When Physical Looks Change, Will Your Relationship Change Too? Weight Gain Relationship Advice

Dear Veronica,

After 18 years of marriage my husband and I are facing divorce. I don't know what to do to save my marriage. I have been googling relationship advice. I don't see any articles where you've talked about this topic so I don't know if you will answer my email but I hope you do. I guess I need to give you some background. When my husband and I were dating we were both average weight average looking. Well after a few years of marriage things get comfortable and we both gained weight. We even joked about how much we loved each other that it didn't matter about stuff like that. I had three children and had a hard time getting my weight down after each pregnancy. Raising three children and trying to keep the house clean and everything plus working part time for extra money I didn't have time to worry about gyms and I didn't think it was a problem. I go to the doctor regularly and so far all my bloodwork and health is fine. My husband worked a full time job and did his part with the kids I will say. He didn't have extra time either. Well this brings us to about 2 years ago. We decided together that we should start eating healthier. We went to the doctor together and I started making changes to our food. When we began I want you to know I had about 50 - 60 lbs to lose and he had 100 lbs to lose. Twice as much as me! I had a harder time losing weight plus I can't just drop everything and go to the gym when I feel like it. Over the last 2 years I am down 20 lbs and I feel very healthy and energetic. My husband has lost the full 100 lbs in these 2 years and he looks good. Well last month he told me he didn't want to be married to a fatty anymore and told me he was filing for divorce. I have tried to talk to him about this. I explained that I don't care what he looks like, I love him just as much now as I did when I married him, or when he was his heaviest. I don't care! I love him for much more important things than his pants size. I talk about things I do for him and the way I am with our children and he straight up says he does not care. He just keeps saying he isn't attracted to me, and now that he's so attractive he can have anyone he wants and he doesn't want to be with me anymore. No matter what I say he says it's all about looks. I am floored that the man I spent 18 years married to could be so shallow. I do admit I still have like 40 lbs to lose and I am trying. Since starting these changes I have consistantnly lost about a pound every month for almost 2 years. Now I don't even want to keep losing weight because what good does it do. How can I explain to him that he's being shallow and what we have is more important?

ShirleyM

Dear ShirleyM,

This is a topic I haven't really tackled yet. Thank you for sending me your email. There's a few thoughts I'd like to share and I am going to use your situation to express some of them, even though they don't all specifically relate to you.

When someone can reduce their entire relationship to the physical attraction, that really says a lot about that person. What if you had been in an accident? What if you had been scarred or maimed? What if you had been diagnosed with a disease that affected your looks? What if your weight gain is related to thyroid, diabetes, liver failure or some other medical condition or disease that could affect your looks forever? It's horrible to think that when the chips are down and you really need the support and love of your inner circle, that your choice of life partner would turn tail and run. If he keeps bringing your conversations down to his not being physically attracted to you and "it's all about looks" then he's telling you he doesn't love you. And he wouldn't have been a good life partner even if you had lost weight as quickly as he had.

There is an argument that I will present here. It's that if something happened to you, it doesn't make you on the whole less attractive. However, the damage you do to yourself is reflective of disrespecting yourself and not loving yourself, and that fact in and of itself is something that on the whole is very unattractive. There are people that would argue that they would have a hard time loving someone that doesn't care about themselves, and I can see that point.

Someone who has let themselves become very unhealthy is showing that they don't care about themselves in some ways. However, there are other reasons why they let their health or their weight slip. One of those reasons, as you said, could be that they have other priorities, like raising three children and working.

To me, I can separate that argument into two facets. I can see the argument for having prioritized your life in a way that takes you away from putting time into yourself. The other facet is doing something selfish that takes time and money, that makes an equal if not bigger statement of not caring or valuing yourself, affecting your looks, and affecting everyone around you. When someone smokes they are putting time and money into the effort of not caring about themselves or their looks. To me, that horrible look of lines and odd swellings from years of smoking is much more unattractive than an overweight person is. It's unattractive on the inside and the outside.

I actually heard a person once say they are sickened by how disgusting fat people are. He said he was disgusted by fat people, and wanted to be able to tell them so to their faces. But, he also said he was sick of being told it's so gross that he smokes, and why is it that seems politically correct and acceptable in society. He said he can't walk up to a fat person and tell them how disgusting they are, but that people seem to be able to walk up to him and tell him how disgusting his smoking is. He actually asked, what's the difference? I remember thinking, are you kidding me, you moron? The difference is the carcinogens you are putting in my air, you dolt. Your smoking affects my life, and the lives of everyone around me. If you personally find a fat person gross, that has no affect on you. Don't look at them. But a person that finds it gross and disgusting that you are polluting the air we all have to breath, damn skippy they should be able to call you out on it. Idiot.

ShirleyM, I'm certainly not going to beat you up about your weight gain, but I am also not going to give you a completely free pass. Let's go through your situation step by step.

The biggest thing that alarms me in your case ShirleyM is that both you and your husband gained weight, and he gained twice as much as you did. I can completely understand what you're saying about getting comfortable, and getting busy. Having to prioritize a day with three children, a house to care for, a husband and a part time job can not be easy. But the most affective contribution to the situation is that your husband was doing the same exact thing. He was letting himself go, too. He was gaining weight and not caring about his health or his appearance too. That surely has got to make you think it's OK not to prioritize your looks and your weight when he didn't either.

I can completely understand how life happened right up to this point.

Then, you said, you decided to get healthy together. How did that come about? Did someone have an event, like maybe a heartattack, that affected the both of you? Did one of your children decide to get healthy? I have to think there was some type of instigator here that began you both on the journey to re-evaluate your health and maybe also your looks.

I think part of the answer you're seeking is right there. Something happened that inspired the weight loss attempt. And that's part of the situation we have to evaluate.

When you relay what your husband has said in his divorce talks, you're not relaying that he's obsessed with health, or that he doesn't think you love yourself and he can't be with someone with no self esteem. You aren't relaying anything indicative of that argument I shared at the onset of the article. All you're relaying is a very shallow least common denominator type of love on his behalf.

I'm having a hard time imagining that you dated, and got to know, and fell in love with, and married, and had children with, and spent 2 decades with this man without any indication that he was this horribly shallow. And the fact that he gained 100 lbs during your "comfortable" marriage reinforces that. So I just have to think something else occurred. Something happened that changed him. Something happened that lead him from being a "life happens" accepting decent well rounded guy, into being obsessed with looks. Your leaving something huge out. And I don't know what it is. And maybe you don't either. But you're going to have to figure out what it is.

The last piece of reinforcement that something else is at play here, is that he gets to be right. It's not an argument he has lost, it's not a fundamental difference in your beings, even if one of you has changed. You both agreed to get healthier and lose weight. And you are doing it. You're still doing it. You acknowledge it and you're implementing changes that are working. Slowly, but working. So in essence, he is "right." Not that it's about right and wrong, I'm just saying it's not like you two can't see eye to eye. You are in agreement. You aren't saying to him NO, you're wrong, I won't get healthy, I won't lose weight, etc. You are saying YES, let's get healthy together. You're in agreement. So, what's the problem?

You didn't share your ages but just considering the length of your marriage I'm wondering if your husband isn't going through some kind of midlife crisis that is part of the selfish, irrational or unfair thinking he's engaged in. I think something has happened that has made a change to him and his thinking. It may be something hard to define. Somehow he may have substituted taking control of his weight and his looks as a way of taking control of his life, or his mortality.

Meanwhile, I don't know how to encourage you here. The bigger part of me really wants to say fuck him if he can't be supportive and patient while you continue to implement healthier living into your life. People physically change. Hairlines, waistlines, wrinkles, it shouldn't be something that you have to fear as you grow old with someone. Your marriage should be stronger than that. Even if you reached your weight goal, what's to say if he's this shallow at this point in his life after being with you for 2 decades, that he is going to be any better if you have laughlines, or if you get sick or hurt. You deserve to be with someone that sees you as more than a physical shell. The bigger part of me, ShirleyM, really wants to encourage you to let go of someone this shallow.

But there is a part of me that is very curious about what we're missing in this puzzle. I'd like to know what the hell is going on in his life these past 2 years and in his head now, that has changed him so dramatically and disturbed his values this badly. Good luck to you ShirleyM.

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13 comments

lindsey79 6 years ago

I was thinking the mortality/mid-life crisis thing too, Veronica, just like a man that leaves is same age wife for a wife 20 years younger. Getting older can be scary and maybe he's noticing that he's desired again by women after the weightless and that has trigger some mortality issues and has reacted to this horribly. If there's not some other big, obvious indicator (heart attack, death in the family, job change/loss), it could very well be that. I hope Shirley writes back and let's us know what is going on.

Awesome article, Veronica!


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

Thanks for the comment lindsey79! I hope we hear from ShirleyM too.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

I do hope Shirley will come back and comment - like you, I feel there's a piece of the puzzle that's missing. What was the wake-up call that made them decide to lose weight? Perhaps that's the key.

The other question I have is - why has she found it so hard to lose the weight compared to her husband? I know men lose weight more easily, but the difference between their results is startling. She says she "can't go to the gym anytime she feels like it" - just guessing here, but could it be she's one of those women who has become a slave to her kids?


ShirleyM 6 years ago

Veronica you really are psychic. This is amazing. You are completely right on target with everything you said. My husband just over 2 years ago hired a woman to work for him that was very young and beautiful. I am positive that's what started this. He wanted to be attractive to her. He was all excited and anxious to go to work. He started tanning and getting good haircuts. He went suit shopping for the first time in forever. He wore cologne. I know she paid attention to him and she was very charming. I know he just ate that up. Well I don't think anything happened between them. But now I realize he probably had hope that something would. She quit a few months ago and moved to Argentina where she has family to get married. As soon as I read what you said I realized that was when my husband started talking divorce, when she quit and moved away. I think he is grieving her! I don't think he's going off to be with her but I think this began all the thinking he's doing. He does get complimented all the time on his weight loss and his looks. During the last 2 years he talked about stuff like how life is too short and you have to take chances. I feel like I understand everything now. You are right on the money, this isn't the person I dated and got to know and married. He went through this big mid life crises or change when he hired this beautiful young girl. It changed him. I still don't think anything happened between them. But even if I'm wrong, she is out of the picture. But I can really see how just her presence really changed him. It's like he can't shake it and this is what he wants.

I'm blown away at how much light you shed on me and my problem Veronica. I even agree with you about smokers. You really understood where I was coming from and made me feel listened to. Thank you.

I feel like a weight has been lifted from me, no pun intended. If he wants something shallow he can go find it. I'm not shallow. I want something more. I'm going with the bigger part of you that says fuck him. A million thank yous Veronica! This is going to be hard but right now this second I don't feel alone at all.

Shirley


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

ShirleyM,

I'm really sorry to hear what you're going through. And I'm also very inspired to feel how strong you sound. You are right, you aren't alone. Not now or ever. I received emails, questions and comments from men that completely changed like this around mid-life, or from the people in their lives. Oddly, I don't usually get the same kind of emails from or about women. It's almost as if many women's mid life changes involve wanting a deeper or richer life experience. And the majority of men's is more based in a revolt against mortality and aging.

I wish you the best on this journey.


hubpageswriter 6 years ago

Good subject here. A lot of people change in behavior when their partners change in weight and that's not good. The inner being should be the main focus and I think spouses should encourage one another towards a healthy living instead of condemning them for their piling weights.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Unfortunately we judge the book by the cover.. If her life depended on her losing weight; would she? Priorities...


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

dallas93444,

That's like saying if your life depended on plastic surgery so you could be as hot as James Franco, would you have the surgery. Really, it's just too ridiculous to answer.

Her life doesn't depend on losing weight. Her shitty husband is the only thing that depends on her losing weight. She's MUCH better off losing him then the weight. Her priorities were as she said, working, raising three kids and taking care of a home, especially all the while her health was ok according to her doctor.

People that judge books by their covers are destined to read pretty petty pathetic little unfulfilling books. People with priorities that fucked up don't deserve the depth of a real book anyway.


Lala_Lisa profile image

Lala_Lisa 6 years ago

ShirleyM,

Your husband is an ass. He gained weight just like you did, and he gained a ton more than you did! And he didn't lose the weight to get healthy or to be attractive to you, he lost the weight because he wanted to get with that Argentina woman! Veronica is right, you're better off moving on. You don't need someone like that.

Meanwhile, congratulations to you for losing 1/4 pound a week. Slow and steady! You won't put that back on. It's all about you now and feeling good about yourself. Look forward! Good luck to you!!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Thanks for enlightening me. I re-read and I agree. Your last paragraph sums it up: "People that judge books by their covers are destined to read pretty petty pathetic little unfulfilling books. People with priorities that fucked up don't deserve the depth of a real book anyway." I stand corrected.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

XOXO


lindsey79 6 years ago

ShirleyM -- I'm so sorry to hear that about your husband. That's got to be so disappointing after such a long marriage and children, though I suppose it's better to find it out now rather than when you really would need him (like if you had a disfiguring accident or were diagnosed with a terrible disease like cancer).

The good news is that there are plenty of truly wonderful men out there and you deserve so much more. Best to you on your new journey and this next chapter in your life.


markclubbin profile image

markclubbin 6 years ago

Divorce can be a streessfull time on most couples, whether they realise it or not, so i'm wondering if the story being told is an accurate perception. asuming it is and hubby is being an ass, i feel from experience that patience and love work best. Any crisis cause us to re-evalulate what things are important to us in life, and if we feel we don't want what we have, the grass can look so much greener on the other side. unfortunately we have to make mistakes to find out it isn't as sweet as we thought! So that's why you shouldn't do anything that forces hubby out of marraige, or that helps another take your man ...he may come to his senses without causing too much damage to the relationship! Best of luck.

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