4 Things to Do When Your Husband ‘Lets Himself Go’

spouse disputeIt happens in a lot of long-term relationships: You or your spouse lets himself go. Maybe you put on a lot of weight after the baby and it seems too hopeless to get back into shape. Maybe he's overwhelmed with work and health issues and has just given up. What do you do? You want the two of you to be your best selves, to enjoy good health and remain vital and ... okay, almost as fun and sexy as you were when you first met. But you know what's going to happen if you bring it up: You're going to put your spouse on the defensive, and it's going to backfire.

We asked relationship expert and author Dr. Logan Levkoff for advice on the best way to approach this issue constructively and lovingly.

1. Make sure you're being realistic in your expectations. There's a difference between the ordinary changes a body faces over time and actually giving up and not caring about your health and appearance anymore. Women's bodies especially get altered after childbirth. But for men and women, it's not a big deal to gain a few pounds over the years. None of us gets frozen in time.

2. Dig deeper than looks. Levkoff says when someone lets themselves go, "it's often because a person has checked out of the relationship and their own lives." She warns against starting a conversation about how your spouse looks. No good can come from that! And it's not going to get at the root of the issue.

3. Ask yourself, "What would I want to hear?" Put yourself in your spouse's shoes and imagine how you'd want to have this conversation. This will help you to be gentle and empathetic.

4. Stay on the same team. Levkoff suggests starting with something like, "It seems like you're not happy -- what can we do to make you feel more confident and comfortable? What can we do together?" You're in this as a team, so don't make your spouse feel attacked or like a loser. Make it clear that you are there to enable them to be their best selves. And then be ready to listen without judgment.

Getting at the deeper cause behind your spouse's physical changes is going to help you both more in the long run. You'll get at the real root of the problem, and you'll be showing you care about the whole person, not just their looks. Taking on an attitude of teamwork will help even more.

Has this happened to you? How are you handling it?


Image © stevecoleimages/iStock



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Jeana... JeanaJaybird

I'm sorry but if you unconditionally love your partner then this is not an issue.

balan... balancing-act

It's an issue when your spouse has gained a tremendous amount of weight smokes like a chimney is a ticking time bomb of nerves and his sister and mother both dropped dead of heart attacks at a young age. Health not looks. I would like my husband to live past 50 and he won't without gaining back some control.

nonmember avatar Don

Are you kidding me! Somehow, men have been getting punched in the face for talking about the subject. Most women are, it's the inside that counts. Which way is it? By the way the title could have been "spouses", but that only proves my point about men and women on this subject. There many campaigns about plus size women...

Jenny Lesko

This article is ridiculous....

nonmember avatar Michael


I disagree. If you love your spouse then you don't "let yourself go". That is very disrespectful to them (as well as making you a bit of a liar-when you date someone that is who the person expects to be married to, not some horrific version of that person who they dated).

Yes, aging happens, but 60+ pounds and bad habits don't just happen, that is a choice.

nonmember avatar BostonBob

While we all know "it's the inside that counts", none of this is an excuse to not take care of yourself.

Whether it be exercise or eating right.

Same holds for body hygiene and wearing clean clothes.

"Oh it's OK you've worn the same clothes for a week, you smell and you haven't combed your hair. You're nice on the inside."

Nope, not buying it.

nonmember avatar annonymous

I am the spouse who's gained a lot of weight. Don although the title says Husband, it is addressed to either spouse. Mostly women read the site, so that makes sense. Michael, I love my spouse and have still gained weight. Physical changes from childbirth and a minor injury plus life changes that caused major stress allowed the weight to creep up before I'd realized it. Small amount with the first 3 kids, then multiple things in our life went wrong during the time I was pregnant/after I had baby #4. My weight went up as the stress did. Then we we had to move to a tiny house, so my daily exercise amounts were down, plus no where to go within walking distance so I didn't go out as much anymore. My weight bothers me greatly, but at this point it doesn't seem to change even when I'm eating less and healthier. As you age weight loss is harder, your metabolism slows down,it's harder to lose than when you were younger.I don't feel I am at a place where I could devote the mental energy to weight loss. I think I have other problems that need to be taken care of first. If I tried now I would fail, and then I would get more depressed. If my husband would do as this article suggests, and talk about it as thought it was OUR problem, something he was willing to help me out with-just feeling as though I wasn't alone-that would lift some of the mental weight off. I would feel supported and more like it was something I could handle. Unfortunately that isn't likely to happen.

nonmember avatar Michael

Annonymous, good on you for recognizing the problem and you are right that a spouse should be supportive of the other. Making snide remarks or putting a spouse in an isolated little box is never helpful.

Also, you didn't gain pounds by just sitting around eating bon-bons, 4 kids is no joke (and all the more reason you have every right to expect a supportive spouse).

nonmember avatar becca

My husband has gained a lot of weight. I've had two kids and lost my baby weight after both. His weight doesn't bother him. In truth I don't find him as sexy, but I love him the same. He probably doesn't find me as sexy now that he has watched me push out kids, kwim? I just leave it alone. I don't like sex as much now that he gasps and drips sweat on me and I can't see much because of overhang...but on the plus side women aren't competing with me and I have my secret gift. Shallow women will never see how special he is and I can enjoy being appreciated and doted upon, which I didn't get as much before. I call it a draw.

Kelly Walters

My husband gained forty pounds, mostly right in his belly. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't very attractive. One time, right before our daughter got married, I was dropping him off at the airport and I patted his stomach and told him he needed to take care of that. I felt horrible and vowed not to do that again! I tried to encourage better eating and exercise for his health, but he travels so much and most of my words fell on deaf ears. It seems after retiring from the army he became allergic to exercise.

The game changer was when my mom got him a fitbit for Christmas. That seems to be the motivation he needed. He has dropped forty pounds in the last couple of months. He gets up early and walks. He averages 20,000 steps a day and looks great, but better, he is so much more healthy. Carrying all that fat in the middle can't be very comfortable or healthy for the heart.

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