• Fri, Jul 8 2011

What If Your Man Asked You to Lose Weight?

Yesterday I was reading, with great interest, a blog post on Babble.com by a woman who is growing out her hair to appease her husband. She goes on to say that she also stopped wearing eye makeup because he doesn’t like it, and now wonders what would happen if he asked her to lose weight (which she admits she needs to do).

What am I – or are most women – willing to do with regard to physical upkeep or sexuality, if they were asked to make a change. I’ve thought about how I would feel if Jon asked me to get off my ass and lose the 26 pounds (yes, I’m counting) that I am still carrying from my last pregnancy.

The author goes on to say:

But to be honest, I’ve not made any real effort to do the single thing it will take to get the weight off, which is walk 30 minutes a day, 3 or 4 times a week. That’s really all I would need to do, and I know it. But what if Jon suggested that I do that? How would I react? (He never has, by the way. He’s not totally insane ;-)  )

Not surprisingly, this opened up a lot of discussion. Comments ranged from “I would do anything I could to keep my man happy” to “I would be angry and insulted”. Many women felt like their husbands would be out of line and inconsiderate of their feelings if they were asked to lose weight or even made aware that they need to slim down. I was surprised by how many women also blamed their excessive weight on the fact that they had children (um, when a child is two years old, you can’t really use that excuse anymore). I also found it interesting that the author claims she could lose her 26 pounds if she got out and walked three or four days a week for just 30 minutes. Again, something else that’s probably not realistic because losing that amount of weight requires a change in nutrition and more intense exercise than 90 to 120 minutes of walking a week. But, I digress. The issue is whether it’s okay for your significant other to comment about your weight and ask you to do something about it. My response is: absolutely.

Here’s why. When you get married — or are in any type of relationship, for that matter — you should want to give the best of yourself to your partner, just like you want to give the best of yourself to you. If someone is happy being overweight and their partner doesn’t have an issue with it, then that’s fine. But, if one partner is overweight and it bothers the other, then a polite and respectful conversation is in order. Not “Wow, your ass has gotten huge”, but “Honey, I’m concerned about you. Can we talk?”

If the overweight person takes offense or becomes angry, then it’s likely that their own insecurities have been touched. But, whether it’s a concern for our health or a matter of sexual attraction, I believe our partners have a right to point this out (especially when some people don’t realize just how much weight they have gained) and ask us to do something about it, just like we should be able to do with them.

Over the last 19 years, I have always relied on my husband to be completely honest and forthcoming with me. I deliberately didn’t marry a “yes man” because I like his un-sugar-coated opinions. If I put a dress on and ask how I look, I would much rather have him really focus on me and tell me he doesn’t like it versus saying “You look great, sweetie” from behind the newspaper. Not that I would necessarily listen to him if I really liked the dress, but at least there would be no uncertainty on where he stood. The same goes for my body. Given that we’re both athletic and want to do whatever we can to stay in our best shape, we rely on each other for honest input. If his abs are getting a little loose and giggly, I suggest that maybe more time in the pool is in order. If my arms wiggle a bit too much, he may suggest more pushups and pullups. Neither one of us takes offense. I have long since learned that in order to take something personally, you have to assume the other person has a negative intent.

When it comes to one partner asking another to lose weight, I have to believe it’s not out of anything but a positive intention. I mean, what’s more romantic than a guy who is concerned about his partner’s health because he wants her to be around for a very long time? Or someone who wants to continue finding her sexy and appealing?

What if your man asked you to lose weight? Tell us what you think!

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  • Ellen W.

    I was wondering: Deborah, have you ever had a person you were dating/in a serious relationship with/married to ask you to change your appearance for them? I’d love to know how you felt about it when they did.

    I grew my hair out and stopped using products on it for a guy because he said he liked how soft it was. When it’s phrased as a compliment it’s a very different situation.

    But there’s almost no way to make “Honey, you should lose weight” a compliment. The closest you can come to not being insulting is to make it “We need to lose weight/eat healthier.”

    • Samantha L.

      “We need to lose weight/eat healthier.”

      Best way to tell someone in my opinion. That one little sentence has also been a god send in my marriage. I gained 80 and he 100 when we were first married. That one sentence save his and my feelings both.

  • Ambler

    I am of mixed feelings about this.

    On the one hand, if it is actually concern for the health of one’s partner, then I do think it is okay, provided one is as tactful as possible, and makes sure to make it clear that one wishes to keep the other alive and healthy for as long as possible. It’s even better if the partner wants help losing weight, so that the other is just being encouraging.

    This is the case with my fiancee and I. I don’t mind his belly in terms of looks– it’s his belly, and therefore is cute. However, his family has a history of heart disease, and he himself is worried that if he doesn’t lose weight, he will be significantly shortening his lifespan. I try to be as encouraging as possible about exercise and eating right, and make sure to exercise with him when he is visiting me (we’re dealing with a long distance relationship right now). I also try to be reassuring about how it will be easier once we’re married and living together (I’ll be able to help more), when he gets down on himself because he hasn’t lost anything, or has put on more weight.

    On the other hand, if it is an attractiveness thing– I guess it’s because the most important factor in how attractive a person is to me is directly correlated to how I feel about them as a person– I think the other person should just shut up. I mean, if one partner asks the opinion of the other, then yes, the other should be honest. I think that is as far as it should go. I certainly would not grow out my hair for my fiancee (he would like me to, as he associates long hair with femininity– but he also thinks I look beautiful no matter what length my hair is), or at the very least not leave it long (I would not object to growing it long enough to donate to a charity that makes wigs for kids with cancer– but then it would get chopped off). For one thing, HE’s not the one who has to deal with having long hair. For another, I don’t expect him to change his appearance for me (even if I am not crazy about some of his shirts).

  • Courtney

    If they’re genuinely concerned about their health then I can see it. If it’s just a few extra pounds then no.
    And I would NEVER not wear eye makeup or any other superficial thing I liked to do just because my husband/boyfriend asked me not to. He would seriously have another thing coming! If I want to wear mascara then I will!
    What a doormat, that girl..

  • Dickie

    More men are needed to post about this. You may think that certain physically unattractive features in your man are OK…like a big belly, no hair, overweight, etc. Fine, whatever. That’s not true for men. How we feel about our women is strongly correlated with desire to put it in them. My woman starts putting on a couple of pounds…the big guy below my belt isn’t so excited. And I can’t really make him want to stand at attention unless I imagine another woman on or below me. Is that what women want us to do? That’s why a BJ from a fatty is the way to go…limited physical interaction with the extra bonus that she can’t talk.

  • A guy

    I know this is an older article, but since this topic is always relevant, I just wanted to say: Thanks for understanding the male perspective on this! Far too many articles and debates on this are usually about how men must always love his partners appearance now matter how far she lets herself go, while – at the same time – reading about how women try to change their partners, personalitywise or physically. I’m in this exact situation now.

    It has nothing to do with loving her less or anything like that, I just wish she could reciprocate my efforts to look good and stay fit for her. I’m going to the gym nearly every day – at least 5-6 times a week, and do diets to stay toned. I always have well defined abs, pecs and the other features my wife appreciates – and have asked for – and have even received a modeling offer. I probably sound shallow, but that’s not the case, all my efforts are to look perfect to my wife only. I don’t expect her to look like a model either, I don’t even expect her to have a flat stomach, but it would be nice to see her lose some weight because she’s overweight now. Any tips how to talk to her would be appreciated