A Bad Marriage Is Fattening
Can a bad marriage really be fattening? Yes it can! In my own bad marriage I went from 125 pounds to 275 pounds 20 years later. This is the story of how my unhappy marriage made me fat — and how I divorced my husband and moved on to a happier new life.

Chapter 1: June 1980 My Grandma’s Lover

Dear reader, now the real fun begins.  It has been 28 days since I first started writing my blog.  This is the way this blog is going to work from hereon in.  I’m going to start telling you the story of my marriage to Paul, starting at the beginning.

Of course, there will be days when this blog will be in the present — my weigh-in days and days when I want to share with you my present life.

But now we’re going to start the story.

As Bette Davis’ character Margo Channing said in the 1950 movie, All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

*     *     *

As all stories begin, let’s begin with the title page:

A Bad Marriage Is Fattening

A Memoir

Joan Oshatz

Now for my dedication:

For my father and mother, Jack and Alice Oshatz, who did not live to see their daughter’s words in print but still live on in my heart.


For my son, Michael, who is the light of my life and the love of my life.

Chapter 1:  June 1980/My Grandma’s Lover

My grandmother lay in the hospital dying.  The only thing keeping her alive was that she was hanging on waiting for Paul and I to get married.

“When are you and Paul getting married?”

“Soon, Grandma.”

My grandmother’s eyes filled with joyous tears.  “Oh, Joanie, if only I could live to see you and Paul get married.”

“You’ll live,” I promised.

How many times did I sit by my Grandmother’s bedside, as she lay dying, telling her over and over again about the day Paul and I would get married?  How many?  It was the only thing that kept her mind off of dying.  Grandma wanted to know every detail.

“Tell me about your wedding gown.”

“Okay, Grandma.”

“I want to pay for your wedding gown.  Did you buy it yet?”

“No, Grandma.”

“What type of wedding gown are you going to buy?”

“Something pretty.”

“Oh, you’re going to look so beautiful in your wedding gown.  I wish I could dance at your wedding.”

“Yes, Grandma.”

“I can’t dance anymore.”

“I know, Grandma.”

Grandma’s watery eyes looked upwards.  “Did you know that I had a lover, Joanie?”

“Yes, Grandma.”

My grandmother jokingly referred to God as her lover.

“He’s going to take me home, but I told him that he can’t take me home until my Joanie marries Paul.”

“Yes, Grandma.”

“Now tell me about the happy life you and Paul are going to have together.”

“We’re going to be very happy.”

“And tell me about the children you’re going to have.”

“We’re going to have two children.”

“When are you and Paul getting married?”

“Soon Grandma.”

Grandma closed her eyes and whispered, “That’s good, Joanie, because soon my lover is going to come to take me home.”

*     *     *


I drove on the 101 Freeway South to meet Paul for lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  He was taking an hour and a half off from work to meet me for lunch.  My eyes filled up with tears recalling the years of frustration waiting to hear the words from Paul, “Will you marry me?”

Suddenly, filled with emotion, I found myself screaming out, “How much longer, Paul, do you expect me to go on like this?  You should know after ten years if you want to marry me!”

“I’m getting closer, Joanie, I’m just not quite there yet,” Paul’s words echoed back to me.

“How much closer do you want to get?” I asked.  “Give me a number!  Something that I can hold on to!”

“I can’t give you a number.  I’ll know when the time is right.”

“How about another ten years?” I asked angrily.  “Do you want me to wait another ten years?”

In my mind, Paul doesn’t answer.  He’s probably mulling over the next ten years.

“Of course I’ll be forty-six then!  I’m not going to be able to give you babies if I’m forty-six!”

Paul remains silent.

“Just give me an answer!”

“I did give you an answer.  I said I’m getting closer.”

“Closer is not an answer!  Closer can mean anything!  Closer can mean I’m a hundred years old!”

“Joanie, if you’re a hundred years old and I’m twelve years older than you, then I would be dead.”

“So what’s your point?”

“Well, if I’m dead, then you wouldn’t be asking me to marry you.”

Wow, this stops me cold in my tracks!  Writing these words thirty years later of our actual conversation, I can’t believe that I didn’t turn my car around right then and there driving out of Paul’s life forever.  But the cliché is true, “Love is blind” and hindsight is everything.

When I arrived at the restaurant Paul was already seated at the table eating salsa and chips.

I sat down opposite him on a wooden chair.

“Have some chips, Joanie,” Paul said offering me the chips.

“I’m not interested in chips.”

“I know you don’t like chips without the guacamole, so I ordered some guacamole dip for you.”  Paul flagged the waitress, “Is our guacamole ready yet?”

“I’ll get it right away,” the waitress said.

“The guacamole is coming,” Paul informed me.  “What do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?  You always know what you want to eat.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“I’ve never known you not to be hungry.”

“I’m just not hungry today.”

“Are you not feeling well?”

“I’m sick.”

“You’re sick?”

“I’m sick and tired of waiting for you to marry me!”

The waitress brought over the guacamole.

“Have some guacamole and chips, Joanie, you’ll feel better,” Paul said.

“I don’t want any guacamole and chips!”

“Then what do you want?”

“I want to know when you’re going to marry me!”

Paul put his hand to his head like he was in distress.  “This is not a pleasant way to start out a lunch.”


“I invited you out for lunch, not to talk about marriage.”

“Well, marriage is on my mind.”

“Joanie, can’t we please have a pleasant lunch and not talk about marriage?”

“Paul, I can’t understand how you can be so frightened about marriage.  You’re forty-eight years old.  Don’t you want to get married and have a family like other people do?”

“Yes, Joanie, I want to get married and have a family like other people do.”

“So what are you waiting for?  We’ve been going together for ten years now.”

“I’m getting closer,” Paul said.

I stared at Paul in silence.

Paul dipped a chip into the guacamole and ate it.  “Are you sure you don’t want any guacamole, Joanie?  They make great guacamole here.”

“I don’t want any guacamole.”

“Well, what do you want?”

“I want to marry you.”

“I’ll marry you after lunch.  I don’t want to get married on an empty stomach.”  Paul said jokingly.

“You want to drive straight to Las Vegas and not go back to work,” I proposed.

“I have a patient after lunch.”

“Forget your patient.  Let’s drive to Las Vegas and get married.  Wouldn’t that be a crazy and spontaneous thing to do?”

Although I was wondering how spontaneous it would be for Paul and I to get married after going together for ten years.

Paul looked at me skeptically.  “It would be crazy alright, but you know I’m not very spontaneous.”

“Oh, come on — it will be fun!”

“That much fun I don’t want to have.”

“You don’t think being married to me would be fun?”

“Look, Joanie, you’re a very sweet girl, but I’m just not ready to get married yet.”

“My grandmother is dying,” I said to Paul, “it’s her dying wish to see us married.”  Tears flooded my eyes.

“Oh, come on, Joanie, please don’t make a scene in the restaurant.”

An older man, who was sitting at a table nearby with two other men, had been eavesdropping on Paul and my conversation.  He turned to Paul and said, “Marry her, for God’s sake, she’s beautiful!  If you don’t marry her I’ll dump my wife and marry her myself!”

“Do you recommend marriage?” Paul asked the man.

“Sure, if you don’t mind living in a prison.”  The man turned back to his two friends and they all laughed.

“Joanie, let’s order some food and have a nice lunch,” Paul said, trying to change the subject.

“Paul, didn’t you hear what I just said?  ‘My grandmother’s dying.’”

“Yes, I know.  That’s what happens to old people.  They die.”

“How can you be so cold about it?”

“I’m a doctor.  I see death all the time.  You have to learn how to not get so emotional about it.  People live.  They die.  It’s over.  It’s just a fact of life.

“You are so emotionally removed from your feelings.”

“The difference between you and I, Joanie, is that I’m a realist, and you live in fantasyland.  You’re a writer, you have all these stories floating around in your head.”

“Tell me a story, Paul.  Tell me when you’re going to marry me.”

“I’m not a storyteller.”

“Then tell me when you’re going to marry me?  I want a straight answer out of you!  I’m tired of always having you put me off!”

Paul remained silent.

“Is that your answer?”

“Yes,” Paul said

“Then I guess there’s nothing left to say.  I guess it’s over between us.”

“I guess you’re right,” Paul said.

What?  Did I hear Paul right?  He was breaking up with me?  No!  This was not the way it was supposed to end.  He was supposed to say, “I don’t want it to be over between us, Joanie, I love you.”  I don’t think he heard me correctly.  I’ll give him another chance.

“Paul, I said, ‘I guess it’s over between us.’”

“I heard what you said, Joanie, and I’m agreeing with you.”

What?  This can’t be happening!  Paul can’t be breaking up with me!  This has got to be some horrible mistake!

“You’re going to let me go, just like that?”

“Well, do you want to have lunch?”

“No, Paul, I don’t want to have lunch.”

I got up out of my chair and ran out of the restaurant.  I couldn’t believe that after ten years with Paul this was the way our relationship was finally going to end.

Paul followed me out of the restaurant.  “Are you okay, Joanie?”

“You’re actually going to let me walk out of your life?”

“Joanie, if we got married it wouldn’t work out.”

“How do you know that?”

“There are some things you just know.”

“No, Paul, it would work out – only you’re too scared to find out!  You’re too scared to say yes to life!  You’re too scared to have a family and children and love in your life!  Isn’t that true, Paul?  You’re so emotionally removed from yourself that you don’t know what you want.  You say no to me, and you’re going to let the best thing that ever happened to you walk out of your life!”

Paul didn’t answer.

Tears streamed down my cheeks.  “Are we really broken up, Paul?”

“Yes, Joanie.”

*     *     *


The next day I went to the hospital to visit my grandmother.

“How are you feeling today, Grandma?”

“I’m waiting for my lover,” Grandma said.

“Yes, Grandma.”

“Are you and Paul getting married today?”

“No, Grandma.”


“No, Grandma.”

“Did I tell you, Joanie, that my lover is coming?”

“Yes, Grandma.”  I bent down and gently kissed Grandma on her forehead.  I stroked her brow.  “I love you so very much, Grandma.”

“Soon my lover is coming to take me home,” Grandma whispered weakly.

Grandma’s lover took her home two days after Paul and I broke up.

12 Responses to “Chapter 1: June 1980 My Grandma’s Lover”

  1. I just saw your post on Phitter! I loooove your blog! I’m going to read more of your blog.

  2. Love your writing. You had me in tears at the end. I can’t wait for the next entry because you are really good!

  3. I was on phitter and saw your post. You lost 17 pounds and that’s amazing and inspirational. Now I have somethig to read while I’m on the treadmill! I can’t wait until your next entry.

  4. This is a very exciting read! You definitely have my attention! :o) I can’t wait to read more…

  5. This had my heart going. I love guacamole. And I really love your entry. Your grandmother sounded like the sweetest woman. Bless her heart.

  6. very enlightening!! You are a very, very gifted writer

  7. I kept hoping he had done something romantic like putting a ring in the guacamole so you could find it and stop begging him to marry you.

    You are an excellent writer, Joanie. Can’t wait for Chapter 2 🙂

  8. Great read, I’ll be sure to continue following!

  9. I’m so glad you posted your blog on phitter. You have me captivated with your talented writing. It is so alive, literally pulling the reader into the story as one of the characters. Your inner strength and sense of humor are shining through every word you write. You are an incredible woman who’s well on her way to a magnificent, well-deserved, wonderful life, including all the dreams you can possibly dream about. Looking forward to your next entries. 😀

  10. Finally had a moment to read your blogging history & Chptr 1…LOVED IT!!! Keep the great insights coming, it’s very clear & interesting. I’ll def keep checkin your new posts out! :)~T

  11. I came on to see if the next entry was here yet 🙂 I cannot wait to read the next one. You are an inspiration to so many. I think it is awesome how you are taking your life struggles, putting them out there full of raw emotions for all of us to read. I love the humor that comes shining through.

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