Your Spouse is Getting Healthier, So Why Aren't You Happy?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Are you threatened by the lifestyle change your spouse has made? Have you ever said things to your spouse about their lifestyle change that have made him/her feel bad?

I have to tell this story that really happened just a few weeks ago.  I was having a discussion with a friend we’ll call Sam about my transformation and lifestyle change.  He had a lot of questions, which I was happy to answer.  But I wasn’t sure where he was going with this line of questions. 

Finally, we came to the point of his inquiry.  He told me about a mutual friend of ours (we'll call him Bob), who is morbidly obese.  I had seen Bob myself recently and honestly his poor health broke my heart.   Sam told me that Bob had been working on his health a few years back.  He had been going to the gym and was trying to eat better.  I was super excited to hear this, but I had to ask why he stopped.  Apparently he was making some progress and had lost just enough weight for it to be noticeable.  That’s when the support at home ended!  
Bob’s wife had told him she was worried that he was going to lose weight, get sexy and leave her.  You can probably guess what he did.  He stopped going to the gym and gave up any progress that he had made and gained back all of his weight if not more.

This story is devastating to me, absolutely devastating.  The more I think about it, the more frustrated I get.  I’m confused about why Bob didn’t talk with his wife about the situation to ease her fears.  Why didn’t he explain that he was doing it to be a better husband to her?  I’m confused about why she would completely sabotage his progress like that. Would she rather see him dead?

I suppose situations like this happen more often than I would like to think: spouses (or other loved ones) sabotaging each other for the sake of their own insecurities.  Anybody trying to change their life could deal with this at some point of their journey.
So how do we deal with this when it happens?

As SparkPeople always suggests, before you begin any physical fitness program, seek your doctor’s approval.  That way, you and those around you will know how bad your health really is, and maybe the support will be there, right?  If Bob’s wife really knew all that his body is going through just to make it through each day, and how sad reality of where he is headed if he continues to neglect his health, maybe she would support him.

I would like to suggest to you today that you get your entire family involved in this journey to health. You will find so many rewards with the entire family on the journey with you.
How do we get the entire family involved?  Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Talk with your spouse about your plans.  Be HONEST with yourself first and foremost, then be honest with your spouse.  Be HONEST about how you feel inside.  Be HONEST if you are unhappy with the way you look and the way you feel.  Talk about where you want to be and how you want to get there together.  Communicate these plans up front so everybody is on the same page.  Rely on each other, rely on your children (if you have any) to hold you accountable.  Getting your plans out in the open is the absolute best way to start this journey!
  2. Trips to the grocery store – take the entire family.  Start looking at labels for ingredients; share this with your spouse and kiddos.  Teach your children and each other what the healthier choice is.  This step has the added benefit of spending time together.  Sometimes my wife would rather I not be with them, simply because I’m always causing some commotion at the store.  Singing, dancing, you name it, we do it, and we have fun doing it!
  3. Work out together – side by side when possible.  I know that not all workouts can be done like this, BUT make an effort.  If there are kids in the home, get them involved as well when possible.  Let them see the effort you are putting toward a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Make it FUN – It is a journey that lasts the rest of your life, ENJOY IT.
I wonder if I shared these ideas with Bob, would it could have an impact on his approach to regaining his health and easing his wife’s fears?  I have to wonder whether Bob’s wife would join him. I wonder if, when told the gravity of the problem, would she be onboard with the changes?

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JERSEYGIRL24 4/27/2020
I can more than relate. Bottom line, my husband does not support me. He does to some degree, but not consistently. A few years ago I had lost some weight, and a female relative complimented me. It was obvious DH was not comfortable. I am not sure if it was because he wants the compliments himself (overall he is thinner than I am, which is not saying much, and his weight is definitely too high right now) or because he is afraid that I will become attractive to other men if I get too hot. Believe me, it would take a lot for that too happen. Either way, it definitely shows insecurity. But I just wish he would not insist on high-calorie meals and would perhaps be happy, not jealous, if I did lose weight. Report
HONEY333 4/18/2020
How true. When trying to eat better , friends and relatives bring you cookies or candy suddenly. Sure makes it hard Report
MUSICNUT 12/12/2019
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Last time I checked if you die because of obesity and badd health there's only rule in a casket for one person. I think it's incredibly sad that someone would sacrifice someone's health for their own insecurities but I've seen it and not just in the spouse dynamic. I have seen parents encourage their children to keep eating knowing that they have issues. I have also seen people support other people's drug habits knowing that the drugs are gonna kill them so at the end of the day you came into this life as a single person and you're going to leave it that way. So you have to do the best that you can for yourself and if someone can't love you at all of your weights then maybe that person isnt for you. Report
good article Report
Though my spouse supports me in eating healthy and doing exercise, he rarely participates of it. He's an exercise freak, 3 to 5 hours cycling outdoors and who naturally do not crave sweets or carbs... Quite the opposite. His example sometimes infuriates me! lol Report
Reading this makes me even more happy I'm single Report
It needs to be BOTH people. Report
I have known some successful couples who got healthier together. It was like being members of the same church, it made their relationships better. Report
I have a halfhearted spouse when it comes to supporting me. It makes me sad. He seems so concerned that the changes I am making will translate into his not getting to eat everything he wants to eat. He's never had a weight problem and he works out 2 hours a day. He will go for walks with me, so that's good. He doesn't like me to spend time on Spark People but I told him I need to do it for me. I guess that if I stay strong eventually he'll get it. It's just not how I had hoped things would be. Report
My husband knows I am doing this for my health, and for us as a couple. Frankly, intimacy is better when you're in shape! And we could do more together, I can't hike or bike anymore at this weight.
I do talk to him about sabotage, he does it unintentionally. He is one of those hyperactive skinny types who can have 10,000 calories a day and just burn it off. He just sleeps less and less, we know because a nutritionist tried to fatten him up in the hospital. 10k calories a day for 48 days, he didn't gain an ounce (everyone hate him for a moment). He forgets I don't burn calories as efficiently, I have to remind him about veggies and portions when he cooks, and that I need to get my exercise in, that hanging out with him isn't "exercise", just heavy breathing. But he does set up my work out gear for me, and doesn't mind that I pay for a gym membership where I can swim, and that I won't allow certain foods in the house. But he still does stuff like bring home maple bars when he knows I'm facing stress; he was very tender the week before I was going in for surgery, and knew I didn't want to fuss with making breakfast. His solution was comfort food. He's so damn sweet, but so misguided some days! Report
Its hard but we walk together to mend fences Report
I really don't agree with the suggestion, in point #1, that one rely on one's kids (if any) to hold one accountable. That is NOT an appropriate burden to place on children and it is not an appropriate role for them. We are the adults; let's behave as such and model steps towards a healthier lifestyle for our children. Report
Dennis my best bud is more than supportive of me. He came down and helped put my weight bench together. Him and I have walked together. He never tries to sabatoge my clean eating. I feel so good about that. Report
I joined SparkPeople in 2009, and for my wedding in 2010, lost 17 pounds. Now, I am back at the game, and trying to get to my goal weight. It has been 3 years since I started trying to lose weight this coming May (I think). I really need the support sometimes, and my husband is trying, but in my eyes, it is not enough. He still eats Kraft Mac and Cheese, and 2 bowls of cereal, sweets, etc. I eat some of this stuff too, but I can see sometimes that he is trying to be healthier. However, whenever I suggest going to the gym together, he has something else to do, same thing when I suggest exercising together. Family and friends can only support so much when you are 1800 miles away from them. UGH. Report
Great Blog! How true this is.... This kind of junk doesn't just come from mate though (mine is supportive) sadly it comes from friends and loved ones. I find that people who have more weight to loss then I do often say negative things about me trying to be healthier. Its frustrating! I remind myself that my goal setting can make others feel bad for their lack of goal setting. Report
Good blog, lots of food for thought. Report
I have tried to make my husband part of my goals. I decided on Monday that I am going to participate in the next Body for Life challenge and signed up. I asked him if he would join me b/c in the past I would do it with a friend and he expressed disappointment that I didn't ask him to join me instead. I explained to him that it would require going to the gym (we don't have the equipment at home), and as luck would have it, they have a gym in the plant he works in. He said "nevermind then. I don't want to be here any longer than I have to be" meaning in the plant... We don't have the money for a gym membership, so the ones supplied to us at work will have to do. I'm sad that he'll let his job rule his life like that. I am still going ahead with my plans. Hopefully he'll see my results and jump on board. Hopefully he won't become offended by my efforts - when we met, I was 150 lbs, 70 lbs lighter than I am now. He was 200 lbs, now 330. We both need this.

In fact, i recently wrote a blog about this very thing - trying to get him onboard... Report
Hey Jerome, great blog and topic. We've talked briefly before, after a previous blog of yours & I'd love for you to give thoughts on another angle (more like our past conversation). The conflicts with Bob and his wife are certainly real and sadly do happen more than we realize. But what about taking it a step further. What if Bob's wife is overweight too? What if Bob wants to get fit, lose weight and his wife is content (or at least not motivated yet) and doesn't want to change her lifestyle? So then you have Bob wanting to take his life in a new direction, and as you suggested, try and get the whole family involved. I mean, it makes sense....who wouldn't want their kids & spouse to be healthier? If their spouse is overweight &/or eats a terrible diet, that of course can shorten her/his life, make it less enjoyable for her/him, the family, etc. Plus, ideally we all would like BOTH parents to be good role models for our kids. So all of those new desires Bob (or person with the healthy attitude/motivation for lifestyle change) has are great and understandable, but what if his overweight, out of shape spouse does not feel the same?? She does not want to take that "family journey" with him?!?! What is Bob (or hint hint, any of us in a similar position) to do??? I'd love you to give thought to this subject and share ideas. It's a tough one b/c you can't force your spouse to change....they have to truly want to do it. And if it does not become a shared goal & shared lifestyle, that is very tough for each spouse and on their marriage. I'd love to hear from you on this subject sometime :-). Report husband and I are on this journey together, but just the other day he said perhaps I was getting a bit too fanatical and should pull-back my efforts a bit. My reaction - after a bit of shock (frankly, I think he's the fanatical one) I laughed - then I reminded him that the old Shanna he met many years ago was reappearing and he'd better get used to it cause she's not going anywhere this time! You just have to stand firm, and do what you have to do and not let the opinion of anyone deter you from your goals. I will see six pack abs -eventually! :) Report
A few years ago, after struggling to lose 75 pounds I had a BF say that he liked me 20 pounds heavier, which made me realize how selfish and insecure he was. Since then I have a new BF who exercises and plans healthy meals with me. It is so nice to have a supportive significant other. If your BF or GF isn't supportive you should think about getting out of the relationship. It doesn't get any better. Report
what a great, thought provoking topic for discussion. very well done Jerome! Report
I know someone whose spouse accused her of cheating on him because she was working out and eating healthier. It was easier for her to give up on herself than to deal with his insecurities - kind of like Bob gave up on himself. Sad, but true.

Sometimes the person who is getting healthier is metaphorically holding the mirror up to the partner's face - and the partner is not ready to start their journey to health. So, it's easier to try to push the mirror away by criticizing the other person than to really take a good look in the mirror.

D-E-N-I-A-L is an acronym for --

Lying Report
I have that spouse. Although he would not admit to it because I don't think he realizes how his comments affect others he has made his insecurities clear. However I am doing this for me - I love him but this is for me. We joined a gym and he goes sometimes, which affects the kids who only want to go sometimes or not at all and they seem to be upset when I go 3 - 4 time a week - but again this is for me. I love them, selfish or not, this is for me. We lead by example, it may not be easy to follow the right path but we must keep shining our light forward and reaching back for our followers and helping them back to where healthy and happy meet. Report
Reading about Bob made me feel very sad. It is too bad there are people out there who do not want others to be healthier because it makes them feel insecure. In the end though it is up to the person who is trying to get healthier to keep at it - despite everything, even though I am sure it is super hard to do. Report
I think Bob allowed himself to be sabotaged, but that being said, it's hard to deal with a spouse that isn't trusting of you. My husband jumped on the bandwagon also, started running with me and lost 50 lbs easily. Then he fizzled out too and it's hard enough for me to keep myself motivated and I let him go. Maybe I was "forcing" him to do it and I believe that each person has to really want it in order for it to work. I can't want it for him. I hope he comes to that point, but for now, I'm doing what's right for me. Years before, I would have done the same thing as Bob and let that happen. Report
I think Bob used his wife's comments as an excuse to give up...just my 2 cents... Report
True spouses can sabotage diets, but only if you let them. Bob & many people who made comments are blaming the wife, but who is the obese one? Sorry "Bob" but I would have to say stop blaming the wife and get healthy.she will love you for it. It almost sounds like this is Bob's excuse to avoid taking responsibility for his weight problem. I would love to hear from the wife on this. Report
I think it's great when couples can exercise together, and if they have different fitness levels, side-by-side treadmills can be one option (each going at their own pace).
Wish Bob's wife had supported him, but that is a real and recurrence situation. Hope they have gotten counseling since then. Report
Sadly I have heard of this before and I understand having been on BOTH sides of the fence, I know now that I have to do it FOR ME and that whether or not someone else likes it has to have little or no bearing on it. Report
I feel like I'm in the situation right now. I've lost over 60lbs and gained my confidence back. Since then my significant other makes comments about how I must be doing it for someone else and has become very insecure. I try not to let it get to me... but honestly it is. Report
People can be selfish, illogical, heart-breakers, etc. But if you've made up your mind to get healthy, go for it. Report
I have been super lucky in this regard. My honey has a fantastic metabolism and I always wondered what he was doing with me in the first place. I met him while I was hitting my heaviest, and when I started this journey he said "I fell in love with you the way you are but if you want to lose weight for yourself I support you." Saying all that when I got serious with spark the first time and dropped noticeable weight my reasonably skinny guy started thinking about his "gut" and tried out P90X. Even supportive loved ones have their fears and worries. Report
I'm very lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband. He never made comments about my appearance when I gained weight, and he has nothing but express his enthusiasm for the healthy changes I've made in my life. He has somehow managed to strike that perfect balance between appreciating my new shape and appearance while never leaving me wondering about how I looked in the past.

He also tangibly supports my healthier lifestyle by doing things like bringing me coffee in bed every day, even on the days when I work out early and he doesn't, getting up and going for a workout on most of the days I do, participating in races with me, buying healthy food (and hiding, at my request, the treats so I'm not tempted). Report
my husband & I just recently had to have a talk he has been sabatoging my healtier lifestyle
he admitted his fears & we have been talking baout it Report
i have to say that i am fortunate. both hubby and i have had major weight issues. i just spent the last 2 years dropping 200lbs. once i started to make progress, hubby jumped on the bandwagon and joined in. he did well for at most of that time and also dropped 100lbs... but he has fizzled, work is stressing him out and he let it control his actions and he does not make the best food choices (but he still goes to the gym 3+ times a week). he has always been supportive of my achievements and i of his. although sometimes i want to help him make better choices but he gets in this funk and says "you are doing so much better than me! what's wrong with me? why can't i get my groove back?" i remind him constantly that i had many times when i got frustrated as well and when he is ready his 'groove' will come back - and i will be here with him to help!

such a great blog!! i know others who do not have the support from a spouse or family and it truly makes me wonder if they really LOVE them or if they just don't want to be alone!! Report
I have to admit that even though I am not very overweight, and I am on this "healthy lifestyle" journey, I am quite jealous that my SO was able to lose all of his extra weight in a mere month, and I've been working at it for 3 years. Now he is the same weight he was when we met and I am 30 lbs heavier. I don't think he is going to cheat on me or anything, but it really irks me that I try my heart out at this, and he barely does anything and drops 30 lbs and looks great. I just kind of am pissed off about that and I do use disapproving words because I feel like it's not fair, but it's not because I'm not trying too, it's because I am trying really hard and most of the time feel like I am getting nowhere!

These tips don't really help a lot because I am the one who got him into running, and now he runs faster than me and weighs less. And I am the one that started doing this health journey and now he is barely along for the ride but looks amazing. It's just BS and I have so much resentment because of it. Report
I am divorced and sorry to hear that. I know what life can be like when someone doesn't support or worse sabotage your efforts. On a happier note. I cook more at home now and since my eating habits have changed so has my son's. He has also lost a tremendous amount of weight. He does play basketball with his buddies a lot but the real change happened for him when I changed. Report
A couple of years ago, I was the one trying to lose weight and had no support from my partner as he thought there was someone else driving me to want to look better. So I did stop what I was doing and I put on the weight I had just lost. It was very disheartening, and I am always afraid if I amp up the activity I do, he will get upset again.
Recently though, he found some health information which made him want to change what and how we were eating, so since then I have taken the opportunity to improve my health and fitness. I still have a little while to go, but I am supporting him as well as his health is worse than mine ever was. Report
FANTASTIC Blog!! I think this kind of thing happens to many, many people, and you've done a terrific job of sharing healthy suggestions to help. Thanks for sharing! Report
I felt for him...How could she not recognize that good health and good looks go together. What should she do to improve and build up her confidence? Report
I find that wife very insecure and selfish. She would rather her husband be unhealthy? That is her issue and not his. Report
I think I'd add one thing, something I recommended to another fellow Sparker.

Expect and anticipate the most common fear. Tell the spouse or family members, show them repeatedly, that getting healthier (and slimmer and sexier) will not change your love for them. Even an offhand joke about eventually getting sexy enough to be attractive to a younger guy/girl can make their fear worse.

Oh, and number 2? Very important! Both for nutrition and for losing the idea food just magically transports itself to their plates - that it has a very real cost and takes some planning to make sure there's enough for a full week (or two). Report
This can definitely happen. As long as you are overweight the perception is normally, "only I would want to be with you." You lose weight then the whole world is looking at you. I mean, they wanna know what you changed to get to where you are but all that attention on you can make your mate super jealous. Make them part of your goals by exercising or eating better together. Report