My husband and I have been through some serious marital growing pains in the last 18 months. After 18 years of marriage and 22 years together, our marriage had become one filled with resentment and irritation. After a particularly damning fight a year and a half ago, we made the choice to work together to put the pieces of our marriage back in place. We consulted a counselor and have been actively doing the heavy labor of learning how better to communicate and express our feelings.
For all of the counseling sessions we’ve been through, one detail has never come up. One subject just isn’t important enough to either of us to spend a single second hashing out.
Neither one of us has said that a contributing factor to our marital stress revolves around what we weigh or how we look physically.
In other words, my number on the scale has never come up as a reason he’d want to walk out the door. And vice versa.
As you would imagine, when you’ve spent the better part of twenty years living with someone, the scale ebbs and flows. Both my husband and I have expanded and contracted weight-wise. Because once you have kids, Netflix and chill nights with ice cream and wine are not kind to mom thighs. Or dad guts.
The point is, my husband has seen me at the height of two pregnancies and also remembers my size 2 self coming down the aisle in my wedding dress. He’s seen me at pretty much every size in between and he still wants to get it on, no matter how wide my yoga pants seem to stretch.
When push came to shove and we were forced to look at the issues in our marriage, we realized that marriage is so much more than looking like we did when we were twenty. Our marriage has changed over time and so have our bodies. In therapy, we have focused on building trust and kindness between us again. When I look into his eyes as we do the hard work of discovering each other again, I’m not looking at his fuller cheeks and his long gone washboard abs. I’m looking at the man I married, not his weight.
When your marriage is in true crisis and you are in danger of losing the family life you dearly love, the scale doesn’t matter one damn bit.
Recently, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay announced that he’d lost 56 pounds because his fitness expert wife, Tana, gave him an ultimatum: lose the weight or she was going to divorce him.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Ramsay reveals that he was uncomfortable with his appearance and his wife “wasn’t impressed with the way I was.” He says he decided to drop the weight and become healthier because he was afraid she’d make good on her threat to leave him if he remained “a fatty.”
Listen, I don’t know Tana and Gordon Ramsay. I don’t know their journey together as a couple and I can’t speak to the real reasons behind why they may or may not get a divorce.
But, when a celebrity states that a few pounds (okay, maybe more than a few) are the reason he might get divorced, in an otherwise happy union, I want to roll my eyes for infinity.
Seriously, take several seats, Ramsays, and think about what you are really saying to the general public.
Divorce and marital struggles are no fucking joke and I can guarantee you that very few couples are on the brink of divorce simply because one partner’s midsection has expanded beyond what the other sees as tolerable. Sure, there are instances where food addiction is creating friction or situations when a serious disease is masked in anger and frustration, but, on the whole, I am guessing very few marriage therapists are counseling couples because of thirty extra pounds.
And you know what else is no fucking joke? Body shaming.
There is a way to address a partner’s health issues with kindness and love, but issuing weight-based ultimatums is unacceptable. It is not loving or kind, and, in most cases, will just make issues worse.
I don’t judge Tana for admitting to feeling less physically attracted to her husband and I don’t judge Gordon for wanting to find a way to share his wife’s love of fitness more actively. Everyone wants their spouse to be the healthiest version of themselves.
No, I don’t judge Gordon for losing the weight.
But please don’t trivialize marriage struggles with stupid comments.
Don’t make it seem like marriage is disposable if you don’t look a certain way or if the scale screams a number that is unacceptable.
And don’t throw away an opportunity to normalize marital struggles in a way that is constructive, and in a way that honors the very real panic that impending divorce can cause a couple.
Why not say, “my marriage is in crisis and I’m taking the time to reflect on my spiritual, emotional and physical health in an effort to be a better partner in my marriage”? Is it really necessary to throw your wife under the bus and give the world the impression that your wife is a vain, body shaming twit? Just as I know that my marriage issues were real and raw, I’m guessing Tana’s issues dwell a lot deeper than your waistline. You’re just too thick (in the head) to see it, Mr. Ramsay.
My husband and I have been through hell and back in the last year. It’s been a painful process doing the hard work of introspection and active listening to get our marriage back on track.
But, almost losing my marriage has put trivial problems like weight loss in perspective. And, if Gordon Ramsay was really headed for divorce court because his wife didn’t like how he looks, I feel sorry for him. And for his wife. Because marriage is so much more than a number on the scale.