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How to Tell Your Husband/Wife That They Are Getting Fat

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Feeling compelled to tell someone that they're packing on the pounds is never a comfortable situation to find yourself in, especially if you're married to that person. A lot of emotion and esteem issues are rolled into how we perceive our own weight and it causes each of us to feel we must tread carefully when bringing up the topic out of concern for the health of a loved one.

However, the reality is that in many cases, letting your spouse know he or she is becoming overweight can save their life or at the very least, improve their quality of life. Many serious diseases ranging from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and stroke are linked directly to obesity, while being overweight can curtail the enjoyment of many activities as well as being a source of health risks. While it won’t be easy to tell your spouse to slow down on the cookie consumption, it could save his or her life and thanks to your intervention and support, a happier, more energetic and healthier person may emerge.


  1. 1
    Begin the dialog earlier rather than later. Although everyone’s weight may fluctuate, don’t wait until your spouse has put on so much weight that weight loss may involve medical intervention. If your spouse has put on 10 to 15 pounds and doesn’t seem to be trying to lose the weight, now is the time to intervene.
    • The very best moment to begin it is when your spouse complains about it for any reason, whether that's trouble putting on an old pair of pants or doesn't like how they look standing in front of the mirror. That's when you're both on the same page about it.
  2. 2
    Approach the matter with care and consideration––whatever the reason for putting on weight, it's important to be considerate of your spouse's feelings when raising the matter. Start by asking your spouse how he or she is feeling. Never just blurt out to your spouse “you are fat”. Your spouse relies on you to care about them and if your spouse feels that this is an attack on his or her appearance from the one person he or she can truly trust, it will be devastating. Instead, approach the issue as one of a concern for health, energy levels and vitality of life and make it about exploring the issue together, as a team effort.
    • Set aside a quiet and private time to talk. Broach the topic by telling your spouse that you're concerned about his or her health.
    • Be conscious that your spouse might not view the weight gain in the same light as you. Your spouse is likely to be aware that his or her clothes don't fit as they used to but may not treat the issue as seriously as you do. It could be a wake-up call for your spouse that you do see this as a major health issue.
    • Aim to get to the root of the problem so you can properly address the weight gain. If you believe that the problem stems from mental distress, support your spouse to seek medical help. If it's work stress, have a real heart-to-heart about what your spouse wants to do about his or her job, such as seeking changes within the work or quitting and looking for a different job.
  3. 3
    Suggest a medical evaluation. Be sure to have your spouse's weight and BMI (body mass index) checked at the doctor's before making assumptions. Ask your spouse about his or her last medical check up––if he or she hasn’t seen a doctor and had blood work done in the past year, suggest he or she schedules one so you can eliminate a hidden medical problem.
    • Sometimes weight gain may be a chemical or hormonal imbalance. After childbirth some women may experience thyroid problems, which are linked to unexplained weight gain and medication may resolve the weight gain issue.
    • Sometimes weight gain may be due to unacknowledged sources such as work pressures (stress), depression or anxiety. Weight gain can also be a response to loss, such as caused by grieving a family member or friend who has died or as a result of losing work. And other possibilities include illness or a change of diet that hasn't been thought through carefully. Talking to a health professional can help sort out mental health issues as well as physical ones.
  4. 4
    Consider obstacles at home. Part of being supportive is about acknowledging your own input into the weight gain. If you're someone who can eat almost anything and never put on weight or you exercise a lot and watch what you eat, it's not necessarily going to be the same for your spouse. On the other hand, if you're encouraging your spouse to be less active, this can be contributing to his or her weight gain too.
    • Do you buy a lot of junk food or practice slothful behavior? If your spouse is being sabotaged by your bad habits you may be creating roadblocks to health and well-being.
    • Examine the household schedule. Are each of you making time for sit-down home-cooked family dinners? Are each of you exercising every single day? Is health a priority for your entire family or is everyone running around too busy to make time for their own health?
  5. 5
    Help your spouse to create a healthy exercise routine. Don't assume anything though; be sure to ask your spouse if he or she feels that embarking upon a new nutritional and fitness plan would make him or her feel better and provide more energy. Bolster your own belief that this will be beneficial by providing some reliable sources for your spouse to check out online or in books, whichever way your spouse prefers learning.
    • If you have a mobile electronic device, download a fitness app and a food diary. These can be easy and fun ways to help your spouse keep track of the things to do to stay fit and to monitor food intake. Plus, you can offer to do the same and share results and updates regularly.
  6. 6
    Follow your own advice and be engaged in your spouse's shape-up. If your spouse appears to be interested in getting healthy, lead by example if you're not already doing so. Make it your priority to get healthy too, even if you are able to eat junk food and stay slim and healthy. If you already eat a clean, lean diet and exercise at least five days a week, share your habits more obviously with your spouse by engaging them in the cooking, shopping, exercising or other elements that will help bring about a better understanding of creating a healthier lifestyle.
    • Invite your spouse along to exercise outside or at the gym. Introduce your favorite fitness routine to your spouse––he or she may love it as much as you.
    • Embark upon physical activities that you can do together or as a family. Take up jogging and enter some local races together, join an adult soccer or baseball team or try tennis.
    • List the types of foods you both enjoy and pursue healthy ways to cook those foods. Take a cooking class at your local fitness club or hospital and discover new ways to make healthy foods taste delicious.
    • Remove all obstacles at home like junk food. It’s a lot harder to gain weight if you don’t have the kinds of foods that pack on the pounds.
  7. 7
    Encourage your entire household to cook and eat healthy. One of the best ways to lose weight is to fuel your body with healthy foods. Educate yourself, your spouse and other family members about which types of foods will boost your metabolism and provide energy throughout the day. Be aware that the help of a doctor is a good idea, as different people have different needs dependent on health, metabolism and stage of life.
    • Learn about portion sizes and what is a healthy, normal amount and what is outrageous. In the USA, MyPlate is a great place to start and similar initiatives are available through many other government health departments around the world.
    • Instead of having three big meals, consider preparing six or seven smaller meals to keep blood sugar levels even and cravings at bay. This doesn't work for everyone but if it helps your family, then it's a great way to stretch out healthy eating during the day. If diabetes or other health problems are an issue, talk to your doctor before changing your diet drastically.
    • Experiment with different types of spices and herbs to add flavor and excitement to healthy food without adding calories. Beware any that contain MSG and artificial additives though; keep all flavorings as unadulterated and unprocessed as possible.
    • Cut back on eating out. While convenient, eating in restaurants more than once a week can quickly pack on the pounds since you don’t know how the food is being prepared and the exact number of calories you are eating.
    • Encourage a home-based lunch initiative. Have the whole family sit down and select favorite healthy lunch options that can be made at home and taken to work, college, school, etc. Then ensure that the ingredients are always available and have a shared lunch-making session every morning to speed things up. This will spare everyone from the temptation of fattening take outs at lunchtime.
  8. 8
    Celebrate victories. Don’t forget to celebrate even the smallest victories. If your spouse loses two pounds in one week, go to the movies together or treat your spouse to a manicure or massage. Mark each victory with a celebration so that she or he knows that you're truly rooting for their success. Other ways to celebrate include:
    • Take the family to the beach or the park for the afternoon.
    • See a play or go to a concert.
    • Write your spouse a love letter telling him or her how proud you are of his or her success. Or simply tell explain how much you love him or her.
    • Purchase a new piece of (smaller sized) clothing for your spouse from a favorite brand.
    • Bring him or her home flowers, a favorite author's new book or other non-food treats.

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  • The easiest way is to reverse priorities between a healthy but expensive treat and an unhealthy cheap treat. Having a fast food dinner once a month starts to make it a treat that's anticipated. Having it daily will make you fat and get boring. Understand what you're eating and prioritize high-calorie treats to have them less often and enjoy them thoroughly when you do. Once a year the person ought to be able to eat anything they want, say, on their birthday. Habits of eating smaller meals is going to limit the "Birthday gorge" in quantity anyway if they ate well all year first.
  • If your spouse is within normal weight range, encourage healthy eating and fitness, but don’t push him or her to lose more weight. Aim for maintenance of good habits instead, as a lifestyle approach to health.
  • Be gentle and supportive throughout the journey. If your spouse falls off the wagon, continue to encourage healthy eating and exercise the following day as if nothing happened. Don’t berate them or get upset; changing eating and lifestyle habits takes time and patience.
  • Periodic starvation dieting can cause permanent weight gain, as the body's metabolism switches to more efficient digestion and hoarding all calorie intake in fat cells. Sometimes a person on a starvation diet will actually gain one or two pounds a week but have little energy and lose muscle. This is why "rapid weight loss" dieting is a bad idea. One or two pounds a week lost is a stable, healthy pace worth celebrating over every pound.
  • Gradual, sustainable habit changes are more effective than rigid dieting. Add a healthier food in small portions, then gradually higher portions for about a month to get used to the new food. Drastically changing everything a person eats will give them two or three months of miserable digestive symptoms - diarrhea, constipation, gas, cramps. This doesn't encourage them to stick to a good new regimen, it's doing it the hard way.
  • People who quit smoking gain about ten pounds on average.
  • Many, many health conditions cause uncontrollable weight gain. Side effects from prescription medications in many categories, underlying diseases, heredity, a lot of factors can cause sudden or gradual weight gain. Fighting it by diet and exercise helps but may not be enough. Try to find out about these things, especially check the pill bottles for whether weight gain is a listed side effect.
  • Women who breast feed their infants take off pregnancy weight fast, often without conscious effort. Women who bottle feed their infants face a biological reaction that the body piles on the pounds to feed the next baby, it's as if her fat cells don't realize the baby's alive. So if you are the husband of a woman who chose bottle feeding, be very gentle and supportive as she struggles to take off the weight - it's an uphill battle for her and she's going to have a harder time than most people.
  • The very best time to bring it up is to watch for the exact moment when your spouse complains about it, whether that's about older clothes not fitting or losing breath coming up the stairs or any other inconvenience caused by him-her having gained weight. That's the moment they're on the same page about it and your research and support may turn a moment's irritation into a serious plan.
  • Men have a similar uphill battle around age 25 to 30, there's a metabolic shift from a high-energy young body that can eat anything and burn it off in heavy activity to the solid girth of mature male. That's also when a spare tire may form over the increased muscle. It's not something that can be prevented, it's maturity. Women get this to some degree too but most have kids before it's an age related shift.
  • Visit the library and borrow reputed books on weight loss, fitness, healthy lifestyle habits, etc. and leave them around for your spouse to read. Be sure to read some too, so that you can help make suggestions.


  • Never use vanity as a reason to encourage weight loss. Focusing on appearance will cause your spouse to wonder why you find this aspect more important than your spouse's well-being and it can cause emotionally scarring, long-lasting friction in your relationship.
  • Watch for signs of obsessive behavior such as over exercising or self starvation. The emotional impact of having a spouse raise weight concerns might cause some people to over-respond in an unhealthy way, fearing loss of the less weighty spouse. Reassure your spouse often that you love him or her that you're supportive. Get help immediately if your spouse begins to drop too much weight too quickly.
  • If one or two serious discussions about weight concerns reveal that your spouse is offended at the idea, does not want to manage his-her weight, has no interest in preventive health activities and despises the gym, GIVE UP! Do not ever nag, berate or shame your spouse over his or her weight. This only wrecks the relationship and makes it even less likely he or she will ever want to do something about it.

Things You'll Need

  • Weight loss books and websites
  • Healthy food in the house
  • Exercise gear (optional, dependent on exercise chosen)

Article Info

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Categories: Featured Articles | Marriage Issues

In other languages:

Español: decirle a tu pareja que está engordando, Русский: сказать мужу или жене, что он или она толстеет, Deutsch: Teile deinem Ehegatten mit, dass er dick wird, Italiano: Dire a Tuo Marito o Tua Moglie che Sta Ingrassando, Português: Dizer ao seu Marido ou Esposa que Ele(a) Está Engordando, Français: dire à votre mari ou à votre femme qu'il ou elle prend de l'embonpoint, Bahasa Indonesia: Memberi Tahu Pasangan Anda bahwa Ia Semakin Gemuk

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