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Weighed Down

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I have a friend whose husband said he would divorce her if her weight ever reached Pretty Big Number (PBN). The woman in question is five feet tall, currently weighs 110, and is in relative control of her health. There's no immediate sign that she plans to reach PBN, nor do any factors indicate she's on her way there. Sure, she has gained The Newlywed 15 since the pair married four years ago, but that's no major offense considering she lost weight for the wedding. Her husband dropped the maybe-in-the-future d-bomb, it would seem, with no rational provocation.

Okay, this woman is totally me.

When John first announced his new-found clause to our union as we sat watching What's Eating Gilbert Grape? -- I'll allow that this was his irrational provocation -- I thought he was just being immature.

"Don't worry," he told me when I protested. "I'd get you help if you were ever approaching that point."

I left the room and, admittedly one prone to drama, stewed. The longer I stewed, the more disenchanted I became. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, according to a 2011 Reuters article, shows that 61.6% of American adults are overweight, and there is no guarantee that I won't ever join them. Did that really make me disposable? What would John even check on the divorce papers: "Other: Too Much Junk In The Trunk"?

You're overreacting, I told myself. Find a voice of reason. I called a friend, who promptly suggested a counter-attack.

"Tell him if he loses all his hair, you'll divorce him," she told me. The knowledge that his father currently sports and his maternal grandfather, up until his recent death, sported thick locks helped persuade me otherwise. I hung up more frustrated.

I sat in the kitchen with my laptop -- snacking on Pirate's Booty, no less -- and poked around online. I remembered reading an article a year earlier about a couple in New York City who had signed a pre-nup agreement involving weight. My coworkers and I had all laughed at the couple, called them weird. But a quick Google search now showed that it wasn't quite as strange as we had originally thought. Countless articles, blog entries, and discussion boards about marriage and weight sprung up. There were even plentiful examples of legal language couples could include in their pre-nups. I got so caught up in this underground world that my initial disgust numbed.

The more I read, the more I began to see John's side. Whether voiced or not -- to a partner or even to oneself -- every person in a relationship has a deal breaker, one action or inaction that, if gone unresolved, signals a relationship's demise. Maybe it's net worth or ability to have kids or geographic preference. One of my friends dumped her boyfriend of six years because he didn't want to get a dog. For me, it's cheating. For John, it's weight. PBN of weight, to be exact.

By the time I finished the bag of Pirate's Booty, I downright appreciated John's candor. I didn't like the idea of divorce on the table, of course, even if it was a fictitious unraveling centered around a reality that might never materialize, but it would be naïve to live in a fairytale land filled with rainbows and sunshine. We never kept secrets from each other. This was just another way of not keeping a secret.

I sat back down next to John on the couch. He was still watching Gilbert Grape.

"I get it," I told him. "You're entitled to your deal breaker. Let's just hope our deals don't get broken." And with that, we settled it.

Well, almost. I still had to tell him that I'd eaten all his Pirate's Booty.

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