*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
When you've been married to your relationship partner for several years, you usually expect them to value having you close and appreciate the way your life together adds to memories and happy times.
But how should you react if every time you disagree on something, they criticize the way you look or your clothes size? Is it fair to keep bringing that up, or would you consider ending your marriage if your partner always reminds you that you don't look as good as any of the other women he sees every day?
My friend Amelia, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been married to her husband, Dean, for two years. They had a short engagement and a simple marriage ceremony. Even though they wanted to get married sooner and not wait a year or longer, the couple couldn't afford to buy a home in Phoenix, and they're still living in a rented apartment.
"We were in love, so there was no need to postpone getting married. I know his parents weren't so excited about us being together, but I was sure they'd be more friendly as time passed. I didn't care much about anything else except being with Dean," Amelia said.
Her parents and in-laws' did help to plan a party for the couple, but while they were out shopping for her dress, Gina, her mother-in-law, kept pointing out much smaller sizes than what Amelia needed.
"I wasn't sure if she was trying to make me feel bad or if she really liked those dresses, but she kept showing me those that couldn't possibly fit me. I kept looking until I found what I wanted, but it was so much slower because mom and I had to be polite and look at Gina's suggestions, too," Amelia said.
Gina's behavior didn't improve once the couple got married. Instead, her relationship with Amelia was filled with criticism and negative comments about her weight.
"When we had dinner at her home in Phoenix, she kept asking me if I had to have bread or if I just wanted fruit instead of the food she'd cooked. And she did it in front of everyone. They didn't say anything, but they were all so thin compared to me, and I felt she wanted me to feel awkward," Amelia said.
Despite what Gina said and did, Amelia stayed positive because she was sure her husband cared about her and didn't mind her weight in the least. As it turns out, even if in the beginning Dean gave her compliments and wasn't too focused on clothes size, he gradually listened more to what his mom had to say.
And when Amelia pointed out Gina could be more friendly, Dean told her she could lose some weight to improve her relationship with his mom.
More than that, they began having arguments about house chores, and Dean kept saying she was slow and that she could do everything so much faster if she stayed fit.
"It wasn't fair to say that. He could help, and then everything would be ready in half the time. But he wants to watch TV. He blames me for my weight every time we argue instead of making up his mind to do his part," Amelia said.
She was considering having a baby in the following months, but her husband's reactions are making her doubt their relationship is strong enough to start raising a family together. Amelia still wants to be with Dean, but she would like to see him appreciate her more and not share his mom's opinion about her weight.
"It's ok if Gina thinks I should wear a smaller size, but he loved me the way I am since the first time we met in Phoenix. I think I need to see more determination from him before I'm ready to be a mom," Amelia said.
Dean, on the other hand, is annoyed because they won't be parents soon, and he's now wondering if there's any reason to stay with his wife and keep working on their relationship.
"When we got married, we agreed to have kids in the first year. It's been two years, and now we have to postpone it again. I can't figure out why; it's not like she's worried about gaining weight anyway. It's there already. Might as well have kids and at least be happy about it," Dean said.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Dean to criticize his wife about her weight and avoid helping her with house chores? Should Dean focus more on having a close relationship with his wife if he wants to be a dad instead of listening to his mom and making Amelia upset?