First comes love.  Then comes marriage.  Then comes…love handles, beer guts, and muffin tops?  Wait a minute…that wasn’t covered in the wedding vows, was it?  I remember “For better or worse” …or maybe that was code for… “For hot or not.”  Though not a topic we like to address (unless we’re wagging our finger in any direction but our own), it’s a topic most every couple finds piled on their plate sooner or later.   We’ve all looked back on pre-wedding, pre-kids, pre-pounds pictures…and wondered where that once slim sexy siren slithered off to…you know…the siren that was apparently called to one too many chocolate covered emergencies, meat and potato domestic disputes, or deep fried drug deals.  Busy siren.  🙂 Whether it’s a few measly pounds or double digit doozies, it can tame the once wild flames of marital bliss into a faint hiss.   Maybe we should more closely inspect that marriage license before giving it our John Hancock.  Maybe…just maybe we overlooked the tiny, barely there disclaimer:  “Warning:  possible side effects may include bloating, weight gain, or widened ass syndrome?”  Jokes aside.  We vow to, and do, love our spouses no matter what.  But, why DO we let ourselves go once we say “I do?”

While in dating mode, we’re on the hunt for our perfect mate.  To attract that perfect mate, we must be in tip-top shape.  After all, the first thing we’re attracted to is NOT a winning personality.  Never do men scope out women and say, “Damn!  Look at the brains on her!”  The same goes for women.  Our first impression of a man isn’t “OMG!  He just radiates intelligence and wit.”  No.  It’s that pure animal magnetism, that gleaming “come hither” sex light in our eyes, and that sweaty hand, blushed face, crush giddiness that initially catches our interest.  So, we take great care of ourselves when we’re dating.  We work out.  We’re well groomed, etc. etc.  We’re on the market.  No one wants to take home a fatty piece of meat.  We want fresh lean meat!  At least that seems to be what our social dictator, Mass Media, has washed our brains with.  So, in competition with media pecs and butts of steel, we work on our “meat.”  However, once we’ve been taken home, we’re no longer on the market.  So, the pressure to stay fresh and lean is lessened.  We become…comfortable.  Interestingly though, with divorce comes weight loss.  Once we’re back on the market, we know we better slim down.  The plea to “Eat mor chikin” won’t be necessary.  In this meat market, the fatty cow is simply not in demand.  😉

An expert on the sociology of obesity, Jeffery Sobal, claims that “body weight is largely a reflection of one’s culture, socioeconomic and marital status, life stage, and ethnicity.”  According to Sobal, some cultures — obviously not the U.S. — value larger rounder bodies.  In this country, the higher one’s socioeconomic status, the thinner a person is likely to be.  He found that the married weigh more than the unmarried, parents weigh more than non-parents, and Hispanics and African Americans weigh more than Caucasians.  Sobal also found that while obese women are actually happier in their marriages than their slimmer lady friends, obese men are more miserable in their marriages than their buff male buddies.   It’s hypothesized that obese women are happier because they’re aware of their diminished meat market value, internalize that negative value, and thus are content in the marriage they’ve been dealt.  Here’s a twist…obese men are less likely to accept their negative meat market status and may come to project the resentment they feel for themselves onto the marriage.  Hmmm, the irony!!!  Typically, it’s the men internalizing and the women projecting.  Oh how the tables have turned.  Tables?  Let’s eat!

After tracking nearly 7,000 married/living together participants, psychological studies reveal that after a few years of marriage, we do, in fact, begin to pack on the pounds.  It was found that married partners were twice as likely to become obese as those simply dating.  While both men AND women will put on a little weight after swapping vows, women are prone to putting on more.  But then again, women’s bodies do bear children…women grow amazingly complex little people in their bodies.  And having babies is so beautiful…yet SO UGLY!  It inflates, twists, and knots the female body like an inexperienced clown beating the hell out of a balloon animal.   Ever seen a balloon after it’s deflated?  But men are visual spectators.  A balloon is a balloon is a balloon.  Either it’s hot…or it’s not.

Why do we put on extra weight after marriage?

* married couples attach greater meaning to shared meals (food becomes the main attraction, “together” time for family)

* we stop trying to attract a mate (we’ve wooed…and wooed…and wooed…at some point, we just have to say WHOA!)

* we decrease physical activity (after work, kids, and chores, a tight derriere is no longer topping the to-do list)

* we have babies

* we have the added stress of children, work, and providing for a family (that stress often results in unhealthy eating habits)

* we use food as a solace to fill a happiness void in our relationship (TIP:  Have more sex!  The sex will fill the time we may otherwise snack AND it’ll reconnect us with our sweetie!  WIN…WIN)

Scientists say that just having a close relationship with an obese person (whether a friend or spouse) makes us more likely to become obese ourselves.  And that if one engages in weight loss activity, the other tends to lose 5 lbs on average.  In essence, we facilitate one another in one direction or the other.  Why?  Good old competition!  As long as we’re not the fattest one in the room, we’re good.  😉

Because we facilitate one another, experts say a few offensive moves against the post vow bulge may include:

1. Exercise — Stay active.  Whether it’s walking, biking, or playing a sport, do it TOGETHER!  That time spent together is bonding.  And the exercise produces arousal hormones that will spice up the bedroom cardio!  So, get pumpin’.

2. Creative activity — Share a hobby, not a meal!  art, music, reading together…engaging in a little creative couple time puts our imaginations to use and allows us a joint escape from daily pressures without provoking that fickle zipper on our favorite pair of jeans.

3. Laugh — We can get so bogged down with stress and financial security, we forget to laugh and enjoy each other.  Laughter reduces stress hormones, creates connection, and keeps our mouths preoccupied.

With marriage comes many positives and negatives.  Love handles, beer guts, and muffin tops…all, of course, “weigh” in on the negative side.  But here’s an interesting thought…if we put on a few extra pounds because we’re comfortable, that probably means one thing:  complete and utter commitment.   If we’re not perfecting our credit score, we’re certainly not looking to buy new real estate.  There’s the up side!  But as the saying goes, “what goes up must come down.”  We shouldn’t totally let ourselves go.  Too much around the MIDsection simply isn’t good for the Erection.  Get comfortable…but not too comfortable.  If we get too comfortable in a position, we may slip into a deep sleep and not realize that our marital comfort zone has morphed into our marital danger zone!

So get up and “SHAKE IT!”

Chick Hughes

“Food has replaced sex in my life; now, I can’t even get into my own pants.”  ~Author Unknown

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