What do you say about people who comment on their partner's weight? My wife has taken several chances to remind me recently that I've gained about 20 pounds since we got married a few years ago. It's not like I'm obese, and it's also not that I'm unhealthy. I work out regularly, eat a fairly good diet, consume about a dozen drinks/beers a week. I'm in my early 40s and I attribute the gain mostly to my metabolism slowing down and, frankly, her amazing home cooking. But come on—20 pounds isn't all that much, so why is she ragging on me? I want to come right out and ask her if I'm unattractive to her because she's usually not the nagging type. And I feel like if the situation were reversed, she'd go running to her girlfriends telling them what a beast I am for calling her "fat." What should I do?
He Said: By all means ask your wife directly if you are less attractive now to her. But I would not give her the power. This is 100 percent about her own insecurities—her fears about marriage, middle-aged attractiveness, or who knows what other motives. And for her to put this back onto you, whether you have gained 20 pounds or 200, is unfair. One of the beautiful things about a supportive partnership is that while you always strive to maintain your attractiveness for your spouse, mostly avoiding the cookie jar, you can largely throw self-consciousness out the window, which, by the way, is a very healthy thing. If your partner wants to be useful, she needs to help create a healthy environment where taking care of your body is sort of your family ethic—not the ethic of a gossipy gym crowd. If she really wants to be help, rather than simply hurt, she should be taking constructive steps such as limiting the calories in those home-cooked meals. In the meantime, I say she owes you a rich dinner, a great bottle of wine, a creamy dessert—and an apology.
She Said: You sound like an average middle-aged guy to me. Honestly, I fear for your wife a little, because the karma on this one is not going to be kind. I’m suspecting she’s a little younger than you, but once she hits her mid-40s, she’s likely to gain a few pounds too, along with a whole host of other attributes from wrinkles to age spots to gray hairs. True, weight is a bit more controllable than these other signs of aging, but perhaps you should remind her of the final destination of a successful marriage: one partner sitting by the bed of the other, their wrinkled, flabby bodies shot, their minds full of shared memories, and their hearts hopefully full of love. Hearts like that don’t come free—they’re made slowly, day by day, by transforming judgment and criticism into acceptance and compassion. Your wife should stop haranguing you about a few pounds and start working on her inner fitness.
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