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Q&A: When Your Spouse's Weight Turns You Off

Dealing with a large weight gain in your spouse.
By Dennis and Barbara Rainey


My husband has gained a very unattractive amount of weight. It really turns me off. Before we were married, he was real committed to losing weight and keeping it off, but at some point he gave up. What do you do when you have absolutely no attraction to your husband?

Dennis: There are a couple sides to this issue. On one hand, it's not wrong for a woman to want her husband to look attractive. For that matter, both husbands or wives ought not to feel guilty for being "jealous" in the best sense of that word that their spouse continue to cultivate the sense of attractiveness that helped create the romance in their relationship to begin with.

Barbara: This is a difficult problem because weight is an important issue for physical health and for healthy relationships. An important ingredient of any marriage is the need for husbands and wives to please each other. They should learn what pleases the other person, and then seek to do it. Obviously a husband can't lose weight overnight, but if he is seeking to please his wife, then he can make an effort to look sharp and attractive.

At the same time, we live in a very image-oriented culture, where sexual attraction is so often tied to physical appearance. Weight does matter, but there are other issues more important in a person's life than the external appearance.

I would pray that God would help you focus on the things that matter most-your husband's spiritual maturity and his leadership of the family and the marriage, character, faithfulness at work and at home-all those kinds of issues. If the relationship is healthy and he is meeting your needs and encouraging you and loving you and you are focusing on what is most important, I think the old statement, "Love is blind" is true. This doesn't have to get in the way.

Then, I would pray that the Lord would grant you opportunities to express how you feel in a gentle and supportive way. Ask if there is anything you can do to help.

Dennis: Find a way to communicate this value to your husband-whether by letter, over a cup of coffee, a date night, etc., and let him know how important this is to you as a person. I would also challenge you with Proverbs 4:23, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." Ask God to not let you become embittered toward your husband. Don't become preoccupied with the negative, but give him some grace, and love him. One of the things that I fear for any relationship is a critical spirit. It will destroy romance; a marriage; and a family.

Barbara: A similar problem occurs when a wife gains weight, especially from childbirth. She may feel unattractive or even rejected because her husband may not be initiating romance as he was before.

Dennis: Often it can take a year to work that weight off, and with each child the weight comes off slower each time. A husband needs to be patient and verbally express his love and affection for his wife.

Barbara: The husband needs to follow the same advice we just gave the wife. He needs to look at his attitude, at what is most important.

Dennis: Husbands and wives both need to step out as an act of their will and seek to meet each other's needs. A husband needs to care for his wife and live with her in an understanding way.

My final thought is that there are a number of weight loss programs available, most of which don't work in the long run-a person loses weight but then ends up putting it back on, plus more. To me, if you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off for the long haul, something has to be changed at the very core about the way you think about food. Find a weight loss program that takes people through a biblical process of committing that aspect of your life to the Lord and ask Him to give you strength and wisdom.

Copyright ©2002 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

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