Love and your waistline: can a happy marriage make you fat?

People spend all their lives looking for the “one” but little do they know it could come at a heavy price, literally

Racha Adib

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People spend all their lives looking for the “one” but little do they know it could come at a heavy price, literally. A study by Southern Methodist University in Dallas followed 160 couples and found a surprising correlation between saying your “I do’s” and weight gain. In contrast, couples who weren’t satisfied in the relationship tended to put on less weight.

The idea that you let yourself go and gain weight after you get married is nothing new, but the statistics show that satisfaction is positively associated with weight gain. In other words, the more the couples were happy in their marriage, the more they piled on the pounds. According to the findings, newlyweds who entered marital bliss gained an average of two kilograms a year. In an Ohio state university study that followed 10,000 people over 22 years, women put the most weight on immediately after their weddings. Most of the time women regained the weight they lost before marriage. Another reason is all the new responsibilities they take on after marriage.

Another study found that those who were dating were the thinnest. Those not dating but single were heavier and married people were the heaviest. While researchers don’t know exactly why married couples tend to gain weight, it may have to do with the “marriage market” theory. According to this theory, unmarried people often spend a lot of time keeping fit and making themselves attractive in order to find a partner. Married people may work out less because they’re no longer concerned about looking good enough to attract a mate. On the other hand, divorce was associated with shedding the pounds because they were back on the dating market.

According to a poll of 1,000 people in the UK, the main reason couples gained weight was the amount of time they spent sitting on the couch, snacking together and watching TV. Child birth is another factor, with women in particular blaming this for weight gain. Men just followed through on the weight gain because their eating habits mirrored their partner’s. Almost half of those polled said “comfort” was a significant factor in their weight gain after finding happiness.

What is also striking about the research is how married men and women’s weight tends to go up in unison. This means marriage can also work in your favor. When a person goes on a diet it also helps encourage the other spouse to lean towards a healthier lifestyle as well.

How to stay healthy when you’re happily married

Instead of waiting until you get home and asking each other, “what are we having for dinner?” work on pre-planning your meals. Go shopping for healthy items over the weekend to last you the whole week. Look up easy to prepare healthy recipes that you both enjoy.

Married couples tend to eat out more often. Instead of making your outings revolve around food, look for activities such as biking, hiking or taking a walk in the park. Set them over the weekend, when you are most likely to eat heavy food. That way you’ll feel guilty splurging after a great workout.

And if your partner is not on board, don’t feel guilty about taking some time off for workout alone. Your partner will most likely get encouraged and follow through.

When you need some motivation, remember how light and fit you once were. One of the reasons you got together is your attraction to one other and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Also remember that your children will mirror your eating habits one day. Be the first to take the initiative and make healthy eating and exercise a priority and the rest of the family will do the same.