In a recent interview, Baggage Claim stars Boris Kodjoe and Derek Luke were asked a few relationship questions. But one topic that stood out was that of weight gain in relationships. Derek Luke’s approach seemed more practical. He acknowledged that your body changes in marriage, and that part of your commitment to each other as a couple means that you still love each other beyond just the physical. Kodjoe’s approach was (predictably) more vain.
“What if I gained 200 pounds? And then she’ll look at me like, really? And I couldn’t even blame her if she started looking around. Because I took her off the market, so I have to deliver what the market could possibly deliver for her,” Kodjoe said. “So I gotta take that place. Right? I gotta fulfill those things that the market could’ve given her. I’m the market now, so I got to keep it hot. And she has to do the same for me.”
Both men made valid points, but Kodjoe makes it seem like falling off is the worst thing in the world—when, really, it happens… but it doesn’t have to be finite. Sometimes people need some motivation to get back in the game, and that’s where it’s your job to motivate said fallen-off spouse. You hear people who’ve been married for several decades mention that marriage takes work all the time. But it really doesn’t click until you’re in the situation, and furthermore, you realize that even seemingly small things like maintaining the way you look can be harder than you realized.
Nearly everyone gains weight. It’s a fact of life. But when relationships are involved, keeping up physical appearance is a part of the work that should be put into keeping things spicy. Still, being a jerk about it to your lover isn’t cool. Last year, Mr. Rocque commented that I’d gotten frumpy. I was wearing a lot of oversized black shirts and leggings almost every day because, at the time, I didn’t fit a lot of my clothes, and I was depressed. It was a reflection of how I felt about myself, and the world. His comment wasn’t meant to hurt my feelings, but he could have been more compassionate in conveying that message.
My initial reaction was to be even frumpier, just because I was offended by how the message was conveyed, and annoyed that the deeper issue seemed to be overlooked. Eventually I got over myself, and my compromise was to force my old style back into the mix. I didn’t get jazzed up every day, but reserved a day or two to take a break from the frump.
Admittedly, I did start to feel better, but it was a process. I’m in a happier place now, with a little more inspiration to look like the old me that Mr. Rocque fell in love with. I get even more motivated when he notices. However, had Mr. Rocque instead taken a more romantic, supportive approach—like getting me a nice dress or a gift certificate to one of my favorite stores—then not only would it have felt nicer, but it also wouldn’t have taken me as long to come around.
In the case of an “expanding” spouse, don’t criticize or demand that they lose weight if you don’t plan to be a part of the solution, because you’re just as responsible in helping your sweetheart feel good about themselves as they are. Go for a walk with them, encourage them to join you at the gym, implement a house policy where you both change your diets. Above all, just show that you care about them and that you’re in this together.
Mr. and Mrs. Rocque are the couple formerly known as Anslem Samuel and Starrene Rhett, journalists who found love in between bylines. Follow the newlyweds’ musings of a marriage in progress here, on Twitter and via their joint blog.