I need you to tell me if this is a deal-breaker, or if I’m an awful husband. When I met my wife she was thin — svelte — and very attractive. Looks mattered more to me than anything, and I liked the way she carried herself. While we courted, I always complimented her on how effortlessly beautiful she was, and how impressed I was with her frame. Now fast forward to three years after our wedding, and she’s a new woman. Mind you, we have no children, so there is no excuse, I think, for her looking like a woman who’s had seven kids. She spends her days watching Netflix and snacking and only buys reheatable foods so she doesn’t have to spend time in the kitchen. Mind you, as soon as I noticed that she was getting bigger I spoke to her about it and she just laughed. But now I’m just so turned off, because it looks like she has gained about 100 pounds since the marriage, and I really can’t deal with the belly, chins, or cellulite. Am I a terrible person? I would have been perfectly OK with changes in her body if they resulted from childbirth, but this lady hasn’t even had children yet. What can I do to get through to her, because right now I feel like I was scammed, and I cannot find this kind of thing attractive.
I appreciate your reaching out. No, what you’ve said doesn’t make you an awful husband or terrible person. And no, it does not have to be a deal-breaker issue. It’s not what you expected, but it doesn’t warrant the abandonment of your vows. Yes, being responsible for her health and wellness is reasonable to ask of your spouse. Weight gain from unhealthy habits is a genuine reason for concern. Life can indeed be a little more complex than we imagined.
There’s a post on social media that spurred much debate, regarding a guy who called off a date with a girl because she told him she hadn’t worked out in weeks. He was into fitness, and so that was a deal-breaker for him. In that situation they were only dating, so he could choose not to settle with someone who was not into fitness like he was. In your case, you have chosen “for better or worse, till death do us part” already. You’ll simply figure out, like all great marriages, how to make it a fantastic experience. Yes, you can!
Be compassionate. She could very well be dealing with emotional stress, and she’s locking down. Know that emotional challenges can transform someone’s habits and physical appearance. Therefore be compassionate, respectful and affectionate, she deserves it. If she likes Netflix she may like going to the theatre or cinema, take her out. Promise her a trip to somewhere she’d really like if she “fits into those jeans again”. Set targets for each other, and bet for rewards when goals are accomplished.
Get beyond the body. Maybe you wouldn’t be okay if she’d put the weight on after having children either. Don’t focus so much on “looks”. Having a partner at all is a special blessing. So change your mindset. Determine to love her, no matter what. But work toward joint fitness, for health’s sake. And remember, compliment her often on the things that you do like.
Get further help. Many people do not realise that marriage takes figuring out. Two people coming together to seek synergy of dreams and aspirations takes some effort. Consider sitting with a counsellor, there may be things she wants to say that may explain what’s happening to her.
Happily ever after often requires compromises. Marital bliss, in a broken world, requires learning, patience and genuine maturity. I pray for both of you to develop and deploy the necessary skills to win a remarkable marriage.
Get on The Counsellor’s Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to email@example.com.