The Effects of Weight Gain on Relationships

Weight gain can be a heavy issue in relationships, and women often find themselves struggling with weight gain after pregnancy. The side-effects of weight gain not only affect the physical health of women, but the emotional well-being as well. This is compounded when a partner reacts negatively toward the extra pounds. Marriages and relationships can go through many challenges – how can we as women not add on the challenge of body image issues?

Weight Gain in Marriage and Divorce

Interesting research results show that women who are married have a whopping 127% increase risk in obesity. It turns out that women who marry and go on to have at least one child gain on average about 20 pounds over a 10 year period, compared to 11 pounds during that same time period for a woman not in a relationship. It also appears that cohabitating doesn’t get you off the weight gain train, either, as women who live with their partners gain 15 pounds on average.

Ironically, when women divorce they tend to lose weight at a rapid rate, but the opposite statistics are true for men. Married men tend to be healthier, but gain weight if they divorce. The general consensus is that when women marry they take on multiple roles and responsibilities and have less time to devote to caring for themselves, where married men have wives who are caring for them and providing them with loving care.

They could have used my own family for a model for this study – my husband went from eating food that barely passed as edible as a bachelor to having healthy meals cooked for him every day. I went from running on my own life to being a new mom, working a crazy schedule, and failing to put any priority on me.

What Can Women Do About the Stress of Weight Gain on Relationships?


Often the biggest critic a woman has about her body is herself. We look in the mirrors and twist ourselves, trying to contort and make peace with the differences we see in how we look and the emotions we feel. Making healthy changes can’t come from an unhealthy self-image.

  • Give yourself focused “me time” for exercising and opportunities to get healthy.
  • Take care of your emotional well-being – write in a journal, join a book club, or make a commitment to hang out with girlfriends a few times each month.
  • If you have a partner who is critical of your body after weight gain, find ways to let him know how this makes you feel, emphasizing that you are fully aware of the numbers on the scale.
  • If your partner belittles or demeans you, consider couple’s counseling to address the situation – sometimes when the woman does go on to lose weight she is so resentful of her partner’s attitude that in the end she moves on without him, as he was starting to treat her better for her physical appearance improvements.

Husbands and partners take their clues from their wives and their girlfriends. If they have partners who are depressed about their weight, struggling with self-confidence, and pulling away from intimacy, their reactions often unintentionally compound the problem. The stress in relationships often comes when one partner pulls away from the other.

While you might assume it would be the man pulling away from the wife who gained 15 pounds after childbirth, it can just as often be the woman pulling away for fear of being rejected. The first step in changing this pattern is to put a priority on your own health.
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