Mom Urged to Dump Husband Over His Obsession—'How Do I Make Him Understand'

A man has been branded "incredibly controlling" after his partner shared how he is "obsessed" with her exercising.

In a post on the London-based discussion site Mumsnet, user Talktalk33 explained: "I have been with my partner 13 years, and we have two children under 6. He has always had comment about my weight/fitness levels, but it has started to really affect my confidence and self-esteem."

The woman added that, when the couple met, she was thinner and wore a U.S. size 8-10, but now wears a 12-14.

"He tells me weekly I need to do exercise, that I need to join a gym or do a workout at home," she explained. "I work from home in a desk-based role so have started walking a mile a day before I start work to try and get some steps in, he asks me every day if I've been on my walk and doesn't speak to me or gets annoyed with me if I don't go that day."

Couple argue and gym
A file photo of a couple not speaking sitting with arms crossed on the couch, with an inlay picture of the inside of a gym. PeopleImages/2Image Source/Getty Images

It is no secret that a sedentary lifestyle can have a negative impact on our health and fitness. For those working from home or in an office, there is advice on how to stay active and healthy.

New York City-based nutritionist Paula Doebrich previously told Newsweek: "Instead of sitting at the desk for hours and only getting up to get lunch, make sure you get up every 30 minutes and stretch out, take a few steps, or simply stand at your desk and change position. Not only will it increase your activity levels, it will also protect your back, preventing injuries."

But the more the Mumsnet user explained, the less it seemed that the man's concern was for his partner's health.

"I was supposed to go swimming but forgot my bank card and had to come home and he didn't speak to me for 2 days as he was 'disappointed I didn't exercise this week,'" she wrote.

The mom explained that they eat healthily as a family, and she does most of the cooking, but her husband had also started restricting the food in the house.

"He will no longer buy crisps or snacks and refuses to buy bacon for bacon sandwiches which we used to have on a Sunday morning as a family tradition. He will also judge if I have too much butter on toast for breakfast, so I have taken to eating when he's gone to work," she explained.

"I have tried to explain how him pushing me to exercise is making me feel but he gets very defensive and says it's because he wants me to be healthy for the children."

At a loss for what to do next, the mom took to the internet and asked: "How do I make him understand I don't particularly enjoy the gym? Or is he right and I should be working out more?"

Relationship and divorce coach Natasha Mahtani told Newsweek: "These sorts of posts always break my heart, but unfortunately, they're a lot more common than you think. There are huge red flags here. His behavior and response to her not going to the gym/working out and eating butter are definitely signs of emotional abuse."

Controlling behavior in relationships isn't always obvious on a day-to-day basis. However, frequent texting or calling, continually asking your whereabouts and being overly inquisitive about social-media feeds or phone use are all examples of controlling behavior.

There are a number of laws and regulations in place to protect people from controlling behavior, and advice for people who think they may be in a controlling relationship.

"Firstly, if it continues like this, she'll be left with a very low sense of self-worth and confidence. Long term, if she stays with him, this can lead to co-dependent behaviors as she ignores her own needs and boundaries," said Mahtani. "Many 'victims' of this type of behavior try to please their partners in other ways as a means to connection, for fear of abandonment or divorce."

In hundreds of comments responding to the viral post, Mumsnet users slammed the husband for his actions.

"So many red flags in this. He's controlling you," wrote one commenter, while another agreed, posting: "His behavior and attitude are unacceptable."

"He's being incredibly controlling," wrote a third. "Because it's about exercise, it might seem at first like 'caring,' but actually this is unacceptable controlling behavior, whatever the topic of his obsession."

While for the poster to address the situation with her partner would be far from easy, Mahtani said that it is essential the couple have an open and honest conversation about the issues.

She added: "She needs to sit him down and have an honest conversation about how he is making her feel. It could go one of two ways. He could acknowledge her feelings or he could turn it around on her. How he responds will be an indication of what's really going on here.

"If she can't get through to him, I'd suggest she see a relationship coach who can help her build up her sense of self-worth and break cultural patterns of thinking. It will then allow her to model to her husband what a healthy relationship looks like," Mahtani added.

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.

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Anyone seeking help should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a free and confidential hotline available 24/7. It can be reached on 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224. The hotline also provides information on local resources. For more information, visit