According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Put a Stop to ‘Do I Look Fat?’” by Elizabeth Bernstein if a woman outweighs her male counterpart, there will most likely be tension in the relationship (in some cultures this is not the case). However, if the male is the heavier of the two, then the quality of the relationship usually remains stable. The moral of this story is that women are more sensitive about their weight. Consider the plight of an older woman married to a younger man? At least if a woman is fatter, she can reduce the pounds, unlike the older woman who cannot reduce the disparity of the chronological years unless she undergoes the surgical knife.
Tricia Burke a lead researcher on the topic which was published in the December issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships explains that she doesn't know whether the disparity in weight, particularly a woman’s weight, caused couples to argue more, or whether conflict caused her to eat more and become overweight.
Anger and resentment are powerful triggers for eating foods high in sugar and fat as one is stressed by the tension. And in the short term feeding a hungry heart works. In the long term it is a form of self-sabotage regarding self-image and sensuality.
Generally, a woman who weighs significantly more than her husband is more likely to:
- Waver about her self-image wishing she were thinner
- Feel self-conscious during sex especially if she is naked and the light is on – and ultimately have less or no sex
- Be more sensitive to any criticism, usually perceiving it as an insult tied into her weight
- Try fad diets or extreme dieting which might compromise her health
Imagine the stress of a normal-weight man as he tiptoes around his overweight woman trying to give her compliments which don’t sound hollow, resisting the powerful urge to preach about diet and exercise and serve as her fashion consultant, and most of all not scolding her for eating dessert or being too lazy to exercise! What can he do to help balance the scales?
- Realize that you can’t motivate anyone to lose weight. However, you can inspire.
- Give her a break and take charge of the kitchen. What woman wouldn’t appreciate a man doing the shopping, preparing and setting the table? Remove all the junk food, replace it front and center with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low fat dairy and healthy fats like olive oil. People don’t gain weight from eating a bowl of broccoli or cup of blueberries.
- When you exercise, take her with you and make it fun. Don’t show off and keep it simple, so as not to make her overly sore, feel inferior - unable to keep up. In other words, begin with a brisk walk instead of a jog. Then gradually work up to walking five minutes and running for a minute. She will pick up the pace at her pace. Afterwards, stretch her and give her a massage with warm oil. You can take it from there…
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show