Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary. As I write this post, I am in my third trimester of pregnancy and will have a newborn by the day this blog is posted, which will bring an entirely new element to our marriage. I’ll have to write a blog post on that for another time.
I am not claiming to be an expert on marriage, but I have learned something in these past 3 years. Marriage is sanctifying. Its purpose, as intended by God, is to make us holy and more like Jesus. I’m so glad that it has changed me in ways that couldn’t have been accomplished any other way than through marriage.
I’ve learned a lot in the time I’ve been married but I’ve also learned a ton about how having a good relationship with food is so important when you are married. I’ve seen married couples nag at each other about their weight, their food choices, and their physical activity habits.
And I’ve seen it backfire almost every time with shame, guilt, fights and heartbreak.
Again, I am no expert on marriage but here are 4 things my husband and I have vowed to do to keep a good relationship with food, our bodies, that can result in a healthier marriage.
1) Question with curiosity
It’s tempting sometimes to question our significant others food choices, especially when they are finishing off the gallon of ice cream, eating their fifth cookie or choosing a hamburger at a restaurant again. What I’ve learned is that nagging or calling your significant other out only leads to embarrassment and shame for them (especially if we do it in front of others). When my husband and I were going though out pre-marital counseling, some advice we were given was to never make our spouse look bad in front of other people (especially our family members).
Furthermore, the Bible says that wives should be respectful to your husband (Ephesians 5:33) and not to nag them (Proverbs 19:13). When we nag or “should” on people, even if it comes from a place of loving concern, it only makes them want to do it more. It makes them want to be defiant.
Instead of doing these things I will kindly ask my husband, “Honey, I notice you are eating a lot of ice cream, did you not get enough to eat for dinner?” or “Hey, just checking in with you – was today a rough day? Is there something you are stressed about?” When we say it’s not about the food or your bodies it’s because it’s not about the food or your bodies. There is always more to the story – something that we aren’t seeing.
It’s not fair for us to make a judgement call and assume that someone is being a glutton, or making poor choices. It is our job to question with loving curiosity what’s behind the action and then see how we can be there for our spouse. Maybe that ice cream will do the trick to their tough day!
2) Get rid of the scale
Not just married couples but no one (unless you have Congestive Heart Failure or renal failure and need to track body fluid) needs to have a scale in their home. It can create an unhealthy obsession with weight and there are plenty of other ways to “stay on track” that don’t include looking at your weight. Are you going number 2 regularly? How is your sleep? What’s your energy level like? How are you feeling overall? When you judge your health by the scale, it takes the focus off health and directs it to our weight. And we know from the latest research that weight and health are NOT the same thing.
3) Don’t make comments about weight gains or losses
This has been especially crucial currently with my pregnancy and I’m predicting with post-partum too. From the beginning I requested from my OBGYN that my weights be blind (back to scale and never seeing my weight) not because I was afraid of the scale but because I didn’t want to participate in the conversation with women of how much weight I gained when pregnant or how long it took to lose it. I knew if I didn’t know my weight it would be impossible for me to play the comparison game because I just wouldn’t be able to!
My husband also reinforced my decision to not know my weight changes. He never made comments about my food choices, amounts of food, or my changing body during my pregnancy. He would encourage me by saying, “I am so glad that you are nourishing our baby.” Early in my pregnancy someone said to him, “Nicole looks more beautiful now than before she was pregnant, don’t you think?” (I was blessed with clear skin and a great glow throughout my pregnancy, when I normally have breakout-prone skin.) his response was perfect: “If I say that Nicole looks more beautiful now than I am saying that she has to be pregnant to be beautiful, and that just isn’t true.”
I do the same for him as well. I never make comments about his weight fluctuations because as soon as I say, “You look great! You’ve lost some weight!” it reinforces the idea that I like him better smaller or leaner and that might be a body that he can’t genetically maintain.
4) Keep favorite treats in the home
Yes, you read that correctly. KEEP favorite treats in the home. Let me explain. My husband loves ice cream! It was a running joke before we got married that his previous roommate would buy ice cream, put it in the freezer and before he could eat any my husband had eaten it all and then replaced it with a new one! Honestly, he was a little out of control around it. When we got married I made sure to always have ice cream in our freezer and you know what? In the beginning it would be gone quickly but then after a while it would just sit there. We often throw ice cream away now (I know, tragic!) because it develops freezer burn from us not eating it quickly enough!
For this same reason I make sure to always have a stash of ice cream for him and a stash of chocolate for me. It will typically last a while because I know I can have it when I want it and get more of it when it runs out. The lesson learned here is that if you keep a food that you enjoy around often, you won’t feel out of control around it (once you truly start to believe that you can always buy more) because you know you can eat it whenever you want to.
I know this seems like a scary idea, but I’ve used this idea many times with clients and they report the same outcome. If you feel like you need help in this area, you can always talk to one of our dietitians who is trained in this area.
These ideas take practice and work, just like everything else in marriage. Have some grace for yourself and for your spouse as you implement these changes. You are making an investment in the health of your marriage, and if you have children, you are modeling healthy relationships with food and in marriage – giving them the ultimate gift!
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Nicole resides in the East Bay Area where she works as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She and her beloved husband serve as small group leaders in their growing young adult ministry. She completed both her bachelors degree and her dietetic internship at California State University, Chico, where she was also a NCAA cross country and track athlete. Through those experiences, God prompted her to help people of all shapes and sizes discover body peace and acceptance through the unconditional love of Jesus. Nicole most enjoys spending time around a table and cooking for the people she loves.