We often hear that being in a good relationship is good for your health. Satisfied couples, for example, are more likely to take medication as directed and to schedule yearly physicals. But when it comes to weight gain, the opposite may be true. Couples who are satisfied with their marriage tend to put on the pounds, while those who are less satisfied are more likely to stay trimmer.
Over the course of four years, researcher Andrea L. Meltzer her team gathered information 169 newly married couples. Specifically, they tracked marital satisfaction, steps towards divorce, height, and weight gain. “On average, spouses who were more satisfied with their marriage were less likely to consider leaving their marriage, and they gained more weight over time,” said Meltzer. “In contrast, couples who were less satisfied in their relationship tended to gain less weight over time.”
While it’s not completely clear why this is happening, there’s a good possibility that it’s all about appearances. People who are in happy relationships don’t feel the pressure to attract a new partner. So they pay less attention to the way they look. On the other hand, people who are unsatisfied and are thinking ahead to dating someone new are motivated to look their best.
As we all know, excess weight is associated with a number of health risks, including heart disease and diabetes. So it’s important that we look at maintaining a healthy weight as more than just a way to attract the opposite sex. “By focusing more on weight in terms of health implications as opposed to appearance implications,” said Meltzer, “satisfied couples may be able to avoid potentially unhealthy weight gain over time in their marriages.”
The article, “Marital Satisfaction Predicts Weight Gain in Early Marriage,” appears in the journal Health Psychology.