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I want to leave DH because of his exercise addiction. Anyone else?

(132 Posts)
ElBanana Mon 16-Sep-19 10:42:40

I feel a bit stupid because there's no cheating, abuse, gambling etc.

We have 3 DC (12,10,9)

He has to do some sort of intensive exercise every day or he'll be in a terrible mood.

He organises his day around the activity he's planning on doing but doesn't mention his plans to me or the kids. It will be either mountain running or biking and it is usually for 2/3 hours plus shower time then he's tired but pretends not to be.

If I suggest taking the DC with him or going out later he becomes indignant. In his eyes he simply 'enjoys being outside' and it's me with the problem because I'm not being healthy and sporty and outdoorsy like he is (FWIW I do lead a healthy life and enjoy being outdoors).

He exercises secretly every day, he'll do hundreds of sit-ups in our dressing room but will pretend to be doing something else if I go in. I can hear him doing press ups in the bathroom.

Otherwise he's a great dad, and outside of his exercising time he does homework, plays with the kids and does housework. When he gets to do the activities that he wants he is a lovely person, but he has a problem that he won't face or admit to and I'm sick of his mind being elsewhere and his moods if he can't exercise.

We've been married for 15 years, this fanatical exercise started 5 years ago when he took up marathon running. I've just had enough of it now. He's not going to change and refuses to see any problem. The thought of telling the DC and our families that I'm breaking up our marriage because of an exercise problem seems absurd though and I don't know what to do for the best. Am I being absurd?

misspiggy19 Mon 16-Sep-19 10:46:26

He’s got a serious addiction to excercise and needs help to bring it under control. Doing press ups in the bathroom? His behaviour is not normal and is obsessive

Nanny0gg Mon 16-Sep-19 10:48:49

How does he spend 2/3 hours a day on exercise, plus work, plus spend time with the children?

Therewere5inthebed Mon 16-Sep-19 10:58:55

Same boat here.

DH has just completed his first Ironman and is now training for an ultra, a 52 mile run. He gets up at 4am to either run or ride then sometimes swims as well before work, he goes to spin classes three evenings a week and for example the last weekend he was up on Saturday doing an 18 mile run, then swam three miles in the evening.
On Sunday he cycled 70m then swam 2 miles in the afternoon.

He does nothing around the house, nothing with the kids unless sport related and bugger all with me.

lolawasashowgirl Mon 16-Sep-19 10:59:14

No you're not being absurd. In some ways the fact it's exercise he's potentially addicted to is a red herring - any compulsive behaviour that's impacting on the life of their wife and children is potentially a problem. I think only you can decide whether you can't continue the marriage because of it, however I would avoid giving ultimatums in the hope he may change his ways - they may backfire. If it was me I would do everything I can to encourage my husband to get some help before I made any final decisions about the future. I'd think about approaching your GP first. It may be that your husband is ashamed or embarrassed about his addiction and that may be making him resistant to seeking help. However he has no need to feel ashamed - addiction is a very common problem.

VolcanionSteamArtillery Mon 16-Sep-19 11:03:00

Yeah i think you're being a bit unreasonable if hes still fitting in housework, homework and playing with the kids!

Can i have him if you dont want him?

BlingLoving Mon 16-Sep-19 11:06:12

I'm trying to work out how he's a good dad while also fitting in (I assume) a job AND all this exercise? Also, if I'm reading your post correctly, everyone's plans/desires take a back seat to where and when he wants to exercise? Again, how is that being a good dad?

Dh exercises a lot - usually at the gym approximately 5 days a week. But.... there's a natural give and take in the same way there would be for anything we each do individually. So, he'll book a later class because I can't get home from work or he'll go to an earlier class another day so that he can be home for bedtime. On the weekends, he often gets up and goes early so that we still have our usual day together. Ditto, if things have been manic he'll go to a crack of dawn class to be home as needed in the mornings.

I am picturing your DH disappearing on a Saturday morning at 10:00 and not reappearing until 2pm. So any usual day activities - sports, parties, chores etc are left to you and at best, he swans in with enough time to hang out with the DC for a few hours until dinner.

DH was marathon training when DC1 was tiny. I was supposed to be supportive. It all came to a head when I pointed out that a) I was getting up with the baby in the night because he needed to be rested b) I was getting up early in the morning with the baby, because he was going running c) he was then OFTEN sleeping in so that he was energised enough to go running d) he would then leave for running at around 9:30//10:00 and not return for 3-4 hours. So HIS marathon training meant that I was spending all day and night with a baby who didn't sleep with absolutely no respite. Bless him, after a big discussion he totally got it and changed everything (that's when the crack of dawn starts began).

MashedSpud Mon 16-Sep-19 11:11:35

Does he eat okay?

Does he eat as a family?

ElBanana Mon 16-Sep-19 11:11:48

Thank you all for thoughts and advice.

@Nanny0gg He finds the time to do all of this because he works from home. He has a good job but sometimes he takes really long lunches to go out running which makes me worry that his bosses will notice.

@Therewere5inthebed DH did a 100 mile 3 day ultra marathon. His training went through the roof for it. He ended up in hospital a few days later with a shin fracture. I very nearly left then, I went and viewed a bungalow for rent. I wish I'd gone for it. What do you think you will end up doing? Do you talk about it with DH?

@lolawasashowgirl I don't think I could persuade him to see a GP or if he did he would play it all down as being healthy. I may suggest counselling though.

ElBanana Mon 16-Sep-19 11:19:26

@VolcanionSteamArtillery my worry is that the kids and our families will think like that. At least he's not in the pub or off with other women.

@BlingLoving we have had huge tearful discussions about how it impacts me and the family. If anything it just makes him more secretive about it.

@MashedSpud food is also a bit of a problem. If he's been out exercising then he'll eat and drink anything. If he hasn't then he will not eat at all and he'll claim not to be hungry/ have had a big late breakfast. We have had words about things he's said to the kids like 'I need to get out on my bike because I feel so lazy/blobby/fat'. It's not good for them to hear rubbish like that from an obviously very fit and slim person.

redastherose Mon 16-Sep-19 11:21:13

It is an addiction like any other when it is being done to excess. He is no doubt addicted to the buzz he gets from the exercise in the same way an alcoholic craves his first drink and a drug user their next hit. Counselling may help you but like any addiction the addict has to accept that they have a problem. If he won't then you probably have no option but to leave. The fact that his addiction is on the face of it a healthy one is disguising what it really is.

lolawasashowgirl Mon 16-Sep-19 11:21:27

Fair point Elbanana. Maybe you could suggest Relate so that it doesn't initially appear that the onus is all on his behaviour and then raise / discuss it that way?

kalinkafoxtrot45 Mon 16-Sep-19 11:23:54

I hope you also get 2-3 hours a day to pursue your interests. This is excessive and unfair on you.

lolawasashowgirl Mon 16-Sep-19 11:23:54

Sorry but sounds like he may potentially have an eating disorder too 💐

yikesanotherbooboo Mon 16-Sep-19 11:28:55

This is a mental health issue but LG he cannot recognise it it might be very hard to help him.

ElBanana Mon 16-Sep-19 11:31:29

I will speak with DH tonight. This thread has helped me to focus my thoughts away from the worry that I am being silly to be so bothered by a person exercising. He does have a problem, it has gone on for too long now and I'm not being unfair in wanting to leave.

I will suggest Relate and ask that he books the appointment.

Fortunately I do have the resources to leave, although life will have to change completely for me and the kids and I don't take that lightly.

DoctorAllcome Mon 16-Sep-19 11:34:32

Could he have anorexia?
The moods, the only eating calories if he’s exercised them off, the body dysmorphia.
The answer isn’t to dump him, but help him.

That said, by itself, 2-3hrs a day of exercise is not excessive or an addiction. Lots of runners start work an hour early so they can take a long run at lunch. And since he WFH, he has that flexibility. I think the issue is that he does not have a set schedule doesn’t coordinate times with you and won’t even tell you his plans. I’d ask him to sit down and you guys coordinate on a schedule because otherwise you can’t plan when you want to do stuff while he has the kids.

wtar19 Mon 16-Sep-19 11:37:32

I had an exercise addiction as part of an eating disorder. Not exercising would make me really low - I would also secretly do sit ups etc in my room. Secrecy is a huge indicator.

I know it seems selfish but it could be that it's a mental health issue that's controlling him rather than he's choosing to put exercise first.

I would have been broken if my support network left me during this time - I know it seems selfish but if he's in a place where the disorder is controlling him, it's pretty lonely and miserable and nothing else matters unless you've followed the 'rules' the disorder dictates.

madcatladyforever Mon 16-Sep-19 11:39:27

Why is it always blokes who go over the top with this shit? It's very rarely women who abandon their families for marathon cycling and running sessions.
There are at least two women at work who have divorced their husbands because they spend all their time exercising. Bloke next door his wife divorced him for excessive cycling. They have 4 kids and she says she was sick of being a single parent with him out all of the time.

ThirstyGhost Mon 16-Sep-19 11:40:23

"Otherwise he's a great dad, and outside of his exercising time he does homework, plays with the kids and does housework. When he gets to do the activities that he wants he is a lovely person, but he has a problem that he won't face or admit to and I'm sick of his mind being elsewhere and his moods if he can't exercise. "

I'm guessing, like with any addiction, he's just not "present" in your relationship any more. It's the dead-behind-the-eyes thing, where you can't see the person you used to know. That's just not sustainable for you or for anyone long-term. It's actually relatively easy to perform things like playing with your kids and doing housework because your mind can still be elsewhere while you're doing those things (so that part can be deceptive - it doesn't mean he's in any way ok). He definitely needs help, but exercise is such a tricky addiction as it's the most socially acceptable one, so getting him to admit it is incredibly difficult. He'll minimise it... maybe say he'll cut down, he'll be doing less after the next big event, etc.. Your best option may be to leave for a time as it may shock him enough to realise how unhealthy things have become. The only people I've known who have exercised in the bathroom (actually in the shower in one case) were people with eating disorders and exercise addictions as part of that. But you certainly aren't getting this out-of-proportion. I would be thinking of leaving too.

zafferana Mon 16-Sep-19 11:40:40

I agree that it IS an addiction and in its way it's as serious as any other addiction and that like any other addiction he needs treatment. The foul mood if he can't complete his daily regimen, the secretive press ups in the bathroom - clear signs of addiction. OP you need support with this and I recommend that you seek a talking therapy for yourself. If he will consent to marriage counselling, even better, but if he won't then please seek it out for yourself. And yes, talk to him about the impact his lifestyle is having on you and the rest of the family. Tell him that you're close to breaking point. And try to use 'I' statements, rather than 'You' statements to avoid him just feeling attacked and refusing to engage. He will try to hide behind health arguments, but what he's doing isn't healthy - it's obsessive.

Aussiebean Mon 16-Sep-19 11:47:08

You don’t want a divorce because he is exercising. You want one because he has check out of family life and is putting his hobby before the greater good of the family

Dosomething Mon 16-Sep-19 11:47:23

He’s BU if he’s not fitting it round you and the kids. I exercise every day mostly. I do it when kids are at school or after I’ve put them to bed. At the weekends, I take the kids to do sports activities and do classes at the same centre where they are doing swimming/tennis lessons. If I can’t include them at the weekend then I don’t exercise or we go for family swim or family bike ride or family climbing session. If it doesn’t work then exercise gets dumped for the weekend. Kids needs come first. It’s possible to do quick YouTube hiit type exercises indoors while kids are watching their movies etc. There is also park run at the weekend which everyone can do. Before you dump him, suggest he joins a gym that has tennis courts/pool etc something like a country club that has everything and does weekend kids lessons and a cafe etc and you get a family membership. Try that as your weekend option. If he won’t compromise on the type of exercise/activity that he’s doing then you’ve got a problem

Dosomething Mon 16-Sep-19 11:49:25

and the ages your kids are he could have a full Saturday of exercise with them. Squash, badminton, swimming, tennis and then bike rides out around the local park. That should be enough for a weekend for him!

DoctorAllcome Mon 16-Sep-19 11:50:05

Would you care so much if he were cycling/running to work? I ask because I cycle to work every day and it’s 1hr each way...so 2hrs/day right there.
Then I do yoga most evenings for 30mins. Because getting old and it’s good for my joints after all the cycling.

3x a week at lunch I lift weights and do strength training for 1hr each time. Because bone density, can’t just do aerobics and WHO recommends this a minimum of 2x a week anyway.

So that is 2.5-3.5hrs for M-F

Weekends I do an hour yoga every day, and usually go for a walk/hike somewhere local for 1-2hrs...so again that is 2-3hrs a day on weekends.

But I’ve fit it in our schedule. My DH has time for his hobbies too.
And I’m not showing the disordered eating “I’m so fat” or mood swings like your DH is. So I don’t think the exercise is the problem per se. It’s the lack of consideration to family by refusing to coordinate a schedule that works for everyone and his other behaviour that makes it worrisome.

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