Maybe. If they are skinnier than their husbands, the answer might be “yes.”
Research conducted by the University of Tennessee (and published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science) shows that marital satisfaction is higher for BOTH partners when the wife is at least somewhat thinner (as measured by BMI) than her spouse.
The study shows that the weight of the women doesn’t matter: they don’t need to be thin in absolute terms. Just thinner than their hubbies. The research author suggested that there is an evolutionary basis to men’s initial satisfaction with a relatively thin wife because women with a lower BMI may be more fertile. As for why the wives are happier, the author suggests it is because their husbands are.
Husbands were found to be more satisfied when their wives had lower BMIs than they themselves and that wives with lower BMIs than their husbands stayed more satisfied over time.
After I heard this, my immediate reaction was to calculate and compare my BMI to my that of my own dear husband. Mine’s lower:) But maybe it wasn’t always that way.
I met my husband in grad school. I was reasonably “thin” but he was downright “you can see his ribs if you look hard enough” skinny at the time. We were in our early and mid-20s, respectively. Once we started dating and eating together, I gained weight because I was eating what he was eating, foods and quantities I hadn’t eaten on my own, like pizza and tuna noodle casserole. But, at some point I took off that extra weight and I adapted to eating as part of a couple, without it leading to further gaining. Then, not long after our official engagement, boom, unexpectedly my dad died. And for the first time in my life I lost weight because of stress, rather than gaining. The honeymoon brought a couple extra pounds back. Then, over the following years, up and down and up and up and down and up and down.
My husband, probably due in large part to joining corporate America and no longer exercising like he had while in school, slowly gained weight himself. And had his own ups and downs in the decades since. I haven’t seen his ribs in years:)
I love my husband regardless of what he weighs. And I’m pretty sure he feels the same about me. Do I wish we were both fit and trim? Sure. Do I wish we could eat whatever we wanted and still be fit and trim? Yes. Do I also wish that my husband followed the same eating plan as me and didn’t bring “crap” into the house. Indubitably. But I also wish we’d win the lottery.
Let me be very clear – in no way do I intend this post to blame him for any of my own issues with weight or dieting or food or the like. Over the years he has been both my partner in crime, like when I wanted to go for frozen custard and/or a fattening meal, and a tremendous support, like when I asked him to avoid bringing certain tempting foods into the house. I’m sure it’s been hard for him. Having a yo-yo dieter for a wife. But, without a doubt, I’d find maintaining healthy eating easier if he didn’t still bring “off plan” food home (even though he often does his best to hide them from me). Sometimes I can easily resist. Sometimes I fall prey to the siren call and give in. Sometimes I struggle so hard to resist that I eat all sorts of other foods instead. But I think what might frustrate me most, right now, is that he is somehow managing to slowly lose weight while indulging in (what I think most people would agree are) large portions of “unhealthy foods” like pizza and ice cream and candy. Oh my.
He’s doing his thing. I’m doing mine. My thing would be easier if his thing was the same thing. But, marriage is all about compromise and we each already do plenty of that. This post, which admittedly digressed a bit into our different “diet” lifestyles, isn’t about that at all. It’s about asking myself if his – or MY – size matters. Not what we eat… but the end result to our respective bodies.
Would it bother me if he was thinner than I? I can honestly say I don’t know. I don’t think so. But, maybe. Or maybe it would be motivation. Weight aside, what I can tell you is that being a petite woman with a tall husband has always made me feel safe and protected. But maybe that’s more because of the person he is than his size:)
What are your thoughts about that study? Do you ever consider anyone else’s size relative to your own? Do you know your BMI?