Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Honey, You're Fat

I was listening to a radio station this morning, and a guy had written in with a problem and was requesting advice. Apparently, his wife had had a baby just over a year ago, and he wanted to get advice on how to broach the subject of his wife's excess weight with her, without coming across as a jerk.

So, in the interest of being fair, I'm going to do my best to approach this topic carefully and from both sides, because it really is worth discussing.

Okay, for starters, it's one thing to be concerned with someone's health. If your spouse/partner/significant other has gained an unhealthy amount of weight lately, there may be a medical or psychological reason (e.g., a thyroid issues, depression, etc) that could need to be addressed. I can pretty much guarantee you, though, that your partner already knows he/she has gained extra weight. After all, those ever-tightening pants don't lie. *sigh*

This guy's problem, however, seemed to be that his wife was just too fat after having a baby, and even after a year hadn't gone back to her pre-baby size. His question didn't come across as if it was a health concern, so I naturally assume it's more of an issue of feeling attracted to her.

So, what would be your advice to this man--how should he handle the issue?

If you had a spouse/significant other who had gained what you think is too much weight, would you talk to them about it--and if so, how? If your attraction for your partner has reduced as a result of the excess weight, is that your partner's problem, or yours (or both of you)? Is it better to keep your mouth shut and not admit it, or should you be honest about your feelings?

What if it was a possible health/medical issue, or mental health problem--does it change anything then? Is it okay to talk to your partner in this case?

Honestly, my initial reaction after hearing his letter was anger, because DUDE, having a baby is rough on your body, and it takes time to bounce back...and sometimes, you never fully do! I have two kids, so I should know. haha. If I were in this wife's place, I'd be crushed. Mortified. Angry. Hurt.

But to be fair, a part of me can be honest with myself and see that attractiveness plays a part in a relationship, even if we don't like to admit it. After all, that could be perceived as shallow, because we're supposed to care about who people are, not just what they look like. But if you're not attracted to your partner anymore, that can sometimes lead to problems in a relationship--with chemistry, fidelity, etc., yes?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic! And in advance, thank you for playing nicely--this is kind of a sticky situation, so I appreciate your thoughtfulness and tactfulness.


  1. Well, I don't look like I did 25 years ago, but neither does my other half. If he wants me to go back to a size 5, he'd better start with the man in the mirror first!

  2. Well, I think that there's absolutely no way to not hurt your loved one's feeling by telling them that you're no longer as attracted to them because of their weight. But if honesty is a valued commodity in the relationship, then the truth must be told.

    Whether it's baby weight, thyroid weight, depression weight, plain old I like ice cream weight; I believe that the reason actually doesn't matter. If your partner no longer finds you attractive, then they no longer find you attractive, and you need to know that so that you can decide what, if any action to take.

    Sometimes the truth really hurts, but it will find its way out into the world, whether it's a year after the baby is born and he blurts it out, or it's 15 years and 2 more kids later and you walk in on him and his secretary/work friend/random girl going at it, and he tells you that he hasn't really found you attractive in years. At that second point, wouldn't you rather have realized much earlier that this guy is a wank?

  3. This post right on top of Kristen's spaghetti and meatball picture is difficult at best.

    If they guy is truly in love, he will still look at his wife with the eyes of love. That said, there is nothing stopping him from encouraging her to be healthy. I think suggesting they both start eating healthier for the sake of their child would be a good start.

    "Hey honey, let's try eating two vegetarian meals a week. I'll cook one if you cook the other."


    "Let's go for a walk with the baby every evening after dinner. I found a really good stroller for the trails at the river."

    That kind of thing. I guess I am blessed with a husband who fell in love with me after I'd gained weight.

  4. Amanda Brice3:06 PM

    I agree. There's nothing wrong with wanting the person you love to be healthy, and that can include losing weight, as long as that's the reason.

    I guess I'm blessed with a husband who fell in love with me after I'd gained the weight, too. I'm at most 5 pounds heavier than I was when I met him, but I'm 30 pounds heavier than in my dance days.

  5. Hotrod and I tell each other all the time we're too chunky. lol But we also push each other to workout and eat right.

  6. GREAT comments, everyone--thank you!

  7. I just had a baby five months ago, and my s/o has been encouraging me to exercise more. The way he has addressed the topic doesn't hurt my feelings one bit because we have a great line of communication. He already knows how I feel about my weight and he makes it clear that he loves me regardless, though he'd prefer that I make healthier choices.

    I think a strong, continual line of communication is key. From what you've relayed, I'd say this man and his wife don't have one. If her weight is actually "excessive" and not just regular post-baby pudge, then it sounds like they're both pretending the problem doesn't exist. If she's not saying anything because she's ashamed, then he probably needs to start by broaching her feelings on her weight than actually trying to tell her that she needs to do something about it.

  8. I agree with Gwen there - encouraging good habits is huge.
    if he's so worried about it, maybe he should do some of the grocery shopping/ cooking, and encourage them to do active things together.

  9. I wish my husband would've 'noticed' my weight gain before I hit 100 lbs over where I was when I got pregnant. I weighed MORE after the baby than I did before (and I'm talking YEARS later. had plenty of time to lose that baby fat but didn't) Sure it would've hurt like hell to have heard it, but guess what, I would've much rather started a diet at 50lbs over rather than 100 lbs...

  10. I've lost a lot of weight but am still quite big. I want to drop another 100. But know what?

    I found a guy who lusts after fat women. I think the only real solution is to find somebody who loves the shape your body wants naturally... the be as healthy as you can be in that shape, and forget the rest.

    That guy needs a milk pail to the noggin.

  11. I think Gwen's right that he needs to approach her from a parenting/health standpoint. 1)Kids pick up bad eating habits. Just look at the father/son team on last season's Biggest Loser. The dad was huge, and both of his sons followed his example. It was really sad. And 2) She needs to be healthy so she lives to see her kids grow up.

    I also think that if he truly loves her, and she's happy with herself, then a few extra pounds shouldn't matter.

  12. My question is whether this guy is in excellent shape and eating healthy, himself? If he is, then his wife probably already feels really guilty, and I'd say the best thing for him to do is to start learning how to cook healthy meals, do the grocery shopping (while staying within their budget), and start cooking and relieving some of her stress. He could invite her for walks, etc. as well. That will go MILES in proving that his concern is more for her than for himself. Sure, he wants his wife to look good, the same as I want my husband to look good. But it is also equally true that my husband feels better physically, and feels better about himself, and has fewer aches and pains and troubles when he's in shape. I want that for him, too. So I cook healthy, don't expect more from him than I do myself, overlook it when he does less than I do in the working out and eating healthy areas, and encourage every little thing he manages to do that's in the right direction. And he's confessed that seeing me getting slimmer and slimmer is making him want to do it, too. My point is that it rubs off.

    I guess the other point I was making in all that, is that he'd better be wanting his wife to lose weight for HER sake, more than for his own.

    But seriously, I doubt this guy is in excellent shape. He's probably slimmer than his wife, due to the fact that he's not had a baby, but I doubt he's really taking care of himself well, simply because it DOES rub off. It has to, living in the same house.

    And if this is the case, then the ONLY way he has any right to say anything, is if he says, "Hey, honey. I'd really love for us to start taking better care of ourselves, because I don't want to die young and leave you and the kid, and I sure don't want you to do that either. Can we talk about it, find something that will work well for both of our schedules, and make a plan? I'll help with the cooking and meal planning, so it won't all be up to you."

    I dare him to make that commitment.

  13. GREAT comments, you guys. Thank you so much!!