Helping husband overcome vices

Dear Annie: When my husband and I got married a little over three years ago, we both had our vices. Mine was that I was smoking a pack a day of cigarettes, and his was that he was 20 pounds overweight and did not watch what he ate. On our wedding night, we vowed to really try to overcome our unhealthy habits. I quit smoking within six months of being married (it took a few tries), and he started eating better and running five times a week. Within the year, he had lost his 20 pounds. We were both feeling great. I have not had a cigarette in three years, and he had kept off the weight until recently.

About a year ago, he was laid off from his job, and he’s not been able to find a new one since. He has been trying really hard but with no luck. Needless to say, he has been very discouraged and is not feeling great about himself — which has caused him to start back with some of his old unhealthy eating habits. He has stopped running and is eating close to a pint of ice cream almost every night before we go to bed.

I don’t want to say anything to him about our pact because I know that this is a stressful time for him and I want to be supportive, but it hurts me to see him going down a self-destructive path. Should I say anything to him about our pact, or should I wait to see whether he gets a job and starts to feel good again?

Dear Pact: When is the ideal time to improve my physical fitness? No matter when you ask the question, the answer is always the same: Now.

Your husband doesn’t need to wait to get a job to start getting back in shape. In fact, if he starts eating better and exercising more, he will probably have a better chance of finding a job, because he’ll feel better about himself and exude more confidence. Gently remind him about the pact, and help him put down the pint of rocky road for some healthful bedtime snacks, such as an apple, a banana or cereal.

Make clear that you’re coming from a place of love, not judgment. Keep an open line of communication and check in on his emotional well-being, as mental health impacts physical health, and vice versa.

And congrats to you on quitting smoking. That is no small feat.

Dear Annie: One of your readers asked what the benefit is of putting yourself out there to heal wounds between siblings. I can tell her.

My siblings and I got into a long-lasting argument. Finally, when my husband became ill, each began to talk to me. They were not, however, talking to each other.

When my husband passed away and my brother got ill, I moved back home to take care of him in July. Still, I only saw one at a time until, at Christmastime, I had a party and invited both of them. I told each the other would be coming, and I expected both to be there and act decently toward each other.

Imagine my delight when my sister came in, went directly to my brother and gave him a huge hug, which he returned! They only needed a referee to pull them together.

Since that time, we have all been close to one another, helping whenever it’s needed, enjoying fun times and realizing how much we missed with the previous quarrels. The quarrels were not about minor things, but the coming together as brother and sisters was so much larger.  It’s worth the effort, because family is the one thing we need around us. — Happy to Referee