled. She doesn't wear deodorant, doesn't brush her teeth at all as far as I can tell. She does spray on perfume occasionally. And the thing that has turned me off the most is that she isn't using toilet paper anymore. I can't believe that I have to type this out, and I feel awful. And she doesnt understand why we never have sex anymore, why I don't kiss her as often as I used to, or want to do anything with her at all. We watch the occasional TV show together, thats about the most I can do.

I feel like I've let her down so much not saying anything about her hygiene or other issues sooner, letting it get to this point. I feel like a better man would've told her and tried harder to get her to work on things. She is a very sweet person, full of so much love, and I pictured a long life with many children with her. This isnt what I wanted for her and it breaks my heart that she has to live like this. I wonder though, what can I do now? At this point, I just want to move out and be done with the whole situation.

Sorry for the long post. I know that there's a lot of holes in the timeline, so please ask about anything that isn't clear. Looking forward to getting to know all of you and to help where I can.

42,485 Posts
Hi, welcome to TAM. I'm sorry to hear of all you are going through. It sounds like a very hard situation to deal with.

It sounds to me like you need to simplify your life. Fostering children under the current situation makes little sense. When you are at work, how can your wife even take care of the children?

Once you have no children to deal with, you could put pressure on your wife to take care of her hygiene. Be honest with her. You will not continue to live with her if she does not bath, use toilet paper, etc.

Has your wife seen anyone about depression? She sounds really depressed.

Does your wife have any extended family that lives near you?

5,764 Posts
I think you have to accept that you have veto power in some of these decisions. You should not be fostering children when she is incapable as a parent. That's number one. But you know that already, which is why you're here posting at this point....

Number two is, in my opinion, clearly defining how you will live your life. You have been reacting, caretaking, and loving. I think you now need to formulate a plan that will both affirm your own life choices and materially address the very unhealthy lifestyle that your wife has adopted. She needs to lose weight for health reasons and that should be the top priority now. Her mental health goes hand in hand with this, so she should be seeing a therapist while the two of you work together on a weight loss regimen for her.

This will only get worse if you don't change your approach. The longer it goes on, the guiltier you will feel about any attempt on your part to live your own life in a healthier way.

Super Moderator
28,140 Posts
Hi, @ElasticPancake. In UK terms, that is in excess of 35 stone in weight and that is absolutely dreadful and almost certainly life limiting.

I'd guess she is suffering from a severe depression and needs psychiatric (not psychological) in patient treatment ASAP.

She might also benefit from a pain management expert, but only after her depressive illness is dealt with.

Premium Member
11,688 Posts
Oh, where do I begin?

I begin by saying you are a saint, and she wanted to be one, but failed.

I agree, it is mostly depression that is keeping her heavy and sad.

Rheumatoid arthritis is debilitating in itself. Add an 'extra' ~365 pounds (26 stone) to a healthy frame and you have a major disability.

Unfortunately, she does not use toilet paper because she cannot reach that area.

You have four choices:

1) Do the best you can with her, no more fostering. She will likely last another few years before she needs full time assistance.
2) Put her in a nursing home, now. She is very young and it may not be easy to find one that will take her in. The costs might be, can be, through the roof.
3) Keep all food out of the house. Nothing except vegetables and fruit. Bring in food daily, based on a doctors daily caloric recommendation for her. Get her on vitamins.
4) Abandon her.

Number 4 is out.

Tell her what her options are. She either loses weight or you will be forced to put her in a nursing home.
She needs to be shocked into action. Ugh.
**See a nursing home attorney. The laws are complicated. And I am sure they differ, state to state, to country.

You will need a doctor to sign off on her RA condition and other issues to get her into an institution.

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