Spouse’s undergo a lot of change throughout the developmental stages of their marriage. Weight gain is often a change in one or both partner’s after children are born, demanding jobs, or health issues arise.
Research has found that once a major weight disparity exists between partners, conflict often follows.
Partners typically fall in love with the earliest versions of their spouse. Whether it’s their energy level, spontaneity, creativity, slim physique or attentiveness, partners expect these attributes to remain the same over time. Although changes to your spouse’s personality may go slightly unnoticed, weight gain is typically not. This physical change by your spouse may be viewed as unhealthy, unattractive, laziness and even betrayal.
Many spouses point the finger at simply the weight as the problem. If the weight goes away, their problems will go away. This is simply not true. What is usually at the root of a couple’s conflict is loss of their friendship, poor conflict resolution and emotional avoidance. A spouse may also experience feelings of shame due to their weight gain which can further impact all aspects of intimacy in the marriage.
Attacking your overweight spouse will only lead to further shame and humiliation. Below are helpful strategies to avoid weight gain weighing heavy on your marriage:
- Rule out underlying issues that may be causing weight gain. Schedule a medical appointment that you both attend together for gathering information and support. Schedule an appointment with a nutrition counselor to assist with making necessary dietary changes that could benefit you both. Schedule an appointment with a therapist to have a safe place to explore feelings of anxiety, depression or shame.
- Help your spouse feel loved by reassuring them that they are beautiful. Reassure your spouse that you are willing to help in any way that they need you. Exercising, meal prep and enjoying outdoor activities are great ideas for bonding as well. Avoid criticism at all cost. It is toxic to marriages and is a major predictor of divorce.
- Focus on building friendship, fondness and admiration for each other. These are the deep emotional bonds that help couples stay connected and resilient to challenges in a marriage.
Porsha Jones, LMFT
Pjones @ GROWcounseling.com