Motivation Articles

Is Weight-Loss Hurting Your Relationship?

The Real Issues and How to Address Them

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Weight loss is tricky business, especially when you're in a relationship. After all, many people fall in love because they share common interests, such as watching the same sitcoms every Thursday night, going out for rich Italian food or playing video games together. However, what happens when one person in the relationship swaps his or her Thursday night TV-watching for group cycling? Or decides that ordering roasted chicken and steamed veggies is a better option than creamy fettuccine alfredo? Or that the Wii Fit is actually more fun than Super Mario Brothers? I smell relationship trouble a-brewin'.

Losing weight and adapting to a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of change—change that your partner may not be ready for. In fact, according to some recent SparkPeople polls, 34 percent of respondents said that their spouse, partner or significant other sabotages their weight-loss efforts more than anyone else in their lives, and 43 percent said they their significant other negatively influences their eating habits. On the flip side, 24 percent say that they would be bothered if their partner gained weight, and 55 percent said they might be bothered, depending on how much weight he or she gained. Overall, it's easy to see that weight can play a heavy role in your relationship

If you feel like your relationship may be under strain because of your weight-loss efforts, there are some general warning signs to look for. Typically, these types of actions are rooted in something larger than the direct issues, so it's important to understand them fully to know where your partner's or your feelings are coming from. In general, the "why" of a behavior comes from deep-seated emotion of which you or your partner may not even be aware. For just that reason, we've added an "emotional why" section to each warning sign exploring the emotion that might be behind these behaviors. Because we know how important support is to reaching your goals, we've included some action tips on how to improve whatever situation you may be facing. This way, you can find a way to maintain your healthy lifestyle without sacrificing the health of your relationship.

5 Signs Weight Loss is Hurting Your Relationship (and What to Do about It)

1. Your partner makes negative statements about you changing.
SparkPeople member SULYLE admits that weight loss has affected her marriage. At 5 feet 6 inches, she's 13 pounds from her goal weight of 140 pounds (that's a BMI of 22.6, considered a "healthy" range for her height). Still, she says that she gets comments from her husband and his family that she's "skinny" and needs to stop losing weight. She's from the Dominican Republic, where curvier women are considered beautiful, but she doesn't feel attractive at her current size. SULYLE's story isn't that unusual. Your significant other may make other negative comments about your own weight loss or changing body because it signals change. And change is scary for your other half.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

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  • The line between help and sabotage can be a fine one as well. When my DH decides to lose weight, it's typically by skipping meals, eating an ultra-low-calorie diet or doing something else drastic. If I encourage him to make healthier choices it seems like I'm trying to derail him, when in fact I just know that what he's doing WILL backfire (like it has for the last 20 years). He's not severely overweight like I was but does want to lose some weight, just not like that! We're both healthcare professionals so it always surprises me that he doesn't take his own advice; he would never tell a patient to do what he does... SMH... - 9/21/2014 12:35:10 PM
  • Thanks, I can't remember the last time I had such a good laugh. - 9/7/2014 6:33:46 AM
  • BOBG01
    I definitely see my weight loss possibly ruining my marriage. I feel bad about it because I feel like I am mostly to blame. I met my wife back in college. At that time I was maybe 15 pounds overweight. I had always had horrible eating habits and ate too much since my parents are both fat and I learned my eating habits from them. Before I met my wife she was fat. We met soon after she had lost a bunch of weight. She was a petite redhead with a good body (despite the fact that she didn't exercise) at that time. We fell in love and together we grew obese. My bad eating habits made it very easy to fall back into her bad eating habits. About the only thing my wife and I have in common is that we like to go out to eat and we like to get drunk. Any other hobbies or interests we pretty much pursued on our own, but drinking and going out to eat are about the only things we did together. My wife is also a pack a day smoker. I am a former cigar smoker. As an aside, I never set out to give up cigars, just that as I became more ito healthy living, the urge to smoke just wasn't there, and time I used to spend lounging around puffing away at a cigar is time I now spend working out.

    So fast forward 20 years. We are both obese and suffering from health problems. My wilfe also suffers from depression and fibromyalgia. I decided that I was sick and tired of being sick ansd tired, so I got off my fat, lazy butt, and did something about it. I dropped nearly 50 pounds and started working out regularly. At 200 pounds, I may still be technically fat, but I am in the best shape I have been in since my 20's! My wife on the other hand, has done nothing. This has created problems in our relationship. Since I am counting my calories, getting drunk every weekend and going out to eat often are out of the question. So now we have absolutely no "together" interests. I suggested making healthy living our together hobby, and that met with luke warm reception. So I basically just spend much of my free time alone. All she wants to do is sit at h... - 9/4/2014 3:00:23 PM
  • This is so true. I'm now in a happy relationship, but one of my earlier ones which eventually broke up after 18 months had these issues creep in and gradually get worse. In a sense, I think it was a good thing because given our respective attitudes towards getting fit and living healthy, we were probably always going to get on each others' nerves! My key takeaway from your post is to set my own goals and targets for fat loss and stick to them, rather than let someone else impose their idea of what should be good for me. This relaxed and proactive choice means I'm more motivated to stick to my diet and exercise regimen than if it had been forced on me. - 7/22/2014 10:24:16 AM
  • This is to 'Antiquity'. Honey, if he is a good man in all other areas just let it slide. By commenting in this way he is just showing his inner child a little by then thinking how he measures up. This is not bad just immature. Extremely common! If a person studies communication skills they realize that the need to let people have their moment is important but you might just have to discuss this with him in a nonthreatening way and he might get it, if not right away then in a while. - 7/12/2014 12:11:27 PM
  • ROSELISE
    I'm pretty lucky in that my partner is in-shape and at a healthy weight himself, so he is great for doing outdoorsy activities with and is supportive of me being active and healthy. However, he is naturally slim and doesn't have a need to watch his food intake at all. I have warned him (somewhat jokingly!) that once his youthful metabolism becomes more sluggish, I will teach him all about weighing out his portion sizes! But for now, it can be hard because he simply doesn't understand what amounts I need for weight loss, and sees my portions as small or asks, "Is that all you're eating?" when I have a perfectly balanced meal. Despite that, I had an awesome moment with him the other day when I worried aloud about food over an upcoming holiday we were going on, and he said quite genuinely, "Bring your scale with you!" Aww, he's learning. =) - 4/17/2014 6:54:42 PM
  • I haven't used this site in so long, but this article gave me pause for thought.

    My husband has recently taken an interest in losing weight after he watched me successfully lose and keep off 40lbs in the past 2 years. We have had our ups and downs over that time, but my main frustration is that every time I make progress or achieve something, he always has to tell me how great he's doing too. It's honestly a little upsetting. He can't just let me have my moment.

    How do other people deal with this? - 4/17/2014 6:05:59 PM
  • I think my SO is unconscious of the ways he impacts me. He encourages me, always asks on my work out days if I followed through, makes supportive comments like you look so lean today etc. He's great or tries to be, yet on the other hand, he brings home pizza, loves to eat out, loves convenience/froze
    n food. If I don't do the meal planning and prepping he is lost. He's also been gaining as I've been losing and I'm not sure if what is going on, but perhaps it is time to talk to him... - 4/17/2014 4:35:31 PM
  • I don't have a significant other but my roommate exhibited a lot of these behaviors. She KNEW I was trying to cut back on calories and she would constantly bring home pizza, ice cream, hamburgers, etc. If she didn't bring it for me she would sit down and eat it in front of me. I would walk off so angry feeling betrayed that she would do such a thing knowing I was trying to get myself healthy. How could she sit down and grub on barbecue ribs in front of me?! She would also make comments like "You're black you're not supposed to be skinny". The comments were hurtful but I knew I was on the right track so I simply "conformed" to her habits. When she would make hurtful comments I would say thank you and walk away. When she would eat tempting foods in front of me I would go for a walk in the neighborhood or go to my room and close my door. There were ways around it and I'm still on track!! :] - 4/17/2014 1:20:15 PM
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  • TERI081010
    If the significant other is not supportive of their partner wanting to lose weight and be healthier, they are not worth it, get rid of him/her! That's just ridiculous! I seen shows on the morbidly overweight people and there is always an enabler that feeds them because they are so insecure with themselves that they think someone else might look at them or want them! These people have too many issues and should be single! - 1/5/2014 8:14:30 AM
  • my losing weight has been easier because my fiance is 100% supportive of me. he worksout with me eats whatever i cook and put in front of him and gets very proud whenever i lose even a lb. he lets me get whatever i want to help in my weight loss. recently i was able to upgrade my phone and if i spent 80 dollars on accesories i only pay 5 bucks a month for my phone. and my fiance was the one who found the activity tracker that syncs to my phone and made sure i could get it because ive been saying i wanted one. he deals with the random fitness stuff all around the apartment and doesnt complain. he tells me everyday that im beautiful and he tells me even more when im sad because i gained or gained some inches. he points out everything he sees thats changing with me working out more. he notices the more muscles and the tighter my legs look. ive gained 90 lbs since the day i met him and he still tells me how beautiful i am. he works very hard to make sure i know im loved and supported. i grew up in a bad home that i almost didnt survive. my mother starved me when i was 4 because she would say i was fat. so many times i went to bed crying from hunger. then she would randomly feed me a lot because i was too skinny. or because she got tired of my crying. i dont know. there was a lot worse but because of that my metabolism is screwed up and i am having a hard time learning how to be healthy. but my fiance makes sure i know he loves me and supports me no matter what. he lets me try different things and lets me experiment to find what works for me. i love him and he is the best thing to ever happen to me. - 12/14/2013 7:47:03 PM
  • My fiance and I feed off of each other in a different way. When we first met, we were both fairly fit though he was more fit than I was. Still though, we were both at comfortable weights, had some decent muscle definition and felt good about ourselves. And it showed. We went out a lot together, we went for walks with the dog (just to enjoy the weather) and our sex life was amazing.

    Life soon got in the way though, and as a result I began to gain weight and eventually he did too. We often argued about each others' bad habits, but did little to fix the issues. We got to our highest weight ever together (not a milestone I'm happy about), and that also showed. We ended up on completely different sleep schedules due to his insomnia. We didn't go out. We didn't feel motivated about much and we stopped having sex altogether.

    Now we have to be apart for a while, but he decided to start focusing on regaining his health so that when we can be together again we'll be able to live as we did before, when we were happy with ourselves and each other. That inspired me to start working on my health and body also. After all, I don't want to be the only chunky one in the relationship! I couldn't ask for a more supportive partner. We often talk about any successes we've had or goals we've reached, and he's always super proud of me when I share how much weight I've lost or what new goals I've set for myself. He never fails to tell me how good he thinks I look whenever I visit, which means so much and makes me feel awesome (and like everything I'm doing is totally worth it). Likewise, I am super proud of him. He could be spending this time wallowing in despair about our current situation, hating the world, being super resentful and not trusting me to be faithful while he's gone. But instead, he's focused on bettering himself and on staying positive. That's amazing and truly inspiring to me! We're both doing great with our lifestyle changes separately and can't wait to really be able to support each other when he's able to be back home.

    I'm going to b... - 11/19/2013 6:01:36 PM
  • "Leading by example" has definitely made a positive impact in my relationship with my husband. There were times that he'd be frustrated when I first began measuring out all of my food and being gone for while on the weekends for a run. But, as the months passed and he saw the positive transformation (and heard all of the compliments that I was getting), he started getting interested in SP too! I'm happy to report he is now down 50 pounds and counting! It's all possible from the knowledge and confidence that I've gained while using the SP nutrition tracker and reading numerous articles!
    If you're struggling with an non-supportive spouse - hang in there. You never know, they may end up becoming a believer and join you!! - 10/3/2013 8:36:14 AM

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