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How to help a spouse dealing with “weighty” issues. Conclusion of a two-part series by Tom and Caroline McDonald.
BY TOM & CAROLINE MCDONALD
You said earlier that I should
bite my tongue about my wife’s weight issues, but that I shouldn’t do (or say)
nothing at all. So what’s my next move?
Let’s recap. Essentially, we said
that direct words about your wife’s weight may do more harm than good, even
though you have her best interests — and her health — at heart. We also pointed
out that, to be successful, she must become self-motivated and take ownership
of her problem. So what can you do? For that matter, what can a spouse of
either sex do about this weighty issue? After all, husbands have been known to
expand too much for their own good, too.
because we don’t think you should say anything doesn’t mean there isn’t
anything you can do or that you can’t communicate honestly about it. You can be
a real help to your spouse in this area. First, you can pray for your
overweight spouse. This is not some pie in the sky, trite saying. All prayer is
efficacious and we really do need God’s grace to overcome bad habits or break
We’ve had smokers in our extended
families, some who have beaten the habit, and some who are still trying. They
tell us to pray first and foremost that they will have the desire to quit. We
think weight loss is the same. As we said last month, first the person has to
be really motivated and decide for him or herself to tackle this.
But don’t stop there. Pray that your spouse will have the discipline and
perseverance to keep on going, even when salad and chicken get tiresome. You
can offer up little sacrifices throughout your day for this intention, like
foregoing that second cup of coffee or skipping dessert. You can also help your
family become more active. Start offering to walk with your spouse after
dinner, or start a tradition of family bike rides. This is non-threatening, and
everyone will benefit from more time together.
Best of all, you can lead by
example. Who among us couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds? I started a popular
weight-loss program this summer because I needed to. When I started losing
weight, Tom got inspired to get with the program too. I never said a thing to
him; he decided on his own. Offer to do some of the shopping or cooking, and
find healthier alternatives to what you’ve been eating. And keep on being
positive and affirming. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s easier to diet
when you feel good about yourself.
Of course, it goes without saying
that jokes about weight or sarcastic comments about second helpings are
forbidden. Hear us loud and clear: Negative humor has no place in marriage.
When you honestly notice some weight loss, say so, and be
effusive. We all need praise and encouragement to keep going. Happy healthy
The McDonalds are
family-life coordinators for the
Diocese of Mobile, Alabama.