A study published in the December issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reports that mixed-weight couples – one partner is average weight whereas the other partner is overweight – not only argue more than same-weight couples, but have more feelings of anger and resentment towards each other, as well. These negative feelings can cause problems both with intimacy and communication in a relationship or marriage.
In an online survey on TODAY.com, 55 percent of the 1,500 participants said weight differences have caused problems in their relationships.
In the article, one mixed-weight couple from Utah was profiled. The woman in the relationship had weight problems her whole life, with her weight yo-yoing up and down. She met her future husband while at college during a “skinny period” in her life. However, the “skinny period” did not last, as, by the time of their wedding, she had gained twenty-five pounds and five years after their marriage, her weight was up to 220 pounds.
Both partners were unhappy with the wife’s weight, but it was the wife’s unhappiness with her weight gain that strained the couple’s marriage to the point they were contemplating divorce. Everything was centered around her weight; what they would eat; what activities they could do together; what clothes she would wear; and even whether or not they would appear together in public because she felt her husband was embarrassed by her appearance.
Researchers state that it is hard to determine which comes first in a mixed-weight relationship; conflict or weight gain, as stress over weight problems tends to lead to overeating. Experts do agree that one important key for success in a mixed-weight relationship is for the “normal weight” partner to never be verbally abusive by stating cruel remarks about his partner’s weight. Another important key to encouraging weight loss and healthy eating, is for both partners to work together without causing feelings of anger or/and resentment in the overweight partner in the relationship. Working as a team supports the overweight partner and assists in easing feelings of anger, resentment and frustration and thus helps the couple create a more successful, happy relationship.