What do you do when your spouse needs to lose weight–but they just won’t?

On Mondays I like to take a reader question and take a stab at answering it, and today’s is unique because it wasn’t a question exactly but a comment that a reader left on the blog in November that inspired this whole series.

She was talking about how her husband was so heavy that their marriage was missing out on passion and excitement that it could have had, not just because of sex, but also because he was lethargic and tired all the time. And so that’s what I decided to dedicate my Wednesdays series in January to (though I’m obviously talking about it not just on Wednesdays as well!).

What do you do when your spouse needs to lose weight--but they just won't?Click To Tweet

I really got thinking about this in Costa Rica, where I saw this plant (and I talked about this in my original post last Thursday):

Living life to the fullest--what a poinsetta plant should look like

This is what a poinsettia is supposed to look like, when it’s in its proper environment. But here in Canada, we buy these tiny spindly poinsettias around Christmas that lose all their leaves, because they don’t have what they need to thrive.

Many of us are living lives that are much smaller than they need to be because we’re not giving ourselves the resources and environment we need to thrive.

And quite often that’s because of our weight.

Many of us are living lives that are much smaller than they need to be because we're not giving ourselves the resources and environment we need to thrive. And quite often that's because of our weight.Click To Tweet

Here’s part of what my reader said:

reader question icon - What to Do When Your Spouse Won't Get Healthy

Reader Question

As the wife of a morbidly obese man, I mourn when the Bible says things like Proverbs 5:18 “… rejoice in the wife of your youth” (or husband of your youth, in our cases). Or when the Song of Solomon talks about all the wonder physical attributes that the wife/husband enjoys in the other… how taken they are with the other’s physical attributes. It just makes me so sad to know that, by the time he loses the weight if that day ever even comes at all, he/we won’t be young and youthful and attractive like we are/were/could have been in the years wasted. Youth is such a fleeting thing, and such a precious time to spend with your spouse since you’ll always have the (hopefully passionate, romantic) memories you made together during those fun, youthful, passionate, energetic years before children and stress and aging started taking their toll on you both. That’s not to say that sex and marriage as you age isn’t also wonderful cuz I know it is/can be. But there’s something special about when you’re young, so special that even the Bible points to it on multiple occasions. It just makes me feel sad and mournful and gypped that I won’t be experiencing that youthful passion since my husband is so fat and lazy in so many areas of his life, particularly sexually.

I know that this is such a frustrating issue for so many spouses, and I talked about it in today’s Ask Sheila video:

When Your Spouse Won't Lose Weight and your Husband is Too Fat

A few thoughts from the video:

You can’t make your husband lose weight

Nagging won’t do it. Reminding them of their goals won’t do it. A person can only change themselves; you can’t do it for them.

You can, however, control what food is in your house.

Cookies, chips, pop, candy, junk food in general–there is no need to ever have any of that in the house. Even if your kids like it, they would be better off to not have it. And if you don’t eat it at home, then when you do go out, it can be more of a treat. And it’s okay to see those things as treats.

You can also make sure that you cook healthy meals (whether you’re the husband or the wife). If your spouse is obese, maybe you should take over the cooking for the family! There’s an awesome deal going on right now with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle, where you get over $1000 of recipes and meal planning resources for just $37, along with shopping lists, prep lists, and more. It can help you get on the road to healthy without having to do too much research of your own. But the deal ends at midnight tonight!

What if your spouse eats out for breakfast and/or lunch?

You can pack him or her a lunch. And if you know that they’re eating out for breakfast, then you can adjust the calories that go into dinner to compensate.

Think about budgets!

Also, eating out costs a lot of money, especially over the year. If you calculate roughly how much money your spouse spends on eating out, then why don’t you offer this challenge:

If you can spend half of that this year, then we can buy a big ticket item that he wants. Maybe it’s something that you definitely don’t want (like a 4-wheeler, or a new hunting rifle, or something like that), but if it’s a big motivator, why not do it? Just go to a cash budget, leave the debit card at home, and then stick to your budget for eating out.

You can also influence outputs

Start going for a walk after dinner. Take up some active hobby, like cross country skiing. Or even buy your husband a Fitbit! Many men react well to them, because it’s kind of like a competition. Try to get your steps in for the day! And maybe your husband can even pace at work while he’s on the phone (if he has that kind of job) instead of sitting all day.

Those are just some thoughts, but I’ve written about this before:

I hope that helps!

And I just want to reassure you who are dealing with this, this is a legitimate issue. You don’t have to feel guilty for being upset if your spouse is very unhealthy. But at some point you’re going to have to give it to God. Do what you can. Try to keep having fun together. Be a good example. And pray hard.

And do check out the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle! You won’t get a chance after midnight tonight, and it is a great resource.

Healthy Meal Planning Bundle

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