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What is it about being in a relationship that makes us gain weight? Like the freshman 15, we plump up when we get cozy in a long-term partnership. Even though my weight has fluctuated by a modest 10 to 15 pounds since college, I was always thinner when on the singles scene, and heavier when committed. Similarly, I’ve watched boyfriends go soft around the middle and gain double chins once we’ve been dating for more than a year. Though it didn’t make me love them any less (there were other reasons for that), I did at times wonder why they chose to let themselves go. That might have had more to do, however, with certain slothful habits they were starting to exhibit which, to my eyes, is much more unattractive than a roll of fat.
But what happens when, after you marry someone and say till death do us part, your partner for life balloons in a big way, and has no interest in taking the pounds off? Do you have a right to be upset? On the 100 Pounds or More To Go board this week, chatguy77 asked members what to do about his wife Ramona who, already obese when he married her, has put on another 90 pounds, putting her into the category of morbidly obese. “I’ve tried to be supportive, but she doesn’t seem motivated to lose weight,” he says. He capped off his concern with a comment sure to irk those who struggle with weight issues of their own, “Recently, it’s become clear (turns red) that at 330 vs. 192, wifey can mop the floor with me! Ugh! I didn’t know what I was getting into with this whole marriage thing.” (Relevant or not, it should be mentioned that at 5’10” and 192 pounds, chatguy’s BMI qualifies as overweight.)
Not surprisingly, the women on the board questioned whether chatguy and his attitude were partly to blame. Panda_and_boos_mom, who attributes her 125-pound weight gain to her husband’s aversion to exercise and vegetables, suggested that chatguy might not be living up to his wife’s expectations and, instead of asking her to lose weight, he should help her lose it. “Get a good low-fat cookbook and start making dinners. Fix her plate for her and give her correct portions sizes. Take a walk together after dinner so you can hold her hand and make her feel special and appreciated. Find an activity you both like to do and make dates to go do them. Don't tell her you want her to lose weight; tell her you want both of you to be healthier and to have a better relationship,” she advises.
All good advice in my book, though the part about fixing her plate sounds a little Svengali-esque to me.
Meanwhile, liz_in_az wants chatguy to write a personal essay with detailed examples of how he’s tried to help. “You said that you've tried to be supportive. Can you give us some examples of that? Your original post was rather brief, lacking in detail and did not seem to drip of love and caring and support. I'd love to know what you have been doing to help her with her self-esteem and feeling like a strong and proud woman!”
Well, chatguy77, here’s a small piece of wisdom for you: Telling a group of women with their own weight issues that you regret marrying your wife due to her excessive weight gain is not really the smartest way to elicit sympathy or advice. Who knows, maybe your emotional ignorance does contribute to your wife’s ambivalence about slimming down. If that’s the case, hopefully, you’ll figure that out. Vowing to be her partner in sickness and in health means through thick and through thin. Losing weight is a tough personal journey that requires a strong support system. Knowing she has your love and backing, regardless of which direction the scale is headed, can help her gain the confidence she needs to begin that journey. Talking about her weight probably isn’t going to help. Instead, as panda_and_boos_mom suggests, make the conversation about being healthy and living a long, happy life together.
What makes you gain weight -- and what makes you take it off? Talk about it on the message boards or chime in below!