National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Poundage Problem, Part 2

How to help a spouse dealing with “weighty” issues. Conclusion of a two-part series by Tom and Caroline McDonald.

BY TOM & CAROLINE MCDONALD

October 8-14, 2006 Issue | Posted 10/4/06 at 11:00 AM

 

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.

Tom: Just 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 addictions.

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.

Caroline: 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 living!

The McDonalds are

family-life coordinators for the

Diocese of Mobile, Alabama.