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How do I motivate my wife?

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My wife and I have been married for 6 years now and she was beautiful when I married her (120 lbs.)  I still love her greatly but I wish she would join me in losing some weight.  I am guessing she is around 180 now but she won't say and I'm scared to ask her.  She is a "stay at home Mom"  We have 2 kids, 6 and 2 years old.  She recently joined a gym for women in the area but has only gone once.  She says she is always too tired to go.  She's a really picky eater and does not seem interested in counting calories.  She says she is tired of hearing me talk about it.  I've lost 20 lbs. since Jan. 2, 2007 and am on my way to my goal of 220 (60 more to go).  Do you think she will join me when I get closer to my goal?  The one thing that I feel I cannot do is mention anything to her about needing to lose weight or that I think she might be overweight.  It would hurt her feelings.  Any suggestions?
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I think I may have already responded to this thread, but some more thoughts:

1) Get the whole family active. You have two kids - what are you doing to get them addicted to a lifetime of activity? What about family walks every night? That's much more fun than going to a stinky old sweaty gym, IMO! And if you make it all about getting the kids active, then your wife won't feel like it's all about getting *her* active.

2) Take over all the grocery shopping and the cooking. This will free up her time and her energy and help her eat better. Who wouldn't want a personal chef? ;-)

3) Make this about her health, not her looks. "Honey I think you're beautiful at any weight, but I'm terrified you're going to drop over dead early from high cholesterol and leave me a widow!!" My DH used a similar line on me to get me to stop smoking... I was horrified at the idea of him remarrying some 20 year old chippie after my early demise. hee hee :-)

4) Reassure her a million times that she is beautiful no matter what her weight, whether she goes gray (she will), gets wrinkles (she will), or gets disfigured in some terrible accident (she might).

5) Be patient. Your kids are awfully young. She really does have her hands full caring about their needs, and she has put herself on the back burner as many of us mom tend to do. When the youngest is in school full-time, she'll have more energy and more time to devote to herself.

Personally, I think you should suggest taking walks with her and the kids.  Go to the park and walk around.  I would also suggest that you buy the groceries and buy healthy stuff.  These little things of getting her out of the house and you buying healthy stuff will help her motivation.   I started dieting and my husband was not on board.  I started asking him to go for walks with me and I started buying all healthy stuff and now he is on board with the health thing.  He does the calorie counting, he checks labels and it is great because he is helping me as well as himself.  In fact, we find it fun to check labels and we laugh at some of the labels because of the fat content and the unhealthy aspect of the food.  Therefore, it will come with time and I know that she will come around.  Try to keep her motivated without verbally saying a word.  Just buy healthy food and take her out more doing physical activities...  Good luck - she'll come around!!!
Hey slcooper,

I am in a somewhat similar situation and am very frustrated, which is how I stumbled onto this post.  I've read all the responses.. many of which suggest the same thing.  What strikes me as odd is there is only 1 lady who responded that yeah, pretty much she needed a kick in the pants and it got her going.  Why is there so much tip toeing around the issue... oh, don't ever ever say she needs to lose weight... cmon... isn't it obvious?  Why are marriage counselors always saying that we are supposed to be honest.. oh, honest when convenient, but not always?  Don't get me wrong, I have kept my thoughts to myself on this.  I know it would hurt her feelings if I said something along those lines.... but doesn't there come a time when a person (whether man or woman) looks in the mirror and says DAAAANG I gotta do something!  When does a person take some personal responsibility and say that's it!  It affects all aspects of our lives - she is ALWAYS tired.  I could watch the kids until 1pm on a weekend and she sleeps the whole time and is still exhausted.

My wife lost her mother several years ago to a weight related illness and apparently it's like oh, that won't happen to me.  I worry for her, for us, as well as for the impact her unhealthy habits have on our kids.  Anytime I say something like "It probably isn't a good idea for the kids to be eating brownie bites for breakfast", I either get attitude or totally ignored.

I had gained some weight, but I started dieting (atkins), stopped drinking soda & worked out a bit, started running, etc. - worked great - course it was VERY difficult with my wife being completely unsupportive, stocking our house in carbs after carbs.  Making comments like "Oh, I could never do that cause I love bread too much".  "Why don't you eat like a normal person?"  I've since stopped working out (time and motivation), but have managed to keep 90% of the weight off, by just watching what I eat a bit.  Before our 3rd child was born, somehow I got her to start working out.. it lasted a total of 5 trips to the gym!  Apparently her idea of working out is to pay for the gym membership, but never go!  (can you tell I'm very frustrated?) 

I feel I've tried to lead by example as well as done some to many of the supportive things mentioned... I probably do 80% of the laundry/dishes(and in fact, I don't mind doing these types of things at all - it's part of my job), I pay to have a maid service to help clean the house.  She probably only cooks 1-2 nights a week max.  She goes to have her hair & nails done all the time.  She did for quite some time have a mom's group that they would all go out once  a month while I watched the kids (again, no problem!).  She somehow drums up energy to go shopping all the time.  What the F!  I feel like I'm at the end of my rope and I'm going to pop and say some things that are going to very upsetting.  I just keep thinking - it's gotta kick in sometime right?

I guess the main reason I wanted to post was to ask - why does everyone say "Don't tell her she should lose weight"? - it just seems hypocritical, dishonest, non-direct, non-productive, etc.  The suggestion that I should have to do 50 things to make someone want to kick it in gear seems a bit much.  The ultra-male part of me wants to say "suck it up women" quit hiding behind "women don't lose weight very easy", "the kids", "the chores", "I'm tired", "I'm scared", "I'm hurt", etc. - admit to yourself that you need to lose weight and most of all - DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  Stop whining about being overweight as your sucking down another Coca Cola and wondering why you can't lose weight!

Ok - whew.. vent off.  I'm sure I will draw serious fire, but I would hope that if you read all that I have said, you would see that I do in fact want my marriage to work, I do want my wife to be happy, healthy, to live a long time with me and for us to raise happy healthy kids.  It is just very frustrating trying to navigate this land-mine laiden field of self-doubt, touchy topics, etc. with someone who it feels like is fighting you the whole way for something that does in fact have a solution - alter your diet & excercise and YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT.  Maintain this approach and you WILL keep it of and the theory is that EVERYONE will be happier.
Oh, while I'm on my rant, I did think of one other thing that I wanted to mention.

With regards to a man saying you should lose some weight.  Being overweight does NOT make you a bad person!  That is not what we are saying.  Being resentful, sabotaging any efforts, going out of your way to either do nothing or in fact trying to make it worse kind of does though.  Instead of acting like a toddler and taking your toys to your room and not playing with the other kids when they make you mad, maybe try saying things like:

You know... your right, I'm going to try and do something about it, will you help me?


I know.  I want to do something about it, but it is very hard, but I'm going to try and take some positives steps towards my goals.

Or if you really want to motivate your male partner to help even more -

Your right, I want to lose some weight so I will feel better and so I can rock your world in the bedroom!  :)  (I'm kind of just being a smarty on this one, but I bet this would REALLY work well)
Niceguy, I can certainly see that this has been bothering you a lot!!

Your situation sounds a little bit different than the original post on here. It sounds like you have really tried to give her the opportunity to fix this herself. Also, it's fairly obvious that it's not just her appearance that is bothering you but also her lethargy and the quality of life it's creating for the both of you.

I'm the woman whose boyfriend had the guts to come out and say it, and I've got some specific advice for you. First, I would keep in mind that there may be an underlying medical problem for your wife's lack of motivation and resentment. Has she talked to a Doctor about depression? I have been struggling with depression for years now and it wasn't until I was on the right pills that I was able to feel normal again and had the energy to get my @ss in gear. I could be totally off here; I'm only suggesting that she do this if she is in fact suffering from clinical depression.

I know a lot of women on here will disagree with me (and I would have too a few months ago), but I think you should say something. By the sounds of things you want her to lose weight for all of the right reasons. The issue also seems to be putting a lot of tension into your marriage. However, you really do have to think about how to put this the right way. You sound smart and tactful enough to know what I mean. Emphasize that it is her health that concerns you as well as the example being set for the children. Let her know that this issue is very important to you so she doesn't just blow it off and resent you for it. Let her know that you feel it is affecting both of your quality of life and you really want to help her with it. Most of all, make sure you emphasize over and over and over and OVER that you love her regardless and you think she's beautiful regardless.

She probably won't take it well at first. I know I didn't. The reason we react the way we do, niceguy, is because we know how much appearance means to you guys. It is kind of painful to think that perhaps the men we love more than anything in the world might not find us attractive. I felt humiliated when my boyfirend first told me. I was embarassed for every single time I let him see me naked or was intimate with him. All I could think about was how stupid I felt. But after much reassurance he let me know that he wanted me to lose weight for all of the right reasons and it really did help me motivate myself.
My own personal experience...

As someone earlier said about their relationship, my own boyfriend said to me that he wanted me to lose weight, because he knew how much it bothered me.

He admitted that maybe there might be a point when the weight would bother him, but I hadn't reached that point.

What he said essentially was this to me:

I love you exactly as you are -- but I know the weight bothers you. And if you lose the weight, you'll be happier with yourself, which will make your more confident and will make you sexier. Think of if you lose that weight, how acrobatic we can be in bed, and how much more pleasurable the sex we have will be... because you'll be happier with yourself.

At first, I was shocked he would say I needed to lose the weight, but what he did was just tell me what I had been thinking -- the weight was bothering me and while it hasn't hamper our sex life, it made me wonder if it could get BETTER....?!

Anyway, that's just my two cents.

I think there's ways of approaching your wife, and it's totally dependent on how well you know her, and what the best approach is for her.

Hearing that you eat out a lot, it makes me wonder if it's not time to start making food at home... I know I find it hard to control how much I am eating (and quality) if I am eating out.

Niceguy, I agree with Alica, you sound like you‚??re dealing with a different situation than slcooper (although maybe not, he didn‚??t go into the level of detail you have).

As regards the original topic, weight, I don‚??t think that telling someone that they‚??re overweight is helpful.  Mainly because they already know they‚??re overweight, and likely feel guilty & horrible about it.  My husband used to try and prod me into losing weight (poor man thought he was being subtle about it) and all it did was make me feel more guilty and hopeless about it.  The reason people tiptoe around a very obvious weight problem is that it is one of those button-pushing subjects; you can always get a reaction from a woman about her weight!  It took me getting into a positive can-do mood to start the process.  Having someone I love criticize me about it just made me depressed.  (And he also did the Atkins diet and complained that I wasn‚??t supportive about it.  I wasn‚??t unsupportive, but it is not a diet that will work for me.  I love my complex carbs.)

Having said that, the feeling I got from your post, Niceguy, is that your wife is leaning on you a little too much.  Is she a stay-at-home mom?  Because, if so, you shouldn‚??t be doing 80% of the dishes and laundry; those are the biggest jobs in any house.  If she‚??s working, then one of you should be doing the dishes and the other doing the laundry.  I agree that she sounds depressed (all of that sleeping is a good sign of it).  I think you need to sit down with her and have a talk about the unfair portion of work you‚??re doing in the house and find out if she‚??s depressed.  The weight really isn‚??t the issue right now; you need to sort out some other things.
well why not make it a healthy lifestyle makeover for the family.

she will naturally lose weight.

i wish my s.o. said something to me about gaining before i got as big as i did.

would i of been mad at the moment. yeh.

but dieting would of been cut in half and i would have to go through all the clothing and yo-yos etc. i woudl of thanked him later. he said he didnt notice though(yeah RIGHT)

i think getting a couple cruiser bikes for summer and having night time bike rides in the park would be a good start to get her more active. once a week..datenight...walking or biking. she will get hooked on feeling better from being more active.

i lost all the weight i did just by diet alone pretty much.

i agree to take over some cooking things. you get to learn, she gets a break, some memories could be could be fun.

i think too now that the kids are starting to get old enough it will be easier when everyone is potty trained and can wipe thier own nose. hee hee


i have had a issue with my s.o. and his gain. at the point where he had high blood pressure i stopped with the gentle reminders and was very harsh. but so is death so it didnt matter.

and actually its been harder for him (male) to lose the weight than it has been for me (chick)

i thought that was interesting because its ususally the opposite.

Re: I guess the main reason I wanted to post was to ask - why does everyone say "Don't tell her she should lose weight"? - it just seems hypocritical, dishonest, non-direct, non-productive, etc.  The suggestion that I should have to do 50 things to make someone want to kick it in gear seems a bit much.  The ultra-male part of me wants to say "suck it up women" quit hiding behind "women don't lose weight very easy", "the kids", "the chores", "I'm tired", "I'm scared", "I'm hurt", etc. - admit to yourself that you need to lose weight and most of all - DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  Stop whining about being overweight as your sucking down another Coca Cola and wondering why you can't lose weight!

First off, there are obviously exceptions to this, but...

You have to understand that women today are raised by the media and society to put a high emphasis on their appearance. They judge their own value as human beings by how much they weigh, how tall they are, how big their breasts are, and a multitude of other factors. We connect the way we look very directly to how much we're worth as people. For someone to say any of those things to a woman risks that woman hearing a silent message of "you have no worth as a person because you are no longer attractive". Even the phrase "becoming a woman" is merely a euphemism for losing virginity. We're not even women unless some man out there finds us attractive enough to want us. Browse the dating ads in most places and you'll find that more women describe physical features while more men list occupations and other accomplishments in hopes of getting a date.

Eating disorder rates among women are far higher for this reason. It's that sense of worthlessness as a person. The woman wonders how she can make herself feel better and be worth more. "Easy...lose enough weight and maybe people will love me and I will love myself." I read a study in a newspaper once that claimed that 80% of ten year old girls are watching their weight or are outright dieting. That's a disturbing number of little girls on diets.

In case anyone is interested in some reading on the effect the media can have on girls and women, here ya go. stereotyping/women_and_girls/index.cfm

Are most of the methods mentioned in this thread non-direct? Sure. But the alternative could make even the most intelligent of women feel like you've just told them that they have no value to you. You know that's not your intent. Logically speaking, we know it. Years of brainwashing from the media is very good at overriding logic, however.
Really good response, Evilsource :)
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I have tried all of these things.  I was married once to someone for 18 years who was a SAHM for about 8 years, part time (3 hrs/day) worker for 7 more years, and full time for last 3 years.  She gained with each kid, and as she gained she became less interested in doing active hobbies with me.  As time went on I got more into running long distances and cross training.  She went from 5' 2" 127 lbs to 200 lbs within 10 years and stayed there 8 more years.

In my second marriage, my spouse was more active.  This time around I decided to do all the grocery shopping and cooking.  I was still the runner, but spending more time with family.  We had our own child 5 years ago.  During pregnancy she went from 5' 6.5" 165 pounds, to 200 lbs. 

After pregnancy, she promised to lose weight, but continually ate too much, despite my cooking and shopping.  I cooked all lean food, limited carbos, salads every day, no fried foods.  She would just eat excessive portions, then buy snack foods on top, then buy things to deep fry and eat too much.  On the weekends we spend a lot of time with her family and it is like one continuous meal after another at their home.

So she dropped 15 pounds after the pregnancy, then in the winter gained it back, lost it again in the summer, etc. every year. 

She claims she likes to be active but in reality she makes up every excuse in the book to not go walking, bike riding, go to the Y, etc. etc. 

For the last 5 years, she has not made progress.  I did 100 percent of the cooking for the first 3 years, 90 percent for year 4, and about 70 percent in the last year.  I have discovered that with her in particular, it doesn't matter if I cook or not.  She will eat too much regardless. 

It also doesn't matter if I tell her she is beautiful on a daily basis.  I buy flowers for her every week or two.  She has good self esteem, but she is still downright heavy.

She always wants to start an exercise program, but makes constant excuses why it can't be TODAY...Always next week.  Always 5:30 am workout, not after work, but then she can't get up in the am because she sits at the computer playing games until 1am or watches TV, one or the other.

I do about 50 percent of child care with our 5 year old - homework, bathing, bedtime stories, etc.  I do about 30 percent of the dishwasher loading, and we share housecleaning - my older son and her daughter do the kitchen and living/dining rooms, and I do the bathroom cleaning.  So she is not overworked with chores.

She just refuses to prioritize exercise higher inn her life, and refuses to limit how much food goes into her mouth in one day.  And she lives in denial about promising to do it next week.

So all the helpful suggestions listed above have been tried.  I don't undermine her self esteem, nag, etc.  But if SHE brings up a serious weight loss discussion, I offer to help in any way.

Unless the person walks the walk, not just talks the talk, handling grocery shopping and cooking healthy meals for them, doing lots of chores and childcare to free up their spare time, asking them to do active recreational activities with you, and reaffirming their self esteem with compliments on beauty, sexiness, and buying flowers will not work.  It's all boils down to what they can do for themselves, you can't do it for them.
I think that people are far too sensitive.  If you marry your husband as a size 4 and then balloon up to a size 20, then it's totally fair for him to mention something about your weight(in a tactful and loving way of course).  I think it's unfair to your husband to neglect your health and looks.  Personally, I would like to look my very best for my partner.  I think that shows love and respect for the other person.  Sometimes we need to hear the truth.  We can't live in this perfect bubble world with no truths or harsh words and cry that the media has made us uber-sensitive and is damaging our fragile self-esteem and self-worth.  Take some responsibility....geez.
I completely agree with you Fallingstars.
Completely agree with fallingstar too.  Just wanted to add that just cuz you start out a 4 or whatever, doen't mean you have to stay there.  The point is, a man marries and loves you for who you are and if you were someone who cared about your appearence and made effort to look nice and be fit/healthy...well, they want that person 5, 10, or 40 years later.  Of course it can't be helped if there is a medical issue such as thyroid disease, but instead of saying to heck with it, make an effort to minimize weight about yourself enough.  On the otherhand, if a woman is overweight from the beginning and never worked out or really cared, then men have no right to expect there to be a change.  This goes for you men too!  Last two relationships they both gained 40 pounds within the first 8 months...I like bigger guys, just not fat.
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totally true!!  us women ( and men ) need to want to take care of ourselves and feel good about things!  Just because you get married and comfortable doesn't mean anyone should forget about their health and welbeing - its not fair on your partner as your right, it wasn't the person they married!

If you have tried being tactacle and it hasnt' worked then you might just have to go the tough way about it?!!  Just speak to her, tell her how you feel about her not taking care of herself - tell her you aren't as attracted to her anymore (fi this is the case) and taht you want to do more togheter - be more active and healthier!! say you care about her and want her to around for you and kids for as long as possible which is why you want her to take action now??

I know i would appreciate it if smeone just sat me down and told me how they felt - i would be upset, that is obvious, but if you are offering support then she should feel very lucky!

I suggest going for a brisk family walk every evening.  Keep more healthy foods in the house, get rid of junk food.

Tell your wife she's gorgeous everyday, and how much you love her, make her feel special so that she will be more motivated to care for herself.

Call her from work some times in the afternoon, when you say hi, say "Hi baby" or "Hi gorgeous" things like that.

Losing weight begins with increasing self-esteem, knowing you're worth taking care of.

You might ask her if she'd be willing to try a diet and exercise plan that you put together for her for a week or even for a weekend.  If she does, then you're going to have to make and put together healthy balanced meals and snacks for the whole family and put some wiggle room in there.  I think it's better when the first week you work off of what you need to maintain and focus on improving the quality of what you eat.  You'll also have to put exercise in and again, I'd put in some that is optional so if she feels like it she can just drop it.

Niceguy: Depending on the reason I would either go ballistic or appreciate it and be willing to negotiate.

If it's purely for appearance or because they're not liking how I'm looking, then I'd be pissed off.  With all of my relationships, while I've been about 20-40 lbs overweight I've still been more active and healthier than most of the men I've been involved with.  I would definitely go ballistic if a guy decided that I needed to lose weight when it clearly was only for appearances.

If it's a health issue or is impacting our ability to do things together or putting more of a burden on my partner  on a continuing basis then it is a good issue to raise.  Having said that, you need to lose weight is not the way to approach the matter with me.  The phrase "you need to lose weight" is set to make any woman see red and just stop listening.  Honey, I'm sad that you have no energy or I'm worried that we won't be able to grow old together or honey, I'm getting exhausted trying to do all the things that you can't do anymore. 

Here's the problem as I see it: 

Food makes a major impact on how we feel whether or not we are overweight.  You can be skinny as a twig and still have no energy if you're not eating right.

Exercise makes a major impact on how we feel again, whether or not we are overweight.  If you don't get some exercise, you tend to be depressed and unhappy.

Time management makes an impact on how we feel.  If we're constantly running around without time to think, then we're stressed.

What is easy for one person is NOT easy for another person.  Calorie counting is easy for me.  It is not so easy for those who are not touch typists or who are not computer literate.
Losing weight for someone else really, really doesn't work. She has to want to lose weight. And mentioning it to her probably wont do much good either. My parents (who I still live with) have been telling me to lose weight for 8 years (since I was 11) and it has always just made me feel much worse.
Wow, there have been a lot of great responses.  Many of which say to not mention to her losing weight.  I am also on the opposite end of the spectrum.

My hubby is of course blessed with a job that keeps him VERY active all day, so no need to do any more exercise all day.  He eats whatever he wants and doesnt gain anything, but also knows personally that his eating habits are horrible.  I would rather him concentrate on quitting smoking, then we will get into the food thing.

Anyway, my weight has definitely had its ups and downs through our relationship.  I am currently at 146-148 (I am only 5' tall) and I did get down to a VERY healthy 122 at one point.  I have been a yo-yo over the past few years and right now I seem to be having the biggest struggle with losing weight.  Of course, I was a stay at home mom last time I lost 30 lbs. and I had the time (with only one child) to exercise and dedicate a lot of my day to managing my weight.

So, in either case, here is my struggle.  My hubby does not want me to lose weight.  He has always preferred women with a little meat.  Not too much, and not boney, just in the middle, which I guess he considers me as.  Well, that also means he is of NO motivation to me. 

Therefore, its all up to me.  He does go along with me and my daughter for walks (even though I feel bad because I know the last thing he probably wants to do after standing and working hard all day is walk some more) but bless his heart he does it because he wants to spend time with me and our daughter.

I jog every other day, which means he picks up our daughter from daycare (I dont stay at home anymore, obviously) and I go jog and he cooks so when I come home from my nice jog, I have a good meal waiting for me.  He is such a great guy.

But, the one thing one of you said really hit me.  Someone said that although the man in the relationship may not think that his woman needs to lose weight, but the fact that she physically and verbally sabotages herself is what the problem is.  I am very guilty of this. I do it all the time.  Sometimes, I admit, I am a little TOO hard on myself. However, I do believe hubby when he says he loves me and thinks I am beautiful.  Even though I DO NOT believe that myself (from my opinion).

So, I know I really need to crack down.  The exercise isnt what gets me, the eating right is really hard for me.  I do not like healthy food.  I hate it actually.  I dont like veggies (I do like fruit) I HATE wheat anything.  Ew. I need my carbs. And I know I need to eat healthier, but I struggle with that.

Either way, what I am trying to say is, I would LOVE for hubby to tell me to get off my fat a$$ and start losing some weight (not so I could be thinner, but so I shut my trap about being fat, lol).  I know how much more confident and happy I am when I am thin.  Why is it so darn difficult!?!? 

Anyway, you sound like a really great husband and she would be foolish to be mad at you for suggesting weight loss.  I think you really love her and hope she realizes that.  Good luck.


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