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How to Tell Your Spouse to Put Down the Fork

We spend a lot of time talking about the obesity epidemic, without thinking about how it affects individual relationships. This is especially true in relationships where one partner gains weight while the other doesn’t.  In situations like these, the “cost” of being overweight can be just as devastating emotionally. 

Trends have changed, and the health costs related to obesity have begun to exceed those of smokers for the first time in our country’s history. We’re all aware of the increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and other weight related issues that go along with excess weight. However, we often overlook how being overweight affects marriages.

According to a 1995 study published in “Obesity Research,” married men who are overweight tend to be unhappier than their thinner counterparts. Married women who are obese tend to be happier, but one of the co-authors of the study suggests this may be because they have internalized obesity as being a negative thing.

Being overweight can also result in a distorted body image, low self-esteem and even depression. Each of these issues can cause severe problems in a relationship. Most damaging of all, it can lead to a decrease in sex life, and feelings of resentment. The thinner spouse may feel as if they’re trapped in a relationship with someone they no longer recognize, and the heavier spouse may feel victimized by verbal jabs and a decrease in intimacy.

With all these obesity-related problems, it seems like no one would want to gain weight. And if they did, you’d think they’d rush to take it off. Unfortunately, real life isn’t like a scientific study. We get bogged down with life and sometimes we don’t notice, or if we do notice we choose to ignore the problem. If you’re the spouse of someone who’s been packing the pounds on and doesn’t seem to notice, you’ll need to tread carefully.  Here are the most effective ways to help your spouse realize they’re facing a problem.

  1. Be supportive. Explain to your spouse that while you still love them, you’re concerned about their health.
  2. Don’t judge or make them feel guilty. If you turn into the “Carb Police,” you’ll only alienate your spouse and make them sneaky.
  3. Don’t sabotage their diet efforts. It’s rude and inconsiderate to chow down on fattening food in front of someone who’s dieting. Especially if that someone is a person that you love.
  4. Make it a team effort. Even if you’re at your ideal weight, you can probably stand to firm up a little. Or maybe you have other qualities that you need to work on. Either way, working together on a solution will not only keep you both on track, it might just make your marriage better. 

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