The HuffPo had a piece today on the double standard on weight gain for spouses. A woman had written to an advice columnist about how fat and lazy her longtime partner — whom she also describes as “intelligent, accomplished, emotionally mature, kind, loving, and funny” — had become, only to be told, “I’m sick, sick, sick of women beating up on tubby guys … Take him as he is! Love him for himself! Grant him the freedom to live as he wants.” To which HuffPo columnist D.A. Wolf asked, “What if the roles were reversed? What if a man were seeking advice, expressing distaste for his widening woman?”
Well, we know how men feel about “widening women.” They don’t like it. All the research seems to indicate that couples are happiest when the woman is more attractive — aka, she’s a hottie — than the man (Really? Whoa! Who knew?!?!)
The problem is couples — men and women — tend to pack on the pounds when they marry and feel satisfied in their marriage. But, don’t we all want to feel happy in our marriage? Yes! But do we want to pork out because of it? Probably not. Or maybe we believe it’s OK for us but not our partner.
Look back to what was being discussed when Gen. David Petraeus fooled around with a younger — and much more attractive and thinner — woman than his wife, Holly. As so many media outlets eagerly reminded us, Holly was “an utterly ordinary looking middle-aged woman” who showed “no signs of slavery to high fashion, power yoga, Botox or hair dye” and who could only “be seen as an unlikely partner for a staggeringly accomplished man famous for his obsession with physical fitness.“
That’s right — the “matronly” Holly is the reason why her studly hubby had to stray. She’s fat, so of course he would want to cheat! Duh! (But, let’s consider the many women who didn’t become matronly and whose husbands/boyfriends cheated on anyway — Halle Berry, Elizabeth Hurley, Eva Longoria, Shania Twain, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston … Why do we think that being “hot” somehow makes your partner be someone who’ll be honest and faithful?)
I think it works like this; when we feel content in our relationship, men and women tend to add a few pounds. Then something else happens, especially for women and it’s more than just the weight we gain for childbirth. That’s understandable for a year or so; after that, not so much. In fact, a lot of women gain weight when they get married; they’re even more at risk for obesity just by shacking up. Men do, too, but they don’t gain as much as women do. But that “something else” is hard to put a finger on. Why do so many married people, especially women, let themselves go physically?
As I’ve written before, I have often come upon letters to advice columnists — usually from the husband — complaining about his wife’s weight. He’s not attracted to her sexually anymore and he mentions (hopefully delicately) something about her weight to her, which makes her angry and defensive, and so he pulls away emotionally and physically, which makes her feel worse about herself so she eats more and then gains more weight, which turns him off even more … it’s a downward spiral that most likely ends up in divorce. And, then most lose that weight from the so-called “divorce diet.” So, why not lose it before?
- Why do you think so many wives let themselves go physically?
- Is there a double standard for husbands vs. wives?
- Do you think your spouse’s weight gain is a reason to sexually stray?