Serving up this steaming pile of
Celebrity Gossip
Gay Politics
Gay News
and Pointless Bitchery
Since 1995

WSJ: Is Your Spouse or Partner Too Fat?

This has a few of the favorite elements of a DL thread: discussion about overweight people, a chance to make fun of a married frau.

But after reading this I was kind of on Team Frau. The dude was a little stalkery/controlling and kind of an ass to her. The end of the story came off a little Stepford Frau-ish.

And more importantly, why isn't anyone making a fuss over the fact that the guy hasn't updated his haircut, glasses or wardrobe in 20+ years?

by Anonymousreply 1112/05/2013

Betsy and Jarom Schow agree that the biggest problem they've faced in 12 years of marriage isn't money, sex or parenting. It's weight.

Ms. Schow, 31 years old, was heavy for much of her life. When she was growing up, her family ate a lot of processed foods and takeout, and she rarely exercised, she recalls. In school, children "mooed" at her when she walked by. She started her first diet at age 12.

She met her future husband in college, in what she calls "a skinny period." Mr. Schow, now 36 and a software engineer, was outdoorsy and thin. The two went on hiking, skiing and rock-climbing dates. Even so, by the time they married in 2000, Ms. Schow had put on 25 pounds. Every year, it seemed she would lose 25 pounds and gain 30 back. By the Schows' fifth wedding anniversary, Ms. Schow weighed 220 pounds. And she was very unhappy about it.

Few subjects in a relationship are more difficult to talk about than one person's weight. Even people who aren't overweight can obsess about their appearance (sadly, these mostly tend to be women). How can a partner raise the issue with someone who is overweight without causing hurt or embarrassment? And how can an overweight person address his or her weight problem without obsessing and harming the relationship?

"Touchy Topic"

The Schows, who live in Alpine, Utah, stopped doing fun things together. When they went hiking, Ms. Schow would read a book at the trailhead, waiting for her husband to return. She stopped going to his parents' Sunday dinners because, surrounded by thin people, she felt embarrassed and judged. For several years, she and her husband slept in separate rooms because she felt anxious and uncomfortable in her body, and had trouble sleeping.

There were arguments. More than once, Mr. Schow asked his wife to change her outfit, saying, "That's not made for someone your size, Sweetheart." And there was the unforgettable occasion when Ms. Schow, "trying to spice things up in the bedroom," did a playful little dance, naked, she recalls. Her husband told her, "I guess you are one of those people who looks better with clothes on." (He apologized immediately but she still didn't speak to him for a week.)

Today, Mr. Schow says he has "no idea" why he blurted out such a thing. "I haven't lived it down yet," he says. He never found his wife unattractive, Mr. Schow says, but after she lost 75 pounds, and kept the weight off, he did feel more attracted to her.

Mixed-weight couples, where one partner is overweight and the other one isn't, have more relationship conflict, including arguments and feelings of anger and resentfulness, than same-weight couples, according to a study by researchers at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Wash., and the University of Arizona, in Tucson, published last month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Of 43 heterosexual couples in the study, those who reported the most conflict were a healthy-weight man and an overweight woman. When just the man was overweight, couples reported no more conflict than same-weight couples.

The researchers said they don't know whether a weight difference caused couples to argue more, or whether conflict caused one partner to eat more and become overweight. Couples had less conflict when the overweight person reported feeling the partner was supportive of their efforts to exercise and eat a healthy diet. "That is significant because even though they are at risk for more conflict, there are communication mechanisms that can reduce this," says Tricia Burke, the study's lead author and visiting assistant professor in the communication studies department at the University of Puget Sound.

Another finding: Mixed-weight couples who ate together frequently reported more conflict than those who seldom ate together.

by Anonymousreply 101/22/2013

Ms. Schow recalls she would ask her husband to help her stick to her diet. Yet when he encouraged her to eat something healthy, she would accuse him of implying she was fat. "I was extremely frustrated," Mr. Schow recalls. "It felt like I was just saying the same things over and over, and we were stuck in this loop."

After they argued, Mr. Schow often left the house or hid in his room. His wife's deep unhappiness magnified their other problems, he says, whether it was money or how much time they spent together. He also worried about what her attempts at extreme dieting would do to her health.

The couple stopped having sex. Ms. Schow says she felt too self-conscious. "I would try and help her feel better about herself, telling her, 'You are beautiful the way you are,' " Mr. Schow says. He began to wonder: "If she doesn't want to have sex with me, what's wrong with me?" One night, Ms. Schow told her husband she wanted a divorce. "The weight caused a rift that just kept growing," she says.

Experts say it is imperative for couples to communicate in a loving way when one partner has a weight problem. Catherine Hastings, a marriage and family therapist in Lancaster, Pa., says a person who isn't overweight should address the issue with an overweight partner "in a way that makes them feel that you are rooting for them. The worst thing is when you are teasing or nagging or judging."

A spouse should say things that demonstrate support. The question "Are you really going to eat that?" doesn't demonstrate support.

A healthy-weight partner should consider ways to show a willingness to team up to change behaviors. For example, the partner could ask the overweight loved-one for suggestions. Should you avoid keeping sweets in the house or skip dessert when dining out together? Almost everyone could stand to get more exercise and eat a more-healthy diet, and the healthy-weight partner can help by being a role model.

The person who isn't overweight also should be aware of his or her own insecurities and possibly a subconscious need to sabotage the partner's weight-loss efforts. "The overall atmosphere should be, 'I love you and I want you to be around for as long as possible,' " Dr. Hastings says.

After Ms. Schow raised the issue of divorce and was throwing clothes in a suitcase, she told her husband she wanted out because she felt trapped—in the marriage and her own misery. Mr. Schow calmly walked to the garage and let the air out of the tires of her jeep. "I felt that if I could calm her down and get her feeling better, we could work toward a resolution," he recalls.

Ms. Schow didn't leave. But she did continue to complain about her weight. Then one night, as she was talking yet again how she was about packing on pounds, her husband said sleepily, "Turn off your thinker and go back to sleep."

That seems, in hindsight, like the turning point, Ms. Schow says. She stopped the extreme dieting and concentrated on counting calories and getting exercise, eventually running four times a week and doing yoga and Zumba. After she lost 40 pounds, her husband told her that his dream was to run a marathon with her. They ran the Park City marathon together in August 2011.

Ms. Schow lost 75 pounds in 10 months. The couple began hiking, biking and rock climbing again—and teaching their 3- and 6-year-old daughters to be active. Ms. Schow wrote a book about her experience, "Finished Being Fat," published earlier this month.

The Schow's marriage improved. "The fact that my weight isn't such a focus in our marriage anymore—because I made it bigger than it had to be—gives us an opportunity to change the discussion, instead of an endless loop of 'I am fat.' 'No, you aren't,' " Ms. Schow says. "As I started to fix myself, I stopped fighting myself, so I stopped fighting him, too."

by Anonymousreply 201/22/2013

It is a real issue. And as the article points out it becomes an awkward thing to talk about because people who are fat become very sensitive and defensive about their weight (understandable, but still) so having a real discussion about it becomes hard.

However you can't expect nothing about your relationship to change when you completely let yourself go. Obviously you are growing old together and losing looks but it is healthy to put some effort in trying to remain desirable and presentable to your spouse.

Especially if like the woman in the article you let your weight completely ruin your drive to get out the house and do things and derail your self confidence then yes, you are letting it ruin your relationship.

by Anonymousreply 301/22/2013

I wondered why on earth a 19 year old would get married and found the answer a little later:

[quote]The Schows, who live in Alpine, Utah,

by Anonymousreply 401/22/2013

I've seen quite a few fat female/relatively fit male military couples. The male gets military training, exercise and discipline while the female is at home raising children and eating Twinkies until hubby returns. The males would be no better were they not in the military, I suspect.

by Anonymousreply 501/22/2013

Ginny is gonna be pissed!

by Anonymousreply 601/22/2013

Fraus and their weight are nuts. The woman in that picture isn't overweight at all.

by Anonymousreply 701/22/2013

"The woman in that picture isn't overweight at all."

I'd suggest reading the article.

by Anonymousreply 801/22/2013

R7, she's thin now but she was a 220-pounder a few years ago. It's in the story.

My spouse is not too fat but he is slowly gaining in that direction. (male/male couple) He is 6' tall and weighs 180, has a slight belly. I want him to stay at this weight, not keep gaining another 5 lbs a year. He was slimmer when we met. I mean, 5 lbs a year doesn't sound like much until you translate it as 50 lbs a decade.

It gets tricky because we eat pretty much the same but I have skinny genetics (family) and can scarf down cheesecake or chips/guacamole even late at night without gaining an ounce. He hates that. I understand the resentment, so I am trying to eat lighter, fewer calories, no late night binge snacks when we are at home together.

by Anonymousreply 901/22/2013

OMG I need to vent about this.

My partner is 200+ and goes through various diets, cleanses, etc.

Each time they fail because of some stressful life event. If it's not the job, it's family or the dog, or money.. etc. There's always SOME excuse to stray from their exercise and diet plan.

Each time I have to watch the melt down because of their failure to meet their goal. Each time I have to comfort and console and reassure and confront the self-loathing. Sugar is as much a drug as heroine.

Tonight I committed the grievous sin of commenting on the fact the a whole chocolate bar - one a day for the past three— might not help in the goal of losing weight.

HUGE backlash. Now I'm banned as the "hall monitor" .

I've apologized. I've explained. I've tried. I don't know what to do.

I love my partner . I don't care about anything but their self-confidence. But there is so much self-loathing. I see my partner go through emotional turmoil and health problems. I see the lack of self-control and self-agency and I see WHY these problems exist but I can't comment when I see the plans and the diets failing because that' is "controlling".

by Anonymousreply 1012/05/2013

[quote] Obviously you are growing old together and losing looks but it is healthy to put some effort in trying to remain desirable and presentable to your spouse.

Health is way more important to me than that of my partner's looks.

by Anonymousreply 1112/05/2013
Need more help? Click Here.

Follow theDL catch up on what you missed

recent threads by topic delivered to your email

follow popular threads on twitter

follow us on facebook

Become a contributor - post when you want with no ads!