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Health Psychology: Weight Gain among Newlyweds Essay

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2020

Introduction

Previous studies have made diverse and conflicting generalizations concerning whether marital satisfaction is related to weight gain. Psychologists have engaged comprehensive studies to establish the possible interlinks between weight gain and marriage, and they have come up with diverse reports. The health regulation model has identified that some factors associated with satisfying relationships influence the roles of marriage, which in turn promote good health and weight gain. On the other hand, the market-mating model suggests that the desire to attract a partner is a key motivating factor for people to maintain their weight. Thus, those in new marriages characterized with satisfaction gain weight for they do not mind about the issue, as they are contented with their shapes (Meltzer, Novak, Mcnulty, Butler & Karney, 2013).

On Friday, 5 April 2013, the Daily News reported on a study published by the Southern Methodist University. The report indicated that happy newly married couples were more likely to pack on more pounds during their first years of marriage as compared to less satisfied couples (Daily News, 2013). The bliss of early marriage drives many couples to spend a good portion of their time together. Enjoying time together involves a lot of eating as the central activity. Couples are likely to be willing to taste almost every delicacy, thus leading to unhealthy weight gain for the two.

Studies have shown that partners who were living together, but they were not engaged did not increase their waists at the same frequency as married couples. However, this paper seeks to establish the link between weight gain and newlyweds’ marital satisfaction and possible exposure to overweight health-related dangers. Extensive research and generation of ideas will focus on answering the rising questions such as what spurs weight gain among newlyweds. Why do the less satisfied couples find it difficult to gain weight at the same frequency as the satisfied couples?

Partner’s influence

The stress of fitting to decent dresses and taking photos ends after partners enter marriage. The newlywed couples finally release the pressure of staying slender as they already have partners of their choice. They are now secure, and thus they end up feeling satisfied. Most couples do most things together, and thus they end up eating almost every meal together. This aspect compels them to eat food that they would not have eaten simply because it is their partners’ favorite. This influence overeating habit is an accelerating factor towards weight gain after marriage.

The tendency to cook together and prepare different meals increases the quantity taken as well as the frequency of eating. Watching television or going out on events together increases visits to fast-food restaurants, which offer snacks and meals with high levels of calories (Khaw et al., 2008). Unfortunately, it takes some time for newly married individuals to start making independent choices and decisions, and by this time, they have already added some weight. After getting married, people allegedly take after each other, and this aspect starts with physical appearance, whereby they add weight.

Arguing for

Research suggests that biological factors may lead to weight increase amongst newlywed couples. The emotional experience and relief that is associated with marital satisfaction can influence brain chemistry, which may lead to weight gain. When partners are dating, the experience is very different from that of married people. Every activity undertaken together seems new and exciting to the involved parties. This excitement develops further when people tie knots, and they have less to wary about.

The changing lifestyles that come with marriage are the most significant contributory factors to weight gain. After marriage, couples come together, create a common household, and merge their finances. They find themselves having more resources and time together as compared to when they were dating.

Marriage is probably a great step in life, and both partners are willing to suspend or even sacrifice their personal agendas to have time together. In most cases, when merging lifestyles, the less active one comes out as suitable for both couples. For instance, if the husband used to go out to exercise with other people, after marriage he may not find time to go out as he wants to be close to his partner and as much as he may miss exercising or find it difficult because the wife may not be willing to accompany him (Nauert, 2013).

Men can consume bigger portions of the meal and not put up weight fast, as their bodies burn out more energy, as compared to women. When taking food together, women end up consuming as much as their men consume. Consequently, with time, one realizes that clothes are getting tight. The study by the Southern Methodist University covered 169 first-time couples who were in their first years of marriage.

They were examined twice in a year, and the records on their weight were analyzed after a period of four years. Spouses who were contented with their marital life recorded a higher increase in weight as compared to those who were less happy (Daily News, 2013). This aspect suggests that the less happy spouses were stressed or thinking of divorce, and thus they could not add weight. In addition, the unhappy spouses are probably looking for new mates according to the market-mating theory.

Most women blame weight gain on childbirth, as, during pregnancy, most women become less active, and they have low motivation to exercise. They rely on their men to do almost all duties or even hire house helps, hoping to resume their usual lifestyle after childbirth. However, after childbirth, most couples feel like they have adjusted to a new lifestyle, and thus end up forgetting their previous exercising culture. The Southern Methodist University suggested that couples do not need to be small or light, but they have to maintain relative weight and not just the appearance, for good health.

Arguing against

Newly married couples should appreciate that their weight is an important factor in their physical wellbeing, and thus physical appearance should not be their only concern. Given that newlyweds can influence each other to do different things together, they can use this aspect to their advantage and decide to live healthily by making reasonable choices on what they consume. They should join hands to come up with nutritious diets, go out together, play together, and exercise as couples in a bid to stay healthy.

Marriage does not make anyone fat. Studies that support this statement indicate that newly married couples have the best opportunity to keep fit by doing exercise together. The commitment to exercise in a gym once in a week and share duties in the house helps in burning out calories. Couples are highly encouraged to spend their time busy on fruitful activities apart from eating and lazing around the house. Doing exercise regularly reminds the partners of their hard work, and thus they are compelled to select healthy menus to avoid adding weight. Some of the married couples agree that marriage is not associated with their weight, and they claim that it is the biological functioning of the body, which has nothing to do with their happiness. They claim that genetic functioning determines their weight gain (Shafer, 2013) significantly.

Weight gain is related to various lifestyle health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Having this knowledge, spouses emphasize weight with respect to good health, as opposed to physical appearance. Spouses should be encouraged to seek relevant health education about their weight as a preventive measure to health complications. Unintended weight gain might be the common factor rather than marital comfort.

Medical analysis indicates that weight can increase with change in diet or consumption of large meal portions. Some factors related to weight gain include abnormal growths, constipation, and fluid retention. Unintentional weight gain can be a consequence of different factors apart from getting married. However, this form of weight gain is conventionally not a threat to one’s health, but if the victim is not comfortable with it, s/he can seek medical advice. However, couples are advised to seek medical advice instead of assuming that it is normal to put on weight after marriage.

Wives who are lighter than their husbands are presumably enjoy their marriages as opposed to those who encounter coping difficulties due to weight gain. Not all spouses necessarily gain weight as after they marry, as some are aware of the implications linked to marriage and possible weight increase, and thus they seek medical attention to get advice on their lifestyle. This move helps them to commence a favorable lifestyle without doubts of health risks or changing wardrobes every month.

Gender variations

A study conducted in the United States involving more than 10,000 people interviewed between 1986 and 2008 showed that weight gain is not the preserve of newlyweds. The study found that the divorced could also experience weight gain. The study indicated the difference between men and women by noting that both partners are likely to gain weight in the first years in marriage or after a divorce. The report indicated that women increase weight faster than men do after marriage; on the other side, men quickly fatten after they divorce. The immense weight gain can be harmful enough to cause health risks such as obesity.

The study noted that women have bigger roles in the house, and thus they may lack time to exercise and stay fit as compared to men. Weight gain, which is observed amongst men after divorce, is associated with the difficulties that they experience whilst cooking for themselves, and thus they end up relying on fast food restaurants. This study did not find some of the common factors to influence the aspect of weight gain such as divorce, marital stress, or financial stability. It is not clear to establish whether couples are happy when they feel lighter or when they are adding weight. A healthy weight and lifestyle are appropriate, but it is not easy to maintain amongst newly married spouses.

Limitations of the study

Most researches conducted highlighted marital comfort as the common factor relating to weight increase amongst married couples. However, these researches did not consider that also those experiencing differences in marriages turn to food for solace. They seek food to gratify and distract their minds, which becomes an escape route from their troubled marriages.

Fat activists hold the view that the overweight debate has been misconstrued and used as a channel to perpetuate societal and cultural stereotypes concerning fat people. In addition, most studies failed to report the reverse effects. The studied merely investigated what caused weight loss among newlywed couples. The studies concentrated on health risks associated with fat people. Health at every size can be achieved through eating well, enhancing health measures, and self-acceptance (O’Carroll, 2014).

Implications

Most couples might feel comfortable with their new lifestyles. They may be happy with their new body shapes and weight increase, but studies have shown that this situation has long-term health risk implications. The fat acceptance movement suggests that fat people tend to experience social discrimination, which leads to the development of fat phobic. Some of the couples that become fat do it intentionally to protect their partners from being snatched from them for such people are allegedly less attractive.

This idea is risky since it can result in the lack of equal access to employment opportunities or bar one from making lasting relationships. Most obese people do not fit easily in the societal standards and thus they end up devising coping means. Even though fatness does not always affect one’s character negatively, fat people are prone to public ridicule and stereotyping. Individuals within the scientific society hold varied views on the obesity issue. Proponents of ‘being fat’ argue that the health obesity concept is a social construct with no notable scientific report to support it, as opposed to evidence given showing that obesity leads to high risk for heart infections and stroke.

Conclusion

Most people live in denial when faced with proven facts and thus they might ignore and doubt the findings of this study. However, people with a positive outlook towards life will recognize that this research brings another valuable perspective to assist in avoiding any possible problems related to obesity. A keen focus on individual health during early years of marriage and after divorce can help to counter the problem of weight gain.

This aspect does not only help in improving physical health, but it also promotes happy and lasting marriages. The Daily News article published the report by SMU to serve as an indicator of what is happening in the contemporary society amongst newlyweds. This article is just an insight to the big problem that people await in their marriage life. Health at any size concept is misleading and it serves as a way of escape to those who fall in the obese category.

The article serves to educate the public of the reckoning danger in health psychology and the need to arise together as couples and face the problems that might occur. For the purpose of health marital experiences and happy lifestyle, an elaborate and educative study needs to be conducted. The already established knowledge should be integrated into emerging ideas to find an accommodating solution to weight gain. Some of the simple activities that could be utilized include engaging in health education before people commit to marriage and start living together as spouses.

References

Daily News: Does marriage make you fat? Happy newlyweds more likely to gain weight in first years of marriage: study. (2013). Web.

Khaw, T., Wareham, N., Bingham, S., Welch, A., Luben, R., & Day, N. (2008). Combined impact of health behaviors and mortality in men and women: The EPIC-Norfolk prospective population study. PLoS Medicine, 5(1), 39-47.

Meltzer, L., Novak, A., Mcnulty, K., Butler, A., & Karney B. (2013). Marital Satisfaction Predicts Weight Gain in early Marriage. Health Psychology, 32(7), 824-827.

Nauert, R. (2013). Happy Marriage Tends to Mean Weight Gain. Web.

O’ Carroll, R. (2014). Health psychology interventions. British Journal of Health Psychology, 19(2) 235- 458.

Shafer, E. (2013). The Effect of Marriage on Weight Gain and Propensity to Become Obese in the African American Community. Family Journal, 31(9), 1595-1618.

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