It seems logical that mixed-weight couples, where one partner is overweight and the other one isn't, would suffer more relationship conflict than same-weight couples. In the Jan. 21, Wall Street Journal, Health & Wellness writer Elizabeth Bernstein reports that is the case.
According to Bernstein, a collaborative study by researchers at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Wash., and the University of Arizona, in Tucson, published last month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships supports that hypothesis.
The study which involved 43 heterosexual couples found that most conflict was reported in relationships of a healthy-weight man and an overweight woman.
When just the man was overweight, no more conflict was reported than in same-weight couples.
One question that the study raised but researchers were unable to answer is “whether a weight difference caused couples to argue more, or whether conflict caused one partner to eat more and become overweight.”
Supportiveness plays a big role in reducing conflict in mixed-weight couples, and experts say, “It is imperative for couples to communicate in a loving way when one partner has a weight problem.”
Dr. Catherine Hastings, a marriage and family therapist in Lancaster, Pa., says a person who isn't overweight should address the issue with an overweight partner "in a way that makes them feel that you are rooting for them.
Saying "Are you really going to eat that?" doesn't demonstrate support.
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