Weight loss can affect every relationship in your life, from even the most casual acquaintances, to best friends, to co-workers, family members and even spouses. The effects can be positive or negative. I feel blessed in that I feel my weight loss has not come between me and my friends, acquaintances or co-workers or family. It has opened doors of conversation that were not present prior to my weight loss. I feel it has enhanced most relationships and added new dimensions to others. This isn’t always the case. Some that I know have lost best friends and even spouses over their weight loss.
Elizabeth Bernstein, who writes the Bonds Column for the Wall Street Journal, looked closely at the effects of weight loss on marriage relationships. The Schow’s are one of her case studies.
Jarom and Betsy Schow have been married for over 12 years and their biggest marriage/relationship conflict was centered around Betsy’s weight. But the Schow’s marriage improved in the face of the wife’s weight loss. Weight is a difficult subject in any relationship and even rougher in a marriage. Jarom had often said things to Betsy like “That’s not made for your size, Sweetheart” in an effort to get her to change her outfit. Yes there were arguments, many. Betsy stopped going to family dinners with Jarom and slept in separate bedrooms. She obsessed about her weight but nothing changed.
A turning point came one night after Betsy threatened divorce and didn’t leave but she kept on obsessing about her weight. Jarom felt if he could calm her down and get her to feeling better they could work toward a resolution. One night her husband quietly said to her as she was talking obsessively about her weight yet again “Turn off your thinker and go back to sleep.” This seemed to change things for Betsy, she stopped extreme dieting and instead focused on watching her portions and getting some exercise. She even began to take up running in time. After she lost 75 pounds, they began hiking and biking together. Betsy noticed that her excess weight wasn’t a focus point in their marriage any longer. She felt she had made the issue bigger than it needed to be and Jarom and Betsy, together, they felt they had been given an opportunity to change the discussion. Before they were in an endless loop of ‘I am fat.’ ‘No, you aren’t” and now they could discuss things from a much more calm place. Mrs. Schow stated, “As I started to fix myself, I stopped fighting myself, so I stopped fighting him, too.”
We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.