Show concern about your partner’s weight

If you’re wondering how to talk with your partner about his or her weight, resist the urge to control or criticize. Instead, express genuine concern, and focus on healthy, sustainable changes that you can make together.

Couples typically share similar values and engage in activities together, so you’re more likely to impact each other’s health habits. Yet criticism about weight can be a source of conflict between some couples, which can affect your otherwise fulfilling relationship.

When one partner is at a healthy weight and one is overweight, there’s a greater chance for conflict, especially when they eat together. If one tries to restrict the other’s eating, things become less enjoyable. You might argue more too.

Try to be supportive about your loved one’s health issues. It’s most helpful when your message expresses caring and closeness. Be in tune with your partner’s needs if she or he is asking for your help with making healthier habits. Try being an “accountability” partner and help keep your partner on track towards his or her goals. Establish mutual goals you can work on to help improve your health and wellness too.

Some phrases to avoid include:

  • “You’re going to eat that?”
  • “Maybe you should stop eating.”
  • “You’re going to gain more weight if you keep eating so much.”

Some supportive phrases to try include:

  • “Let’s both commit to healthy eating in the new year.”
  • “Since you’ve expressed wanting to eat healthier, how can I help?”
  • “I know you’re trying hard to eat healthier, and it’s not easy. I’m proud of your efforts. Let’s continue in a positive direction.”

Create healthy lifestyle changes together. Pack nutritious lunches and snacks for work or school, and prepare well-balanced meals. Check with your installation about couples cooking classes and other wellness activities offered through Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs too.

References

Burke, T. J., Randall, A. K., Corkery, S. A., Young, V. J., & Butler, E. A. (2012). “You’re going to eat that?” Relationship processes and conflict among mixed-weight couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29(8), 1109–1130. doi:10.1177/0265407512451199

Carr, D., & Friedman, M. A. (2016). Body weight and the quality of interpersonal relationships. Social Psychology Quarterly, 69(2), 127–149. doi:10.1177/019027250606900202

Faw, M. H. (2014). Young adults’ strategies for managing social support during weight-loss attempts. Qualitative Health Research, 24(2), 267–278. doi:10.1177/1049732313520079

Ledyard, M., & Morrison, N. (2008). The meaning of weight in marriage: A phenomenological investigation of relational factors involved in obesity. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 7(3), 230–247. doi:10.1080/15332690802237946

Meltzer, A. L., McNulty, J. K., Novak, S. A., Butler, E. A., & Karney, B. R. (2011). Marriages are more satisfying when wives are thinner than their husbands. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(4), 416–424. doi:10.1177/1948550610395781