SECRETS’ CORNER: Weigh words carefully
LOOKS are often the initial attraction between couples. Because they are young and energetic, their interest in each other is piqued, generally speaking, by their sexy profile.
For the man, it is usually her trim figure with neat waist and firm breasts. For the woman, his muscular chest and legs tend to excite.
But with the passage of the years, her trim figure fills out, particularly after the birth of children, while the muscularity of his chest disappears, giving way to a protruding stomach.
This change in appearance and the resultant lack of energy in either or both partners is one of the frequently cited reasons for disenchantment between couples.
This week’s question, How would you go about telling your spouse that their weight gain is a turn-off for you, looks at how piling on the pounds can affect a relationship.
The question came from a man who said his wife had ballooned after giving birth to their three children. In all she has gained 80 pounds and now tips the scales at over 200 pounds. He described his wife, who stands five feet six inches tall, as resembling a barrel. Her arms, breasts and stomach are all big, and making love to her is more a chore than a pleasure.
The problem is that when he tries to speak to her about her size she becomes hostile, telling him how ungrateful he is by not appreciating that she had borne him two girls and a boy, and that he needs to accept her for who she is.
He is therefore at a loss on how to approach her on this matter, and is seeking advice. As for his part, he has managed to keep his weight gain to just 10 pounds since their wedding a decade and a half ago.
Most of those who called or emailed said that the best way one partner could tell the other how they felt about their weight gain was to start an exercise programme themselves and then encourage their spouse to get involved for the sake of their health.
That partner can also insist on a change of diet for the entire household to ensure their spouse eats healthier meals and snacks, cutting out things like chocolates, bread, ice cream and other fattening foods.
One caller stated that men here often use their partner’s weight gain as an excuse to have affairs with slim, young women. This has the effect of driving a wedge between the couple, so that even if the spouse manages to lose weight, it is usually difficult to repair the breach in trust.
The reality of weight gain is that it usually occurs as one ages. That and reduced energy levels tend to accompany the change in lifestyle. With that, important activities such as sex, dancing, going out walking together and so on usually stop or are severely scaled down.
When a couple stops spending such quality time together doing fun things, this can affect the way in which they communicate and bond. This lack of activity can also have a negative impact on their children, especially if they are young and look forward to that togetherness and attention.
That said, weight gain can only negatively affect your relationship if you and your partner do not communicate well. Two people who care for each other would be able to work on measures to deal with such a development together.
The following are the edited versions of responses:
• “There is no easy way to tell someone you love that their gaining weight isn’t sexy; it is almost certain to offend them. The best way is to say it outright, but be as gentle as possible. Also, sharing the solution may help. If you suggest joining the gym, do it too, and go with them.”
• “Fortunately for me, I don’t have to tell my husband of almost 29 years he’s gaining weight; but if I had to drop a hint, I would say, ‘You need to run around the block’.
• “Honey, you are gaining weight and I don’t like it; let’s join a gym.”
• “Baby, I really don’t like the fact that your weight is increasing. It’s not good for your health.
• “ What do you think about us exercising early on a morning?”
• “I would include myself in the equation and say, ‘I should really lose a few pounds too’, or ‘I should also exercise with you. I’m getting lazy these days’.”
• “I also need to continue exercising to keep my momentum going.”
• “Babes, you’re not going to die and leave me – we’re joining the gym.”
• “Make it humorous while stating your point, so your partner doesn’t feel bad.”