Although it might seem like a great idea to tackle the difficult task of weight loss with your partner, the honest truth is – “It depends.” Before you decide whether your partner will help or hinder your success, it is critical to understand how committed each person is, what each person’s goals are and what each person is willing to do to succeed. As an example, consider a situation where your partner thinks that the best way to avoid making unhealthy choices is to make sure there is no junk food in the house, but you insist on buying the junk food because sometimes you want a “treat.” Such behavior will make losing weight more difficult. On the other hand, if one partner takes on the responsibility of making sure that there are always healthy snacks in the house, and the other partner takes on the responsibility of making healthy lunches for them to take to work, these behaviors will facilitate weight loss.
The emotional reactions of the partners can have similar dual consequences. For instance, if the partners begin to compete about who loses more weight or who does it faster, one partner may be left feeling discouraged or feeling like a failure. On the other hand, if partners regularly check in with each other about how they feel about their progress, support each other and help each other overcome difficult moments, the weight loss initiative is likely to be more successful. Thus, if both of you are working towards weight loss as a well-functioning unit, then it is easier to lose weight as a couple since it has a built in support. Additionally, healthy life-style chores, such as cooking meals, can be shared. However, if the partners are working against each other, then losing weight on one’s own is easier since it allows for greater control.
The effect that weight loss efforts can have on a couple also span the gamut. On an individual level, if, due to the weight loss, your significant other feels healthier, sleeps better and has less medical concerns, then there may be an overall improvement in mood and less irritability. This, in turn, will make them easier to get along with and lead to an improvement in the relationship. Other sources of improvement in the relationship may come from changes to the couple as a whole. For example, a healthier life style may lead to a couple discovering new enjoyable activities they had previously been unable to participate in or to a more fulfilling sexual relationship. However, negative outcomes are also possible. One obvious example: if one partner decided that due to their new appearance, they can attract a “better” mate, the relationship will suffer. Similarly, if one partner is interested in discovering what his/her new body can allow him/her to do, but the other partner was perfectly content with how their life had been, there are likely to be problems in the relationship. If this occurs, the partners will need to renegotiate their relationship and establish an understanding based on their new circumstances.
In the end, as with any large undertaking by a couple, the partners need to agree where they are going and how they will get there. The partners need to accept that living a healthy life together is the real objective, and the weight loss initiative is just one step in that direction.