He wasn’t necessarily fat, he just had man-curves. She kind of liked them, they were one of the reasons why she agreed to go out with him for the first time so many years ago. She thought he was cute, in one way or another. She couldn’t ever really explain it. He mostly stayed in shape while they were dating, even lost a lot of weight right before he proposed. Quite a bit of muscle manifested in the time before their wedding. She could tell that he was really trying to impress her. She didn’t think it was necessary, but she was incredibly flattered.

That was twenty-six years ago. The muscle didn’t stay more than a couple of months and his curves came back with a vengeance. She never minded it too much. She loved him for his personality, because he provided for her and because he was a great father to their six kids. They’d been living well for a long time. A large portion of it was because of his hard work.

After a while, his health had begun to make her nervous. His blood pressure was high, his cholesterol was through the roof, and according to his doctor, his heart was showing signs of strain. She didn’t like this. She also was less than fond of the amount of bed-space his body took up each night, but that was a minor problem compared to his health. She wasn’t interested in becoming a widow anytime soon.

She thought about and prayed for ways to approach the subject. She asked God for his doctors’ words to impact her husband. Somebody had to tell him to watch what he was eating and to get off his butt more often. She was afraid to. He worked hard, even though it was in front of a computer all day. He earned the right to come home and crash on the couch, as far as both of them were concerned, but it really was impacting his health.

Deep down, she had to admit that the love handles she used to think were cute had grown into something much less adorable. She had to talk to him. She didn’t want to bite her tongue anymore. If she bit any harder, she’d draw blood.

Finally one day, she was able to muster up the courage to ask him to change his diet. She offered to exercise with him, even pleaded through tears and expressed concern for his health. After so many years of having a strong marriage, all he could say was,

Why are you being critical? You know this hurts me more than it does you, right?

And the fighting began.

Of course, this was everything she feared. She had to make the decision to allow him to continue in his unhealthy ways for the sake of them having a peaceful relationship or to continue  to harass him to lose weight and get healthy at the risk of hurt feelings and the occasional verbal altercation. She was strong-willed, so she chose to fight. Unfortunately, her concern for his health and his one-sided reactions hurt her more than she’d ever let him know.

Real love can take the occasional criticism, if it’s well-placed.

Anything less crumbles at the first hint of truth.

It’s unfortunate.