How To Make Your Love Last Long (Part 3)

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‘It took courage for him to tell me the truth’

What her husband told her one day was very wounding. But Emma Kate Else, 45, knows his words have made them both, and their relationship, a lot stronger

‘When Neale and I met at university, we knew within a week that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. We agreed that one day, we’d get married, although we didn’t tell anyone for a couple of years, because we knew they’d think we were mad. Now, 25 years on, our love is deeper than it has ever been.

Description: They first met at university

They first met at university

But four years ago, I noticed something had changed between us. He became withdrawn and quiet, and when I tried to snuggle up to him on the sofa, I could feel him tense up – something was very wrong. Eventually I couldn’t bear it any longer, so one Saturday morning in bed I insisted he tell me what was going on. He started pacing around the room, wringing his hands and crying, until he finally built up the courage to tell me the one truth we were both too afraid to speak: for months he’d been struggling to find a way to say he was worried about my weight.

When Neale and I met, I was a curvy size 16, active and happy in myself. But over the years my love of food, having three children, and doing no exercise, meant the weight piled on. I reached a size 32, weighing 24 stone. My blood pressure was high, my ankles swollen and walking at a normal pace left me gasping. I never let on to anyone how miserable I felt in my own skin – not even Neale. Our love never faltered, but I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that if he did fall for somebody else, who could blame him? Who would want to sleep with me?

Description: Weight is usually the issue women worry about most

Weight is usually the issue women worry about most

So that Saturday morning I felt nothing but admiration for this man and the bravery it had taken him to tell me the truth. He said he didn’t care what I looked like, that he loved me and was attracted to me no matter what dress size I was, but that my weight was threatening my health, and I was unlikely to make it through the next decade without suffering a stroke, heart disease or diabetes. It was as if a switch flicked in my brain. I told him I really wanted to do something about it, but I didn’t feel strong enough to do it on my own. And so we agreed to do it together.

We worked out a healthy eating plan and stuck to it, and bought an exercise bike to use at home, for 40 minutes a day. Neale also needed to lose some weight so we kept food journals, monitored our weight loss and encouraged each other. Soon I felt confident enough to join a gym and start going running with Neale. We celebrated every mile we passed and every pound we lost, and whenever one of us felt discouraged, the other was there to restore the faith.

After 14 months, I’d lost 14 stone and Neale had lost seven, and we’ve stayed at the same weight since. We still go running together, and this year I managed something I never imagined would be possible: I ran the London Marathon. I burst into tears as I crossed the finish line and spotted Neale and our children who were there cheering me on. It was an incredibly proud moment, especially since four years ago I couldn’t have run one mile, never mind 26. By raising money for the charity Heart UK, I hope I’ll raise awareness of the dangers of being overweight, and help others to do what I’ve done.

Description: ‘He told me he loved me no matter what my dress size was’

‘He told me he loved me no matter what my dress size was’

I never could have done it without my husband. Neale is everything to me, and without him, I know I’d have a much shorter life ahead of me. By having the courage to tell me what I was too afraid to acknowledge, he cemented our relationship. Every time we put on our trainers and run out into the countryside, I know I am so lucky to be here with the sunshine on my strong legs, the breeze on my face, and the man I love beside me.’

Emma’s mantras

If you love someone, you’ll tell them what they don’t want to hear.

I know that for Neale, telling me I needed to lose weight was the hardest thing he’d ever had to do – but I’m so grateful he did.

You can do it together.

I was too afraid to try to get fit on my own, but knowing Neale was doing it with me gave me the courage to try. In a partnership, you don’t have to do anything on your own.

Carve out some space for you two.

A busy life with full-time jobs and three kids meant Neale and I couldn’t spend much time together as a couple, but now we go running together, we have the time to talk freely. Bliss!

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