My Husband Is Obese. Can I Refuse to Buy Him Fattening Snacks?

My husband, 53, finally stopped smoking after 30 years — not because of my prodding or refusal to buy him cigarettes (which he called self-righteous), but because he could no longer breathe easily. That was two years ago. Since then, he has gained a lot of weight. He is now obese, according to the body mass index. He can’t even bend over to tie his shoes. His father and uncles died young, and I am worried about him. Still, he expects me to buy him highly processed junk food when I go shopping. I see this as a slow death wish, and I want no part in it. Is it reasonable for me to refuse to buy fattening, sugary treats without nutritional value? He can always buy them himself.


I sympathize with your worries and even with your frustrations about your husband. (You love him!) But your tone strikes me as a bit harsh, and that may not be productive here. In all likelihood, you made the choice to marry a smoker long after the harmful effects of cigarettes were well known. Yet I detect no “Hurray!” in your report that he finally kicked the habit.

I hope you can applaud your husband’s healthy choices — even if they don’t happen on your timetable. Breaking addictive behaviors can be rough, but he did it. It sounds as if he may now be compensating for the loss of cigarettes with sugary snacks. That’s not uncommon.

If I were you, I would try to shift from policing his diet to giving him more positive reinforcement. Go with your husband to his next doctor’s appointment or encourage him to meet with a nutritionist. That way, you can cheer his healthier choices, consistent with their recommendations, rather than carping about missteps or refusing to be complicit. Your husband knows he’s fat. No need to remind him. Finding a way to support him, though, may be a big help.

I am a divorced mother of three adult children. Several years ago, two of them decided that their values were better aligned with those of their father and his new wife than with mine. So they cut off all contact with me, claiming they will associate only with family members who share their worldview. Luckily, I am still very close to my middle daughter. I am in my late 60s, and as I review my will I wonder if it would be OK to leave all my assets to the daughter who speaks to me and to leave out the children who severed ties with me, despite many attempts to reach them?


Thanks again, cable news and social media! (Just a hunch.) Your assets are yours. You are free to bequeath them however you like. Many parents opt for equal treatment of children — even amid fractious relationships or economic disparities among siblings — to underscore the equal love they feel for them.

Your situation is different: Two of your adult children have estranged themselves from you completely. Do you want to send them a final message that you love them anyway? Or would you prefer to treat them in kind? Only you can decide that. (Personally, I’m hoping for a reconciliation and that the question becomes moot.)

I accidentally sent a text message to a friend that was about her. (I meant to text another friend that she should sell her car to someone else because the friend I accidentally texted is broke.) She replied immediately that she had seen my message and had set aside money for the car. I apologized for my error and thought we had smoothed things over. Since then, she hasn’t responded to my messages. My instinct is to step up and call her, but my friend is a difficult person. She is needy and often dumps her many personal problems on me. I feel ready to let this friendship fade. Advice?


You say your friend is needy. And the evidence? She hasn’t replied to you in weeks after you slammed her (in error) and interfered with her purchase of a used car. You also say you would like to let this friendship go. But it appears your friend may have beaten you to the punch. And who can blame her after your pot-stirring? If you decide to reach out to her again, apologize profusely.

I work at a large company. A young man walked by my office yesterday. I’ve seen him around before. I noticed he was wearing Vetiver — a lot of it, in fact. It didn’t bother me. I like the fragrance. But I couldn’t help thinking he should be wearing less of it. I didn’t say anything. Could I have?


Like you (seemingly), I would enjoy nothing more than walking through the world issuing aesthetic pronouncements to strangers: “You may want to rethink that sweater.” Sadly, though, the mere existence of our opinions is not a mandate to share them. I would feel differently if you had a sensitivity to fragrance, if this guy had asked for your opinion or even if he sat next to you all day. As it is: Permission denied.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.