A headline two years ago grabbed my attention and probably a few others': Being Fat Ended My Marriage.
In the Ladies Home Journal article, the author, "Jane," detailed how she put on 40 pounds after childbirth and was never quite able to shed them. Her husband, "Robert," withdrew emotionally and physically and after two years of counseling and a few separations, they divorced.
Of course, after the divorce, Jane lost most of those 40 pounds -- and promptly found a new husband.
That's a rather typical story. A lot of women gain weight when they get married; in fact, they're more at risk for obesity just by shacking up. Men do, too, but they don't gain as much as women do. And researchers have found that after divorce, most go back to their pre-marriage weight. The Divorce Diet isn't pretty, but it works!
So why don't people just lose the darn weight while they're married? I don't know, but some would-be spouses aren't going to leave it up to chance: they've put weight restrictions in their prenups.
Which begs the question -- if your spouse got fat, would you split?
Is weight a valid reason to get divorced?
It's enough to keep British writer Samantha Beck fit. Her French husband, Pascal "knows what I weigh, will comment on the weight I put on (in front of friends and family, too) and will discuss my figure appreciatively (or not). ... Pascal absolutely believes that my becoming a 'fat wife' would be grounds for divorce."
Well, we always knew the French were different.
As a sometime reader of advice columnists, I have often come upon letters -- usually from the husband -- complaining about his wife's weight. He's not attracted to her sexually anymore and he mentions (hopefully delicately) something about her weight to her, which makes her angry and defensive, and so he pulls away emotionally and physically, which makes her feel worse about herself so she eats more and then gains more weight, which turns him off even more ... it's a downward spiral that most likely ends up in divorce anyway.
Most couples fight about money, sex, chores and children, but weight often factors into those issues. And just like a couple needs to be in tune with how they'll raise their children and spend or save their money, they probably need to be like-minded when it comes to diet, health and fitness.
Of course, weight falls under the "for better, for worse, in sickness and in health" statement. But we'd surely say something if our spouse became anorexic or bulimic. Becoming fat is just as dangerous and unhealthy, so why is it such a hot-button issue?
I do have to wonder about how that fat-clause prenup would work, though: Do you wait until she's breaking the scale and slap her with divorce papers? Or do you say something as she starts adding on the pounds, which has its own problems because many women -- obviously not French women -- get really upset when their sweetie calls them on their weight. "I'm still the same person inside. Why is he so shallow? Why can't he love me as I am?"
And, yes -- there are many men out there who get fat, too.
Still, if I were Jane's first hubby, I'd feel a bit pimped; obviously she could lose that weight.
The odd thing is, while their marital problems seemed to start when "Robert" became distant, ultimately they were divorcing about her weight.
Maybe that prenup clause isn't such a bad idea after all.