Should I tell hubby his weight gain puts me off having sex?
Q. My husband has put up a lot of weight in the last three years.
I’ve always kept an eye on my weight and have managed to stay in reasonable shape, despite having had three children. Though I still love him, I find his weight very unattractive and often look for excuses not to have sex. I don’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him the truth.
A. Both men and women can respond to their partner’s overweight by withdrawing their sexual interest and desire to be sexual. Is it only the weight that is the problem? There may be other changes in the relationship that have created distance.
With the recession digging deep, life at the moment is difficult for many couples. Bringing up children is rewarding and meaningful but there are many stresses along the way. There is never enough time. There is constant chasing one’s tail. I mention these points so that you can stop and think what else is happening in the relationship that might cause you to pull back.
We live in a visually driven generation and there’s never been more pressure on women to embrace the concept of the body beautiful.
Marketing is a bullish medium and there is now a hard push to get men to measure up, too. If we all had great bodies we would all have great sex, is the unspoken message. But where does this leave all the ordinary folk with normal bodies, imperfections and all?
You have managed to stay in good shape. This no doubt important to your self-esteem and how you feel about your body.
Many people spend energy on criticising themselves and never reach the mythical perfect shape.
Women and girls who chase the body beautiful often want to be seen as desirable. But they don’t tune into their own desire. Some women have sex because they know their partner desires them and they want to please him. The focus is external, while deeper needs are brushed aside.
Take time to consider your own attitudes to sex and what it means to be sexual.
So, back to your husband’s weight. He has changed over the past three years. Does he ever mention his weight? He might be avoiding the issue or be completely unaware, putting the lack to sex down to exhaustion. I think you need to bring up your concern but without a hint of criticism — otherwise he may become defensive and feel rejected. If it were the other way round, how would you like to be told you were no longer attractive?
It’s always constructive to approach excess weight from the view of health. Be positive but name your concern. Ask what would need to happen so that you could help him.
Bring him on side by pointing out how much better he will feel and that he will have more energy. But, he must do it for himself, not just to keep you happy.
If you take a heavy handed approach you could destroy any intimacy, sexual and otherwise, very easily. You don’t want to cause pain and hurt.
This is a delicate matter. Think about what you like about your partner. What is good in the relationship? Is he a good dad? There are always positives. Remember bodies are vehicles and the perfect body doesn’t assure happiness. Appearance is a factor but not the whole picture.
* Marie Daly is a psychosexual therapist with Mind and Body Works. Visit www.mindandbodyworks.com