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I was hot right before I got married, or at least my version of hot: fifteen pounds down from when I first met my husband, teetering on the edge of a size 8 (a milestone for me). In our wedding photos, my stomach looks flat in my fitted dress, my arms toned, my cheekbones visible.
Nearly three years later, I have put those pounds back on. You could surmise that means I’m content with my newish husband and you’d be right: A 2013 study from Southern Methodist University in Dallas found that partners in happy unions are more apt to gain weight early on, because they no longer feel as if they have to be thin to attract a mate.
That sounds nice, but I’m not pleased I’ve gone up a size (or two). I can tell that Randy, my high-energy/low-body-fat husband, doesn’t like it much either. The other day, I mentioned how I missed having a gym membership since moving to our new town. “Well, why don’t I pay for you to get a personal trainer—it will be your birthday present!” he offered. I was about to thank him profusely, when he continued, “It will be a present that benefits both of us.”
“Um, what do you mean?” I asked warily.
“Well, you’ll feel better and I’ll enjoy looking at you.” I gave him an icy smile, which, lucky for him, he interpreted correctly, because he quickly backtracked. “It’s not that I don’t love looking at you now, it’s just that…”
“You’d better stop there,” I warned, trying to sound as if I were joking. Which I wasn’t.
There have been other tiny humiliations. When I asked Randy to guess my weight (bad idea—don’t try it at home), he was right on the nose. So much for my thinking I look thinner than I am. And I admit: When the scale disappoints me, I’m more likely to slip under the covers and reach for a book than for him. Instead of marriage making me feel secure in my body, I am vaguely ashamed that I’m not the woman I was on the day we tied the knot. Marriage is an ever-evolving entity, but when those changes occur around the waistline, marital tensions get bigger, too.