The success of your marriage could boil down to one thing: Your waistline! Researchers studied hundreds of couples and found that when the wife is overweight and the husband is at a healthy weight, couples have a lot more relationship conflicts and anger issues. That’s compared to couples with similar body types, or when the husband is overweight and the wife isn’t.

This was all reported in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. But it was a chicken-and-the-egg situation for the researchers. They weren’t sure which came first: If the wives gained weight because of the conflict in their marriages – or if the weight was the source of the conflict. But here’s what they did find out: There was a lot of shame involved. The women reported feeling judged by their husbands, unworthy, unattractive, and when they would reach out to their husbands for a mood boost, it only made things worse. Saying things like, “Do you still find me attractive?” or “Do I look fat?” only resulted in more negative feelings.

And couples had the most problems when they shared meals together. For instance if the husband prepared something healthy, the wife might think – ‘he’s only doing that because he thinks I’m fat.’ The weight disparity also distanced them – they didn’t enjoy doing the same things together and spent more time apart. As a result, there was less intimacy and the couples crumbled.

So, after all that depressing information, is there a way to save a lopsided-weight relationship? Yes – be supportive. But that doesn’t mean being the other person’s weight loss coach. Ask them if you can tackle it together. And do things together, too. If the husband is a marathoner, take it down a notch and go for walks with your wife. It won’t kill you not to train at a high intensity, but not spending time together will kill your relationship. So, take the focus off of weight and put it back on your relationship.

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