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MY SPOUSE HAS CHANGED Since I Lost Weight!

Change. One doesn’t always know what to expect when CHANGE occurs. This makes the prospect of taking actions that result in change somewhat frightening. When you made the decision to have weight loss surgery (WLS), you were aware that numerous aspects of your life would change… from the food selections you make, to the size of clothing you wear, to the emotions you experience as the weight melts away, to the ways other people respond to you. Those other people include your immediate family. More specifically, your spouse!
 
How has your spouse changed since you lost weight? OH member VioletKidd shared this: “My husband has lost 20 pounds since my surgery - and he’s thrilled about it. He’s taken over a lot of the cooking and goes to the grocery store with me (so he’ll have what he wants to eat). He’s very supportive and a great partner. Both of our diets have changed and he’s accepted the changes.” This is an ideal outcome related to the changes Violet has made in her life. A supportive spouse who actively participates in the changes required for sustained weight loss is a gift! An especially positive aspect of Violet’s situation is that she and her husband have made the grocery shopping (and therefore meals) a winwin situation. She wins because he goes grocery shopping with her, which likely provides her with emotional support. We all know that shopping for food after WLS can be an emotionally unpleasant experience! Violet’s husband wins because he is selecting food he likes. In addition, he is losing weight and improving his health. And he’s doing the cooking, which in my book, is a great big win for Violet!
 
Violet’s story suggests to me that she and her husband have a good thing going in their relationship. They are partners in their choice to improve their health. Having common goals is a wonderful way for spouses to enjoy one another, to spend time together, to work together and to celebrate together!
 
Vicki C’s husband “has become very demonstrative to me. He’s more supportive than he’s ever been in our married life. He’s been my best cheerleader since my surgery. He is very complimentary about my size. Before, he never seemed to notice my body size. He was with me through the days following surgery, preparing my food, helping me bathe, all the necessities! He was a vital and active part of my experience. He’s proud of that, I think!” Another win-win story! Vicki obviously got a lot of help from her husband after her surgery. She has also gotten a lot of positive affirmation and affection from her spouse. It’s fun to hear Vicki acknowledge that her husband is proud of his contribution, which makes him a winner, too! This sort of mutual acknowledgement leads to additional positive behaviors toward one another and makes marriages happy and strong.
 
Reina from New York said that her husband “who has not always been supportive, has actually been positive. He has helped me keep to my diet but hasn’t been shy about eating all those forbidden foods in front of me… to test my willpower and strength, he claims.” Reina, too, has support from her husband. She did not, however, say how she feels about his “testing” her by eating things she can’t have. This may not bother her in the least. Or it may be frustrating (or worse)!
 
Reina’s situation is a common one. Spouses may not change some of their behaviors even though it would help the WLS partner if they would. That doesn’t mean the spouse doesn’t love, support or want the best for their partner. What does it mean? It could mean any number of things. It may mean that the couple has never discussed what to eat or not to eat in front of the other after surgery. It could mean that the spouse who didn’t have the surgery doesn’t understand how or why eating certain things in front of the WLS partner is problematic. In either case, the solution is simple: the couple needs to talk about it! If the WLS partner tells their spouse that eating certain foods in front of them is bothersome, their partner needs to respect the request and refrain from chowing on the chips, munching on the M&M’s and downing the donuts in front of their loved one who is working hard to improve their health. Reina also noted, “At times, insecurities cause negative reactions.” This is very common when a spouse loses weight. It’s also a natural response. Insecurity only becomes problematic if it is acted out in negative ways. For example, if insecurity leads to sabotaging behavior (bringing unhealthy foods into the home or suggesting dinner at the buffet restaurant), or controlling behavior (making accusations about fidelity or name-calling), and if there were no problems in the marriage before the weight loss, there are sure to be problems after the surgery if the insecure behaviors continue. When one spouse is feeling insecure in a relationship, they need reassurance from the other. Reassurance may be in the form of a soft touch on the arm, a whispered sweet-nothing in the ear, a bouquet of flowers for no reason, or a smile and a wink that says “You’re the one I love.” We all need reassurance from time to time. Give it to one another freely, lovingly, flirtingly, genuinely or playfully. Just give it. Your spouse is naturally a bit insecure watching their mate shed pounds, gain confidence and maybe strut their stuff a bit!
 
Lorrie G’s husband also demonstrated some signs of insecurity after she had surgery. “Since my surgery, my husband has begun to notice that other men are noticing me. I believe he was worried about our relationship, always asking if we are okay.” She reassures him, noting, “I continue to tell him as long as we have communication, we will be fine.” Lorrie’s husband is responding in a positive way: “He is trying to focus more on me. He is going to the gym and walking with me. He has really stepped up on compliments and pays more attention to my wants and desires.” Lorrie’s gentle assurance encourages her husband to turn his insecurity into behaviors that reinforce their relationship. Like many people having WLS, Lorrie and her husband are at the age when their children are moving out of the house. “Now that the kids are on their own, it’s back to us having time for ourselves. We are relearning who we fell in love with. And so our new life begins. I am waiting to see where it takes us.” Based on what Lorrie shared about how her husband is participating in her weight loss process, the ways he compliments her and how he pays attention to her needs and wants, it’s a safe bet that their love will continue to grow.
 
Think about your family as if it were a musical mobile with little animals that hangs over a baby’s crib. All of the animals go around and around and the mobile is balanced. If you took scissors and cut the string that held the giraffe, it would fall off. In addition, the rest of the mobile would be imbalanced. All of the other animals’ lives would have changed. That’s what happens when a family member has weight loss surgery. They change, which causes the entire family system to change. How each person deals with the changes will determine if the family system will find a new, healthy balance or if the
mobile will be permanently imbalanced.
 
Each of the family members need to talk about how their life has changed as a result of their loved one’s weight loss surgery. Spouses, especially, need to share their thoughts and feelings with one another. It’s okay to admit having fears that other people are looking at your smaller honey in a “new way.” It’s okay to ask for reassurance from each other. It’s joyful to share your appreciation for one another. The spouse who had surgery can do wonders for their partner by acknowledging their physical and emotional help after surgery. The partner who did not have surgery can thrill their spouse by complimenting their efforts toward weight loss and healthy new habits. These behaviors will result in an ongoing cycle of positive words and actions from one spouse to another. That can only lead to good things in the relationship!
 
Spouses will change after you have weight loss surgery… just as you will change. By working together, you can steer the changes in a positive direction! Talk to each other. Listen to one another. Be vulnerable with each other. Celebrate each other and the opportunity you have to explore all sorts of new and exciting aspects of life after losing weight! Change can be scary. Okay! So do the healthy thing and “feel the fear and do it anyway!” Take positive risks after surgery. Do fun new activities together. Start a project that you can do with one another. Live together. Learn together. Change together. Love together. 

Connie Stapleton, PhD, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and owner of Mind/Body Health Services in Augusta, Georgia. She is the author of Eat It Up-The Complete Mind/Body/ Spirit Guide to a Full Life After Weight Loss Surgery.


33 Comment(s)
Comment by nld3328 on Jul 01, 2010 at 09:03pm
Thanks for this article. i have heard a lot on this topic lately and I think that stressing communication is the key. Thanks again!
Comment by varelagirl on Jul 03, 2010 at 08:11am
What a beautiful article! And so informative & supporting for those of us having issues w/ our marriage since WLS. Thank u so much.
Comment by sunymoon on Jul 28, 2010 at 02:36pm
This is a great article and something you do NOT hear about Pre-op. I had my surgery in 2001 and went from 298lbs to stabalize at 130. Im finally going through with a divorce because I realize NOW that he's the one with the problem, not me. His insecurities have never allowed me to be happy and in my depression I went up to 189lbs. Im FINALLY taking control of my life again. Im down to 150 with exercise and no more comfort foods. It's NOT easy when your partner changes for the worst, and support of others is the best tool for continued success and happiness.
Comment by cschoen on Jul 29, 2010 at 04:59am
Well, our spouses have changed simply because we have. It is inevitable that there will be a reaction from our spouses - but we all hope for the best. Obviously some changes are truuly painful, but the fact that most of us come out of thise healthier, both physically and mentally, and in a better "place" to be helpful to and with our family and friends makes this an issue to work through, not a reason to discredit having WLS, in my personal situation (and opinion.)
Comment by LORIG13 on Jul 30, 2010 at 07:48am
I was engaged to my Fiance to marry in May 2009. He had the surgery December 2007 & I noticed an attitude change in him only 2-3 months after. I had my surgery in July 2008 (8 months after his surgery). All of a sudden, he wanted children & all that, when we had previously decided that we did not want children at all. We wanted it to be us & travel. He became cold & distant, didn't take care of me after my surgery to the point where I ended up injuring myself by doing things for myself when he should have been helping me. It was quite the spit-in-my-eye considering I took care of him like a royal king after his surgery. He left me 3 weeks after my surgery, we got back together a week later. Foolish me, I thought I could FORCE myself to want children. But it never went back to what it used to be & we broke up a few days after Christmas 2008. He is now with an obese woman. Obviously something major changed in his mind in correlation to the RNY Bypass, but a small part of me thinks that as I was losing weight & becoming "thinner," he was becoming less & less physically attracted to me. I am currently in a happy relationship w/ Bob, he is a large man but muscular & well-built(he's a truck driver/delivery). When we met, he was about 330lbs & in a year he got down to 270lbs. He is currently 285lbs (he was injured & out of work for 6wk & naturally he gained a few pounds) but wants to get down to 225lbs. I have this small fear in the back of my mind where when he loses the weight, he might leave me b/c it's happened before. I want Bob to be healthy & happy, I just hope he doesn't CHANGE.
Comment by nightnurse1971 on Aug 07, 2010 at 07:40pm
When i had my DS in 2002 I never felt better in my life. However, my spouse couldn't handle the change. I told him everyday I loved him and appriciated everything he did for our family. He still had an affair. He never showed any interest during our 10 year marriage in messing around and out of the blue he had a affair. It was with a skinny girl. The worst part is we were having the best sex ever almost nightly. I don't know why he got so insecure but i lost by best friend along the way. It's been 6 years since our divorce and i still miss him. I had 2 choices have surgery to live or not and die of obesity. Both ways we lost.
Comment by clarah on Aug 13, 2010 at 09:12am
As I read this I note that most are saying their spouses were insecure of their relationship after they had lost weight. With mine,it seems as if my husband found me more attractive when I was heavier & was even jealous of other men then. Now, it seems as if we are stranger living in the same house. I am often lonely but I don't go out looking for companionship , I stay home & take care of my family. I am a wife & a mother.. but beyond that I am a person with feelings and I wish he could see the hurt I am going through.
Comment by llacey53 on Aug 16, 2010 at 05:46am
Sure my spouse changed after I lost weight. When he told me he didn't want me to have the surgery and loose weight, even though staying that weight would have killed me sooner, I knew he only loved me because he could control me when I was fat. But the change came from my side. I finally had the courage to file for divorce and got out of a very abusive marriage. I am now married to a wonderful man who doesn't try to control my every move.
Comment by drmspeeker on Aug 16, 2010 at 06:58pm
Since my surgery 5.5 months ago, my husband has lost 45 lbs and I have lost 85 lbs. He could not be more supportive! I still pack cookies for his lunch but he takes much healthier foods and eats what I eat (just a bit more) for dinner. What I have noticed more than anything is that our "private" life has greatly improved and that not only brings us closer together but we both celebrate my weight loss. If the marriage was good before it will be great after.
Comment by erica1120 on Aug 18, 2010 at 02:38pm
I am on my journey to have surgery on the 23rd of this month. The person that I depended on the most let me down. I went to my pre-op appointment on Mon when I arrived home he was gone clothing and all. It was like getting shot rite through my heart. I have decided it must be for the best, because if he couldn't handle the thought of me losng weight what would he have done when the weight finally starts dropping off. In the future I will be a much happier person, and also make some great wife. The Lord has a master plan for me. Let's see were my paln leads me.
Comment by Aliyasmom on Aug 19, 2010 at 11:02pm
I am down 65lbs since my RNY on Feb 23rd of this year. My husband joined the gym in March and started doing Crossfit and spinning. He goes 6 days a week and eats better than ever, and has lost 45lbs. He looks great. He has been very supportive. He said to me that if I went through all of this to survive and be around for our family, the least he could do was to lose weight and get healthy too. We are much happier for it. Our daughter exercises more too. She goes 3 days a week to Crossfit for kids. Sometimes he could give me more compliments, but like he says, he doesn't know me to be any different than what the size I was before, so it's new for both of us for me to be skinny. (when we first got together he weighed 185, so I have seen him thin and obese). It's a new journey for us both and we are enjoying the ride...together.
Comment by Lionetta on Sep 02, 2010 at 03:19pm
I was married to a man who finds heavy women attractive, but I chose to do this for my health and felt his resistance when I was going through the early preliminary steps. Outwardly he supported me because that's what he knew other people expected, but resentment lay behind that facade as well as sabotage, and I could feel it getting stronger the more I pursued WLS. It was very uncomfortable and difficult, at best. Sadly, my long marriage ended due to his insecurities and subsequent actions that enabled him to keep his passions where they naturally lie. I'm actually relieved it's not a battle I have to fight for the rest of my life. I'm happy doing this on my own and may be lucky enough to find a man who can appreciate me for being who I am. Life goes on.
Comment by Breigh32053 on Sep 02, 2010 at 09:38pm
After reading all of these comments, I have to say I am very curious as to how my husband will react to me after the surgery. He NEVER comments on my weight 'now'..and it has not been a deterrent in our sex life. He says he would prefer me to not have the surgery but would rather I tried to lose the weight on my own. (Knowing how difficult it is for me.) I'm wondering if he will be oblivious to it or if it will make a difference for us.
Comment by Jolena_P on Sep 02, 2010 at 10:33pm
Man, this is a powerful subject. My husband of 25 years married me when I was skinny, but I quickly gained weight with my first pregnancy and havent been below 200 lbs since. He is outwardly supportive of my decision but, in spiteful moments, he'll tell me I'm taking the "easy way" out..that I haven't stuck to any diet "long enough" to get results. I hope our marriage survives me losing this weight (I'm only 8 days post op Lapband) but I'm no longer taking his criticisms to heart because I KNOW this ain't no easy way...its the ONLY way if I don't want to die from high BP and Diabetes (both conditions just now a factor in the past 6 months).
Comment by meleauxdy on Sep 05, 2010 at 11:35am
I am preop and my husband and I have discussed surgery for quite sometime. I feel very, very fortunate to have his support. He told me that he supports my decision to have WLS but also said if I change my mind, he will support that too. He said, "I love you no matter if you are heavy or thin, ok? I just want you to do what you feel is best for you and I will support you." I am struggling with guilt for WLS because my husband is also obese but we are self-pay. I am praying that my change will help him change his diet as well. I love this man with all of my heart.
Comment by Ladybug13 on Sep 27, 2010 at 02:42pm
This hits close to home. I lost 95# about 6 years ago but have managed to gain it back. My husband was pleased with the weight loss he said. When I mention WLS he wasn't in for that. When we talked about the medical reasons I should have it, he has changed his mind and now supports me. I am concerned because he says he hopes I don't have the personality change I did when I lost the 95#. The truth is I didn't know my personality changed. He has also said skinny women are so fragile. I am concerned.
Comment by darcmarie313 on Sep 29, 2010 at 05:58am
I am very concern with my husband. We have been together for 9 years. (2 of which we have been married) When I met my husband I was at my lowest weight ever .. I was 137 lbs and I looked amazing. I lost the weight right before I met him. It was a 60 lb weight drop. I was 17 at the time so I was more active. Since then I have had 2 children with him & I am hitting the scales at 246. we have had some issues in the past with me not feeling like I was getting the emotional love from him so I got the emotional support from another. It was next sexual but in a emtional way I did have an affair. It is going on 4 years of being completely attached to my husband. and now he gives me " If you lose weight you'll leave me" when in ALL honest at 246 men are still attracted to me. He thinks because I am skinny I am going to change completely. I understand my insecurities and that is my fault but I want him to know I love him & I want to be with him just him. Why would I leave him for another person when he is the one that has been there through EVERYTHING for me? how can I redirect his feelings or work on them with him? I am about ready to set a date and I dont want my husband HATING the decision I make!
Comment by tautietatatasha on Oct 02, 2010 at 08:25pm
This hapened to me, well I had surgery, and my BF assumed that I did not want him anymore which I did. He became very insecure and we are not togethe anymore but to me, when you love someone you love them totally, so for him to think that I would leave him just because I lost weight says he assumed I was only with him because of who I was overweight.... wrong on so many levels. He was just not the man for me!
Comment by taboolynn on Oct 05, 2010 at 10:40am
you didn't hit on my situation. i am struggling bad because not just my husband but my teenage kids, and my parents are making this very hard on me. they bring in soda, candy, donuts anything and everything i can not have. to make things worse they even offer it to me. after awhile i break down and can't help taking them. help me, what should i do.? talking to them doesn't help. they all say it was my decision to have the surgery not theirs. everyone else doesn't have to change just because i did, this makes me feel guilty.
Comment by TMP281 on Oct 13, 2010 at 05:42am
My husband has become so very insecure about my weightloss surgery. He is supportive of the health aspect, but now if a man even wants to simply be friends he doesn't like them. I have not been as on top of things like I am now. My focus is on me. I just feel he is tearing us apart. He travels so now he is having all these trust issues. I love my husband and I have no intentions of not being with him. I just wish he would cowboy up and get over it.... I love him so I will stick with it...
Comment by rirobins2000 on Nov 01, 2010 at 05:41pm
When I got married I weighed 204 lb over the years and a set of twins I went to 298.Hubby started out supportive but now acts insecure at times since I am down 120 lbs.I know he prefers a "fluffy woman". Only time will tell if we both can withstand the WLS changes.
Comment by dream716 on Nov 02, 2010 at 05:44am
I have gone from 284 to 185 now and i get comments as to who was talking to me in the GYM, and attention from the opposite sex. I Love my wife, but my spouse couldn't handle the change. its a pain at times.
Comment by nursemeems on Nov 07, 2010 at 07:49am
I am scheduled for wls early Dec and outwardly is supportive. Unlike some my husband does not prefer larger ladies. we have already been thru changes in health(his) and changes in my size (110# wedding day current wt 276) 17 years is nothing to toss. I feel like we may have rough spots, but I am confident we will work together and stick with each other ( pun intended) thru thick and thin!!
Comment by jrelerjr on Nov 11, 2010 at 08:43am
my husband cheated and left me for another girl about 6 months after surgery and over 100 lbs weightloss. We got back together after a couple of months and still together 5 years later. But, he puts me down saying i look anorexic (even though i was thinner when i met him), and he says i have a nasty body with hanging, loose skin.
Comment by diamondranch1 on Nov 12, 2010 at 08:10am
I love my husband very much and due to other health concerns have chosen to have the sleeve done in Dec. I know it is a lifestyle change and so looking forward to it. I plan on doing everything possible to understand what my spouse is also going through as he is part of my journey!
Comment by helane on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:45am
I have a couple of friends who have had WLS and 1 niece, all except one relationship ended in divorce. The one relationship that hasn't, I wonder if they're not living different lives and aren't divorcing because of the children and money involved..they are both doctors and they have a cushy life.. so now that I'm 2 weeks out tonight, I'm paying serious attention to my husband and trying very hard to keep him first. I do not wish to divorce. I'm just wondering if this is a natural course of action when the person who loses the weight no longer compromises and feels they finally deserve better.
Comment by steelbutt on Nov 29, 2010 at 08:19am
I had the surgery almost 4 years ago and the past year has been a hard road for me and my hubby. Everything started out just fine. He loved my new body he loved the confidence I had in myself he loved the new me. But the bottom has dropped out now. He tells me all the time that since I have had the surgery I have changed. Yes I have changed, I feel better about myself, I do things I did not do before because of my wls. We are still togehter trying to make things work. I love him and he loves me but we just have to find that common ground again.
Comment by morgans on Dec 11, 2010 at 07:37am
It's interesting to read the comments. I feel so sad that there are women who think for whatever reason that it's okay to stay with someone who is basically being a jerk to them - fat or thin. I had a breast reduction over 2 years ago and although my husband said he'd miss the "girls", he was super supportive and likes the smaller versions just fine. I'm just doing some research and preliminary steps now towards WLS and so far his biggest concern expressed has been the potential complications for me from a surgical perspective. He went to a seminar with me and he knows there won't be pizza in the house any more if I go through with this. I eat much healthier than he does, so I suspect there will be a challenge for him to really evaluate his eating habits and his long-term health. We recently celebrated 6 years of marriage and I think we have a fantastic partnership.
Comment by KMurphy01 on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:15am
it's funny but as a man who has had the weight loss surgery my spouse (who also had the surgery) has changed. She has even gone so far as to ask me for a divorce, she wants to see if there is someone better than me out there.
Comment by Christine928 on Dec 23, 2010 at 04:41pm
This is a great article and glad I found it. One of my co-workers came to me telling me about a friend of his who did the surgery. How is was the nicest person and was always there for anyone. After his surgery he completely changed for the worse. My co-worker thinks I'm the nicest person and his only concern for me is that I will become a mean person. I haven't had the surgery yet, but I have seen the differences in how people are treating me knowing i'm about to have the surgery. It makes me sad knowing that they aren't concerned for me wanting to lose the weight and become a more active person.
Comment by 215broad on Dec 24, 2010 at 10:22am
My husband was an ass prior to wls. Now he's distant and is clearly uncomfortable with the idea of me being comfortable and confident. Once supportive now worried and cheating. He's recking our marriage to spare his ego and me walking out on him for another man. In his mind this makes sense, but in my mind he's the same ass he was prior to my wls. Dumping more dead weight finaly any wls could have ever Shed! The end...finally
Comment by educateme on Dec 25, 2010 at 02:26pm
My husband finally left, he couldn't handle the new me. He couldn't handle the fact that men now look at me, no one has ever approached me. But just the thought that they might he couldn't handle. So the divorce has been filed and I have decided to keep moving forward. I feel great and I refuse to get depressed over his jealousy.
Comment by becky_boo on Dec 27, 2010 at 12:16pm
Thank you all so much for sharing your journeys..the good and the bad. My husband and I have been together for 10 years now married 8 of those. He loves me no matter what size. When we started dating I was about 185 now I am 292. He treats me the same as he did when I was 185. He is concerned about the surgery but totally understands that my health is at stake if I continue down the road I am on. The past year has been an awakener on my health so I think that has opened his eyes as well..God Bless You All and again thank you for your stories.
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